Happy #NationalYoungReadersDay! For #NationalYoungReadersDay, two of the Culture writers wanted to go back to their childhood. Back when Junie B. Jones was giving your young, naive self, the best advice and Judy Blume was creating Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.

Some of the best literature we can remember and that we know of is from our childhood. Parents, mothers, fathers, reading to us as children, individually grabbing a book and reading it (looking at you Captain Underpants, another favorite of Shareca’s) or simply just going to the book fair at your school and buying a ton of books because you truly loved reading (Colleen’s favorite day).

We could go on for hours about childhood literature that we know and love, but instead, we are going to make a list for you. Here are ten books that you should read for #NationalYoungReadersDay by Colleen & Shareca. The first five will be Shareca’s list and the last five, finishing the ten, will be Colleen’s list. Let’s talk literature!

Shareca’s Must-Read Top Five Children’s Lit For #NationalYoungReadersDay

1. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

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This is one of my forever favorites. Maurice Sendak is nothing short of a fantastic artist and writer. This was the first book my mother read to me as a child, it being her favorite book from her childhood too. The one thing I can remember about this book is the adventure.

Being an outcast, but figuring out that being an outcast isn’t so bad, after all (for the monsters). Max’s imagination in this book made me feel less alone when I was 13 and writing fan fiction. I had such a vast imagination, and this book is something I keep close to my heart.

Let the wild rumpus begin!

2. Junie B. Jones Series by Barbara Park

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Junie B. Jones was my entire childhood. There is a series of books under Junie B. Jones for every occasion you may have. The awkward moments of your childhood (kindergarten) are explained in every Jones book.

I did not read these until I was about ten or thirteen, but they are just as great no matter what age. The first book is titled, Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus and it is one that I truly recommend.

3. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

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This is for the parents reading this or aunts and uncles that want to read a book to their child or niece/nephew. When I learned to read, I did read this book on my own and throughout my childhood to look back on.

This book is literally about a child with a purple crayon; but, it’s an adventure if it’s not anything else. One of the top five of my childhood that I would recommend any young reader or any parent, aunt, uncle, or friend to read to a little one.

4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

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still read this book today and have a blast reading it; so young, old, anyone can sit and read this book. It’s fun, that is the best way to describe why my young self fancied reading it so much.

It’s a fun and interactive book and I recommend even my own sisters to buy this for my nieces to read. It is a must-read for any age, one of those books you will remember forever.

5. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss is one of the greatest of my generation. He was not in my generation, being well developed before the time when I was born; but, when I figured out someone like Dr. Seuss existed, I was ecstatic. Green Eggs and Ham is my all-time favorite, another book my mom read to me before bedtime.

However, any Dr. Seuss book is a great one to read — you can pick up Cat In The Hat and have a grand ol’ time with it. No matter what book you choose in the Dr. Seuss anthology, it will be an enjoyable one, no doubt. I promise I have never heard anyone say “I regret reading a Dr. Seuss book.” You are in for a treat.

Honorable Mentions:
  • Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
  • Miss Nelson Is Missing by Harry G. Allard Jr.
  • The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey 
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault

Colleen’s Must-Read Top Five Children’s Lit For #NationalYoungReadersDay

6. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

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No young adult literature list would be complete without the adventures of the Boy Who Lived. Although I didn’t come to Potter as a young reader, I still recognize that this series is paramount reading for any budding nerd. Granted, the later books aren’t exactly always “young reader” friendly. But the series as a whole is an amazing example of how great young adult literature can be.

Harry Potter is the perfect gateway drug (I mean, book…). Rowling does an amazing job with world-building and character creation, and the series skillfully mixes fantasy tropes with typical young adult scenarios.

7. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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An oldie but goodie, Little Women is one of the books that shaped who I am as a person. Though the novel was written in 1869, it doesn’t feel out of touch. I always admired Jo March so much. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. She was bookish, independent, smart, and fearless. Jo March was one of my childhood icons, and I highly recommend Little Women to any young, fierce reader.

8. Jedi Apprentice Series by Dave Wolverton and Jude Watson

Obviously no list I’m taking part in will lack a STAR WARS component. As an adult, I love reading the STAR WARS Expanded Universe novels, but when I was a kid it was all about the Jedi Apprentice series. The novels followed a young Obi-Wan Kenobi as he became the padawan to Qui-Gon Jinn.

These books started it all for me in terms of my overwhelming STAR WARS nerd-dom. Although I have always loved the movies, the books brought a new level to things and made it more personal for me. These books are perfect for introducing young readers to the magic of the greater STAR WARS universe.

9. Redwall by Brian Jacques

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Redwall is one of the very first books I remember. I read these books with my dad and my older brother. They were a perfect first introduction to fantasy and all the magic that could be found in reading.

To be honest, I don’t remember too much about the story, except that it involved some awesome mice standing up for their rights. But I do remember the feelings I got from reading — excitement, awe, wonder. I have always loved reading, and I feel like I owe a lot to that early exposure to Redwall.

10. Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne

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The Magic Tree House books are sneaky. You think you’re simply enjoying a fictional romp when actually you’re learning. Devious. These books caught my young imagination with a simple premise: books are magic. Although the real world doesn’t afford many time traveling opportunities, fiction does. You can visit faraway places and distant times by opening a book. That lesson stayed with me.

Honorable Mentions:
  • American Girl Series by various
  • The Sleepy Puppy by Mary Jo Chamberlin
  • If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff
  • Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

While this list is personally what moved us as children, we would love to hear about what literature you loved to read as a child. And, even if it’s on this list, let us know why you love it too. Have a great #NationalYoungReadersDay everyone and celebrate with books!

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