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When I was a kid I read all the time.

I remember reading in the car while we were travelling when I was about five. (Which always resulted in car-sickness. Still does; it’s one of the great unfairnesses of my life.)
I spent at least the next ten years reading everything I could get my hands on – from Grimm’s Fairy Tales to Hatchet to every Gilbert Morris novel ever written (or close).
I read the books my brother read (hence, Hatchet).
I read the (very mild) romances my mom had on her shelf.
I read Ang’s book. Yes, book, singular. Mole and Mouse Get a New House really enriched my life.

Going to the library was the best part of my week.  My poor mom, despite having ten zillion other things to do, always made time for me to run in and grab another armful of books.  Or two armfuls if I had time.

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I read a lot of ridiculousness. Drivel. Stuff like Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins.
I read ghost stories that I’m sure my parents didn’t know about. I read a lot of garbage disguised as young adult books.

I also read a lot of good books and quite a few great books.

I spent countless hours with Nancy Drew (the original books were the best) and Mandie (Lois Gladys Leppard) and Anne Shirley.

Here’s are a few of my favorites that no girl should grow up without reading.

  • the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I just finished these with my girls and they loved them so much that they begged me to start over when we finished the last one.  I have too many others that I want to introduce to them right now, but will definitely keep the set around for them to read themselves as they get older.  Classics.
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare.  My mom read this to me and my siblings and it was the highlight of our day.  It’s an excellent story with plenty of early American history and a brave heroine who isn’t afraid to make the right choices even when it makes her unpopular.  One of my all-time favorites.
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  No girls reading list would be complete without it.  I’ve read it countless times over the years.
  • The entire Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace.  These books aren’t as easy to find, but I read them over and over and over as an adolescent.    Set in the early 20th century, the series follows the lives of two (and then three) close friends as they grow up.  I adore them and am still trying to find copies of some of the originals.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  Just because I think this book should be on every to-read list that exists.
  • The Wizard of Oz (and all the other Oz books) by L. Frank Baum.  I read these over and over, too.  They’re fun and highly entertaining.
  • Anne of Green Gables (and the rest of the Anne series) by Lucy Maud Montgomery.  This is probably the best girl book ever written.  I can’t imagine my life without Anne.
  • Narnia books by C.S. Lewis.  Somehow, someway, I missed these books for my entire childhood and just read them for the first time about five years ago.  They’re delightful and it makes me sad that I didn’t read them as a kid.  My girls will be introduced to Narnia much earlier than I was.
  • Pippi Longstocking books by Astrid Lindgren.  This was another series from the library that spent a lot of time at my house.  Yes, they’re pretty much nonsense, but the good kind.  The kind you want your kids to read and experience like you did.
  • Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott.  I read and re-read this as a girl.  It’s not as well-known as Little Women, but it will steal your heart just as quickly.

I can’t wait to share these titles (and many, many more) with my girls.

There’s just nothing quite like a good book.

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