I am an avid reader. I always have been, and I probably always will be. Ever since I was a child, I have been passionate about literature – setting, storylines, characters, relationships.
My favorite part of elementary school was when the teacher spent a half hour each day reading to the class. In middle school I loved literature circles and book reports. In high school, I always had a book with me and I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say I read a book a week, sometimes even more. In college, it was much of the same.
I love everything about reading. I love being immersed in a new world or time period, taking on the characteristics of the protagonist (and sometimes antagonist), and imagining myself in their shoes. I love the different forms of writing, the different styles each author brings to the page. I love the structure (or lack thereof) and the flow of the words. I love the feel of a book in my hands, the sound of the pages turning. I even love the smell of the paper and the glue.
So it was an interesting moment this morning when I received a Facebook message from an old family friend. The message simply read:
What are your favorite middle grade adventure books?
What a question!
I’ll let you know right now, I have a soft spot for adolescent literature. I took a few adolescent lit classes in college and got a huge kick out of rereading many of my novels of childhood. As an English teacher, I also had the opportunity to teach numerous books that I first read in my early teenage years. Though I have worked my way through mountains of books since then, these titles will forever be amongst some of the most memorable.
So when posed with the question of my favorite middle grade adventure novels, I just sat for a moment … perplexed.
What are my favorite adolescent novels?
Which are the books that have anchored themselves in my heart as some of the greatest and most influential books of my youth? Which titles could I read and reread and read yet again and never tire of the characters and the storyline? Which ones are the most memorable? Which are the best?
I’m still not sure I have a solid answer to this question. Each time I think about it, another title pops into my mind … a new author, a new adventure. I’m not sure I’ll ever be confident of a finalized list. There are many that I would need to read again in order to properly rank them. However, there are a few that stick solidly in my mind – a few that sit confidently near the top of my list … the books that I love, both as an adolescent and as an adult.
And here they are:
- The Giver – Lois Lowry
- A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle
- Hatchet – Gary Paulsen
- The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton
- To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
- The BFG – Roald Dahl
- The Indian in the Cupboard – Lynne Reid Banks
- Sideways Stories from Wayside School – Louis Sachar
- The Borrowers – Mary Norton
- Julie of the Wolves – Jean Craighead George
Even looking at that list, there are some titles I would like to add and some I’m probably inexcusably forgetting. For now though, these are them. These are the books that I love.
What are your favorites?