Growing up in the '90s, my childhood was filled with fantastic books. Only recently did I discover that many of the books that give me '90s nostalgia were actually published way before my time. It blew my mind to discover that some of my favorite reads were older than (gasp) even my parents.
When we discover a book, it opens up a new world, so we naturally assume that everyone else is being exposed to that world for the first time, too. So, maybe it was just narcissism that gave me this skewed view of publishing dates. Maybe it was the warped perception of childhood. But I'm betting that you, too, had your '90s world rocked by these reads.
This list is a testament to the power of reading. It's easy to feel like our life's work is ephemeral, that it's going to disappear with us. But that these books have stayed relevant decade after decade, winning the hearts of children living in a time their authors probably couldn't have imagined. These books connected us despite time. And that's pretty amazing.
As you read this list, you'll find books that excited you, that educated you, and that took you to entirely new worlds. In a way, it doesn't really matter when these books were published: they're, without a doubt, going to stay with us forever.
1. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
It's crazy to think that even though this series was written in 1932, we were still obsessed with it in the 1990s. And we still related to Laura and her family!
2. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
I loved this book — I mean, what could be cooler than having your run of a museum? I was shocked when I found out that it was first published in 1967.
3. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
For many children, this book was the first introductions to idioms. Can you believe it was published in 1961?
4. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
Judy Blume was a major part of all of our childhoods, and this classic was at the center of it all. Even though we were pouring over it in the '90s, it was actually written in 1970.
5. Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene
Nancy Drew was one of literature's first girl detectives, and she's been around forever. The first Nancy Drew book, The Secret of the Old Clock, was first published in 1930.
6. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzburgh
We all had Harriet fever when the movie came out in 1996. I even named my pet hamster "Harriet the Spy." But this book was actually written in 1964.
7. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
This book was so special to us as we grew up. It painted a picture of magical and futuristic worlds. Yet, it was actually written in 1962.
8. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
I definitely thought this was a brand new book when I first read it in 1999. But it was actually published in 1974.
9. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
Ahh, we all fell completely head-over-heals for this magnificent read. It was, in fact, published in 1960.