Children’s Book List: Finalized

mCTJspoDear Readers:

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.

My criteria:

  • 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.

  1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  2. The Phantom Tollbooth
  3. A Wrinkle in Time
  4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  5. Harriet the Spy
  6. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
  7. The Hobbit
  8. To Kill a Mockingbird
  9. Treasure Island
  10. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  11. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  12. Little House on the Prairie
  13. Island of the Blue Dolphins
  14. The Wind in the Willows
  15. Pippi Longstocking
  16. The Borrowers
  17. The Indian in the Cupboard
  18. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
  19. Hatchet
  20. Holes
  21. Tuck Everlasting
  22. The Giver
  23. The Dark is Rising
  24. Heidi
  25. Swallows and Amazons
  26. Mine for Keeps
  27. The Secret World of Og
  28. Owls in the Family
  29. The Call of the Wild
  30. The Great Brain
  31. Where the Red Fern Grows
  32. The Cricket in Times Square
  33. The Incredible Journey
  34. What Katy Did
  35. Little Women
  36. Charlotte’s Web OR The Trumpet of the Swan
  37. The Secret Garden OR A Little Princess
  38. Then Again, Maybe I Won’t OR Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret
  39. James and the Giant Peach OR Danny the Champion of the World
  40. The Railway Children OR Five Children and It
  41. 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

  1. 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.


  2. 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.


  3. 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.


  4. 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.


  5. Great list!
    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)


  6. 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.


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