1. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle: This is probably my all-time, super-duper favorite book ever. It combines fantasy, adventure and concepts of ethics as Meg and Charles Wallace Murray, with their friend and accidental companion Calvin O'Keefe, search for their father through space and time. I can't recommend this book enough. I've read it at least three times.
2. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech: I read this sometime in elementary school, though I can't remember exactly when. 13-year-old Salamanca goes on a cross-country road trip with her grandparents to find her mother. Through stories she tells her grandparents, we learn about her previous year in a new town, and bit by bit secrets are revealed to the reader. I loved the juxtaposition of the road trip with Sal's narration of her past. I'm way past due for a rereading of this one.
3. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell: When I was younger I would read every Scott O'Dell book I could get my hands on, and it all started with this one. It's a survival story, but at its very core it's a coming of age tale. Karana is left on her home island after her tribe leaves, and with (eventually) a dog as her only companion, she must deal with growing up alone and surviving with only a few tools and her brain to get her through.
4. Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner: Oh my, these books were like candy to me. They were probably the books that sparked my love of reading. I remember using the hall light to read by so I could keep reading past my bedtime. Probably why my eyesight is so bad. But anyway--I remember these mysteries as being extremely wholesome yet exciting. I really liked them.
5. Baby-Sitters' Club by Ann M. Martin: I can't tell you how excited I was when I found out these were going back into print. I was a bit disappointed to hear that they'd be "updated," but according to Ann M. Martin in an interview with Forbes, they weren't so much updated as made more vague, which works for me. All I have to say is that I did not learn about diabetes because of Nick Jonas--Stacey McGill taught me all I know. (For any of you wondering, I did watch the TV show... and still remember all of the lyrics.)
6. A Voice in the Wind by Kathryn Lasky: I must have read this book at least 7 times. Every summer I would take it out of the library and reread it; I loved the Southwestern setting and the ghost story, the Native American culture, everything about this book. The fact that the two sets of Starbuck twins could communicate telepathically was pretty awesome too.
7. It's Nothing to a Mountain by Sid Hite: Another book I've reread at least once. Set in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia in 1969, it's another sort of survival story, though it's more adventurous and spiritual than anything. Lisette and Riley, after being orphaned, go to live with their grandparents in the mountains, where Riley finds a surprise in a nearby cave--a boy named Thorpe.
8. Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene: I didn't read all of these, but I remember thinking they were great. It definitely makes me nostalgic to think of the series--at one point I read one that had to do with archeology (digging for artifacts or something) and for a while I wanted to be an archeologist.
9. The Giver by Lois Lowry: I read this in eighth grade, so I guess I wasn't little, but I still thinks this counts. For some reason I am drawn to dystopian literature, and this might have been the first dystopian novel I read. Actually, scratch that; it might have been Fahrenheit 451, which I also read in eighth grade, but I can't remember which was first. I "borrowed" these from school (meaning I took them without asking from the classroom--but I returned them!) because I wanted to find out how they ended, and for whatever reason we never read them again in class. Stupid class. We read The Pearlbut not this stuff? C'mon!
10. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine: I read this in sixth grade and thought it was just awesome. What a kickass heroine! Strong and independent, despite her setback of being cursed to do whatever she is told. She finds a way around everything! Great retelling of Cinderella.
BONUS: American Girl Magazine Okay okay, this isn't a book, but I was a loyal subscriber and reader for YEARS. I couldn't wait to get these in the mail--I even bought some of the books, like the Help! books and Pages and Pockets. I loved all the great ideas they had for finding fun things to do and party ideas and games. Thanks for helping making my childhood awesome, American Girl!