Jul 202014

NPR’s Backseat Bookclub has a list of their top 100 must-reads for kids 9-14.

It’s an impressive list but perhaps a bit unwieldy at 100 titles so I’m going to narrow it down to our top ten, many of which we haven’t read yet, but will now be on our short list along with a number of our favorites.

In no particular order:

The Wee Free Men

“We’ve got a cheap lawyer an’ we’re not afraid to use him!”

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
It won the National Book Award. It’s heavily illustrated by the awesome Ellen Forney. And school districts and churches have started to ban it. What’s not to love?

Watership Down by Richard Adams
In my never-ending quest to find naturalistic animal adventure books along the lines of the Warriors series I had to return to a favorite from my childhood.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
When this recently won the Newberry Medal I immediately started pushing it with my kids. The argument against it so far: too sad. But my daughter read A Long Walk To Water and didn’t shrivel up so there’s hope.

The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques
This is another on our short-list of not-so-naturalistic animal adventure books and may prove to have too much boy energy for our daughter. But its ongoing popularity speaks well for its chances.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
It’s going to be hard to keep the fate of Anne Frank from our daughter (if she doesn’t know it already), which of course raises the sadness factor on this all-time classic.

Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
There are so many medals pasted to the front of this real-life war story it’s like Audie Murphy in book form.

…Get it? Audie Murphy. Anyone? No?

Moving on. Our son has a fondness for invention and aviation so this would seem to be right up his alley – except for his near total aversion to war and/or violence. Still, I want to read it.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
We became huge fans of Christopher Paul Curtis when we read Bud, Not Buddy and have sought out all of his books for their beautiful blend of comedy and drama. The Watsons Go To Birmingham does not disappoint.

The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. LeGuin
This was Harry Potter long before Harry Potter by a grand master of science fiction and fantasy.

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
I was a fan of the Discworld books for years before discovering this tale of little blue Scottish men with names like Wee Mad Arthur, Awfully Wee Billy Bigchin, and No’-As-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-than-Wee-Jock Jock. Our kids have obsessively listened to the audiobooks of this series ever since.

The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois
Going back to my son’s fondness for aviation (particularly lighter-than-air craft i.e. zeppelins, blimps, and balloons) this classic adventure story should be a hit if I can convince him to give it a try.

And that’s ten. I can see why NPR went ahead and listed 100. There are many more on their list I would have included but I probably would have just ended up with another 100.

Do you agree or disagree with my assessment or have something to add?

Scroll down just a little…the comments are Right There!

Let me know what you think.

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