Probably the Greatest Book List Ever for Elementary Kids

A friend of mine posted a question of Facebook asking:

Those of you who were elementary schoolers in the late 70s and 80s: Could you please share a few books that you read then that meant a lot to you? Or that you just super loved?

I responded right away without thinking. The “Little House” books and the “Great Brain” books.

The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald

This is the cover to “The Great Brain” that I remember! Don’t you hate when they put the dumb movie covers on the books?!

My friend’s post went on to generate 97 comments, including a couple from her old Bookmobile driver! OY!

I loved scanning through the list so much (as did others) that I decided to compile the list of books here. This is a combined effort, so I take no credit for the super-awesomeness of this list, other than being grateful for having readerly friends with even more, similarly bookish friends.

Note: The links go to to Goodreads.com, where you can see the old covers, read reviews, and order if you want, from Amazon, Powells, B&N, Kindle, Indiebooks, or many others, including my fave, Paperbackswap.com.

A List of Books for Elementary School Kids, Compiled (in No Particular Order) by some Great Brains of the ’70s.

      1. The Little House series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
      2. The Great Brain series, by John D. Fitzgerald.
      3. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
      4. Beezus and Ramona, (the series) by Beverly Cleary
      5. Beverly Cleary in general!
      6. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
      7. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson
      8. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
      9. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
      10. The Hundred Dresses by by Eleanor Estes, Louis Slobodkin (Illustrations)
      11. Madeleine L’Engle books (such as A Wrinkle in Time)
      12. Babysitter’s Club Books by Ann M. Martin
      13. All-of-a-Kind Family series by Sydeny
      14. The Cricket in Times Square and Harry Cat’s Pet Puppy by George Seldon
      15. Hotel for Dogs  by Lois Duncan
      16. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
      17. Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back by Shel Silverstein
      18. Doctor De Soto by William Steig
      19. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
      20. Little Women  by Louisa May Alcott
      21. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
      22. Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery
      23. The Encyclopedia Brown series by Donald J. Sobol
      24. The 18th Emergency by Betsy Byars
      25. Ginger Pye, and the Moffats Series, by Eleanor Estes
      26. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
      27. Trixie Belden mysteries by Julie Campbell
      28. Anything by author Edward Eager (Time Garden, Half Magic, Knight’s Castle, etc.),
      29. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
      30. The ‘Gypsy’ Horse Trilogy by Sharon Wagner (A Horse Named Gypsy, Gypsy and the Moonstone Stallion, Gypsy and Nimblefoot)
      31. Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorenson
        Betsy-Tacy books are obviously quite popular

        This image is from a (out-of-date) blog I found called “Deep Valley Sun” and as far as I can tell it was used for planning an entire Betsy-Tacy convention! (take that Trekkies!) This post was from the planning post for the Besty-Tacy 5K! What the what?! I have never the read the Betsy-Tacy books, and now I’m a little nervous!

      32. The Bunnicula series by Deborah Howe and James Howe
      33. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (more for teens and grown-ups!)
      34. The Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace
      35. The Velvet Room and The Egypt Game, both by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
      36. The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner
      37. The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series by Betty MacDonald
      38. The Hardy Boys series by Franklin W. Dixon
      39. The Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene
      40. Jacob I Have Loved by Katherine Paterson
      41. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
      42. Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine (#3 of a series) by Jay Williams
      43. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
      44. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
      45. Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
      46. Anything by author E. Nesbit
      47.  Black and Blue Magic by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
      48. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
      49. The Henry Reed Series by Keith Robertson
      50. Happy Hollisters series by Jerry West, et al
      51. Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
      52. The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I mean Noel) by Ellen Raskin
      53. A Ring of Endless Light, in the Austin Family series by Madeleine L’Engle
      54. Ballet Shoes (#1 of the ‘Shoes’ Series) by Noel Stratfield
      55. Nate the Great series by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
      56. Black Cauldron (Book #2 of The Chronicles of Prydain series) by Lloyd Alexander
      57. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
      58. Smoky, the Cowhorse by Will James
      59. Watership Down by Richard Adams
      60. The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll
      61. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
      62. Pippy Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
      63. A Day no Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
      64. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
        Misty of Chincoteague

        One of my daughters just finished this. She’s in 2nd grade. Neither of us could pronounce it and I couldn’t remember it well. Then we found out these horses are REAL and that a friend of ours camped near there his whole life! (It’s ‘SINK-oh-teeg,’ by the way. Thanks, Mark!)

      65. D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aurlaire
      66. The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger
      67. Mrs. Mike by Benedict Freedman and Nancy Mars Freedman
      68. Ice Cream for Two by Clare Turlay Newberry
      69. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
      70. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster
      71. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
      72. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
      73. Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster & Elaine Showalter
      74. Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
      75. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
      76. David Eddings fantasy series, The Belgariad and The Mallorean 
      77. The Borrowers series by Mary Norton
      78. A Long Way from Chicago (Trilogy) by Richard Peck
      79. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

I am sure there are so many more! Also, I am sure there other awesome  “great books” lists out there, but what I loved about this list was the nostalgia of it, the smell of the old library coming back to us as we were all listing our favorites!

This particular list is limited to books loved by young readers in and around the ’70s,  the ones we are now passing down to our own kids.

Do you have any to add to the list? Books in different genres, of poetry, or something just blatantly missing?

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Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth writes literary non-fiction, haiku, cultural rants, and Demand Poetry in order to forward the cause of beautiful writing. She teaches and speaks about the rhetorical impact of beautiful writing. A recent transplant to Connecticut, she calls London, Kansas City, and Iowa home.

 

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  4 comments for “Probably the Greatest Book List Ever for Elementary Kids

  1. April 15, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    this is a great list!!! So fun. I loved Lafcadio!

    • April 16, 2013 at 10:51 am

      There are so many that I haven’t read that I am considering just giving up “grown-up” books for awhile and reading these.

  2. Lisa
    April 16, 2013 at 2:02 am

    Great list! I love the memories it evokes. I was glad to see #70. It was such fun to read. I hope these stories plant fresh memories in a new generation.

  3. Wizard
    April 16, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I didn’t grow up(well, ever I guess) in the period but my children did and I read their books with them. Loved the “Great Brain”.

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