Daisy Bateman

The Abosutely Essential Childhood Reading List (Female Edition)

So, one of my coworkers is going to have a baby girl (or rather, his wife is. It would kind of awkward the other way.) And I was thinking of what to get for the baby shower, and naturally my thoughts turned to books. Baby books and early readers, of course, but then I got to thinking about all of the other books that are vital to childhood. I can’t exactly give them all, so I thought maybe I’d do the next best thing and make a list. I’m only listing one per author, because otherwise we’d be here all day, and in the case of a series I generally chose the first book chronologically, unless I forgot which one that was. There’s one subset I’m leaving out; the-not-actually-that-good-but-you-love-them-because-you’re-a-kid serieses. For me it was the Happy Hollisters and the Babysitters Club, for you it might have been the Hardy Boys or Sweet Valley High or whatever the current one is. Expect this list to get longer as I think of more, and please leave your own suggestions in the comments.

Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
Pat the Bunny, Dorothy Kunhardt
Corduroy, Don Freeman
Harold and the Purple Crayon, Crockett Johnson

Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?, Dr. Seuss
Blueberries For Sal, Robert McCloskey
The Pokey Little Puppy
Axle the Freeway Cat, Thacher Hurd
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz

Young Child:
Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein
The Borrowers, Mary Norton
Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Case, Donald J. Sobol
Pippi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren
Ramona the Pest, Beverly Cleary
Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Betty MacDonald
Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Richard Atwater and Florence Atwater
The Cricket in Times Square, George Selden and Garth Williams
Bunnicula, Deborah Howe
Ballet Shoes, Noel Streatfeild

Older Child:
The Trumpet of the Swan, E.B. White
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg
Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
The Story of Dr. Doolittle, Hugh Lofting
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
The Black Stallion, Walter Farley
The Secret Garden, Francis Hodgson Burnett
The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Robert C. O’Brien

A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Maragaret, Judy Blume
The Body in the Library, Agatha Chirstie
All Creatures Great and Small, James Herriot

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Douglas Adams
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Right Ho, Jeeves, P.G. Wodehouse
The Color of Magic, Terry Pratchett
Foundation, Isaac Asimov
Whose Body?, Dorothy Sayers
Jurassic Park, Michael Chrichton

6 thoughts on “The Abosutely Essential Childhood Reading List (Female Edition)”

  1. I’ve never been able to get on the Moon or Bunny trains, but I love _Good Night, Gorilla_ and _10 Minutes till Bedtime_, both by Peggy Rathman, and _Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type_, by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin. I love that Cronin and Lewis include a punctuation joke in a book for tiny kids. I’ve forgotten all my old favorites and now just read whatever’s current for my own little squirming bundle of joy and assorted other emotions.

  2. Cool list! I would add:

    “Tuesday” by David Wiesner – a picture book for toddlers, but oh so fabulous!

    I loved loved loved the entire “The Dark is Rising” sequence by Susan Cooper as an older child/preteen, especially the first book in the series.

    “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster cannot be beat – good for an older child. heck, I still pull out a copy every now and again.

    Also, the Oz books by Baum – my favorite was always “Ozma of Oz”.

  3. How could I have forgotten the OZ books? I loved those.
    I’m not sure if I ever read Phantom Tollbooth, though I recall lots of people telling me I should. For some reason it gets linked in my mind with “The House With the Clock in Its Walls,” which almost made the list but didn’t because it (the list) was getting long and I couldn’t remember the plot.

    Karen: Don’t know those books, but I’m a sucker for a good (heck, or bad) punctuation joke.


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