This list doesn’t include Harry Potter. Wait. What? Yes, you read that statement correctly. When the first Harry Potter book came out in 1997 I was 12 years old. One year younger than a Hogwarts First Year student’s age. Sure, I’m fascinated by Rowling’s world, but my love of books began even before ’97. Remember all those Scholastic Book Fairs? Yeah, I wanted them all. I think that’s how I discovered L’Engle and McKinley. And I, um, “stole” The Castle in the Attic from my sister because I loved it so much. Guilty as charged. Listed below are seven of my favorite childhood books – some of which I still own and may repurchase to keep forever in a permanent collection.
“I was the youngest of three daughters. Our literal-minded mother named us Grace, Hope, and Honour.” This is the cover I remember from the copy I owned as a kid. Drawn to it like a moth to a flame, it’s McKinley’s debut novel. First published in 1978, this gorgeous tale birthed my love of fairy tale retellings. And I just discovered it has a sister story titled “Rose Daughter.”
I have to buy it!
The “A Ring of Endless Light” and “Troubling a Star” titles are part of the Austin Family series by Madeleine L’Engle. I don’t remember when I first fell in love with them, but they deal with issues a modern family could face at any time. “A Ring of Endless Light” was adapted into a film by the Disney Channel in 2002, but they added elements which didn’t belong and took away one of the important climaxes. Still…it has Ryan Merriman and Jared Padalecki. My fangirling heart is torn!
Wednesday nights on UPN was my family’s JAM. Why? Because that’s when Star Trek came on. My parents had band practice at church and they’d rush home to be home by 9pm to watch Trek. I couldn’t really get into the other series’ novels (DS9, TNG), but I love(d) the ones for Star Trek: Voyager. All written by various authors, some followed the timeline while others seemed to add on other elements and “what if’s.” They’re like their own episodes if you ever craved more. If you’re looking for some fun scifi, try the Voyager books!
The Cooper Kids Adventures was Christian author Frank Peretti’s equivalent of the incredibly popular Indiana Jones films. From fighting terrorists and mythical creatures to time travel and a brother protecting his sister, this preteen series has a little bit of everything. From adult books like The Oath, Hangman’s Curse and Piercing the Darkness, these stories gave him a chance to reach out to a younger audience but keep with his genre.
The Castle in the Attic, first published in the year of my own birth (1985), is akin to a coming of age story with tiny knights, wizards and giant rats. It’s sequel, The Battle for the Castle, returns them to the stronghold a year later and they’re help is needed to defend it one more time. This is a great series to get any preteen interested in reading, who may also be dealing with low self esteem (as I often did as a kid). I think it’s time to reread The Castle in the Attic.
There you have it. From castles and starships to swords and adventure, a healthy mix of genres I dove into as a kid. While my cousins were playing Pokemon and video games, I was reading. I was “that kid who reads” during recess against the fence. All of these are great options for kids just getting into reading. The Star Trek might be a bit heavy. Thanks for stopping by and happy reading!