Working in the children’s section at a library has introduced me to a realm of books that either didn’t exist when I was child, or weren’t on my radar. Even with this new world of books added to my list of books to recommend—I plan to read & review some of these books soon!—there are older children’s books (at least a decade old or more) I still suggest if it sounds like it fits a customer’s criteria. There are so many, in fact, that I had to turn this into a two-part post. Share your favorite books from your childhood in the comments, and stay tuned for part two!

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Everything about this book deserved my adoration. It was one of few books I read as a child that brought me into the world of fantasy. Part of the reason I didn’t read fantasy is because magic and myth, with the exception of the Harry Potter series, wasn’t quite the phenomenon with children it is now. I also, however, didn’t read fantasy because I didn’t like it as much as a child. Most of my reading was mystery and/or realistic fiction. My almost exclusive fascination with Princess Academy in the fantasy genre is probably why I’ve branched out to reading almost nothing but fantasy as an adult. Even as an adult, Princess Academy remains one my favorite books.

Sammy Keyes by Wendelin van Draanen
These were my favorite books growing up. The author started publishing the series in the 90s, and ended it long after I grew past the target age range. Sammy Keyes is a modern-age Nancy Drew; though the technology in the series is 90s era, Sammy encountered mysteries more in line with the 21st century. And since Sammy is only a 7th grader, we get to see all this crime-busting in the midst of typical middle school drama. The mysteries and middle school drama weren’t why I loved the series, though. The main characters remained wonderfully developed throughout, and almost all newly introduced background characters and locations reappear or get mentioned again. It’s also the rare series where the books improve as you read.

Holes by Louis Sachar
For the longest time I thought Holes sounded too weird. Then my brother read it in school, and got the movie from the library. I loved the movie, and had to give the book a shot. It exceeded all expectations, and has the honor of having one of the best book-to-movie adaptations ever made. The book/movie stars Stanley Yelnats, a boy in a cursed family sent to a juvenile delinquent camp when it looks like he stole a famous basketball player’s shoes. During my senior year of high school I was an assistant in a 5th grade classroom as part of a teaching class and was delighted to learn elementary school kids in this area still read (and watch!) the book and movie.



Michaela is a Youth Services Library Assistant for CPL. When she isn't at work, she can be found reading young adult fiction books, visiting a local movie theater or fangirling about all things related to Star Wars.

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3 thoughts on “Throwback Children’s Books (Part One)

  1. Holes is wonderful. I also watched the movie before reading the book, and it is one of the closest adaptations I’ve ever seen.
    Never heard of Princess Academy, although unlike you I read (and continue to read) a lot fantasy as a kid, pretty much constantly. I’ll have to check it out!

    1. I did a *lot* of rereading when I was young, so that might be why I didn’t get around to fantasy books as much…I wasn’t always looking for something new because I had books I already loved. (Nowadays I rarely reread a book, even if I do love it.)

  2. My son loves the movie Holes and we had to read the book, too. We enjoyed both! Some of my favorite classic titles to recommend are The Watsons go to Birmingham and Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis and Gone Crazy in Alabama, One Crazy Summer and PS Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia. The Williams-Garcia books are a series, but also work well as stand alones.

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