Yesterday, NPR posted The Ultimate Backseat Bookshelf: 100 Must-Reads For Kids 9-14. Earlier this summer, they sought out nominations. Then, they had an expert panel made up of authors, a librarian, and a bookseller narrow it down to the top 100 titles.
As a children’s librarian, I’m ashamed to say I’ve only read about half of the titles. (I fared much better on last year’s 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels). I couldn’t come up with an exact number because there are a lot of classics, and I just don’t remember which ones I all read when I was a kid. Also, there are a handful of series, many of which I’ve read some of the books but not all of them.
I was glad to see a mix of timeless classics and new books; there’s everything from To Kill a Mockingbird to The One and Only Ivan. I also like the variety of genres. The list is separated into categories such as “American Stories” “Family Life” “Fantasy Worlds” and “Mysteries and Thrillers” among others. One of my favorite categories is “Graphic Novels” which includes some of my all time favorites: The Bone Series, The Arrival, and American Born Chinese.
My absolute favorite children’s book made the cut: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. However, some of my other favorites were not on the list. Here are a few titles I would add:
Smile by Raina Telgemeier. This graphic novel is one of the best portrayals of middle school, and I love Telegemeier’s cartoon-y art. Even my mom, who claims not to like comics/ graphic novels, enjoyed this book after I insisted she read it.
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. I remember when I first read this in upper elementary school, it was the longest book I had ever read, but I devoured it. It was also the first chapter book I remember choosing to re-read just a couple years later (and I have never been much of a re-reader). This is the ultimate fantasy novel in my eyes.
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. Miri is the toughest and coolest girl in middle-grade literature. Superb story.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I was glad to see Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book on the list, but it’s Coraline that has always been the favorite for me. I read this book in middle school just after it’s release, and I was blown away. It’s a book that has always stuck with me.