To read: 2010 Newbery winner, “When You Reach Me”

when you reach meYoung adult and children’s books have come a long way. In the past decade or so, I’ve read several — The Giver, for example, and Life As We Knew It — that now rank high in my favorite books of all time. Last year’s Newbery winner, The Graveyard Book, was nothing short of fantastic.

This year’s winner, When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead, looks equally intriguing. From The Washington Post:

The book is written from the perspective of 12-year-old Miranda, who is trying to piece together strange events happening around her: Sal, her best friend, starts ignoring her; the apartment she shares with her mom is broken into; she finds mysterious notes that predict the future.

It’s a great, at times confusing story, one that almost challenges you to read it again and again to make sure you’ve picked up on all the clues. “I probably will never understand the book the way a smart 11-year-old would,” the author said her editor told her.

What book would you read for the first time again?

Sharing this great post from PBS’s Booklights. The question asked was, what book do you wish you could read for the first time, all over again? Since Booklights is a site for education and parents, many of the answers are children’s or young adult books.

Me? It’s hard to pick, of course. I’d be tempted to say The Mists of Avalon, just to fall in love with it all over again. But it’s strange to look at that book this way, though, because I got more from it on re-reads than I did the first time, really.

A lot of the books listed here do ring true for me as well. The Harry Potter books, of course. And I loved The Secret Garden but in the end, if I had to pick just one, I’d say Burnett’s A Little Princess instead. It was the first hardcover book I owned, and loved, a gift from my oldest sister — the first book I really remember making me love books, and love reading.

What book would you pick to re-experience?

The First Time Again
Posted by Susan on August 19, 2009 at 12:00 AM on the PBS Parents: Booklights blog

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:

Anne of Green Gables.jpg10. 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!

Secret Garden.jpg6. 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.

Wrinkle in Time.jpg3. 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):

All Harry Potter books.jpg1. 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.

Read more…