I love book lists. With back-to-school season at its peak, lists recommending reads for different age groups and occasions are ubiquitous. What is a rare treat, however, are lists that house a fair number of contemporary books. Picture book and chapter book lists remain pretty current, but have you noticed how many novels for juvenile fiction readers or the family read aloud are those same-‘ol-oldies-but-goodies? Their original publishing dates are at least 20 years old.
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1932), The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937) , The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (1950), or Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (1952), Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (1960) or A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962), Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (1983), Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1985), The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993), Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (1995) or Holes by Louis Sachar (1998).
The list can become lengthy and shaving any off to include more contemporary titles or authors can seem traumatic. I am all for having the staples, but I am starting to wonder if we aren’t being daring enough. With Diversifying lists, we need to revisit lost gems of the 15+ years ago. And I wouldn’t mind revisiting the buzzed-about books of their year who could become staples given time and, well, room. I still recommend Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge (2005) and its brilliant sequel; and the May Bird series by Jodi Lynn Anderson (2005). I wish more people knew about Alex and the Ironic Gentleman by Adrienne Kress (2007). –All of which are great for the read-aloud.
Do we keep to lists by decades? Refine them by genre or award-winners or, like the above image, by fantastically-transportive heroine? Do we every once in a while recommend ‘the next 50 after you’ve finished the first 35-or-so?’
How about this:
25-50 Novels Young People Could Read that Never Seem to Make the Lists because We’d Feel Guilty (or Embarrassed) for Not Including Tolkien, Wilder, Carroll, White, Lewis, Rowling, Lowry or DiCamillo?
ANOTHER: 50 Potentially Timeless Novels (for Young People) Published in the Last 10 Years.
[Let us keep another sub-list for series, however, if a particular book of a series is the only one worth mentioning…]
What would you add to the list of 25-50 Novels Young People Could Read that Never Seem to Make the Lists because We’d Feel Guilty (or Embarrassed) for Excluding Tolkien, Wilder, Carroll, White, Lewis, Rowling, Lowry, DiCamillo, etc.? (include title, author, year)
–The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge (2009). I actually found this on a list the other day & it made my week; mostly neglected though, and it is genius writing/storytelling!
–Alex and the Ironic Gentleman by Adrienne Kress (2007). for lovers of language, the absurd, truly creepy villains, and desiring a better Alice in a Wonderland…
–same goes for Un Lun Dun by China Mieville (2007), she’s no Alice either!
–A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott (2009).
—Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (1986).
–May Bird series by Jodi Lynn Anderson (2005)
–Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy (2007). I’ve yet to complete the series and am slowly collecting these, but he is just too hilarious to miss.