Read about My Children’s Literature Reading Groups in the New York Times!

I’ve written about my children’s literature reading groups before — yes, groups. Along with friends, I’ve started THREE of these groups, and each one is a huge engine of happiness for me.

My friend Pamela Paul (who is herself a member of Kidlit) wrote about the Kidlit groups in the New York Times Book Review today: The Kids’ Book Are All Right. Fun!

If you’re a fan of children’s literature or young-adult literature, what are some of your favorites?

* On Twitter? Follow me, @gretchenrubin.

  • Nashvilleteacher

    Congratulations! I love children and young adult literature–I suppose that’s why I am a middle school teacher. Twenty three years of adulthood spent enjoying books with adoloscents!

  • SoCalGirl

    Children’s literature is like a vacation in a book. My favorites are the Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke (a German author whose work has been translated into English) and the Artemis Fowl series.

  • That’s awesome, Gretchen!

    What a great thing you’re doing. Good article, too, by Pamela.

    All the best,


  • Julie

    I love browsing the juvenile fiction shelves for great new books striving to bring modern children back into the world of books. Try Blue Balliet’s trilogy The Wright Three, Chasing Vermeer and The Calder Game; or Lee Wells’ Gaia Girls books;

  • Kim N

    I love children’s and young-adult literature! I am so glad I started reading it to find books for my daughter, because I discovered how much I enjoy it. I really like Shannon Hale’s book, particularly Book of A Thousand Days. Kate DiCamillo is another favorite of mine.

    You have me wondering if I could convince a few of my friends to start a children’s lit book club….

    • gretchenrubin

      Do it! You will have so much fun. There’s so much to read — now I have to
      get my hands on Book of a Thousand Days.

  • Anne

    i love the narnia series! i read the whole series aloud to our three children (TWICE) when they were in elementary school. and when our first grandchild was born last month one of our birth gifts was the boxed set of the chronicles of narnia so our son and his wife could read it aloud to their daughter when she’s a little older.

    i also love the giver. can’t begin to count the number of times i’ve read or listened to this fine lois lowry book. i think it will be my next recommendation for my co-ed book group.

  • LivewithFlair

    We are reading the Ramona books and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. They are hilarious! I immediately thought I needed to start one of these groups after I read this post, but then I remembered my new mantra for the fall: Just Because There’s Space Doesn’t Mean I Have to Fill It.

  • Joless

    Yes, I love children’s literature – particularly school stories from the 20’s and 30’s, plus anything I read as a kid. Narnia, The Borrowers, Chalet School, Enid Blyton, Swallows and Amazons series. I am making an effort to look in charity shops and find books to either replace what I used to own, or fill in some of the gaps. I only buy the older editions, not new reprints, and I really enjoy hunting for them – such a thrill when I find one I don’t have. I’m not sure what I will do with the collection eventually as I don’t have any kids, but I will enjoy it for the time being. I’m sure I am only looking after it for someone who will love it.

  • The thing I love about children’s literature is that I learn from it too. When I was feeling frustrated with my career, I was reading a kids’ book that gave me a lot of insight. How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky. It talks about how Santa keeps losing his jobs and feeling bummed but it turns out that the skills that he learned from each one prepared him to be Santa, the gift giver. It’s great!

    I also gain insight from the Harry Potter books which my eight-year-old son has me reading everyday. I wrote an article about one of the episodes.…mon-a-patronus/

  • Eve

    I like to read what my son (age 11) is reading, and he loves me to do it too. That doesn’t mean I love all his picks, but at least I can see what he likes about them. Recently I’ve read The Hobbit, Leviathan, Eragon, and Eldest. But the ones I like most are the dystopian novels such as The Giver and City of Ember. I also loved Where the Red Fern Grows, which has the feel of an authentic memoir about growing up in the Ozarks.

  • diane

    I love children’s literature and use it as a stress reliever…for example 15 mins ago my daughter found that my kitchen counter has just been invaded by ants. After I threw my tantrum, sprayed and scrubbed my counter, then sprayed again, we sat down to read Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg. 🙂

  • Some of my favorites are the old ones. I read the Laura Ingalls Wilder series when I was a kid. I think it influence my life-time love of nature.

    As an adult, I often prefer reading teen literature over adult fiction.

    One of my more recent juvenile fiction authors is Cynthia Voigt.

    • gretchenrubin

      There are so many brilliant kidlit/YA authors, but none more brilliant than
      Laura Ingalls Wilder. If you haven’t re-read the Little House series
      recently, turn to it again. Those books are staggeringly good. I will never
      tire of them.

      If you like audio books, Cherry Jones reading those books…bliss.

  • Karen

    Harry Potter series! I finally convinced hubby to read these after the 7th book debuted, and he, like I, fell in love with the characters and their fantastic world.

    Reading The Twilight Saga was a great way to bond with my 20-something daughter. We now make a big production of attending the midnight premieres of each Twilight film.

    I love reading to the grandkids when they are here. They love Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book, as do I, and its power of suggestion to sleep works like a charm. We enjoy the primitive illustrations by H. Kent Puckett in Ella K. Lindvall’s Read-Aloud Bible Stories, as well as the fun CinderEdna, a not-so-fairy tale with a modern twist and spunky heroine. These are just a few of our faves. So many great kid-books, so few years with grandkids to read them all!

  • Theresa Vaz

    I love children’s literature. I always loved to read but now I find I spend more time reading aloud to my daughter. We’ve read all of Harry Potter, The Narnia Series, Road Dahl, Nim’s Island, The Hobbit etc. When she was little I could read picture books to her over and over and now I will read chapter books for hours. We really enjoy this time together as well as sharing all these great books.

  • Elizabeth

    Ditto on The Giver and Inkheart! Also, three of the most amazing young adult books I’ve ever read are When You Reach Me, The Book Thief and Graveyard Book.

  • Wonderful idea!

    I’m in love with “Savvy” by Ingrid Law. It’s a treasure.

  • I love children’s literature. I always loved to read but now I find I spend more time reading aloud to my daughter.

  • New-to-me kids/YA books I’ve recently read and loved have included: Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones (a telling of Tam Lin, but also a great non-fairy-tale coming-of-age story), Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (Cinderella retelling), and Paper Towns by John Green. In March I was on a John Bellairs kick — The House with a Clock in Its Walls, The Figure in the Shadows, and The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring — the first of which I liked best ’cause it’s the quirkiest, but all of them are good. I haven’t read David Levithan’s newest solo book yet, but I tend to love anything he writes, and liked Will Grayson, Will Grayson a whole bunch (he co-wrote that one with John Green).

    Old favorites: Five Children and It by E Nesbit. The Green Knowe series by LM Boston. The Dark is Rising books by Susan Cooper. Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

  • bj

    Me, too! There are books I have read scores of times, and each time I enjoy them more! Walk Two Moons makes my “marooned on a desert island” book list, and I also recommend to all: Tuck Everlasting, Summer of the Monkeys, Surviving the Applewhites, The Loner (hard to find), Number the Stars.

  • TW

    I love vintage children’s books, especially Christmas and anything by Czech illustators from the 1920s and 30s. The illustrations make me so happy and the sweet pictures take me back to remembering happy times as a child.

  • Janet

    When I was in 6th grade I read a book that was in our classroom library entitled “The Diamond in the Window” by Jane Langton. I kept the book for the entire year and reluctantly gave it up when we ended for summer vacation.

    It was a magical book about time travel and family and I never forgot it. I looked for it in every library I visited but, alas, I couldn’t remember the exact title and never found it. Several years ago I received a catalog from a now defunct bookseller who featured the book in one of the issues. I quickly bought several copies and kept one for myself, of course.

    I urge everyone to check this book out. You will not be disappointed.

  • GND

    Any chance you would post some of your various group’s reading lists? To respond to the question at hand,, I would say all of E. Nesbit’s books have that wonderful triad of plot, character and action that Paul describes. “We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea” is perhaps my favorite. Also, though not specifically YA, “The Folded Leaf” by William Maxwell is a wonderful short novel about young adults, with his characteristic gift for fine detail and ambiance.

    • Sarah

      I would also be interested in a list of books that your book club has discussed.

    • gretchenrubin

      Alas, I don’t have a complete list. Something to do! But here is a partial
      list, a mash-up of some of what the three groups have read:

      The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
      The Golden Compass
      Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You
      The Silver Crown/Z is for Zachariah
      The Westing Game
      A Wrinkle in Time
      Harriet the Spy
      Bridge to Terabithia
      Peter Pan
      Little Women
      Half Magic
      Five Children and It
      The Secret Garden
      The Book Thief
      Little House in the Big Woods/These Happy Golden Years
      Mary Poppins
      When You Reach Me
      From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
      Chasing Vermeer
      The Lightning Thief
      To Kill a Mockingbird
      The Princess Bride
      Jungle Book
      Graveyard Book
      The Diary of Anne Frank
      What I Saw and How I Lied
      A Wizard of Earthsea/The Tombs of Atuan/The Farthest Shore
      Huckleberry Finn
      Anne of Green Gables
      The Phantom Tollbooth
      All-of-a-Kind Family; The Great Brain
      The Dark is Rising
      The Once and Future King
      A Little Princess
      Danny the Champion of the World
      Hunger Games
      Catching Fire
      Will Grayson, Will Grayson
      If I Stay
      Before I Fall
      Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
      Greengage Summer
      Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
      Charlotte’s Web

  • Debra

    The Great Gilly Hopkins – Katherine Paterson

    Journey to the River Sea – Eva Ibbotson

    All of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books (yes, I know they contain racism, but, like Huck Finn, it’s a sign of the times)

    Eight Cousins – Louisa Mae Alcott (I was surprised how advanced this book was for it’s time. Miss Alcott’s father was quite forward thinking with regard to women.)

  • One of my favorites that I often reread – “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster.
    I’ve also read it with adult book clubs. Great principles of life.

  • Arista

    I LOVE (and constantly re-read) The Westing Game by Ellen Rasking. I also loved From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg.

  • Gretchen – Thanks to you I discovered the books of Elizabeth Enright, which I somehow missed as a child. They are fabulous! I’ve also recently really enjoyed “The Willoughbys” by Lois Lowry. It’s a hilarious take on the typical themes of children’s literature. Thanks, ironically, to my 9 year old having had some struggles with reading last year, I’ve read just about every boy-centric third-grade level book known to mankind in the past 12 months. Of these, I can recommend the Journal of a Cardboard Genius series by Frank Asch, The Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer, and the Jake Drake books by Andrew Clements.

  • Oh, and reading Arista’s comment reminded me – The Westing Game! And The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler! Those two are both so so good.

  • Leslie

    I love YA and children’s books. I belong to a YA book-club, although I’m the only member who’s not either a YA librarian or school teacher. We’ve read the first two Hunger Games books mentioned in the NY Times article, the Uglies trilogy, and lots of other things.

    Some of my favorites that I enjoyed as a child/young adult, and again as a 20-30 something:

    The Chronicles of Narnia
    The Velveteen Rabbit
    Bridge to Terabithia

  • BetsyP

    Hey Gretchen,

    Have you come across Meg Rosoff’s ‘How I live now’? It’s a fantastic read. I studied it for my children’s lit module at uni.



  • BetsyP

    Also, I urge you to discover Shaun Tan. He is the most amazing illustrator. I guarantee you will love ‘The Arrival’!

  • Lea

    love love love anything by Eleanor Estes, especially “The Moffats” and “Rufus M.” and “Ginger Pye” first time I read these books was the summer before I entered fifth grade. My dad was in stationed in Vietnam and my mother moved me and my younger 5 brothers and sisters to Charlotte NC to be closer to family while my father was overseas. I spent the entire summer sitting in the porch swing reading. It was my way of escaping. It was hard watching my mother worrying constantly and I tried to stay strong for her and my siblings.

  • rabar

    If you haven’t yet, do check out the children’s book:
    Author: Eckhart Tolle
    Title: Guardians of Being

  • Djlancaster5

    love Robert Munsch’s book “Stephanies ponytail”. It is funny but also teachs wise lessons! Great for girls!

  • Npingegneri

    I work in a K-3 school and am interested in starting a book club for 2 and 3 graders who are either struggling or advanced readers.  Suggestions for either end?  They could have another person read TO them….if they couldn’t read themselves.  I was an avid reader around that age, because someone gave me a book when I needed it, and I work with needy kids now.
    suggestions please?  I’m thinking Harriet the Spy?

    • gretchenrubin

      Harriet the Spy strikes me as better suited to older children, it’s pretty complex and dark. What about The Saturdays? or Half Magic? or James and the Giant Peach? From the Mixed-Up Files…?


      • maryreader

        All the Cynthia Rylant series are wonderful for that age – Mr Putter and Tabby or Henry and Mudge

        • gretchenrubin

          I LOVE Cynthia Rylant. Cherry Sue!

  • Dbshell

    The Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter
    Amazing..and magical…wonderful..uplifting..

  • JJBBone

    All of those mentioned in your favorite lines article, and The Velveteen Rabbit, Tell Me a Mtizi, Time of Wonder, Make Way for Ducklings, Knuffle Bunny, Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, The Relatives Came, Peter Rabbit, A Child’s Garden of Verses, Little Brown Bear, Crow Boy, The Polar Express, The Kissing Hand, and on and on.

  • Drew R

    Hi Gretchen! I remember reading in the Happiness Project about how you bought a set of The Wizard of Oz books (if I remember correctly) because you loved the look of them. I don’t know if you’re a big Harry Potter fan, but I am. Just in case you are, I thought I would share with you this beautiful set that I bought a while back! I wanted a British edition of the books, and when I saw these online, I loved the covers, so I ordered them! If you don’t love it, I won’t be offended. 😉 I still thought I would share in case you would like them as well. 🙂