Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Books to Read After Mockingjay

A couple weeks ago I read an article written by Peter Steinberg called "6 'Flashlight Worthy' Children's Books to Read After You Finish Mockingjay". I love articles like these because I feel that children and young adult books don't get highlighted enough to the public. I can't say that I would have been the same voracious reader if my mother hadn't taken me to the library and let me pick whatever I want. I still remember sitting at the park near my apartment and reading some random kids book that I think had a camel as a police officer (all the characters were animals). I couldn't tell you what the name of it was but I still remember reading it.

But back to the article - Steinberg does a great job of picking books that are oldies but goodies: things that you may have read as kids (or your parents may have read) that aren't really talked about much today. The standouts from his list for me are A Wrinkle in Time and Amelia Bedelia. Those are both incredible books that while targeted to different age groups have the kind of charm that lasts forever. I still read A Wrinkle in Time almost every year and the Amelia Bedelia series are great to flip over when I'm wandering around the library.

I had s
o much fun reminiscing about what I loved as child that I've composed my own 6 children's books to read, and I hope that if you haven't read them yourself you give them a try and remind yourself of the depth and diversity that children's literature provides.

1) Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain
I can't comment on any 'Christian overtones' but I can say that I loved the family in these books and I'm pretty positive I read through most of them without complaint, with no more junk fo
od, too much tv, and strangers being the topics I remember most clearly.

2) Magic School Bus by Joanna Cole
I don't k
now how anyone learned anything without Ms. Frizzle. She had the bestest craziest class and bus EVER and she is totally unforgettable. If you (or your child) hasn't learned about the solar system, the human body, erosion, or any other cool science-y subject through these books well go read them now!

3) Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol
Encyclopedia Brown holds my heart as that great combination of brains, brawn, and small town charm. S
elling his services for $0.25 a mystery, Enyclopedia Brown is a 5th grade wonder, helping the town's police force solve big and little crimes. The best part of these book is that they allow readers to try and find the answers on their own, as each mystery is connected to a 'How and Who Dunnit' section at the back of the book.

4) Bronze King by Suzy McKee Charnas
One of my favorite fantasies - and I think one of the best urban fantasies out there in the juvenile section. There's action and suspense, romance and sadness - it's all here and culminates in a great final battle (though I must admit I hate this cover

5) Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
No one does a female heroine like Tamora Pierce. With Alanna she's crafted a young girl that defies society to do what she knows her heart demands, and Pierce goes above and beyond to show the ups and downs of that decision. Still what's best about this series (and all her books) is that the male characters aren't relegated to the back stage or blithering idiots. They're still there as main supporting characters, equals to Alanna, which I think does the best job possible of showing both young boys and girls why they're both deserving of praise and the chance to do what they love.

6) Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
I've not made it hidden that I love Robin McKinley. Her books are great juvenile/young adult/adult crossovers and demonstrate some pretty unbeatable fantasy. This book makes the list for having both a great female lead and an irresistible fantasy world. You always want to know more, you're always as the reader ready to keep going and see what the next battle's going to be. I own this and the sequel and couldn't recommend them enough to any and everyone.

Honorable Mentions:

The Dark is Rising
by Susan Cooper <---- SO GOOD! Just putting it out there.

The Last Vampire
by Christopher Pike

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Whatever Happened to Janie?
by Caroline B. Cooney