In my opinion, one of the most challenging things to do as an author is to create a work that is both appropriate and enjoyable for young readers, yet equally entertaining for adults. For adults this entertainment is not purely nostalgic, but genuine. These stories are plain and simple magic. They combine elements that capture a young person’s imagination and stimulate an adults. Since I think this is a great accomplishment for any author, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite books that I feel fit very neatly into this category.
1. Anything by Roald Dahl. Really. Take your pick. Here is the short list of some of my favorites/his most well known.
- The BFG
- James and the Giant Peach
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Fantastic Mr. Fox
- The Witches
2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll
3. Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury
4. The Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
5. The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien
6. The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
7. Peter Pan, J.M. Berry
8. Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Salman Rushdie
9. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens (Can’t forget the holiday spirit, now can we?)
10. The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster (One of my sister’s favorites)
11. Watership Down, Richard Adams
12. The Giver, Lois Lowry
One of my favorites on this list is Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Rusdie (its sequal, Luka and the Fire of Life is equally entertaining). There is a wealth of history and culture in this book, and I would eventually like to incorporate in my curriculum. When High School Students are taught multi-cultual novels, they are often from a very short list of books in the cannon (India, if covered at all, is usually studied through the eyes of Kipling). Now, Rushdie is certainly in the canon, however when teachers decide to use one of his novels it is usually Midnight’s Children, which is an extraordinary undertaking for a HS student. Haroun offers a literary merit that should satisfy even the most enthusiastic clingers to the classics, and, most importantly, a story and characters that students can connect with and will root for. You can’t help but feel as if you’re carried along on a magic carpet and transported into a world where the Word and Stories not only have extraordinary power, but are valued by all. Not only is it fun, but it actually satisfies Common Core Standards too.
These are just a few in what is probably a list of many. My options are not terribly extensive considering the fact that I’m limited to books I’ve read both when I was younger and as an adult. I would love to hear some childhood favorites that you still pick off the bookshelf for a good read. Hopefully (although you are no longer a child or young adult) you can find enjoyment in reading some of these books. I know I certainly still do!