About ten years ago, I decided I wanted to read all the Newbery winners.
As I worked my way through the list, I often would get them on CD and listen to them in the car as I drove to and from the UT Austin campus or out to my internship on the edge of the city.
When I finished one book, I’d go back to the library and look for more audiobooks with the tell-tale Newbery sticker on the spine.
But one that I never could quite convince myself to check out was Dicey’s Song.
It’d won the Newbery, but it was actually a sequel to Homecoming.
And I hate to read a sequel without reading the first book.
So I just kept checking out other things.
Then the library closed down for about five weeks for major renovations.
Which meant that I needed to get something long that would keep me going through those five weeks, and it was the perfect time to check out both Homecoming and Dicey’s Song with the knowledge that I had many weeks to get through them both.
And holy cow, I LOVED them.
I couldn’t believe I had never read them as a child.
My in-laws happened to visit during that period and saw the CDs in the car and they raved about how much their whole family loved the Tillerman series.
Who knew I’d completely missed the boat on those?
It made me think of other classic children’s books I didn’t read until I was an adult.
Here are a ten others:
- The Giver by Lois Lowry. I remember my mom reading this one when it won the Newbery and she wasn’t a big fan, so I never picked it up, but then one of my college roommates loved it and so one summer, I picked it up and flew through it. I was completely obsessed with it and a year later, I read it aloud to Bart because he’d never read it either. (Tragically, I don’t think either of the follow-up books are nearly as good).
- The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare. This was one I was prepared to suffer through for the sake of getting through all the Newbery titles, and then I absolutely loved it.
- Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson. For the record, I am not a huge animal lover, so I wasn’t expecting to be delighted by this one, but it was so sweet and fun.
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. This was one of my dad’s favorite books from his childhood, so I always wanted to read it, but when he started reading it aloud to us, it scared me so much, we asked him to stop. Years later, as a slightly less wimpy adult, I listened to the audio and loved it. (Full review here).
- Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. This is one I’d never heard of and picked up entirely because it had won the Newbery. And I LOVED it – it still stands out as one of my favorite audio experiences. (Full review here).
- My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett . I’d never even heard of this book until I started looking for early chapter book recommendations and this one was on EVERY list. And I have to admit, I thought it was dull as dirt.
- Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. I liked this one, but it wasn’t terribly memorable to me.
- The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren. My mom sent Ella a copy of this for her birthday a few years ago and we had the best time reading it together. When I told my mom I’d never read it, she was shocked since both of my sisters had read and loved it as children. Somehow, it just skipped me, but I am now the biggest fan of this sweet book by the author of Pippi Longstocking. (Full review here).
- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. I knew nothing about this book until I heard my aunt mention that it the book she’d just finished in her own quest to read all the Newbery books (which is where I got the idea in the first place). It was a couple more years until I read it, and then I just cried all over myself. I think this is the MOST beautifully written book. (Full review here).
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. This was one I meant to read for years and didn’t get around to until it was the only audiobook I had when I was doing hours and hours of driving every week down to my elementary school libraries in Boston. And then I drank the koolaid in a big way. (Full review here).
What childhood classics did you miss when you were an actual child? I’d love to hear!