That should be the best thing about any book, that it welcomes an entirely new group of readers with each passing generation — for children's and young adult books, every two or three years. It's wonderful to share a book you loved as a child with a child of your own, and nobody should let that opportunity pass them by.
But remember not to limit your children's book purchasing patterns to *only* those books you grew up with. Some of the best books for kids and teens are being written today. Check out the bibliographies on this site for recommendations.
ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT'S ME MARGARET by Judy Blume (Bradbury Press, 1970). Reading this book is a rite of passage for most young teen girls, concerned like Margaret Simon about their breast sizes, when they'll have their first periods, and how they fit with God and the universe. Ages 8-up.
BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA by Katherine Paterson (HarperCollins, 1977). Jess Aarons plans to be the fastest boy in fifth grade, but then Leslie Burke moves next door and leaves him in the dust. The two grow into best friends until the day Leslie is lost to Jess forever. Perhaps the first time a book made me cry and in the best possible way. Ages 8-up.
FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER by E.L. Konigsburg (Dell, 1977). Run away with Claudia and her little brother to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I've never been there, but through this book it's more real to me than many places I've actually visited. Ages 9-up.
TIGER EYES by Judy Blume (Bradbury, 1981). When Davey’s father is shot in a holdup, she moves with her family to New Mexico. Laced with political messages about the role of weapons in our society, but not heavy-handed. Ages 12-up.
THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND by Elizabeth George Speare (Houghton Mifflin, 1958). After the death of her father, Kit has no choice but to leave her home in the Caribbean to live with family in the colony of Connecticut. When she becomes friends with a Quaker woman, Kit is accused of being a witch. One of my favorite romantic happy endings. Ages 8-up.
The first year of law school is a notorious time for students. Competitive. Stressful. But looking back, one of my fondest memories was of my friend Nicole Burnham and Winnie the Pooh.
Now, Nee-co-la was devoted to Pooh. Completely unabashed in her adoration. I can remember her playing Pooh videos in her room in the law quad. Door open. Music floating out for all to hear. And it was like magic.
Contracts and torts and even the Constitution would fall by the wayside as one after another, people would walk into the room and exclaim something to the effect of, "I love Pooh."
I love Pooh, too. And I understand how a character from childhood, a timeless character, a classic character can bring back the fuzziest of feelings.
As a kid, I went a number of years without being exposed to the books that had brought to life some of my favorite characters, Pooh in particular. Too often in the on-going commercialization of characters, they lose some of the uniqueness that made them so special in the first place. If you haven't already, read the books behind your favorite movies or television specials.
04/04 update: Nicole is now writing YA romance under the name Niki Burnham.
10/05 UPDATE: Author Feature: Niki Burnham.
11/07 UPDATE: Niki Burnham on GODDESS GAMES