What To Read Next, Based On Your Fave Childhood Classic

by Kerri Jarema
Paramount Pictures

We all have those favorite childhood books that have stood the test of time. As You've Got Mail's Kathleen Kelly once so eloquently put it "When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does." But once you've continually reread them, passed them off to other kids in your life, or just left them to gather dust in boxes, how can you recapture the feeling those cherished books gave you in your youth? Well, finding a book written for adults with similar themes (or even grown-up retellings) is a great place to start.

There are so many great reads that share so much with your childhood favorites, from characters with similar personalities to settings that will remind you of the ones you know like a second home. Whether you're looking to relive a favorite contemporary, dive into some classic-feeling fantasy, or just want a grittier modern retelling of one of your all-time favorites, one of the 11 books below will definitely have you covered. And if you are one to reread your kids' books over and over, you'll love doing a side by side comparison.


Loved 'Anne Of Green Gables'? Read 'Maud' by Melanie Fishbane

What It's About: 14-year-old Lucy Maud Montgomery — Maud to her friends — has a dream: to go to college and, just like her idol, Louisa May Alcott, become a writer. But living with her grandparents on Prince Edward Island, she worries that this dream will never come true. Life changes for Maud when she goes out West to live with her father and his new wife and daughter. Her new home offers her another chance at love, as well as attending school, but tensions increase as Maud discovers her stepmother’s plans for her, which threaten Maud’s future — and her happiness — forever

Why You'll Like It: It's the fictionalized account of the woman behind your favorite series; with the same adventurous spirit and unending optimism, and tendency to get into scrapes, you'll love Maud just as much as you've always loved Anne with an E.

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Loved 'The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe'? Read 'Every Heart A Doorway' by Seanan McGuire

What It's About: Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else. Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

Why You'll Like It: If you've ever wondered what returning from Narnia (or Wonderland or Oz...) might have been like for the children who adventured there, this book is a must-read.

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Loved 'Goosebumps'? Read 'Through The Woods' by Emily Carroll

What It's About: Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss. These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll. Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there...

Why You'll Like It: Five creepy short stories with the eerie illustrations to match. It's like Goosebumps all grown up.

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Loved 'Peter Pan'? Read 'Everland' by Wendy Spinale

What It's About: London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived the destruction and the outbreak of a deadly virus are children, among them Gwen Darling and her siblings, Joanna and Mikey. Unsure if the virus has spread past England’s borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook is on the hunt for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the surviving children. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. Until one day when they grab Joanna. Gwen will stop at nothing to get her sister back; then she crosses paths with a daredevil named Pete. Pete offers the assistance of his gang of Lost Boys and the fierce sharpshooter Bella. But in a place where help has a steep price, it might cost Gwen more than she bargained for.

Why You'll Like It: This gritty steampunk, decidedly grown-up version turns the Peter Pan you know and love on its head for a read that is both nostalgic and entirely new.

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Loved 'Alice In Wonderland'? Read 'Labyrinth Lost' by Zoraida Cordova

What It's About: Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation... and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can't trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin. The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland...

Why You'll Like It: Like the blurb says, Alex's strange trip to Los Lagos will give you Alice feels, but this time with diverse characters, Latino influences, urban magic and some bisexual rep to round it all out.

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Loved 'Harriet The Spy'? Read 'Girl in Disguise' by Greer Macallister

What It's About: In the tumultuous years of the Civil War, the streets of Chicago offer a woman mostly danger and ruin... unless that woman is Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective with a knack for manipulation. Kate is able to infiltrate the seedy side of the city in ways her fellow detectives can't. She's a seductress, an exotic foreign medium, or a rich train passenger, all depending on the day. Inspired by the real story of Kate Warne, this novel follows the detective's rise during one of the nation's greatest times of crisis, bringing to life a fiercely independent woman whose forgotten triumphs helped sway the fate of the country.

Why You'll Like It: If you loved Harriet because she was fierce, unapologetic and serious spy material, you will love learning more about Kate Warne through this fictionalized account of her life as the nation's first female detective.

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Loved 'The Baby-Sitter's Club'? Read 'Ten Girls To Watch' by Charity Shumway

What It's About: Like so many other recent graduates, Dawn West is trying to make her way in New York City. So when Dawn lands a job tracking down the past winners of Charm magazine's "Ten Girls to Watch" contest, she's thrilled. After all, she's being paid to interview hundreds of fascinating women: once outstanding college students, they have gone on to become mayors, opera singers, and air force pilots. As Dawn gets to know their life stories, she'll discover that success, love, and friendship can be found in the most unexpected of places. Most importantly, she'll learn that while those who came before us can be role models, ultimately, we each have to create our own happy ending.

Why You'll Like It: You won't see any baby-sitters here. But what you will recognize is the determination, spunk, entrepreneurial attitude and girl power ferocity you identified with and loved about your favorite group of friends.

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Loved 'A Wrinkle In Time'? Read 'The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet' by Becky Chambers

What It's About: Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there. But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she‘s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war.

Why You'll Like It: Space. Time travel. Human interest. You've got it all here in the perfect adult sci-fi meets literary fiction package.

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Loved 'Tuck Everlasting?' Read 'Everything All At Once' by Katrina Leno

What It's About: Lottie Reeves has always struggled with anxiety, and when her beloved Aunt Helen dies, Lottie begins to fear that her own unexpected death might be waiting around every corner. Aunt Helen wasn’t a typical aunt. She was the author of the best–selling Alvin Hatter series, about siblings who discover the elixir of immortality. In her will, she leaves one last writing project — just for Lottie. It’s a series of letters, each containing mysterious instructions designed to push Lottie out of her comfort zone. Soon, Lottie’s trying some writing of her own, leaping off cliffs, and even falling for a boy she’s only just met. Then the letters reveal an extraordinary secret about the inspiration for the Alvin Hatter series. Lottie finds herself faced with an impossible choice, one that will force her to confront her greatest fear once and for all.

Why You'll Like It: Leno borrows heavily from themes in Tuck (the meaning of life, immortality, legacy) but brings a modern sensibility to the story with a YA bucket list, mental health representation, subtle magic, a J.K. Rowling-esque Aunt and lots and lots of book talk.

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