My Top 10 Children’s Books

Inspired by this Buzzfeed post about the 37 children’s books that changed lives, I’ve created my own list of ten books that changed my life as a reader.

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Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

I always read this Sendak classic as an example of how imagination plays out in kids’ lives until I heard this NPR interview.

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A Hole is to Dig by Ruth Krauss

This book’s simple explanations for everything—a hole is to dig, hands are to make things, the ground is to make a garden—is a revolutionary celebration of the everyday.

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Corduroy by Don Freeman

As a child, I was obsessed with the idea of what happened when night fell on the department store and Corduroy had free reign. (I’m not the only one; Slate editors discuss children’s books, including Corduroy, in this podcast.)

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The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

The cyclical nature of this story was fascinating to me, as well as the personification of the little house.

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Ramona Quimby by Beverly Cleary

The antics of Ramona were worth reading, but I really related to the character of older sister Beezus.

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Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

There is a scene in this book, where a boy gets attacked by bees and has to wrapped up like a mummy in mud and cloth, that I could not get out of my mind.

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The Hobbit by J. R.R. Tolkien

For me, this book is a tribute to the power of reading aloud. When my mother read me this story, she created a voice for Gollum that haunted me up until and through seeing the movies 20 years later.

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The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

From the Doldrums to the Dodecahedron, The Phantom Tollbooth is full of language, ideas, and whimsical places and characters that stayed with me long afterwards.

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The Baby Sitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin

I believe I read every single book in this extensive series that, at the time, I desperately wanted to be my life. (Who, growing up in the 80s, didn’t start a baby sitter’s club at one time or another?)

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Matilda by Roald Dahl

I think Matilda is on every bookworm’s list. She’s the ultimate literary underdog, and Dahl creates the best everyday villans (long live the Trunchbull).

Now, finishing this list I’m thinking only about the books that I left out—Frances, Dr. Seuss, The Runaway Bunny, and on and on.

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