60. By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder
59. Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry
I agree with Sperry that the most successful children's books are not overly sanitized or dumbed down. Call it Courage is an amazing story of survival, inner strength, and self-discovery that strikes a chord with young readers because those are all parts of growing up.
Sperry not only wrote Call it Courage he created 10 gorgeous full-page, blue and white illustrations that were inspired by Polynesian tapas cloths.
I actually remember reading this in school and then watching the movie. Mafatu's compelling story has always stuck with me. The movie was made by Disney and filmed in 1974 so it is quite dated. You should definitely read the book first, which though published in 1940, feels timeless.
58. The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
E.B. White's books are some of the most beloved animal stories ever written and for good reason. Each one exudes warmth and humor without being overly precious. What I especially love about The Trumpet of the Swan and White's other books is the way he creates a complete cast of animal and human characters that are unique and seamlessly blended together. A mute swan playing a trumpet does not come across as ridiculous, but beautiful and sincere. It is impossible not to fall in love with Louis and his endearing parents. Especially his proud, but thick-witted father who loves his son so much he steals a trumpet so that Louis can woo a mate.
In 2011 The Trumpet of the Swan was adapted into a "novel symphony for actors and orchestra" that features the voice talents of John Lithgow, Kathy Bates, Martin Short, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.You should definitely read the book, but this CD is amazing!!! It really enhances White's story with the different voices and, of course, spectacular music.
Under no circumstances, though, watch the 2001 animated version of The Trumpet of the Swan because it was atrocious! It did nothing to capture the magic and charm of the book.
57. The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan
The Ruins of Gorlan is the first book in the Ranger's Apprentice series which is one of my all time favorite adventure/fantasy series for tweens. I say tweens because the Ranger's Apprentice books are probably better for upper elementary kids, tweens, teens, and even adults (because I read them and thought that they were Awesome!).
Boys (or girls for that matter) that are interested in tracking, hunting, bows, nature, etc. and love nonstop action will not be able to resist the adventures of Halt, the legendary Ranger, and his young apprentice, Will. The website below contains a video of author, John Flanagan, talking about the various weapons featured in the Ranger's Apprentice such as the long bow and the saxe knife
John Flanagan has also written a spin-off series that focuses on the Skandians (who are kind of like Vikings) called The Brotherband Chronicles. Check out Flanagan's website to read about all of the books in both series as well as download apps and activities.
56. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is an exciting mix of scariness, adventure, and mystery. It is the first book in the Wolves Chronicles , so if you enjoy The Wolves of Willoughby Chase you should take a look at The Wonderful World of Joan Aiken.
55. Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody
Will Shackley is the 13 year old heir of Lord Shackley who is off fighting with King Richard the Lionheart in the Crusades. During Prince John's treasonous quest to usurp the throne of England Will is forced to flee his ancestral home and seek sanctuary in Sherwood Forest. There Will encounters a drunken Rob, an orphaned girl disguising herself as a young boy, and several other degenerate criminals. Shedding his life of entitlement and wealth, Will Scarlet and a gang of other unlikely heroes take on the nefarious Sheriff of Nottingham, Prince John, and Guy of Gisbourne.
Will in Scarlet is full of twists, turns, and action, but I do want to caution parents that there are mature elements in the book. Obviously, there is violence (sword fights, arrows through the heart, fierce battles, etc.) and Robin Hood is a broken hearted drunk. However, Cody does a spectacular job of transforming the legend of Robin Hood into something new and exciting. I loved it!
54. Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
Gone-Away Lake is a simple, yet beautifully written book that captures exactly what it means to be a curious and imaginative child. This was one of my favorite books as a kid, because I loved to pretend that I was the one who found this mysterious town and got to explore all of its hidden rooms and corners.
Enright wrote a sequel, Return to Gone-Away Lake, in which Portia's family buys and restores one of the abandoned homes. I think this is when I first started to dream of living in a huge, old Victorian mansion filled with antiques.
53. Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Let me confess that I was incredibly hesitant to read this book. Why? Well, first off I am a huge, huge crier and I knew from the book trailer that Wonder was going to set off my water works. In addition to weeping uncontrollably, I was worried that I would end up angry and disgusted. I cannot abide cruelty in any form. Seriously, I think that I would be more outraged and upset to hear that my kid was being a bully than if they were actually being bullied. Thirdly, I was concerned that Wonder would be so sappy that it would read more like a Hallmark card than a realistic novel.
So how did I feel after I actually read Wonder. I did cry (a lot) and I definitely wanted to slap a couple of the characters. As for the book being too sappy, though, I could not have been more wrong. Wonder is so superbly written that you never doubt the authenticity of the plot or the characters. Palacio has different characters (Julian, his sister, his sister's boyfriend, his best friend, etc.) narrate various chapters and each voice comes across as honest and true.
Wonder is a book that should be required reading in every school. There could be no better class motto than, “Kinder than is necessary. Because it's not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.”
52. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
You will laugh, yell, and weep as Black Beauty plays in the meadow as an energetic colt, is abused by cruel owners, overworked as hansom cab horse, and finally rediscovered by a beloved caretaker who lets him live out his final years in peace.
Nearly 140 years after it was first published Black Beauty still stands as a earnest and heart-wrenching testimony to the mistreatment of animals.
Usually, I prefer the old, original film, but for once I am going to recommend the most recent version. I absolutely love the 1994 film adaptation of Black Beauty starring Sean Bean with the incomparable Alan Cumming providing the voice for Black Beauty.
51. The Five Little Peppers and How they Grew by Margaret Sidney
|Don't you just adore these old covers:)|
Okay, the whole rags to riches plot is somewhat contrived and ridiculous, but The Five Little Peppers just ooze love and happiness. Who wouldn't want to feel like a part of their family?