Classic Children’s Books

by thiszine

I never knew until recently what a list fiend I am. I’ve always dismissed “top ten” lists (which is probably why I’ve never enjoyed David Letterman) and all those “What’s hot/What’s not” lists in various magazines. And yet here I am again writing up another list for this zine’s blog. I guess I love book lists (I keep an active Goodreads account, both for the blog and for myself).


In the spirit of excellent lists (as opposed to mediocre lists), here’s NPR’s A Classic List of Children’s Must-Read Books (with comments).


The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
I loved The Boxcar Children series growing up and read all of the originals plus extras written by ghost writers after Warner had passed on. Mystery, thrills, orphans, boxcars (though it took me a while to learn what, exactly, a boxcar was) this series was my first of many obsessions.


The Witches by Roald Dahl
I’ve actually never read The Witches. (gasp!) In fact, I never read any Roald Dahl growing up, unless it was for school (James and Giant Peach). I did, however, see the movie Mathilda, based on a Dahl book, probably thousands of times as a babysitter of young children. I’ll have to add this to my list of books to read.


The Devil’s Storybook by Natalie Babbitt
Ditto to this. Never read it though I love the title.


Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster
Ditto. Man, NPR is busting me up.


Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Wasn’t there a Lindsey Lohan movie of the same title?


The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer
I loved this book growing up, even if I didn’t quite get it. What’s not to love: he boy representing the .5 in the 2.5 kids for the average American family; the Promethean task the protagonist is given; the wonderful and curious illustrations. I need to go back and re-read this one.


The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois
Okay, wow, another one I’ve never read. Did I just have an abnormal childhood?


From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg
Konigsburg’s tale combined two of my favorite things growing up: learning and mysteries. While I can’t quite remember all the details of the mystery involved, I do remember my immense jealousy that the siblings in the story were able to stay the night in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, long before Ben Stiller hit the Smithsonian with a synergized pale comparison.


Watership Down by Richard Adams
I truly must be the only American youth who has not read Watership Down. I’ve heard lots about it though: talking rabbits, references in Donnie Darko, death, destruction. One of those classics I suppose I should pick up someday and enjoy with the pessimism of an adult.


The House with the Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs, illustrated by Edward Gorey
I’ve never even heard of this but I love Edward Gorey’s dark drawings and twisted humor. This is definitely on my to-read list.

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