Many of you asked to see my finalized list of classic children’s books for next term’s Child Studies course. Here it is. As it stands for now, anyway.
- I included only books I have read, or that I really should have read by now, or that I have some interest in reading.
- I want each student to become an “expert” on the book he/she chooses. Most of these books have stood the test of quite some time, so that the student can research the life of the author, book reviews, scholarly responses, the historical context, etc.
- I chose books suitable for children of 8-12 years old; they are mostly on the older end of this spectrum.
- Each student is expected to do a 10-minute presentation on one book. However, if two students want to present books by the same author, they may do a 20-minute presentation together. The either/or options at the end of this are for this purpose. So, for example, a student can decide to present alone on Charlotte’s Web; if another student wants to present on The Trumpet of the Swan, and the first student agrees, they can present together.
I have not included authors’ names here because I have been at the computer all day and can’t be bothered, but most of you will know who wrote most of these anyway.
I am conscious that this is a super WASPy list, and may try to make some adjustments to remedy this.
In addition to two books from this list, students will be required to read Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed and the first Harry Potter book.
This week, I reread The Railway Children and most of Five Children and It (both terrific, but The Railway Children wins.) I also spent a delightful half hour in my local second-hand bookshop, talking to the owner – a Francophone who has discovered a lot of English children’s books as an adult – about Harriet the Spy.
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
- The Phantom Tollbooth
- A Wrinkle in Time
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
- Harriet the Spy
- From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
- The Hobbit
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- Treasure Island
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
- Little House on the Prairie
- Island of the Blue Dolphins
- The Wind in the Willows
- Pippi Longstocking
- The Borrowers
- The Indian in the Cupboard
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
- Tuck Everlasting
- The Giver
- The Dark is Rising
- Swallows and Amazons
- Mine for Keeps
- The Secret World of Og
- Owls in the Family
- The Call of the Wild
- The Great Brain
- Where the Red Fern Grows
- The Cricket in Times Square
- The Incredible Journey
- What Katy Did
- Little Women
- Charlotte’s Web OR The Trumpet of the Swan
- The Secret Garden OR A Little Princess
- Then Again, Maybe I Won’t OR Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret
- James and the Giant Peach OR Danny the Champion of the World
- The Railway Children OR Five Children and It
- Anne of Green Gables OR Emily of New Moon
I will be delighted to hear more suggestions, to receive your approvals and disapprovals, and to answer questions. I’m sure there are plenty of opinions about what I’ve left off here; let me have it (there’s always next year’s list…).
Image by Lynne Lancaster
14 thoughts on “Children’s Book List: Finalized”
Great list! My only picky detail to share is that Treasure Island made the list twice (#9 & #17). I’d read lots of these twice!
Oops! Removed. I will try to see if I meant to put something else in its place…
Sioban–love the list! I’ll be very interested to hear how your class project turns out. You’ve done so MUCH more than poll us for our suggestions, and for that I thank you, It’s clear that all those who responded connected/re-connected with much loved books from their younger years, discovered books they’d never heard of before, shared memories of treasured books, and that you, personally, were inspired to read some children’s books you’d always wanted to read.
Actually, I see a book in the making about the project itself, and the enthusiastic responses from your blog readers!!!!
in your “spare” time :-), you might enjoy reading (and have your students read) How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen. It’s a slim 84 pages of wonderful.
So happy to see Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Giver, Harriet the Spy, Tuck Everlasting, and Hatchet on there. I personally hated The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, but it is a classic.
If you want more suggestions, I highly recommend Running Out of Time and Shades of Gray (the book about a Civil War orphan, not the mommy porn).
Love the list! Especially The Phantom Tollbooth and The Secret World of Og, 2 personal favourites which are often overlooked. However, I don’t think 8-12 year olds are the intended audience for To Kill a Mockingbird despite the protagonist’s young age. Might I suggest Alanna by Tamara Pierce? My daughter and I loved reading it together when she was that age.
You could always call the course “Classic Children’s Literature” and have the students comment on the WASPy nature of these books…most of them are quite old, so you could deal with the fact that for a long time there weren’t many books that reflect the very real diversity in Canada/North America/England and the experiences of non-WASPy folk.
I still think you could check out this one: The House With a Clock in its Walls – er, when you’ve got a bit more time. I forgot, unbelievably, that Edward Gorey did the original illustrations.
I would suggest some Asimov (Foundation or Robot novels) to get a little more nerd-friendly(I read “Fantastic Voyage” when I was 8 and love it to this day)
Also, I remember getting into Sir Arthur Conan Doyle around that time(Sherlock Holmes: Hound of the Baskervilles)
Love this list. Gives me some new ideas for my grade 4 students.
I read almost all of these books in elementary and middle school! They are my favorite. What a great list! I am jealous of your students.
I could also recommend Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, which has been well liked since the 80s. Savvy by Ingrid Law is newer (2009 Newberry Honor Book), but it’s certainly a good read and offers plenty to discuss. And no offense to Neil Gaimin, but it should have one the Newberry that year.
I agree with the previous post about Ender’s Game. That has to be one of my favorites. I would also add SE Hinton’s The Outsiders.
Jungle Book and Kim by Rudyard Kipling
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
The Time Machine by H.G.Wells
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Vernes