17 of my Top Children’s & YA Books

We all have those books that are nostalgia in print form.  I loved reading as a child: it took a lot to peel me away from a book. And so, below, I have a list of the books from my childhood that I completely adored, right up to YA fiction.

Now, this list is pretty short (as book lists go), because by the time I was 11 I was actually reading Agatha Christie and Jane Austen, and so I didn’t really go through the “teenage girl vampire obsession”, or the zombie obsession- though I did get into the dystopian obsession. I also had to set myself some kind of cut-off point numbers wise, or I would have chosen 100 books. In the name of keeping this list age appropriate and without too much overlap into adult books/ heavier classics, what are strictly classed as childrens/young adult books are the only ones listed below. I’m also not including picture books, but books with more of an extended plot line.

Are any of these books favourites from your childhood? If so comment below, and if you have any different nostalgia-inducing books (as I’m sure you do), then you can leave a comment as well. If you’re older than 20 and reading this, then I would particularly love to know which books were popular when you got into reading.


Journey to the River Sea, Eva Ibbotson

Girl travels to the Amazon to live with her distant family, who try to pretend that they’re still living in England.

The Secret Countess, Eva Ibbotson

 In 1914 Annoushka/Anna is forced to become a maid to help her family out, having fled to England from Russia. She struggles to keep her identity as an aristocrat secret from the young Earl whose home she works in (sounds incredibly twee, it’s actually a brilliant book, with some very unlikable characters, a lot of humour, and great commentary on the class divide and eugenics)

The Molly Moon Series, Georgina Bing

Orphan girl learns how to hypnotise people from a mysterious book, and hypnotises her way to the top- ending up in NY before it all begins to go horribly wrong. The later books even involve time travel.

The Chronicals of Narnia, C.S.Lewis

A magical world you can access through a wardrobe? Yes please.

The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgeson Burnet

I kind of loved this book so much because it was set in Yorkshire, on the moors, and I grew up near some moors.

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

I was nuts about this series for so long; every world book day I dressed as Katniss. This is such a popular series that I doubt I have to really elaborate on the plot.

Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones 

Possibly one of my top picks from this list: Sophie Hatter has a curse placed on her by the Witch of the Waste, and is transformed into a creaky old woman. In this fantasy novel, Sophie leaves the family hat business, and moves in as the notorious Wizard Howl’s housekeeper. She strikes a deal with Howl’s fire demon Calcifer: Calcifer will break Sophie’s curse, if she finds a way to release him from the contract he’s in with Howl. With one catch: he can’t tell her what the contract is.

The Crystal Doors Series, Rebecca Moesta & Kevin J. Anderson 

A great fantasy series where two cousins end up in a magical world where evil forces are at work, which they must defeat. Floating islands, underwater worlds, and flying carpets included.

The Witches, Roald Dahl

This was terrifying. The thought that every normal looking woman could be a witch haunted little Em for a good year or so.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

Mysterious chocolate maker, Mr Wonka, opens his factory to five children- after it’s doors shut years ago and stayed firmly closed for some time. But what’s inside the factory? And who works in there?  Before my taste buds grew to maturity I had a huge sweet tooth (unbelievable, I know), and so a whole room made of chocolate and sweets was the dream.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales, The Brothers Grimm

When I was younger I read the slightly more traditional tales, so they had a bit of the gore- but not all of it. They appealed to me much more than the Disney princesses.

Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

Girl falls down a rabbit hole into a magical and surreal world, populated by a stroppy axe-happy queen, a mad hatter, a grinning cat, and talking animals.

Midnight, Jacqueline Wilson

I was nuts on Jacqueline Wilson when I was younger; she created such vivid characters and storylines that you couldn’t help but skip through the book in a couple of days. In this one Violet, a girl living in her own world, populated by the fairies from her favourite illustrator’s books, befriend Jasmine, the new girl at school. With slightly disastrous consequences.

The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson

Another book like the above. Dolphin lives with her abundantly tattooed mum, Marigold, and her sister (plus the favourite child) Star. Marigold is highly unstable and still in love with Star’s dad , Mickey, who isn’t on the scene. However, when Mickey re-appears it catapults the small family of mother and two sisters into a whole lot of trouble, and has Dolphin searching for who her unnamed father is.

Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver

Think groundhog day for a teenage girl, who is in a car crash one night after a party. Each time she relives the day leading up to it, she gets a chance to make things right- but can she do it? This is a sad book, but 100% worth a read if you’re getting into YA fiction.

The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot

Written as though the diary of Princess Mia Thermopolis, this series lasts way longer than the two films made out, and was a whole lot more entertaining. Great for some humour, and I loved growing up with Mia as the books were released.

Harry Potter Series, J.K. Rowling

Of course, this had to be on here, though I can’t say I enjoyed it any more or less that the above. I actually preferred the first 4 books out of the entire series, as this was when they felt the most magical for me.  I doubt you need a description of what these books are about, and so this is where I will be ending my list!


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