Last week I asked this question: “What children’s book would you love to be able to read again for the first time?”
The question struck more of a chord than I ever could have imagined. Between responses on Booklights, Facebook and Twitter, my question was answered over 600 times! Being a curious person, I had to find out which books were mentioned the most. The numbers listed next to the titles refer to how many times that book or series was mentioned.
The top ten children’s books readers would most like to read again for the first time are:
10. The Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls and the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder (7 times each). I’m a huge L.M. Montgomery fan, I’d love to read some of her books again for the first time. In the Anne of Green Gables series, the one I’d pick is Anne of the Island.
9. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (8 times) At least half the respondents on this book said they prefered the French version.
8. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (10 times) The trilogy His Dark Materials was mentioned only once. Interestingly, the majority of the votes were specifically for The Golden Compass.
7. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll (11 times). I just found my old dog-eared copies of these terrific books. What wonderful memories!
6. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (12 times). I actually just read this for the first time last year. I wish I had discovered it when I was a child.
We’ve reached the halfway point, and are starting to climb into the big numbers.
5. The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe and the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (19 times). Oh, the magic of discovering what’s in that wardrobe! Who can forget that?
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (22 times). A perfectly written book. It’s amazing what an effect Harper Lee has had on so many generations. I read this book in high school, although I recently had a mom (who hadn’t read the book) try to convince me that it was appropriate for her third grader.
3. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle (25 times). This book ranks high on every children’s book poll I see such as: “What’s your favorite book from childhood?” or “What’s your favorite Newbery book?” The answer is always A Wrinkle in Time. Interesting side note: did you know that this book was rejected by over two dozen publishers before it was finally accepted?
The numbers jumped way up for the last two, both of which are series.
2. The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (38 times) Great, great books. I remember my first time reading these very vividly. Frodo was climbing up Mount Doom and my mom came in and asked me to clean up my room. I recall telling her in a passionate voice that I had read hundreds and hundreds of pages just to get to that point and I couldn’t stop. I had to know what happened next. Fortunately, she took pity on me.
And the books that were mentioned the most… (drum roll, please):
1. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (41 times) As a die-hard Harry Potter fan, I couldn’t agree more, but I was surprised that Harry beat out Frodo.
I was on the edge of my seat for every single Harry Potter book. Whenever I thought I had figured it all out, Rowling took her story in another direction and surprised me every time. She made me gasp, cry and laugh in a way I never have while reading a book. It was an unforgettable ride.
But as much as I loved that thrilling, spine tingling first time, it was in the re-reading where I discovered the true magic. Rowling planned out all seven books before the first one was even accepted for publication. All the books are full of subtle, deftly hidden clues and wonderful misdirection that are a delight to discover. For more about the joy of reading a favorite book over and over, check out Jen’s excellent post on the subject.
Now, on to the runner-ups. Although they didn’t make the top ten list, here are the children’s and young adult books that were mentioned multiple times. They’re in alphabetical order by author.