Invariably, there would be one title everyone wanted, and the copies were gone within seconds. Invariably, there would also be one title no one would touch.
What I found eye-opening was that many of the books I chose, because I remembered reading them when I was young, no longer held any appeal for me. Some books just don't age well. Additionally, I discovered that some titles, even today, take wayyyyyy too many pages of backstory to get to the good stuff. There is a lesson to be learned here, both for a parent of young readers and for a current children's writer who wants to attract a target audience.
Below is my top 10 "Read It Again" list of titles - preschool through young adult. Any parent or writer should consider re-reading these. Some oldies made this list because they are still just as good as they were 50+ years ago. Timeless. Some are fairly "young" novels but made the cut because they have a "suck-you-in" beginning or are "current" and written smartly for today's world. For giggles, I've included the first lines of each. All are worth a re-read, for one reason or another.
Perhaps you will discover something about your own youth and how you perceived the world around you, back in the day, or, if you are an aspiring children's author, these are great examples of how to hook readers in and craft a story that can stand the test of time. Enjoy.
1. "The Lorax," Dr. Seuss
"At the far end of town where the Grickle-grass grows and the wind smells slow-and-sour when it blows and no birds ever sing excepting old crows ... is the Street of the Lifted Lorax."
2. "The Giving Tree," Shel Silverstein
"Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy."
3. "Charlotte's Web," E.B. White (there may be no better opening line, in my opinion)
"Where's Papa going with that axe?"
4. "Holes," Louis Sachar
"There is no lake at Camp Green Lake."
5. "A Wrinkle in Time," Madeleine L'Engle
"It was a dark and stormy night."
6. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," J.K. Rowling
"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."
7. "The Hobbit," J.R.R. Tolkien
"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."
8. "Because of Winn-Dixie," Kate DiCamillo
"My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog.”
9. "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," Ann Brashares
"Once upon a time there was a pair of pants."
10. "The Hunger Games," Suzanne Collins
"When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim's warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping."