Favorite Children’s Books

Here are my top 10 favorite books from childhood.  They’re not presented in order- just how they came to me.

A big thank you to all the wonderful authors who filled my hours with wonder.

1. Bunnicula– by James Howe :  Harold the dog narrates with wry humor his life with the Monroes.  His best friend is Chester, the cat. (named after G. K. Chesterton).  Chester loves to read.  Harold loves books.  One day their owners bring home an abandoned bunny they found at the movie theater.  The film they’d been watching just happened to be…Dracula! Detective-in-the-making Chester is certain the cute little bunny is really a vampire.  He does sleep all day…

and Howliday Inn- by James Howe :  In this fantastic sequal, Harold and Chester are banished to horror-of-all-horrors…an animal kennel while the Monroes go on vacation.  Flirtatious French poodles, love triangles, and animals that go missing during the night…

note: yes, I know that’s two books.   It’s my own blog.  I’ll cheat if I want to.

2.  The Secret Garden- by Frances Hodgson Burnett:  After the death of her parents, Mary goes to live with her uncle in a mysterious manor on the Yorkshire Moors.

3.  Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield: Paulina, Petrova, and Posy are adopted by an eccentric rich older man who leaves them under the care of his servants.  Paulina dreams of being an actress, Posy lives to dance, and Petrova just wants to fix cars and learn how to fly…

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: Tomboyish, would-be-writer Jo (inspiration for many female authors to this day),  smart Meg, sweet Beth, artistic Amy.   Four sisters growing up during the Civil War with their mother.

5.  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis : Lucy discovers a magical closet in her uncle’s home that leads into the world of Narnia.  I’ll admit it.  As a kid,  I tried this.  I really did.  Never did find the correct closet.  Darn it!

6.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl : Charlie Bucket is one of five lucky children who win the chance to visit Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory.  Filled with bizarre characters,  delicious sweets, tons of humor, and a dab of sentiment- no film adaption has ever captured the heart of this novel.

7.  The Nancy Drew Mystery Series by Carolyn Keene: before I embarked on Agatha Christie- the titian haired sleuth kicked off my love of mysteries

8. The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder :Her true-life account of growing up on the Western prarie during the 19th century.

9.  Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren :  I wanted to be Pippi.  Enough said.

10.  I wanted to put Judy Blume here, but decided she will go in my “Favorite Young Adult Books” Post.  So, that leaves me room for one more book.   Charlotte’s Web?  Wind in the Willows?

Nope.  As wonderful as those are, it just came to me:  Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.  A young boy and his two coonhound pups.  (SOB!)

What were your favorite books as a child?

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  1. I love all of those. But Where the Red Fern Grows? Biggest Tear Jerker of all times! I’d have to add the Trixie Belden series to the list. I loved the old Honeybunch and Bobbsy Twins books from the 30’s too. Oh! Black Beauty! There’s another tear jerker. Um…National Velvet, Charlotte’s Web, Trumpet of the Swan, anything by Marguerite Henry, the Black Stallion series, Peter Pan, and Treasure Island would all have to go on my list.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  2. Oh, good list Mary!

    I knew people would come along and name some other really great ones. Yes, I felt sniffley just writing the title, “Where the Red Fern Grows”.

    I can’t believe I never read (or heard of) “Trixie Belden” until a few years ago. Someone told me she was a lot more fun than N. Drew?

  3. Let me see. I was an avid reader when I was a kid (still am, of course), but my taste ran more toward things like: Ramona series, Heathclief/Garfield, read along books on tape (history and Greek myths), Edgar Allan Poe, Robby the Robot and a bunch of others.

  4. When I was very small I loved the book “Are you my Mother?”. I don’t remember the author but it was about a baby bird who lost her mother. It would walk around asking various animals and objects “Are you my Mother?” I still have it and have read it to my kids.
    When I was a little older, I was addited to the “Sweet Valley High” series. This was popular in the mid to late 80’s.

  5. Oh, Trixie Belden was teh awesome! She was the spunky girl next door. I totally identified with her in a way I couldn’t with Nancy Drew. Nancy was like your friend’s awesome older sister with her cool car and hip friends. Trixie was me. She was everygirl.

  6. I’d forgotten all about Bunnicula! I loved that book. And most of the others on your list resonated with me as well. I was also a huge fan of Where the Wild Things Are and A Wrinkle in TIme.

  7. Hey Ralfast,

    The Ramona books were a blast.

    I also read Poe at a very early age. By nine, I was going into the adult section and the kids section by equal measure. But for this list, I decided to just stick with books considered “for children”. Read my first Sidney Sheldon when I was 10. But don’t think that would be fitting for this list. lol

  8. Hi Parker,

    I devoured SVH. Elizabeth, Jessica, Regina, Lila, Cara,Bruce Patman, Todd… yup.

  9. Mary,

    Too bad I don’t see any Trixie books around here. If I do- I’ll try to tackle one in German.

  10. Rachel,

    Glad I brought ya back memories of Bunnicula. A few years back when I was working in a bookstore, I was shelving it, and then on a whim decided to purchase a copy. I’m certain it gives me more laughs now as an adult than reading it as a kid.

    – Hey, does anyone recall “From the Mixed up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwweiler?” Just remembered that one. A sister and brother run away and live inside a museum. It was a lot of fun.

  11. Oh, I loved the Mixed up Files! I hear you on reading “adult” as a child. I was probably ten when I discovered Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh.

    I remember my favorite early chapter book was called “Andrew Henry’s Meadow” about a group of misfit kids that run away and build their own little city. Anyone else?

  12. Hey Mary,

    You just gave me a thought. I think an upcoming post of mine will be how I discovered the joys of Christie.

    I ran over to amazon to see what “Andrew Henry’s Meadow” was about. Unfortunately, it doesn’t ring a bell. But it sounds like a lot of fun. Building houses to suit one’s hobby. Nice!

  13. Oh, and how could I forget. The best children book of all time: Le Petite Prince.

  14. Ralfast,

    …And more great ones keep coming.

  15. Charlotte’s Web and A Wrinkle in Time for me. How could anyone resist a talking spider, or the the antics of Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Whatsit?

  16. I loved the Ramona Quimby books. I also loved Nancy Drew, but I like the later Nancy Drews, which were called the Nancy Drew Files, which were less about ghosts and more about murders. Yeah, I know…I was a sick child.

  17. Oh, gosh, the memories!

    I loved the Little House series, and the Ramona Quimby books, and Judy Blume and Sweet Valley High (is that really children’s or YA? I don’t know), and lots more.

    I actually envy my sons getting to discover Harry Potter as a child. I loved the series as an adult, but I think some of the magic is lost that way. They get to experience it both ways. How cool is that?

  18. Hi Nancy,

    I think “Charlotte’s Web” is the reason I’ve never been afraid of spiders. 🙂

  19. Hey Colby,

    You sick? nah! lol

    I never read the Nancy Drew Files. Were those the “modernized” Nancy Drews that supposedly depicted her in college and dating other guys besides boring old whats-his-name?

  20. Hi Jen,

    I’d probably consider SVH to be YA.

    Judy Blume rocks. She’s on my, “to post about”- list.

    That’s an interesting thought regarding reading HP as a kid versus as an adult. You’re probably correct that some adults aren’t able to totally let themselves get lost in the magic.

    Luckily, that’s not a problem for me. A part of me will always be looking for that door into Narnia. 🙂

  21. I grew up reading Enid Blyton, who has (perhaps unsurprisingly) gone terribly out of fashion now.

    My boys have both loved Babette Cole’s “Dr Dog” and “Dr Xargle’s Book Of Earthletts” (who wrote that one? Can’t find it here now); and I still love “Can’t you Sleep, Little Bear?”. All three are illustrated books for much younger readers, but all three are magical books that follow me round like little friends. I’d recommend them all.

  22. Hi Howpublishingreallyworks, (wow! that’s a mouthful!)

    The name Enid Blyton is very familiar to me, although I can not recall if I read her books or not.

    I can totally understand you carrying around those other books with you. So many children’s books are even more enjoyable and magical when you are an adult. 🙂

  23. Here’s my list of current ballet children’s books–
    Gwendolyn, the Graceful Pig—new fun book with great illustrations
    Lili at Ballet—Rachel Isadora popular children’s book author
    Angelina ballerina—very funny series
    Sugar Plum ballerinas—whoopi Goldberg
    Cinderella Ballet Mystery—Nancy Drew takes ballet
    Tuttus and Toes shoes—going to ballet class
    Nina, Nina, Ballerina—everyone’s going to be in the dance recital
    Dancing in the Wings—ballerina who worries that her feet are too big

  24. Hi mhahn,

    I love ballet. I just ran over to your blog and read your post on ballet films. The Red Shoes is glorious.

    I had no idea they’d made a film adaption of the book, Ballet Shoes. Something else for me to look out for. 🙂

  25. If you can ever see La Mort Du Cygne, the black and white French movie, it will totally blow your mind. It was remade into a technicolor Hollywood film called Unfinished Dance but it’s kind of a weak remake. I do have some good musical YouTube dance sequences on the site under View Dance Video Excerpts. The movie, Ballet Shoes, isn’t bad. It’s with Emma Watson and was a popular BBC made for TV movie and they just put it out on DVD and are marketing it in the US.

  26. Hi mhahn,

    La Mort Du Cygne does sound great. Too bad it isn’t out on DVD. Thanks so much for the info on the films. Much appreciated.

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