Welcome to another Top 5 Wednesday. This week’s topic is favorite children’s books. I mostly went with middle grade here, as children’s picture books aren’t a major part of my collection, though I know some readers have a passion for it. So here are my favorite middle grade reads.
5. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I grew up with this one, so it had to make the list somewhere. This is an epic fantasy series geared toward children, and it’s gone on to be an inspiration to many writers who have come since. It’s a great introductory series for kids to give them a love of fantasy for the rest of their lives. It worked on me anyway. It also has a heavy Christian allegory involved, which isn’t everyone’s thing, but it also could be viewed as just another kind of magic the series uses to tell its story.
4. Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Had to mention Gaiman. His middle grade game is very strong, meaning you should really read them all. This one has a special touch though. Gaiman has always kept one foot in horror, no matter what genre he’s writing in, and even though this is for younger readers, it’s still terrifying. The dead button eyes. I think that’s what gets everyone who reads this one. Very creepy, darkly whimsical, and unforgettable.
3. Holes by Louis Sachar. This was one of those books I’d heard about for years. When I finally read it, as an adult might I add, I realized what I’d been missing out on. Holes is an incredibly satisfying read. It’s full of puzzles pieces that fall in place, and I keep coming back to that word satisfying. It simply feels good to watch this mystery unfold, to feel as if you see the whole, bigger picture. It’s also loads of fun. That, too.
2. The Nest by Kenneth Oppel. The Nest is one of the most shudder-inducing books I’ve ever read, and it’s for kids. This is not some mildly unsettling Goosebumps book here. It’s full of dark magic from a tricky villain. It’s more even than that though. It’s about mental illness, disability, and self-acceptance in the face of those things, making it a pretty important read for anyone in your life facing those issues.
1. The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. I still need to finish this series, but I can say that, so far, it’s one of the finest fantasy epics I’ve ever encountered. No qualifiers needed regarding it being middle grade. It’s still well-written with great world-building and strong characters. That’s the trifecta for any good fantasy series, and Prydain has all three. I urge anyone who is a fan of children’s lit or fantasy to give it a try.
Thank you for reading, and as always, happy geeking!
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