One of the most asked questions I get as a children's librarian revolves around book lists. From award winning and appropriate reading level lists, I have to say I have a love/hate relationship with them. I understand the books on those lists are definitely important novels elementary school aged kids should be reading but these days it's hard to get kids to read. I know Harry Potter and the Percy Jackson series are all the rage (don't get me wrong, I'm the biggest Harry Potter fan you'll ever meet!) but I love suggesting some of my childhood favorites and many of them don't have award stickers on the front cover. Growing up in my house, my siblings and I were fortunate that our parents let us read whatever we wanted, there was little restriction. Except for the few times my sister and I would sneak into my brother's room to read Stephen King books or thumb through pages in Jurassic Park, looking for the graphic description on how Dennis Nedry was eaten by a dinosaur.
Lucky for me, the excitement when my regular families come running to me telling me how much they enjoyed books I've suggested over the years, makes me happy that I can share my favorites with them. You may be surprised to know that Harriet the Spy didn't win any major awards when it was published in the seventies. It was controversial and banned in Midwest schools and it most certainly wasn't a book that little girls were encouraged to read at the time. However, it still remains one of my favorite books. Matilda (written by Roald Dahl), Sideway Stories (written by Louis Sachar, author of Holes), The Egypt Game (by Zelpha Keatley Snyder) were among some of favorite books growing up. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil Frankweiler is hands down one of the best children's book ever written, read it. Read it over and over and over. One of my favorite teachers came in for a class visit the other day, we spent forty minutes talking about it.
(images via amazon)