Tuesday, January 27, 2009

my favourite children's books (1) chapter books

Here's a list of my all time favourite chapter books for children and teenagers, as promised. With very few exceptions (when one of my kids, a good friend or her child adores them) these are the kids' books I love the most.

Most of them are books I enjoyed as a child, some I discovered as a young adult, and others I found as I searched for books to read to my kids. I'm a great fan of children's and teenage fiction, so I add more to my list every year!

There are many, many others I could have included, including lots I'll be encouraging my kids to read as they get older (Treasure Island, Tom Sawyer, Obernewtyn etc.) but this is a personal list, and I've only included my favourites.

Ages are only approximate, as every child and parent is different. There are a few adult books in the teenage section which I enjoyed at that age, and some collections of stories and 1 or 2 books of poetry have snuck onto the list.

Please add your own favourite children's books to the comments. I'd especially like to hear about well written, well produced, theologically astute Christian books for kids - but I'm also interested in all kinds of other books, as you can see! I hope you enjoy browsing the list, and perhaps choosing some to read yourself, or to your child.

young children
Paul White Jungle Doctor Fables
Enid Blyton Faraway Tree series, Wishing Chair series, Naughtiest Girl in the School series (I could keep going)
Joyce Lankester Brisley Milly-Molly-Mandy
Dorothy Edwards My Naughty Little Sister
Ruth Park The Adventures of the Muddle-Headed Wombat
Leslie Rees The Big Book of Digit Dick
James Herriot James Herriot's Treasury for Children
Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter
Rev. W. Audrey Thomas the Tank Engine
A.A. Milne Winnie the Pooh (although I like his poems better - When We Were Very Young and Now We are Six)

early to late primary
CS Lewis The Chronicles of Narnia
Patricia M St John Treasures of the Snow, The Tanglewoods Secret, Rainbow Garden (all of her other books too!)
Irene Howat Ten Boys who Changed the World / Made History series and Ten Girls who Didn't Give In / Made a Difference series (Christian biography for kids)
Paul White Jungle Doctor series
John Bunyan Pilgrim's Progress
Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series
Arthur Ransome Swallows and Amazons series
Elizabeth Goudge The Little White Horse
Elizabeth Enright's Melendy quartet: The Saturdays, The Four-Story Mistake, Then There Were Five, Spiderweb for Two
Noel Streatfeild Ballet Shoes, White Boots, Gemma series (I love everything she writes)
Fraces Hodgson Burnett The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Little Lord Fauntleroy
E Nesbit The Railway Children, The Story of the Treasure Seekers, Five Children and It trilogy
Astrid Lindgren The Bullerby Children series
Johanna Spyri Heidi series
Robert C O'Brien Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimb
Roald Dahl Danny the Champion of the World, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda (I love most of his books)
Kenneth Grahame The Wind in the Willows
E.B. White Charlotte's Web
Tove Jansson Finn Family Moomintroll series
Dodie Smith 101 Dalmations
Meindert Dejong The Wheel on the School
Mary Norton The Borrowers series
S.A. Wakefield Bottersnikes and Gumbles
Susan Coolidge What Katy Did series
Elyne Mitchell The Silver Brumby series
George MacDonald "A Little Princess" in The Light Princess and Other Stories, The Princess and the Goblin
Susan Adler Samantha, Valerie Tripp et al Josefina, Janet Beeler Shaw Kirsten, Connie Rose Porter et al Addy, and the rest of the American Girl series
Emily Rodda Fairy Realm series (excellent Australian author)
Enid Blyton Famous Five series, Malory Towers series, St. Claire's series
Beverley Cleary Ramona the Pest series, Ralph Mouse series (I've enjoyed all her books)
Eleanor Estes The Moffats series
Glenda Millard The Naming of Tishkin Silk, Layla Queen of Hearts
Hugh Lofting Dr. Doolittle series
Elisabeth Beresford The Wombles series
Lewis Carroll Alice in Wonderland (I'm not such a fan, but my 5 year old loves it)
May Gibbs Snugglepot and Cuddlepie
Hans Christian Anderson The Complete Fairy Tales
Jenny Nimmo Dog Star (a good author to look out for)
Alexander McCall Smith Akimbo books
Kate Dicamillo The Tale of Despereaux

older primary to early high
Marie Barham Blossom of the Crag
Sallie Lee Bell Until the Day Break
JRR Tolkien The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy
Madeleine L'Engle A Wrinkle in Time
Richard Adam Watership Down
Paul Gallico Jennie, Thomasina (I love all his books)
Louisa May Alcott Little Women series
Robert O'Brien The Silver Crown
Tamora Pierce Protector of the Small quartet, Circle of Magic quartet and The Circle Opens quartet
James Herriot All Creatures Great and Small series
Gerald Durrell My Family and Other Animals trilogy, Encounters with Animals (and all his books)
Mary Mapes Dodge Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates
Norton Juster The Phantom Tollbooth
L.M. Montgomery Anne of Green Gables series
Katherine Paterson Bridge to Terebithia
Alison Uttley A Traveller in Time
William Horwood Duncton Wood
Jean Craighead George Julie of the Wolves Trilogy, My Side of the Mountain Trilogy
Emily Rodda Rowan of Rin series
J.K. Rowling Harry Potter series
Colin Thiele Blue Fin

CS Lewis The Space Trilogy, Till We Have Faces
Isobel Kuhn By Searching
Corrie Ten Boon The Hiding Place
E.L. Konigsberg From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (I enjoyed all her books)
Dodie Smith I Capture the Castle
Robert O'Brien Z for Zachariah
John Marsden So Much to Tell You, Letters from the Inside, Tomorrow series (some sexual content)
Todd Strasser The Wave
Jack London The Call of the Wild
Margaret Balderson When Jays Fly to Barbmo

mid to late teen
Anne Frank The Diary of Anne Frank
Ursula Le Guin The Earthsea Quartet
John Wyndham The Crysalids, The Day of the Triffids and all the rest
Chaim Potok The Chosen, My Name is Asher Lev
Miss Read Village School series
Mary Renault The Bull from the Sea
Mary Stewart Merlin Trilogy
H.G.Wells The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds
John Knowles A Separate Peace
Alan Paton Cry, the Beloved Country
Margaret Craven I Heard the Owl Call My Name
Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes
Shakespeare Complete Works
Robert Frost The Poetry of Robert Frost
Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice and the rest!
Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre

image is from emilywjones at Flickr.com


Wendy said...

What a great list and helpful resource - I plan to keep it somewhere safe for the many years of reading we still have ahead of us. My son is 5 and we have already enjoyed The Magic Faraway Tree series and some Roald Dahl. This now gives me some great ideas about what to try next - thanks! Wendy

charissa said...

I loved "When Jays Fly to Barbmo" as a kid and I have more recently found and loved "I Heard the Owl Call my Name". But not many people seem to have heard of them. I'm glad to find a fellow fan.

Jean said...

How about that?! Any others you love which aren't on the list? I'd love to read them if there are!

charissa said...

Getting me started on my favourite books is a dangerous thing! But here goes anyway. I love Melina Marchetta of "Looking for Alibrandi" fame. My favourite of hers is "Saving Francesca". "I Coriander" by Sally Gardner I have recently discovered and really enjoyed. And "Playing Beattie Bow" by Ruth Park is an old favourite. I have loved and read (and still reread) many of the others on your list. I am a big L. M. Montgomery fan, My favourites of hers are "Rilla of Ingleside", "Jane of Lantern Hill" and "The Blue Castle". Anyway I could go on forever about my favourite books. But it definitely feels like you connect with someone when you know the same people and have visited the same places through your favourite books, so thanks for sharing!

Hunnah said...

Hi Jean, I have recently started reading your blog and have appreciated your honest and warm-hearted posts... Thanks for posting the book list; what an excellent treasury of books which I will print out and keep somewhere handy; some of my best memories are being read to as a child (including quite a few books off your list!). A couple of other classics read to me which I don't think are on there are Children on the Oregon Trail by A. Rutgers van der Loeff and The Silver Sword by Ian Seraillier...

Hannah Blake said...

Yes, The Silver Sword is fantastic! My Year 3 teacher read it to us and I just loved it.
My favourite children's books ever are the Seven Little Australians books by Ethel Turner (including The Family At Misrule, Little Mother Meg, and Judy and Punch) but also her book Three Little Maids.
I also like Judith Kerr's "When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit" (there are two sequels but I like this one best).
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt is great.
The "Chain of Charms" by Kate Forsyth series is recent in the last couple of years, about gypsies in the time of Cromwell.
As far as theology goes I'm not so sure - but I read (and loved) all the Haffertee Hamster books in kinder. They're not theology, but they are openly Christian.
Oh, one more! Poetry for kids: Kaye Webb's "I Like this Poem" is brilliant. It's an anthology of poems chosen by children and arranged into age groups from 6 to 15. Highly recommended!

Tasmanian said...

I found this site today and thought of you :)

Jean said...

Thanks for the link, Tasmanian! It looks good.