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>Top 100 Children’s Literature Books

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>I don’t know how or where this list originated, but I found it at Book Nut. Melissa has done very well, reading 81/100. Not only that, she’s read every one of the top 25. I had hoped to make as well of a showing, but no joy. Less than half.

I’ve been able to read for over 40 years now! I read all the time when I was a kid! Why are there so many gaps in my children’s literature reading? I believe that part of it is because I actually preferred biographies when I was a child. Beverly Cleary novels were great, but nothing satisfied like a biography. I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder but that was practically biography.

Later, in middle school I went back and filled some gaps (like the Betsy-Tacy series, Harriet The Spy, Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s novels) then forgot all about children’s literature until my son graduated from picture books to chapter books. Thanks to him, I filled more gaps. The fearless leader of BOOKLEAVES, Veronica, has a fondness for children’s literature and I’ve been able to do some catch-up there, but this list still has more holes than Swiss cheese.

The beauty part is that for some reason, children’s books are so available and very affordable here in Korea — both the classic and the new. With a little effort, I could fill these holes faster than a bored 4-year-old with a metal colander and a fresh can of Play-Doh. Possible project for the next Readathon?

I wonder what Peter over at Collecting Children’s Books thinks of this list. Has he read all 100? Would he notice any skewing towards particular authors? Would he hone in on any glaring omissions? I’m wondering where Lassie-Come-Home and Old Yeller are. What about My Friend Flicka? Where’s Linda Sue Park? What about Sounder?

Here’s the list and my explanations, rationalizations and assorted blather.

100. The Egypt Game – Snyder (1967). YES. In seventh grade, I went through a ZKS stage. This novel was good, but I preferred The Witches of Worm and The Headless Cupid. Snyder has such a cool, creepy, disaffected feel.

99. The Indian in the Cupboard – Banks (1980) YES. It didn’t rock my world, but my son defends it, saying it’s a masterpiece compared to the movie.

98. Children of Green Knowe – Boston (1954) NO. I’ve never even heard of this book.

97. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane – DiCamillo (2006) NO. DiCamillo’s on this list a lot, isn’t she? Do you think that number will drop back a little over the next few years?

96. The Witches – Dahl (1983) NO. What I really mean is NOT YET.

95. Pippi Longstocking – Lindgren (1950) YES. I loved how Pippi had her own house and was strong enough to lift a grown man over her head and all of her other eccentricities. I kept wondering why Tommy and Annika’s mother didn’t butt in more, but I was glad she didn’t.
94. Swallows and Amazons – Ransome (1930) NO. I’ve never heard of this book.

93. Caddie Woodlawn – Brink (1935) YES. Caddie was a lot like Laura Ingalls, so I liked her.

92. Ella Enchanted – Levine (1997) NO. I could be persuaded to read it, but I probably won’t on my own.

91. Sideways Stories from Wayside School – Sachar (1978) NO. But anything by the author of Holes is more than OK by me!

90. Sarah, Plain and Tall – MacLachlan (1985) YES. Good thing it’s such a short book because it’s a little slow-moving.

89. Ramona and Her Father – Cleary (1977) YES. One would have thought that Beverly Cleary would fall out of step with the times, but she kept rocking it hard.

88. The High King – Alexander (1968) NO. I’ve seen Alexander’s books, but have never been interested.

87. The View from Saturday – Konigsburg (1996) NO. Hey, why isn’t Jennifer, Hecate, MacBeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth on this list? That was a hilarious book!

86. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Rowling (1999) YES. This is my favorite of the five HPs I’ve read.

85. On the Banks of Plum Creek – Wilder (1937) YES. Anything Wilder is wonderful, but I’d really rather see The Long Winter here. On second thought, it is fun to watch Laura bring it to that little snob Nellie Oleson.

84. The Little White Horse – Goudge (1946) NO. I’m starting to feel the pinch of ignorance.

83. The Thief – Turner (1997) NO. This is part of The Queen’s Thief series. I wouldn’t mind giving it a try.

82. The Book of Three – Alexander (1964) NO. Maybe I’d like Lloyd Alexander if I tried him. I don’t know. Sigh.
81. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon – Lin (2009) NO. But if I see it, I’m seriously thinking of grabbing it.

80. The Graveyard Book – Gaiman (2008) NO. Someday, I must get around to Neil Gaiman. If I don’t, I think my book-twin will disown me.

79. All-of-a-Kind-Family – Taylor (1951) NO. How did I miss this one? If I’d seen it when I was in elementary school, I would’ve been all over it. I loved “olden days” stories.

78. Johnny Tremain – Forbes (1943) NO. Another NOT YET.

77. The City of Ember – DuPrau (2003) NO. I’m not familiar with this book, but my son says there’s a movie version.

76. Out of the Dust – Hesse (1997) NO. Yet another NOT YET. I love Depression-era stories.

75. Love That Dog – Creech (2001) NO. But/It looks as if/It could be/a really fun/Read

74. The Borrowers – Norton (1953) YES/NO. I checked it out from the library during 2009 and got sidetracked around page 50. I’ll get back to it, especially since it’s a library book which makes the price right.

73. My Side of the Mountain – George (1959) YES. I read it a couple of years ago, but I fear that I read it too late in life. I’m sure I would have loved it when I was younger.

72. My Father’s Dragon – Gannett (1948) NO. But a book by Ruth Stiles Gannett can’t be anything but good. I was totally charmed by her illustrations in John Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat.

71. The Bad Beginning – Snicket (1999) NO. I’m sure I’d like it, but then I’d feel compelled to read the rest of the series which provokes me in a negative way.

70. Betsy-Tacy – Lovelace (1940) YES! Hooray for Betsy and Tacy and Tib, too!

69. The Mysterious Benedict Society – Stewart ( 2007) NO. I could be persuaded, but you’d have to work at it for a while.

68. Walk Two Moons – Creech (1994) NO. But I could be easily convinced.

67. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher – Coville (1991) NO. Oooh, it sounds so cute! Who can resist a title like that?

66. Henry Huggins – Cleary (1950) YES. Mrs. Reed, my 3rd grade teacher started reading it to the class one day. I guess a few kids were acting up because she got mad and stopped. She never picked it up again. I had to leave my beloved biography section and track it down in fiction so I could find out what happened next, which got me into the wonderful world of Cleary.

65. Ballet Shoes – Streatfeild (1936) YES. I also read and enjoyed Dancing Shoes.

64. A Long Way from Chicago – Peck (1998) NO. I keep circling this in the bookstore. One of these times I’ll go for it.

63. Gone-Away Lake – Enright (1955) NO. I’m pleased but surprised that Elizabeth Enright has made such a strong showing on this list.

62. The Secret of the Old Clock – Keene (1959) YES. But my favorite Nancy Drew book is the next one, The Hidden Staircase.

61. Stargirl – Spinelli (2000) NO. I read a book a few years ago by Spinelli called Who Put That Hair In My Toothbrush? The novel featured a brother and sister who took alternating chapters and were always bickering. It wasn’t very interesting to me, and the cover illustration of a hair carefully entwined in a toothbrush put me off of Spinelli, perhaps permanently.

60. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle – Avi (1990) NO. I just read Kidnapped this year, so I think I’d enjoy this book.

59. Inkheart – Funke (2003) NO. Can’t seem to summon any interest.

58. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase – Aiken (1962) NO. Well, I read the first chapter while killing time in the library back in 8th grade and have never gotten back to it. As I remember, it was quite dramatic. I’d try it again.

57. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 – Cleary (1981) YES. [insert more gushing about Beverly Cleary here]

56. Number the Stars – Lowry (1989) NO. But one of the number-one books of my childhood was The Silver Sword a.k.a. Escape From Warsaw, so I’m sure I’d love this one.

55. The Great Gilly Hopkins – Paterson (1978) NO. I’ve read Jacob Have I Loved and Bridge To Terebithia and enjoyed them both, so there’s no reason not to give this one a shot. From her description, Gilly Hopkins reminds me of Queenie Peavy, a book I read in elementary school.

54. The BFG – Dahl (1982) YES. Hooray for Roald Dahl, the kid version and the adult version. The fiction author and the memoir writer. Heart, heart, heart. Now, if only I could stop mangling this title, constantly referring to it as the BFD.

53. Wind in the Willows – Grahame (1908) NO. I feel kind of illiterate, admitting this.

52. The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007) NO. But I can fix this straightaway! This is one of the few children’s books in that messy stew of a fiction section at the Bybee-ary.

51. The Saturdays – Enright (1941) YES. In 5th grade, I read and loved this book. We had to do book reports and I stood up in front of the class and practically pleaded with them to read this book. I also asked them to stop calling me Susan and start calling me Randy, after the younger Melendy girl.

50. Island of the Blue Dolphins – O’Dell (1960) NO. This is another one that I keep telling myself I’ll get around to. NOT YET.

49. Frindle – Clements (1996) NO. But it sounds like fun. I wish “frindle” were a word — it would be a bingo in Scrabble.

48. The Penderwicks – Birdsall (2005) NO. Is this a movie? I seem to remember seeing something like the described plot during a recent airplane ride.

47. Bud, Not Buddy – Curtis (1999) YES! This is the last children’s literature book I read, and it was terrific. Lines from it run through my head constantly and I’d read it again in a heartbeat.

46. Where the Red Fern Grows – Rawls (1961) YES. Old Dan and Little Ann!

45. The Golden Compass – Pullman (1995) NO.

44. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing – Blume (1972) YES. I’m still a mixture of horror and laughter when I recall how Fudge swallowed Peter’s miniature turtle.

43. Ramona the Pest – Cleary (1968) YES. There are so many memorable scenes: The Qs that looked like cats, “What’s a ‘dawnzer’?” The little girl with the springy curls, a quarter after 8 = 8:25. Heart, heart, heart.

42. Little House on the Prairie – Wilder (1935) YES. This is the best-crafted of the series, with journeys on either end of the book. Garth Williams’ illustrations are brilliant.

41. The Witch of Blackbird Pond – Speare (1958) YES. Another one I read when I was too old. Kit didn’t captivate me. It felt as if Speare was trying too hard to create a plucky heroine. Also, the scene near the end where the husband finally grows a pair and tells his unpleasant wife off in front of the whole town smacked of 1950s television.

40. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Baum (1900) YES. Surprisingly, I read this before seeing the 1939 film version, so I was quite critical of the movie at first. I have since grown to love and revere it on its own terms. That was my only outing with Baum, though.

39. When You Reach Me – Stead (2009) NO…NOT YET.

38. HP and the Order of the Phoenix – Rowling (2003) YES. I really don’t mind Rowling hogging so many spots on the list. She helped make reading cool to kids that would never have considered such a possibility. Also, once upon a time, she was an EFL teacher. Go, Jo!

37. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry – Taylor (1976) NO. But I want to.

36. Are You there, God? It’s Me, Margaret – Blume (1970) YES. I really didn’t like it at all. I read this one in 6th grade and I thought Margaret was nutty for wanting breasts and her period.

35. HP and the Goblet of Fire – Rowling (2000) YES.

34. The Watsons Go to Birmingham – Curtis (1995) NOT YET. I really want to read this book.

33. James and the Giant Peach – Dahl (1961) YES.

32. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH – O’Brian (1971) NO. I’m not really interested.

31. Half Magic – Eager (1954) NO. Another book I’ve never heard of.

30. Winnie-the-Pooh – Milne (1926) YES. Gorgeous stuff.

29. The Dark Is Rising – Cooper (1973) NO. I don’t know anything about this book.

28. A Little Princess – Burnett (1905) YES. This is my favorite of Burnett’s books.

27. Alice I and II – Carroll (1865/72) NO. The stench of my own illiteracy is starting to gag and overpower me.

26. Hatchet – Paulsen (1989) YES. I read this during the first season of Survivor. A year or so later, I bought the audiobook and taught the novel in my ESL class. We finished up by watching Cast Away.

25. Little Women – Alcott (1868/9) YES! I love this book. If I were ever to start an Odd Shelf, it would consist of all versions of LW in every possible language.

24. HP and the Deathly Hallows – Rowling (2007) NO. I read 1-5. Are all of the HP books on this list but one?

23. Little House in the Big Woods – Wilder (1932) YES. I love Pa’s family stories. He’s such a prominent character in this novel, obviously the parent Laura identifies with.

22. The Tale of Despereaux – DiCamillo (2003) YES. I didn’t like it — found it annoying from beginning to end. If it hadn’t been a book group book, I would’ve abandoned it. No taste for any further forays into the DiCamillo canon.

21. The Lightning Thief – Riordan (2005) YES. Another book group selection. This one’s a winner. The stories of encounters with the gods are updated creatively and winningly and the whole story of Percy Jackson the demi-god has a pleasurably grubby middle-school feel. I didn’t like that they’re high-school age in the movie.

20. Tuck Everlasting – Babbitt (1975) NO. I’m not familiar with this book.

19. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Dahl (1964) YES. I didn’t encounter Dahl until middle school, but it was love at first sight. This was the book that started it all.

18. Matilda – Dahl (1988) YES. My son and I read this one together. Fun.

17. Maniac Magee – Spinelli (1990) NO. If I take on 24 hours of children’s literature for the next Readathon, I might toss this one in the pile. Maybe.

16. Harriet the Spy – Fitzhugh (1964) YES! This book has become part of my landscape; it’s practically internalized. I can’t even describe how much I love it. Jill from BOOKLEAVES suggested this as a future read. I’d be up for that. I guess I won’t get into my bitterness about the movie version.
15. Because of Winn-Dixie – DiCamillo (2000) NO. I like dog stories, but I don’t have any plans to read this book.

14. HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Rowling (1999) YES.

13. Bridge to Terabithia – Paterson (1977) YES. One of the few books where I was totally caught unaware by a plot twist. Sucker punched. Very effective, terribly moving.

12. The Hobbit – Tolkien (1938) NO. My secret shame. In high school, I loved a boy who loved this book and I couldn’t even read it for him.

11. The Westing Game – Raskin (1978) NO. I’m not sure it’s my type of book.

10. The Phantom Tollbooth – Juster (1961) NO. I want to — I just haven’t yet. I want to find out what’s to become of Milo.

9. Anne of Green Gables – Montgomery (1908) YES. I finally got around to the Anne series a couple of years ago and enjoyed it so much. I’m contemplating a visit to PEI.

8. The Secret Garden – Burnett (1911) YES. I like the concept of how working in the garden improves Mary and the other children within and without, but the execution left me a little cold.

7. The Giver -Lowry (1993) NO. NOT YET. This is one of my son’s favorites.

6. Holes – Sachar (1998) YES. By force. My son pressed his library copy into my hands one Sunday evening and said: You’ve got to read this book. Read it now. Read it. So I did, and I’m glad. The movie adaptation is excellent as well.

5. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – Koningsburg (1967) YES. I thought Claudia was so clever, deciding to live at the museum. I remember entertaining similar plans after reading this book.

4. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – Lewis (1950) YES. Narnia doesn’t thrill me; I probably read this too late in life. All I can see is the allegory.

3. Harry Potter #1 – Rowling (1997) YES.

2. A Wrinkle in Time – L’Engle (1962) NO. My son told me that Junot Diaz was visiting a university or college and asked the assembled students who the villian was in AWIT. No one knew! I guess I wouldn’t have either.

1. Charlotte’s Web – White (1952) YES. A whimsical story with drama, a fair-sized dash of sly Yankee humor and an author who was a master word craftsman and as if all that weren’t enough, an illustrator who was a star. This book is perfection.

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