Top ten books I wish I’d read as a child

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is actually something I’ve thought a lot about: books I wish I’d read as a child.  There’s something so completely different about reading a book as a child — really falling into the story and characters and making them your own.  Reading as an adult simply can’t replicate that.  There are a lot of great children’s and young adult books out there, so I’m constantly trying to catch up with those books I didn’t read as a child, or that weren’t around then. But it just isn’t the same.

My favorite books as a child were the Oz series, the Mary Poppins books, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Pippi Longstocking, and the books of Edward Eager and Roald Dahl.  I loved anything fantastic, but there were real-life stories I gravitated to as well, like the works of S.E. Hinton, Judy Blume, and Frances Hodgson Burnett.  I remember feeling, though, that there weren’t enough strong, adventurous girl characters and that I actively had to seek them out.  I suspect (at least I hope!) that girls today have a lot more to choose from.

Harry Potter series: At the top of my list are the Harry Potter books, which came out in the late 90s – the first time I heard of them, the first three had been released in the U.S., which was  around 2000.  I wasn’t wowed at first, but I’m glad I kept reading as this series just got better with every book.  These are books I would have adored as a child.  Plus, the widespread popularity of these novels would have meant the world to me, as I felt like quite an outcast as a child.  Fantasy wasn’t a genre that girls were expected to like, and no one in my family had any interest.  I’m kind of envious today of all the kids that grew up with these books.

Anne of Green Gables: I know how many people love this series, but I didn’t read the first one until recently, and it just didn’t do that much for me.  As a young girl, though, I think I would have really admired Anne Shirley, and I wish I’d been able to get to know her then.

Popular by Maya Van Wagenen: this book has so much to say about popularity and taking chances and getting to know people.  It would have helped me so much as a girl.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo: I got really into writing sad poetry when I was about sixteen.  I would have adored this book.  I don’t remember anything like this (other than Sylvia Plath) when I was a girl.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: because it’s such a fantastic and important book, and because I understood so little about race as a teenager.

The Percy Jackson series: next to Oz, what I loved the most was Greek mythology.  These books would have blown my mind as a child.  I thought reading Edith Hamilton was fun.  

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett: because … everything.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld: before everyone went crazy for The Hunger Games, I was loving this series.  But I wish I could have read it as a teenager.

Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar: this book reminded me so much of my experience getting hit by a car when I was fourteen.  Behar is so brave and so positive even though her experience was much worse than mine.  I would have found her so inspiring.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: I remember this being a really beautiful book about first love.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

  20 comments for “Top ten books I wish I’d read as a child

  1. Alice @gothambatsandbooks
    April 28, 2020 at 7:16 am

    I’ve just finished reading the Harry Potter books. I absolutely loved the movies when I was a child but I hated reading! I think we owned the first 5 books and I remember looking at how huge Order of the Phoenix was and thinking “I’ll never read a book this huge.” Now I own books that are double the size! I read the first Percy Jackson book as a teen but didn’t pick up the rest of the series. Great post 🙂

    • April 28, 2020 at 6:18 pm

      Order of the Phoenix was my favorite one – I loved how they got bigger and darker as Harry aged. I’m glad you enjoyed them!

  2. April 28, 2020 at 7:42 am

    I had the same experience with Anne of Green Gables! Great list! ❤

  3. April 28, 2020 at 9:29 am

    Your first paragraph is very true. It’s a little bit intimidating, how comparatively little time there is to stock a fresh new mind with superb offerings, but also kind of neat that everyone has their own individual mix of Really Special books that landed nearest and dearest in that period. Nice to see a fellow Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle enthusiast.

    Also very cool to see a shout-out for Popular. That’s an awesome little book, and now that I think about it, the fact that the author was so young when she published has got to be an inspiring boost all on its own, in addition to its excellent content.

    Last thing: I did read Uglies as a teenager, but I’m pretty sure it backfired because although I enjoyed the story and the main character, my bigger takeaway was, “Who would care about being vapid or losing your individuality when you can be BEAUTIFUL (and content!) with no effort?? Sign me the flip up.”


    • April 28, 2020 at 9:46 am

      I loved Miss Piggle-Wiggle! It’s funny how often I think of those stories, even though I’m not a parent myself.
      Regarding Uglies, I think that’s exactly why the stories resonated. As a teenager I’m pretty sure I would have sold my soul to feel pretty.

  4. April 28, 2020 at 10:16 am

    The Poet X!!! Yes! I just discovered Popular–haven’t read it–when I was looking for cool book covers. Great list!

    • April 28, 2020 at 6:19 pm

      Popular is wonderful, it was written by a 14-year old who sets out to become popular. I hope you like it! Also Acevedo’s latest book is really good too, though not as good as Poet X.

  5. April 28, 2020 at 11:01 am

    I loved both Harry Potter and Percy Jackson when I was a kid. I enjoyed the first Uglies book, but the series sadly went downhill.
    My TTT:

    • April 28, 2020 at 6:21 pm

      I suppose you’re right about the Uglies books, the first one is definitely the best. I’ve read a lot of his other books too, the Leviathan series is also great.

      • April 29, 2020 at 10:14 am

        I tried one of his other books, Afterworlds, but I couldn’t really get into it.

  6. April 28, 2020 at 11:02 am

    Harry Potter was basically my entire post haha. Glad to see I’m not the only one- feels like everyone else grew up with these!

    My TTT:

    • April 28, 2020 at 6:22 pm

      Thanks for visiting! I really wish I’d been able to experience Harry Potter as a child. But I did read a lot of great books as a child, so can’t complain too much!

  7. lydiaschoch
    April 28, 2020 at 11:44 am

    The Harry Potter and Anne of Green Gables series have been on tons of lists this week.

    My TTT .

  8. Taylor
    April 28, 2020 at 11:58 am

    The Lightning Thief and Harry Potter were on my list as well! I didn’t even think to put THUG. Great list!

    • April 28, 2020 at 6:24 pm

      THUG was such a fantastic book, great for adults too. Thanks for visiting!

  9. April 28, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    I LOVED Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Pippi Longstocking, and the Oz books as well! I was in my late 20s when the HP books came out, but I loved them just the same. As a kid, though, I would have been absolutely blown away by them! I also think the popularity of the HP books made reading more socially acceptable for kids. When I was in school, only nerds read books. And back then, nerds were NOT cool, so I read mostly in secret. I love that nerdy is cool these days 🙂

    Happy TTT!


    • April 28, 2020 at 6:26 pm

      Sounds like we have a lot in common! This was a fun post to write because I enjoyed revisiting which books were my favorites. I do think growing up in the time of Harry Potter would have felt really different.

  10. April 28, 2020 at 7:28 pm

    I didn’t get to read HP until I was an adult. I imagine it would even more magical as a child.

  11. April 29, 2020 at 5:57 am

    The Uglies was great! I remember binging the series back in the day…ahhh to be a teen again and have so much more reading time! That ‘Popular’ book looks really interesting, I’ll have to check it out.

  12. May 8, 2020 at 10:49 pm

    I read the PJO series during elementary school and Eleanor & Park in high school, but recently read THUG and the first Harry Potter book. I definitely feel the same way about reading a book as a child as opposed to reading now. It’s so much harder to find myself immersed into a world, and if I do manage, it’s near impossible to stay there. Not to mention the lack of strong female characters as you said, which is one reason I loved PJO because Annabeth Chase, Thalia Grace, and all the other girls there were my strong and adventure female character “role models” growing up. Honestly I would have related a lot with Hermione had of read those books, and part of me wish I had of grown up with more characters like them. There’s a couple of others on your list, like Uglies and Anne of Green Gables that I still hope to read one day.

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