Top Ten Tuesday | School Age Favorites

10 of the Best Books I Read, NOT for School

I hated reading school assigned books.  I have an aversion to reading what I’ve been instructed to.  I physically can’t retain anything, which I feel sounds like an excuse, but I mean it.  No matter how much I try, no matter how much focus, I can’t connect to the story and it doesn’t stick.

So, I thought this was a good opportunity to talk about the books I was reading instead!  These were my favorite childhood reads, the ones I hid under my desk to read in secret.

Just As Long As We're Together1. Just As Long As We’re Together by Judy Blume

My sister and I loved this so much.  It felt like us, what the girls were going through.  Their friendship, but also their middle school problems.  It was first kisses, school dances, and becoming a woman.  Words like chartreuse will always hold special meaning, and for me Richard Gere was really named Benjamin Moore.  All thanks to this book.

Charlotte's Web2. Charlotte’s Web by EB White

I think we all loved Charlotte’s Web.  It feels like this was one we all read as children.  It’s one of the most iconic children’s books on the market, and for good reason.  The story of Wilbur and Charlotte is the perfect story for young kids.  We should all hear stories about unlikely friendships, and beating the odds.  And has an adorable cast.

red-fern3. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

This was a regular read for me growing up.  It’s one of my all time favorite stories.  I guess back then I loved reading, or watching, everything that would make me cry.  I loved emotional stories.  These days I steer clear, because life is hard enough, but kids are protected.  Back then I could handle this heartbreaking ending.

Secret Circle4. The Secret Circle by LJ Smith

I read Vampire Diaries more than a decade ago, long before the television show.  Actually, I read most of LJ Smith’s books, and enjoyed them.  The Secret Circle was my favorite, by far.  I loved the witch history, the incantations, and the lore.  It made me want to be a witch, and I used to pretend I was a Diana or Cassie in my yard.  (I was in love with Nick.)

heaven5. Heaven by VC Andrews

Most people talk about Flowers in the Attic, I liked that series too, but I adored the Heaven series.  It was definitely my favorite.  I  loved Heaven’s brother Tom, and I also loved her boyfriend Logan.  For me though, it really took off during Dark Angel.  I adored Troy.  Even now I look back on the story and he’s the first one I think of.

Secrets Can Kill6. Nancy Drew Files by Carolyne Keene

I read so many Nancy Drew books growing up that it’s surprising that I don’t read mysteries anymore.  I loved the excitement of the cliffhanger chapter breaks, and figuring out who the bad guy was.  I especially loved Nancy, her best friends, and her boyfriend Ned.  (I kept every copy I owned and still have them today.)

Double Love7. Sweet Valley High by Francine Pascal

Sweet Valley High was the sister series to Nancy Drew.  It’s the other series that filled most of my time.  Again, I read a huge portion of the entire series, and I made sure to keep every book.  I never related to Jessica, I was definitely more of an Elizabeth growing up.  Sadly, thinking of this series makes me upset about Sweet Valley Confidential all over again.

Witch8. Witch by Christopher Pike

This is like a trip down memory lane.  Christopher Pike was another author that filled my youthful bookshelves.  There was something about Witch that I loved so much.  I remember, we had this after school program where we performed poetry or monologues and I took the intro to this book and turned it into a performance.  My copy still has the highlights.

Pen Pals9. Summer Sizzle by Sharon Dennis Wyeth

I didn’t read the Pen Pals series at all.  I don’t even know where I got this book.  I just remember reading it over and over when I was growing up.  I even continued to reread it into my older teenage years.  There was something that was so fun about it.  I think maybe it was the group all getting together and summer camp.  I had the most fun at camp.

Horses10. If Wishes Were Horses by Maggie Dana

When I was younger I was obsessed with horse stories.  (I still love everything horse now.)  If Wishes Were Horses was my favorite.  It’s the story of a girl who saves a starving horse from a glue factory and turns Tapestry into a champion jumper.  (I also loved Black Stallion.  You probably see a trend.)

Top Ten Tuesday
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About Birdie

Don’t look for her in any bar, club, crazy raging party, or anywhere there may be a large gathering of strangers. She’s more likely to be found tucked into the corner of the couch watching one of her favorite shows, or preferably under a comforter with her current novel.

32 Responses

  1. Alaina @ An Infinite Book World

    Omg the Sweet Valley High books! I remember picking those up in 3rd grade and just breezing through them. Sadly, I had to read Charlotte’s Web for a literature group in grade 4, so I wasn’t able to enjoy that one as much.


  2. Ooh I went down a similar route with my list this week and I there are a few of the same books on there although I ended up going further down the horror path.

    Charlotte’s Web was actually school assigned reading for me (one of the few I loved). I do remember though that they let us watch the film in class and I couldn’t stop crying. Not sure I ever lived that down.


  3. I cried awful embarrassing tears the first time I read Where the Red Fern Grows. To make matters worse, I was in 6th grade during class while finishing it! I’ll never be over the ending. WHY???


  4. I was crazy about Judy Blume books, they’re the so perfect for younger teen girls. I love how her books never skirted around the serious issues young girls face, while having such a balance of genuine friendship.


  5. Charli

    How utterly funny that I actually read several of the books on your list. I was big into both the original Nancy Drew series and the Nancy Drew files, plus Sweet Valley High. I also loved the Christopher Pike books (inlcuding Witch), Nightmare Hall, The Girls of Canby Hall, Fear Street, Charlotte’s Web, anything VC Andrews wrote, etc.. I could probably go on all night. 😉


  6. Beware Of The Reader

    I also hated reading assigned books for school Wendy 😉 This is very interesting to read as I had totally different reads then. Now I know what was the rage in the US when I was a kid in Europe 😂


  7. RS

    I hope you don’t mind a comment on a 3-year-old post but it came up as a related post in the one I just commented on, and I wanted to say I loved this a lot. I’m especially tickled to have found an old horse book (or a whole set of them!) I’ve never heard of. I like to play on lost-book-finding forums and both 80s/90s juvenile lit and horse books are my niche interests, so the more knowledge I can stack, the better.


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