Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday, Throwback Edition: Ten of My Most Impactful Pre-High-School Reads

"Top Ten Tuesday" is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!
As of last Wednesday, my younger siblings are back in school. Fall has commenced in earnest in our household, and I've found myself reflecting fondly on those glory days of my youth, filled with plaid-skirted and khaki-panted uniforms, the holy grail snack of pizza Lunchables, and the long-awaited and oft-celebrated Read-In Day.

Thank goodness this week's Top Ten Tuesday theme is a "Throwback Freebie," so I can ruminate on the books of my youth, too!

What, you didn't think that I could grow to be this big of a book nerd, without having fostered the habit back when I was a kid, right? From waking up early on weekdays so I could fit a Magic Treehouse book into my busy schedule before going to school, to passing around Percy Jacksons like contraband around the lunchtable, to viewing Book Fair and Sustained Silent Reading days like they were national holidays, I've been this kind of a nerd since I soared through my first Bob book.

So, in celebration of the new academic year, here are ten of the books and series I remember loving back in elementary and middle school!

elementary, my dear reader


1. The Magic Treehouse series, Mary Pope Osborne
I'm not kidding when I say I used to wake up early before school to read one of these smart, short installments before being hustled off to second and third grade. Then, when I'd gotten home from post-school daycare, I'd sit on the couch and read another while my mom made dinner. I blame this series for my adamant need for historical context in period pieces.

2. The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
One of the first books my Dad ever read us kids before bed, and one of the most frequent rereads when I need an extra shot of inspiration, this book remains one of my all-time favorites, even though it took me a little while after first hearing it to understand all of the witty wordplay. I will always and forever be a proud resident of Dictionopolis!

3. The Princess Tales series, Gail Carson Levine
While Levine's other books - including middle grade icon, Ella Enchanted - were also frequently found in my reading rotation, it was the petite and pastel Princess Tales hardcover series that originally won my heart. Set in the fictional kingdom of Biddle, this collection of brief fairy tales like The Princess Test, The Fairy's Mistake, and Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep, were spunky and original, riffing on classic stories with hilarity and fun.

4. The Dragonriders of Pern series, Anne McCaffrey
You know how every classroom had that one girl who was obsessed with horses, or that girl who loved cats? Well, I was the girl who loved dragons. And Dragonsong's Menolly was probably one of the first blatantly feminist influences I remember reading. So, double foundational personality trait points, there!

2976715. A Series of Unfortunate Events series, Lemony Snicket
The fact that one of my favorite series from my youth has garnered such a sterling media adaptation, I can't tell you. I mean, the fact that they included one of my all-time favorite lines from the actual third book in the series - "If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats" - made me gasp out loud. This series made me think eating straight wasabi would be a good idea (Grim Grotto), and gave me second thoughts about attending a fictional boarding school (Austere Academy), as well as wildly misplaced conceptions about how precocious my incredibly young siblings would be (ie, Sunny). It definitely had a hand in forming part of my brain, which I'm choosing to believe is a good thing.

stuck in the middle with you


6. The Percy Jackson series, Rick Riordan
In what I can say was probably one of the only book clubs I've ever been a part of - and a definitely non-official one at that - my friends and I swapped around the books in this series as a part of a regular middle school cafeteria exercise. I have no idea whose copies the originals were, but since then, my younger sister and brother have invested in their own boxed set to share.

7. The Luxe series, Anna Godbersen
I can't remember if this series was actually billed as "Gossip Girl in 1899" or if that's just something that I used to label it in my head, but whatever the case, it's an apt description. Involving a set of friends experiencing love and scandal for the first time in the New York petticoat set, I was actually kind of embarrassed to be caught reading this at school... until some of the cool girls I sat next to in Social Studies complimented me on it.

8. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
While my great group of friends was in the midst of experiencing Percy Jackson, we were also undergoing a bit of a British Invasion, courtesy of two key members with family who were originally from England. Because of them, I got to experience the genius of British sci-fi humor, including Red Dwarf, and this genius book. We even celebrated Towel Day together in high school, and there's a pic of about five of us packing hand towels in our backpacks floating around on Facebook somewhere.

9. The A Great and Terrible Beauty series, Libba Bray
5I still regularly read Libba Bray's amazing work - like the Diviners series, set in paranormally-inclined New York, or her standalone Beauty Queens (aka, the only Lord of the Flies female-driven homage anyone should be caring about) - but the first book that got me set on this brilliant author still got me a few weird looks once classmates read the back blurb. It became one of my defining regular series in middle school.

10. The Harry Potter series, J. K. Rowling
Um, yeah, we all knew this would be here. What you might not have expected? That there was a period for about a year and a half, where - instead of seeking out any new or interesting reading material - I just reread a whole bunch of Harry Potter books over and over again. And not even in order, either! I just skipped around. I think I topped out at reading Prisoner of Azkaban a grand total of about13 times.

What's in your Top Ten? And what are some of your favorite school reading memories? Let me know, in the comments below!


  1. I'm excited to read The Phantom Tollbooth, the rest of the Percy Jackson series (we've read the first one already), and A Series of Unfortunate Events to my kid soon. We've been reading books together since he was around 2 and it's one of my favorite things ever. So, I love when I see lists like this to give me new ideas!! Thanks!

  2. I wasn't too fond of The Luxe series, but I was mainly drawn to it for the pretty dresses on the covers 😅 I don't think I've read any of the other books on your list apart from Harry Potter :)

    Louise - Exploring by Starlight

  3. I loved The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as well.

    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday.

  4. I read Hitchhiker's in high school and loved it. It was tied in to my local PBS station airing the mini-series version.

    I've re-read it sooooo many times since.

    My TTT (if you're interested) https://nashvillebookworm.wordpress.com/2017/09/12/top-ten-tuesday-books-i-loved-growing-up/

  5. Great list! I've heard a lot of great things about the Phantom Tollbooth and it's actually on my TBR list!

    Here’s my TTT!

    Ronyell @ Rabbit Ears Book Blog

  6. I loved ASOUE, Harry Potter and Percy Jackson when I was younger!
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/12/top-ten-tuesday-124/

  7. I think the Luxe series was billed as the Gossip Girl of the 1890s because that's how my oldest explained it to me when it came out. I love the concept! The Magic Treehouse books are amazing! I'm reading one right now as a bedtime book to my son and he's loving it! I just finally listened to the first Percy Jackson book and really enjoyed it. And of course Hitchhiker's Guide is a favorite. I love Adams' sense of humor! Great list!