Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books to Read if Your Book Club Loves Children's Literature

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Books to Read if Your Book Club Loves x.  Obviously my first thought was Agatha Christie books but I figure I've done that one enough (read Sleeping Murder, And Then There Were None, and Murder of Roger Ackroyd plus any of her short story collections if you're new to her books) plus there isn't that much new to talk about.   After a lot of bouncing around I settled on children's literature.  Partly because I've been in a big Middle Grade mood lately and also because there is so much to talk about with them.  How they appeal to a child vs how they read to an adult, changes in how childhood is viewed and childhood freedoms, plus just the merits on the story alone!  Also, in the book clubs I've been involved in in the past everyone was scrambling to finish their books so I figure there's a higher chance of finishing a book designed for children!

1.  Nancy Drew and the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene - I think most readers - especially mystery lovers - have fond memories of Nancy Drew.  Reading them now is really entertaining.  How does Nancy manage to know everything?  How does she sustain all those head blows without any sign of a concussion?  There is also a more serious element about this series being one of the first adventure type books designed for girls and how the books impacted generations of young women.  Plus, I just love the covers!

2.  Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll - Mostly I just want someone to explain this one to me.  I read it expecting nonsense but expecting to enjoy it but by the end I felt like I was reading someone else tell me about a particularly long and convoluted dream.  Does it help if you read it as a child?  Was I just missing something?

3.  The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - This was one of my favorite books as a child and I was surprised when I reread it as an adult by how much I enjoyed it on its own merits and not just nostalgia.  Plus, that opening scene in India is absolutely horrifying.  This is such a complex book that I think there could be a ton of discussion topics.

4.  The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright - This is another book that could lead to so many discussions.  The first of which is the amount of freedom children had then (40s/50s) compared to now or even our own childhoods.  While most of the reviews on Goodreads for this book are glowing there is a one-star review and while I don't agree with her I definitely found a lot of validity in her points especially in regards to how one of the girls is treated due to an episode of what is considered vanity. Plus, the Melendy family is just wonderful and if you didn't meet them as a child you should definitely meet them now!

5.  Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey - These were my absolute favorite books as a child and I think there would be so much to discuss with these 2 books.  There's Lillian and Frank themselves who were fascinating people as well as just the family dynamics (and how the book completely skips over 12 becoming 11).  There are a couple of scenes that are hilarious if squirm inducing (a run in with a woman trying to make contraceptives available in Cheaper by the Dozen and a discussion on smoking in Belles on Their Toes) and reading the story of the family evolving between the 2 books is so interesting.  Plus, way more attention needs to be focused on Lillian Gilbreth and her contribution to efficiency in every aspect of life even after her husband's death in a time when women were not expected to be in the work place.

6.  The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud - If my girls were younger this is one I'd be wanting them to read.  I love the way the kids work as a team and I think it's one of the few books I've found that feels directed at both genders.  And it's just all kinds of creepy.  Not to mention well written and really unique!  Also, I cannot resist the covers for these!

7.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl - I once was in a book club where the food was themed to the book and the food for this one would be AMAZING!  I think you'd almost have to do a compare and contrast with the movies on this one and it could be really interesting.  Not to mention the book is great in it's own right.

8.  Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery - Even if you don't like Anne I think you should read this book.  In my opinion it's her best.  It's the story of Anne's youngest - pretty, vain, and somewhat shallow Rilla - who is ready to take her place in the world of parties and boys and fun now that she's 16 but her plans are dashed as war is declared in Europe and the world turns upside down for her.  It's heartbreaking, heartwarming, and a fascinating look at life on the Canadian homefront during World War I.  And if you don't cry at the Dog Monday story I don't think we can be friends.

9.  The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner - This series is the Tornado's (age 6) current bedtime books.  We're on our 4th or 5th one now and I'm trying to stick to the original books as much as possible.  These were some of my absolute favorite books as a child and so I've really enjoyed revisiting them.  I've been surprised by how simple the stories themselves are but how much they seem to appeal to children.

10. Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott - To be honest I've found that Alcott's books seem to hold up the worst to rereading as an adult but this one was my favorite and I think there's a number of issues that could be discussed today - charity, class issues, family situations, not to mention how they make that custody situation work!  It doesn't hurt that Eight Cousins is considerably shorter than Little Women which should make the reading go a bit easier!

That's my list though I probably could have easily listed 10 more that would be great book club reads.  What are your favorites that I've missed?

39 comments:

  1. Nancy and those pesky Hardy Boys would have had so many concussions! I have to say when you look at a cover gallery for those books it does make me want to read some! The Nancy covers were great. Never read The secret Garden but you have me curious now. The Lockwood books look really good and just a bit scary, and yes they have nice covers. And Boxcar Children *nods*.

    One series I've been curious about are the Penderwick books. If I'm not mistaken they're MG and pretty wholesome and they just look like they could be fun discussion books in the same vein as some of these. I confess I don't know much about them though, they just look interesting.

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    1. I really think you'd enjoy the Lockwood series Greg. It's really good and there's almost a sci fi element to it with the way the ghosts are done.
      I listened to the first Penderwick book and liked it though it wasn't a favorite.

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  2. I've had Eight Cousins on my bookshelf forever. Maybe a good one for January I'm thinking now. And I'm going to be ordering "Rilla" for sure. The Boxcar Children series has always been my favorite--The Yellow House Mystery (sigh). Thanks for the list.

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    1. We haven't gotten to The Yellow House Mystery but now I'm excited! We're finishing up The Bicycle Mystery now which so far is my favorite. I love Rilla though as a parent it killed me!

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  3. In my book club we do read-a-longs of old books from our childhoods every now and again. So far we've done the first Sweet Valley High & Nightmare Hall books.... but I desperately want to do Nancy Drew. It's so cool to see how those books hold up (or not).

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    1. Nancy Drew is interesting! I wouldn't say it isn't dated but for me it's in the best way! I listen to a podcast called Super Serials and they talk about Sweet Valley books sometimes and it's hilarious!

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  4. I loved The Boxcar Children series, although I've always been such a fan of Nancy Drew, those books are what hooked me on the mystery genre.

    Simply Angela

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    1. I'm the same way! I read Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on!

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  5. Great list! The whole Anne series would be fun for a book club. :)

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    1. Oh it would! It really goes through her life.

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  6. I have read Nancy Drew, Alice in Wonderland, Boxcar books, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Louisa May Alcott but some of the series you have listed are new to me. Great picks.

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    1. Thanks! I'm in a huge MG phase right now.

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  7. Nancy Drew, read them all, had them all in hardcover until late '60s and my mom gave them away... ugh!! I wish I had them now, but oh well. I didn't care for Alice in Wonderland but I understand so many readers too, and why, because of the originality.

    Good list! Mine probably would've included Black Beauty (a childhood fave), Harriet the Spy (a fave of mine and my kids) and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (two kids hide away in the Met. Museum of Art in NYC-- a wonderful story). Thanks, Katherine!

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    1. I have Harriet the Spy and Mrs. Basil on my TBR. They both look fantastic.
      The very same thing happened with my mother's collection of Nancy Drews. I think they got tossed in a move after she had outgrown them. She didn't particularly mind but when I found out I was so upset!

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  8. Wonderful list! I've read all but two of these (The Screaming Staircase and the Boxcar Children books) and have fond memories of most of them. Several are occasional or frequent re-reads (The Secret Garden, Eight Cousins, The Saturdays, Rilla of Ingleside.) I probably would have picked Anne of Green Gables over Rilla because I love Anne so much, but it is a good book -- and yes, I always cry at the conclusion of the Little Dog Monday story.

    I would have added The Perilous Gard, The Dark is Rising, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond... there are so many terrific children's and early YA books, one could do a list of the top 100 and not run out of titles!

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    1. Witch of Blackbird Pond is #11 for me! I think the only reason it didn't automatically make it is because I don't remember much of it. I need to reread. That Dog Monday story kills me every time!

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  9. Isn't it wonderful when you get to read and enjoy your childhood favorites all over again with your child? I had a record as a youngster of a British theater company performing an Alice In Wonderland musical and I listened to it over and over again probably from the ages of seven to nine. My cousin remembered how much I loved the record and bought me a hardcover AIW in a slipcase for my 13th birthday. I started to read it and I was like WTH? I realized that the musical performance had left out a lot of the book. So even at 13 I was at a loss with it. I also tried to read it to both my little sister and my son, and neitner one of them wanted to continue after the first couple of chapters, so you are not alone. Ha ha.

    I loved Cheaper By the Dozen, although I read it as an adult (I saw the movie as a child though). Like I said before I had no clue about the sequel, which I still must read! I got the Eight Cousins ebook for free and I still have to read it.

    Annemieke from A Dance Wuth Books has me convinced to read some Stroud. I haven't decided if I want to read the Lockwood books or the Barteamus books yet. Great list!

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    1. I'm so glad you're not a fan of Alice in Wonderland. I love the movie but the book just made no sense! You must read Belles on Their Toes! I don't think it's as good but it's so fun to see what happens next it kind of evens out.
      You must read Stroud! I'm really surprised you haven't actually because it seems so you. I've only read Lockwood but I've heard fantastic things about the other series.

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  10. Awesome list! I've never read the Nancy Drew series and I need to start now!

    Here’s my TTT!

    Ronyell @ Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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    1. I'm not so sure how well she'll hold up if you didn't meet her as a kid but Nancy is the best!

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  11. I need to try Lockwood and Co. It looks like my kind of book! :)

    Lauren @ Always Me

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  12. Great list! I see several favorites and quite a few I have not read... and I haven't read much children's lit lately. The Saturdays sounds very good!

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    1. The Saturdays is so good! Really anything Enright wrote is wonderful.

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  13. I would love to be part of a children's literature book club. I read so much! Well, actually not quite as much as I used to. I love these choice.

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    1. That would be so much fun! I love children's lit. So often it feels so simple but ends up being really complex when you think about it.

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  14. As a children's librarian, this is absolutely right up my alley! I was OBSESSED with the Boxcar Children as a child, I loved how independent and resourceful they were.

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    1. I was too! I read every one I could get my hands on. I'm sometimes jealous of the availability of books now as opposed to pre-Amazon days.

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  15. I love children's fiction. Nancy Drew is always a must for a list like this (and maybe the first step toward reading Agatha Christie.

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    1. I definitely agree! I'm not sure I went directly from Nancy to Agatha but they were definitely the biggest stops on the mystery trail!

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  16. One of our members suggested Little Women for a choice next year. I love it but I don't know that I need to reread it yet again. I'm considering asking everyone to read something they loved as a young person and see which holds up the best. A few years ago, one of the members suggested Anne of Green Gables and it fell so flat for everyone who'd never read it. I'm a little nervous about doing another childhood read!

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    1. I can definitely see how Anne would be flat for adults. I really think the later books hold up better than the actual Anne of Green Gables. I hope you post about what you end doing with book club! I'd be curious to know how it works out.

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    1. Nancy is the best! I blame my love of heels on her love of pumps!

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  18. I don't know it is that I have never read any of the Nancy Drew books - especially since I loved Harriet the Spy in 5th grade. For a while I thought she was the coolest thing ever. I agree with this list!

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    1. I was all ready to be shocked by you not reading Nancy Drew but then i realized i haven't read Harriet so I guess it evens out!

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  19. I just finished reading Marissa Meyer's Heartless, a prequel-esque story about the Queen of Hearts (my review of it is tomorrow) and it made me want to re-read Alice in Wonderland! All Ronald Dahl would be fantastic! Lovely list, Katherine!

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    1. I didn't realize the new Meyers book was about the Queen of Hearts. Now I'm super excited!

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  20. I was hugely into Nancy Drew in 2nd grade but don't think I could stand a re-read now. Eight Cousins was one of my favorites though--and I remember the old man (uncle?) insisting that she wear clothes she could breath and run in. Plus all those handsome Scottish cousins. I don't actually think I ever read the Boxcar Children (or possibly just the first one), and while I really liked the Amulet of Samarkand series, I haven't read anything else by Stroud. Very fun list!

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