Sunday, December 28, 2008

Enormous Can of Worms (Can Opener Included!)

As I've only been in this country a few years, I'm still discovering which books are considered quintessential American children’s books. Often I’ve heard about books on your blog, which I’ve then gone on to read. Since there’s only so much I can gather from your header pic and because I trust your opinion, I wonder if, at some point, you’d be interested in ‘gifting’ your readers with a list of books you consider essential reading? Perhaps separate lists for PB, MG, YA? I imagine there are many readers and authors out there who would appreciate that.
This is an impossible task. This is akin to trying to walk over every inch of a mountain and still make it to the top in a day. Two years later you could still be in the foothills.

And I know no matter how thoughtful and diligent I was about such a list, inevitably I would leave something obvious out like The Invention of Hugo Cabret or Where the Wild Things Are and when the omission was pointed out to me I would feel like an idiot.

And! Let it be remembered that it is impossible to read all the good books. It was only a few years ago that I finally read The Giver, and fine, I'll go on record and admit I've still never read The Bridge to Terabithia. So you can quickly get into the quicksand of the difference between "read this and understand it before you go any further" vs. "you ought to at least have heard of this one".

But hell, why not? Now's a good time for quicksand projects.

However, I will only attempt this if it can be a joint undertaking with my readers. And if my readers will understand that I'll add their suggested titles only if they fit my personal, subjective sense of "required reading". (Otherwise readers' suggestions, none of which will be bad, will stay in the comments-- so read those, too. Readers-- feel free to make a short argument for your recommendation.) There are, after all, piles of books that you and I can both agree are wonderful and important in some way, but which I may not choose to put on the required reading list.

Oh, heck. What have I gotten myself into?

All the fairy tales (Grimm, Anderson, etc), and you wouldn't go wrong reading the works of the Opies.
Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day
Amelia Bedelia
The Big Orange Splot
Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See
The Cat in the Hat
Click Clack Moo
Curious George
Dr. De Soto
Fancy Nancy (I choke on this book, but you must know about it)
Frederick (or possibly Swimmy; something by Lionni)
Frog and Toad (Lobel)
The Giving Tree and Love You Forever (and may they both be a lesson to you)
Good Night Gorilla
Goodnight Moon
Harold and the Purple Crayon
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
Knuffle Bunny (and frankly you wouldn't go wrong reading the whole Willems oeuvre)
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse
Little Bear (Minarik)
The Little Engine That Could
Make Way for Ducklings
Miss Nelson Is Missing
No, David!
The Polar Express (and maybe some more Van Allsburg)
The Seven Silly Eaters
Show Way
The Stinky Cheese Man (and Other Fairly Stupid Tales)
The Story of Babar
Strega Nona
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
The Three Pigs
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
We're Going on a Bear Hunt
Where the Wild Things Are
William's Doll
Winnie the Pooh

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Alabama Moon
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Anne of Green Gables
Are You There God It's Me Margaret
The Bad Beginning
The Black Cauldron
The Bridge to Terabithia
Catherine Called Birdy
Charlotte's Web (and probably also The Trumpet of the Swan and Stuart Little)
Danny Champion of the World (or maybe The Witches-- at least something by Dahl)
Ender's Game
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler
The Giver
Harry Potter
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Julie of the Wolves
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
Little House in the Big Woods
A Long Way From Chicago
Ordinary Jack
Out of the Dust
Over Sea, Under Stone
The Phantom Tollbooth
Ramona Quimby, Age 8
Saffy's Angel (or something by McKay, dammit)
The Search for Delicious (or maybe Tuck Everlasting)
The Tale of Despereaux (hurp!)
The Toys Go Out
The Watsons Go to Birmingham
The Wee Free Men
The White Mountains
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
The Westing Game

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian
American Born Chinese
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing
The Book Thief
Catcher in the Rye
The Diary of Anne Frank
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
The Ear The Eye and the Arm
The Golden Compass
The Hero and the Crown
I Am the Cheese
King Dork
The King of Attolia
Looking for Alaska
Lord of the Flies
The Lord of the Rings
A Northern Light
The Outsiders
The Rules of Survival
To Kill a Mockingbird
Ok, Twilight, but for reference purposes. Feel free to read half of it.
Watership Down
A Wrinkle in Time

Let us also say for the record that people who are interested in Children's Lit in a pure sense can concentrate on catching up on the classics.
But those people interested in being published now should read one book that's topping the charts now for every classic they read. (Which "chart" you use should vary. Read the bestsellers; read the Mocks; read the books that get four starred reviews and sell 3,000 copies; flip through the books that Target carries.)


José Iriarte said...

Huh. Some of your MG picks make me think my MS might not be YA after all, but MG.

Rachel Green said...

Good list

Anonymous said...

Wow, I havent heard of a lot of these...time to investigate.

For PBs I would add Freight Train by Donald Crews-such a great book. I love that it covers trains, colors and car types and the illustrations are so simple but interesting.

Yat-Yee said...

Thanks for being willing to do this, you brave soul. Three of my favorite Middle Grade books not found here are: Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree, Becoming Naomi Leon, and the Penderwicks.

Glad to see Westing Game and Mockingbird and Saffy's and somebody stop me before I name the whole list!)

debra shirley said...

Picture Book - The Relatives Came, Written by Cynthia Rylant, Illustrated by Stephen Gammell

Middle Grade - Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse

The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea J. Buchanan & Miriam Peskowitz

debra shirley said...

Oh, you're right, EA, the list is never done - sorry, but I can't resist adding a couple more picture books.

We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy: Two Nursery Rhymes with Pictures by Maurice Sendak

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

CJ Omololu said...

Love the list - it is endless.

As far as newish books go, I have to add for MG: Rules, A Crooked Kind of Perfect and Leepike Ridge. For YA: Looking for Alaska and 13 Reasons Why.

I'm just finishing Frankie Landau Banks and it's beawesome.

Anonymous said...

Yay! I love this game! What a great list, and more coming out all the time.

Thank you to whoever added A Crooked Kind of Perfect, I second that. Can I also add The Fairytale Detectives, the first of the Sisters Grimm of the best of a whole crop of fractured fairytales.

My new fav picture book of the year is Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox.

The YA list is awesome...there are so many...I love the books of John Green as well, try An Abundance of Katherines or Looking for Alaska. I love The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Caralyn Mackler and Feed by M.T. Anderson just for their first lines alone. And I have to put in a plug for Sold by McCormick.

Are we doing nonfiction too? There's a lot of stuff there, particularly in biography and in the graphic nonfiction. I always tell anyone who's anti-graphic novel to start with To Dance.

Could go on and on but won't...

Anonymous said...

Nice list, EA!

There are a couple of reference books that will help you out:


and the "100 Best Books" (or whatever it's called!) by Anita Silvey (her ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CHILDREN'S BOOKS AND THEIR CREATORS is also helpful).

Literaticat said...

OFFICER BUCKLE & GLORIA (or Goodnight, Gorilla, something by rathmann)

LILLY'S PURPLE PLASTIC PURSE (or something by henkes, hello!)

SEVEN SILLY EATERS (or something by hoberman)

THE BIG ORANGE SPLOT by daniel pinkwater


THE DEAD BIRD by margaret wise brown, remy charlip (too bad it is out of print, best book evah)






Anonymous said...

For YA, which is already a good about Angela Johnson's First Part Last, Jacqueline Woodson's Miracle's Boys, Chris Lynch's Inexcusable, Holly Black's Tithe...oh, stop me, no.... After the Rain by Norma Fox Mazer, A Step from Heaven by An Na, Stoner and Spaz by Ron Koertge, Many Stones by Carolyn Coman, Trash by Sharon Darrow, Skellig by David Almond, A Wreath for Emmett Till...okay, I'll stop. But I swear YA literature is so great! ~Ann Angel

Anonymous said...

I forgot all about the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. I did see the movie with Gregory Peck, though. The subject matter/mood reminds me a little of something I’m working on. It’s kind of depressing, though I shouldn’t admit. Did the motion picture differ dramatically from the novel? I would imagine so considering it was made in the early to mid-sixties, right?

Interesting and fun list. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Great list! I must add Officer Buckle and Gloria to the picture book list, and everything by John Green to the YA list. Let's see, what else... I also love King Dork by Frank Portman, Billie Standish Was Here by Nancy Crocker, and I'd second Sold by Patricia McCormick.

Anonymous said...

If I might put in a plug for Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones? I also love Margaret Mahy (Blood and Thunder Adventure on Hurricane Peak, for example) but haven't found it as widely loved "out there" as it is in my heart. Is I Capture the Castle considered a children's book? The Perilous Gard is (Elizabeth Pope, I think). Mmmm mmm mmm.

Anonymous said...

You're right, it is an impossible task, but I love your lists.

I will third the vote for Officer Buckle and Gloria. I was going to not mention it, since you included Goodnight, Gorilla. Ten Minutes To Bedtime is also wonderful.

No Clementine?

Anonymous said...

I've never considered ENDER'S GAME middle grade -- it was written for adults originally...when I taught, usually the youngest boys to 'get it' were at least 14, and even then, they missed some of the deeper meanings.

Amara said...

Animalia and The Eleventh Hour, by Graeme Base are absolutely amazing picture books, and you can't forget the Where's Waldo books, although they might not be super necessary.

YA has so many amazing books, it would be hard to pick the best. A lot of the ones on there are focused on pics a teacher might recommend (good picks, at that), but I would love to see Tamora Pierce on there. Her books were what kept me reading.

Anonymous said...

I will never understand why people insist on classifying To Kill a Mockingbird as YA. It certainly wasn't published and marketed as such and it doesn't fit many of the criteria. For one thing, it is told from an adult perspective, looking back on a childhood, and throughout the retrospective, the main character is a child, not a teen. The classic YA theme of identity is not central to the novel.

Heidi R. Kling said...

Great list!


Also agree about LOOKING FOR ALASKA by Green

PB: THE GOING TO BED BOOK or something else by Sandra Boynton--also partial to the Pigeon ("drive the bus, eat a hotdog" etc.) books

Liana Brooks said...

Ender's Game as MG and LOTR as YA? That's stretching the definitions a bit. They're excellent books, but I don't usually group them there.

I'd also recommend Avi, Catherine, Called Birdie, Sarah Bishop, and the Enchanted Forest Chronicles.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Jean Wogaman said...

Good list. I'd add the following:

The Snowy Day or anything by Ezra Jack Keats
The Little Engine that Could

The Chronicles of Narnia
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

The House of the Scorpion or The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer

The oldies-
Wind in the Willows
Alice in Wonderland
Winnie the Pooh
Peter Pan

Yat-Yee said...

Oh, Oh. Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pies by Jordan Sonnenblick for YA. Made me laugh, made me cry, without feeling even any emotional manipulation.

Boni Ashburn said...

For "required reading" PBs, I would add A Good Day by Kevin Henkes, Diary Of A Wombat by Jackie French, First The Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Bark George by Jules Feiffer, A Visitor For Bear by Bonny Becker, Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini and The Best Pet Of All by David LaRochelle.

Kimbra Kasch said...

What about Twilight and I didn't see any Harry Potter stories there?...

Anonymous said...

Ooo...I love lists! Here are a few more:

Flotsom, Tuesday and The Three Little Pigs by David Wiesner

Click, Clack, Moo : Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, Betsy Lewin

More More More Said the Baby by Vera Williams

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Luna by Julie Ann Peters

I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusack

Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks

How I live Now by Meg Rosoff

Kit's Wilderness by David Almond (young YA/upper MG)

Hard Love by Ellen Whittlinger

Anonymous said...

Great list!

I'd say, read everything by Roald Dahl immediately.

Thank you for including Frog and Toad and Are you There God? It's Me, Margaret.

And of course, The Phantom Tollbooth, which is one of my top five favorite books of all time. EVERYONE MUST READ IT!!!

(Can you maybe add Caps for Sale in place of Fancy Nancy?).

Anonymous said...

Heckedy Peg by Don and Audrey Wood (amazing artwork, excellent story, great read-aloudability) and King Bidgood's in the Bathtub (by the same team).

Sherryl said...

Picture books I would add "Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type" (Doreen Cronin) and also "Guess How Much I Love You", simply because it has sold millions and you need to think about why.
Middle grade - "The Wednesday Wars" is a must for me.
YA - anything by Chris Crutcher, and also "Fat Kid Rules the World" by K.L Going.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for answering my question, EA! Yes, I knew it was a tricky one and I appreciate the lists very much. It's also reassuring to see that I have read quite a few of them and that they're on my list of important books; but there are also some I admit I've never heard of! So THANKS!!!

Rose Green said...

Great lists. I guess I don't see Ender's Game as MG at all, either. It has that faraway look at childhood that adult books with child protagonist have. If anything, it's a crossover to YA book, not MG. (IMHO, of course)

For pb I'd say to be familiar with Allan Say, Molly Bang, Stinky Cheese Man, David Wiesner, Marla Frazee, and Ian Falconer (the Olivia books).

For MG I'd say Shannon Hale, Karen Cushman, Louis Sacher (Holes), Laura Ingalls Wilder, Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, and yes, another plug for Rules, by Cynthia Lord. Oh, and Ingrid Law's Savvy, and definitely some Eva Ibbotson (either her light fantasy books, or her more historical ones, like Star of Kazan). Andrew Clements should figure in here, too.

For YA, I second The House of the Scorpion. I think you also need to be familiar with Libba Bray and Stephenie Meyer. (Everyone already knows Rowling, unless they've been living on another planet.) Add to that Catherine Gilbert Murdock's Dairy Queen, Elizabeth Bunce's A Curse Dark as Gold, Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely and Kristen Cashore's Graceling.

Er, I should stop now.

acpaul said...

In MG:
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
The Black Stallion by Walter Farley

In YA:
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

All classics, but still good.

Sam said...

Ordinary Jack!

Well done! That's all I needed to see to give your list an A+

Anonymous said...

Great list! Thank You.

For YA I would also add The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:41 -- people classify To Kill A Mockingbird as YA because it is taught in the majority of high school English classes in America. I read it in the tenth grade. Just because a book starts out as adult fiction doesn't mean it has to stay there. The book's themes of standing up for human rights against the norms of society, are universal themes and not easily accessed by teens.

Salinger's, A Catcher in the Rye was also an adult novel, but is read -- in school and out -- more by teens than adults now.

A more recent example -- Curious Dog in the Nightime. It was published for adults but is also on many (required) high school summer reading lists.

Anonymous said...

For the YA list (in my opinion absolutely essential):


Deirdre Mundy said...

PBs to Add:

Are You My Mother?

Pat the Bunny (not my favorite, but huge for the tots and important to understand)

MG- Some of the Little House Books
Some of the Anne of GG books

(Because so many later books look back to these. And because most little girls in the US grow up loving Laura and Anne)

Not novels but:
Some Shel Silverstein
Some Prelutsky

Anonymous said...


Pink and Say -- Patricia Polacco
The Impossible Patriotism Project -- Linda Skeers
Freedom Summer -- Deborah Wiles


Anonymous said...

For Picture books -- The Giving Tree

I also recommend what EA said about walking through the Target aisles for now-ish YA books. They usually only carry bestsellers so they are a great indication of what is desired in the here and now.

Plus, you know, it's Target and the books are cheaper than in a bookstore and also you can buy gum, Q-tips, some socks, a 12-pack of Diet Coke, a new CD, and 50 percent off Christmas decorations in one fell swoop of the store. Can you guess where I'm headed later?

Linley Dolby said...

Great list!

I would add Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block to the YA group.

Anonymous said...

Good lord,surely no one would consider Twilight great American kidlit??!! Eccchhh... And Harry Potter is not American, nor are some of the others listed... not that some of them aren't great books of course! But NOT Twilight...

Anonymous said...

PB: Jamberry

YA: where oh where are Megan Whalen Turner's Attolia books?

Sarah Laurenson said...

I'm so glad you chose to do this. Yes, it's impossible to have a comprehensive list, but to see one started is amazing.

I thought of Shattering Glass - best first page ever - and The Thief Lord - just love Funke but I'm not sure if that's MG or YA.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Ender's Game is not only one of my favorites, it was also a favorite of a 9 yr old boy I lived with. So much so that he wanted to read the whole series even though most were written for adults.

As an aside - EA, can we ditch the word verification since you're moderating? Or would you get too many spam without it?

Kjersten said...

Seconding some PB recommendations:

"The Snowy Day" or something by Ezra Jack Keats

"Tuesday" or something by David Wiesner

I'm glad you took this on, EA. Even though you are right: it is a can of worms. But a yummy one.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe it, but it looks like we've overlooked Jerry Spinelli! Maniac Magee is awesome, and Stargirl is one of my favorites too.

Another one that seems like an adult-to-YA crossover book is Yann Martel's The Life of Pi. One of the best books I've ever read.

Anonymous said...


Because of Winn Dixie

Skippy Jon Jones (great plot and language..maybe not so much of a message or meaning... but certainly riveting)

Anonymous said...

Oh. The Goats.

Anonymous said...

Now I know my parents were smart. Nearly *every single one* of those picture books and MG books that came out before or during my childhood, they either owned, gave to me, or I bought.

The first step to a good education (sometimes, a REALLY good education) is reading, and reading often.

laughingwolf said...

gonna ponder for a bit, and get back

season's blessings to you and yours :)

Kate Lord Brown said...

So many favourites there. Charlie and Lola series and Tintin also much loved in this house. Also Olivia, Orlando (the cat not Woolf!), all Madelines and Dahl.

Chris Eldin said...

Wow! This is a great list! But humbling as well.

How about an oldie but (to me) a goodie? Zilpha Keatley Snyder's "The Witches of Worm."

Hardygirl said...

I'm so glad to see Alabama Moon on your list. I was surprised when it didn't sweep all the big awards. Great book. And great list!

Hardygirl said...

I was so glad to see that Alabama Moon made your list. I was surprised when it didn't sweep the big awards. Great book! And, great list!


Anonymous said...

Great list, but I too thought the request was for American titles.

mallard said...

Somebody mentioned Winnie-the-Pooh, which is not American, but I would still second it because it's become kind of American by adoption. If we stretch it to English language (read often, and influential in America) how about The Once and Future King and Treasure Island? If we're going for pure American, then you can't forget Little House on the Prairie which is quintessentially American in so many ways.

Foggy Blogger said...

Wow, i really was a nerdy kid! I've read most all of those.

A few of my faves;

Cat in the Mirror by Mary Stolz

Sing Down the Moon (hated Island of the Blue Dolphins, but loved this book)

Jacob Have I Loved, by Katherine Paterson.

I also loved anything Encyclopedia Brown, One Minute Mysteries and of course those Choose Your Adventure books. (But i have a feeling that those don't belong to this list. *wink*)

Thanks for attempting such a task!

Julie said...

Quite a lot of effort went in to putting your list together - thanks from all of us who will be talking about it and sharing it.

I guess The Tale of Peter Rabbit is not on there due to its being British. But Winnie-the-Pooh (also British) is there, so I'd like to see some Beatrix Potter in the picture books.

I have only one other suggestion, a book I hope American kids and their parents (and KidsLit writers) are reading, a classic that seems to be a little under-appreciated now (right when we need it most): Ferdinand the Bull by Munro Leaf. Kids love it for its silliness - and I love it for its subtle anti-authoritarian I-Did-It-My-Way message (Sinatra had nothing on Ferdinand.)

Anonymous said...

Yes, I really do appreciate all the great ones and the time eveyone has spent.

But you're right: it was for American titles, as I'm very well versed in the lit of UK and the Antipodes (where I'm from, and where PBs, for example, can be very different, darker, and arguably more sophisticated in theme. Doubt me? Then check out The Rabbits by John Marsden, illus by Shaun Tan [who did Arrival] or The Stone Baby by Beth Norling, or the incredible The Red Tree by Shaun Tan. Or anything else by Shaun Tan for that matter. Love Shaun).

But either way, it's really terrific to have everyone's opinion on the great kids' books of the world, and I thank you. A very Happy New Year to you all!

Anonymous said...

Harriet the Spy....probably my favorite Middle Grade.

Rose Green said...

I think if you are going to understand what's happening in American children's books, you need to know what American children are reading. So that would necessarily include a) a few books published in the UK (besides, Harry would never have made it big if it hadn't been for American editor Arthur Levine) and b) books that some may not consider "literary" enough and yet have sold gazillions of copies and are uppermost in the minds of nearly every teenage girl in the country *cough* Twilight. You might not like them, but if you aren't familiar with them you're going to be missing out on some of the current players in the market at the moment (ie, kids are looking for something in their books, and some of these happen to tap into that.)

Anonymous said...

This is a really great list, EA!

I'd also like to add one more title
as a MG "classic":

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (1977 Newbery Medal)

Sarah Laurenson said...

EA - would you consider a sister post to this and post the links to the various book awards in children's lit? I know of some of them, but I'm sure there are more out there. Or have you done this already?

Editorial Anonymous said...

I have just alphabetized the lists, so that people will stop telling me that Peter Rabbit (for instance) is not on there. Yes it is! So is Winnie the Pooh and Harry Potter.

Sorry. Didn't mean to be snappish.

Sarah--I'll think about it, but it's a long damn list. And more coming out all the time! Did you guys see the Morris shortlist announcement?

Sarah Laurenson said...

Since I had a bit of time...

I posted this awards link list on my blog.

Anonymous said...

A few more:

- Arrow to the Sun by Gerald McDermott
- Virginia Lee Burton collection (Mike Mulligan, Katy, Little House)

- Redwall by Jaques (at least the first one)

Anonymous said...

I second the suggestion to include something by Sandra Boynton, especially Moo, Baa, La-La-La or Not the Hippopotamus.

lisav said...

wow, great list. and of course an impossible task. I appreciate the person who asked the question. It makes me crazy to read a manuscript as a favor and the last contemporary children's book the aspiring author has read is Green Eggs and Ham.

Anonymous said...

Forever... was a watershed YA that's still on the shelves.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower resonated with many, many readers.

And what about Geography Club?

Anonymous said...

Great list! I'd add Owen by Kevin Henkes, Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein and Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak.

Great job putting Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day on the list!

Anonymous said...

For picture books, Hiawatha, the version illustrated by Susan Jeffers, is definitely a classic, and Flossie and the Fox, by Patricia C. McKissack, was always one of my favorites. It had the most wonderful use of dialect and voice, not to mention the humor. I won't even start with MG and YA, there are too many.

Anonymous said...

I prefer Green Eggs and Ham to the Cat in the Hat.

EEEEEEEEEEP I better duck! (Here come those green fried tomatoes.... and eggs)

Anonymous said...

Allow me to point out that the entire rich and wonderful realm of kids' NONfiction has been essentially overlooked in this discussion!

Editorial Anonymous said...

re: nonfiction

Oh, I know. I adore the nonfiction we have.

But (a) that would make this an even bigger, deeper pit of quicksand and (b) I think most of my readers are writing fiction. I left poetry out, too, and I love poetry.

Anonymous said...

For MG, I'd add Pictures of Hollis Woods (or something MG by Patricia Reilly Giff) and Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie.

I'd move A Wrinkle in Time from YA to MG, too, I think.

Douglas Florian said...

I would add more poetry!
Ogden Nash's Zoo for starters.

Anonymous said...

I am looking at the label for this topic, EA. You are so not going to hell. You are going to that special,eternal place for Angels of Children's Literature (ACL) and its author/illustrators. Somewhere between a toddler teddy bear and a high school diploma.

A happy and prosperous New Year to You, EA!

laughingwolf said...

may '09 be more kind than was '08 :D

jaz said...

The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord. It is stunningly beautifully written.

BonnieA said...

For picture books, I'd add Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and one of the classic Little Golden Books, like The Poky Little Puppy or The Saggy Baggy Elephant, as well as one by Dr. Seuss that is not a leveled reader--maybe Horton Hears a Who.

EditorJack said...

I am thrilled to introduce you to the best children's book ever written: The Mouse and His Child, by Russel Hoban:

Anonymous said...

Hey--A NORTHERN LIGHT. I dig you.

I think THE LIGHTNING THIEF might be added.

And Donna Jo Naploi's YA retellings are essential to *me*...

Chris said...

I would add something by Chris Crutcher (WHALE TALK blew me away) on the YA list, and at least one of Uncle Shelby's - perhaps his ABZs or WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS - for MG or early readers. My kids loved Silverstein from the time they were very little.

NCTH said...

MG: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (which should be mandatory reading for anyone who saw the atrocious movie version). And did we somehow skip over Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan?

NCTH said...

MG: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (which should be mandatory reading for anyone who saw the atrocious movie version). And did we somehow miss Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan?

Anonymous said...

Lovely list. I will suggest two by Margery Sharp: The Rescuers for MG (different plot and much better than the movie) and Cluny Brown for MG/YA.

Anonymous said...

The Rescuers. Aaaaaah. I loved that book (and the artist...the Garth version.)

Not the Disney one.

jennifer said...

Harry the Dirty Dog. Wish more writers were so economical with their words.

Anonymous said...

Didn't see The Chocolate War or Blueberries for Sal (which I like better than Ducklings...) or Ida B.
Quicksand or not, there isn't anyone who visits this site that isn't printing the lists out and cross-referencing them with their own libraries. Yup, another wild Friday night for me!

Denise said...

Ooh, what a wonderful list and comments thread. Thank you!
Off the top of my head, how about Harriet the Spy, something by Judy Blume (her books for teen girls might be a bit dated now, but what about Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing, for younger readers?), and maybe A Separate Peace (even if Lisa does bag it in an episode of the Simpsons!) by John Knowles.
And Little Women -- for me, it, like The Catcher in the Rye, is one of those books I loved MADLY at a particular age but can no longer stomach rereading.
The Indian in the Cupboard
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Collier
The Red Badge of Courage - not "just" for young people, I know, but it gripped me when I was a teenager.
Ooh, this is so much fun. Brave of you to take it on, EA! Thanks also for reminding me of some books I once loved but had forgotten (The Witch of Blackbird Pond! I was a pre-teen historical fiction nut...).

Brigid said...

Hey, EA, you forgot Secret Garden!

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Susan Hulstine said...

MG: The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. A beautifully written dystopian novel.

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Claire Lorenz said...

I'm a little confused about the random comments just before mine, but I love this list. I would add Clifford, Spot, Olivia, Corduroy, The Paper Bag Princess, I Like Me, and many more to the PB list, but very helpful. Thanks!

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EditorJack said...

Winnie-the-Pooh is NOT a picture book. And, frankly, its subtle humor will make even adults laugh.

EditorJack said...

British, yes, but:

The Wind in the Willows
The Doctor Dolittle books
The Mary Poppins books
James and the Giant Peach
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The Mushroom Planet books
The Boxcar Children books
Dandelion Wine
The Martian Chronicles
Fahrenheit 451

Also, collections of tales by authors like Howard Pyle and Andrew Lang.

EditorJack said...

Oh, and The Mouse and His Child, by Russell Hoban. Not just my favorite children's book but my *favorite* book in all the world. Wow, what an amazing piece of work. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you think, and it will make you contemplate life's meaning.