I was a kid many, many moons ago. What planet has the most moons? That’s how many moons old I am. BUT, I remember quite well what it was like to be a kid; and most of all, I remember what books made the biggest impression on me. See, I was the girl who wore big, owl-framed, gold-rimmed glasses after losing her good vision at age 10 because I had the awful and wonderful habit of reading in near dark without adequate lighting, huddled in my bed, turning pages into the wee hours.
Even now and to this day, I think fondly of the books I’m going to share below. I still recall the feeling of finding them in the library or bookstore (Chestnut Books in Buffalo Grove, Illinois to be exact) or being gifted them from friends or loved ones. So if you’re looking for something new to get your kid who’s read everything or searching for a way to reconnect to your own past, take a look below. These books are not the latest, but to me, they are the greatest; and sparked and grew a love of reading deep within that I nurture in my many-moons old age.
- The Dark is Rising series
Oh my law. How I loved this whole darn sequence of books. An epic series of classic good vs. evil, the Dark is Rising plays on English folklore and like all good epics, features a motley group of do-gooders trying to figure out how to save the world from encroaching badness. I couldn’t get enough of these wonderful books and after reading them all, needed to keep the afterglow going by listening to them on records (old-timey equivalent to audio books). If you or your kid’s taste runs toward Harry Potter-like adventure, the Dark is Rising could scratch that itch – but fair warning: it’s a slow burn that takes its time setting the scene and story for what’s to come.
Get The Dark is Rising series
- The W.I.T.C.H. series
This was another series that captured my imagination as a kid. In fact, my manuscript-in-progress is directly inspired by these books from Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. (Maybe a little too much. I just re-read the series’ book summary and it’s clear I was VERY impacted by the plot of these middle-grade novels.)
The basic premise of these books (there are 6) revolves around the malevolent presence of a witch who moves next door to 11-year-old Lynn. There are all manner of hijinks that ensue, including the witch’s (Mrs. Tuggle’s) attempt to get Lynn’s friends and family under her evil sway, dead-people resurrection, and good old-fashioned possession (middle-school style). There is definitely a sense of foreboding and creepiness to these books that while intended for younger readers (say adolescents), feels a little scary. Of course, I loved it, but beware if your child/ren spook easily.
Get The Witch’s Sister (first in the series)
- The Chronicles of Prydain series
I have a theme apparently. This series represents another operatic clash between good and evil (the best books do, right?). I recall the SECOND I spotted one of these books in the library, wedged between all the other fantasy books, and the awed feeling of THIS IS MY NEXT THING TO READ IN HALF-LIGHT TONIGHT that accompanied my find. I think of this series like if The Princess Bride were more serious and epic. The main character is Taran, the assistant pig-keeper, and the books’ plots follow his hero’s journey. You may remember a movie based on the Black Cauldron, the second book in the series, but like movie adaptations can be, the film was but a shell of the actual book. The Chronicles of Prydain skews toward younger readers, but any self-respecting fantasy book lover will find something redeemable in these pages.
Get The Chronicles of Prydain
- The Tripods series
My friend, Lori, gifted me this whole set for my 12th birthday. At first glance, it seemed “boy-ey”, but I gave it a try one dark night and was immediately hooked. The Tripods refer to aliens – three-legged machine types – that descend upon Earth and take it over. The main character, Will, and his band of merry rebels, defy the Tripods rule and try to infiltrate their strongholds and defeat them. This series should appeal to sci-fi, dystopian book lovers, but its plot and “up-with-humans” acts of defiance will stoke the interest of any kid who digs underdog lit.
Get The Tripods series
- A Wrinkle in Time series
Many of us know A Wrinkle in Time. As for me, this was the first book love. My Auntie Jo gave me a set of “starter books” when I was 8 and A Wrinkle in Time was included (as was The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Black Beauty, and other first-in-a-series books that I devoured with my eyeballs). It’s very fair to say that A Wrinkle in Time made me want to be a writer. I couldn’t wait to create stories like it that made readers FEEL SOMETHING BIG, which in this case, was a burning desire for the main character, Meg, to discover the truth behind her dad’s mysterious and sudden disappearance. How I wish the movie made some years later could capture the epicness of this story, but……….it didn’t. There’s something so heartbreaking and urgent about Meg’s search for her dad; and the lovely camaraderie of those (of course it’s a motley crew again) who try to help her. A Wrinkle in Time is sci-fi fantasy, but also a coming-of-age story that like some of the others here, can be a slow burn, but so very, very compelling and worth the read.
Get the A Wrinkle in Time series
There you have it! (For now. I have so many other books to recommend. But this is a Five Things post, and so there we stop for today.)
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