I love reading and writing. Actually, to say I just love reading and writing would be an understatement. Reading/writing is one of my favourite past times and I absolutely adore fiction of all kinds! I do, however, have a
rather pretty childish palate when it comes to books I like reading. A lot of adult novelists bore me to death and I can’t stand reading a lot of adult-oriented books because I feel like many of these authors have no sense of engagement whatsoever. I’d much rather be reading a children’s fantasy book. Not that these adult novelists are bad authors – to each their own – it’s just that I find a lot of adult topics boring. Why would I want to read about stuff I’ll inevitably have to experience later on in my life?
What I absolutely adore reading are children’s novels (‘young adult’ novels included). Children’s novels, even if not strictly fantasy genre, are written to be engaging, amusing and often have surprisingly deep or dark themes that everyone can relate to. You are never too old to read children’s novels!
So here’s a list of my some of my favourite children’s novel/series – even if you’re not a kid I’m sure there’s something here you would enjoy!
5. The Underland Chronicles (series) – Suzanne Collins
The Underland Chronicles are a series of five books written by Suzanne Collins (the same author of The Hunger Games!). The premise of this series follows a boy named Gregor, who falls through the vents of his basement by accident and lands in a mysterious underground world called ‘Underland’. Underland is a place inhabited by humans who travelled there hundreds of years ago, as well as gigantic versions of rats, cockroaches, and bats. He is named as a prophesized ‘Warrior’ by the Underlanders and goes on a journey to find his missing father and save the Underlanders from ‘Gnawers’ which are basically giant rats.
If you’ve read The Hunger Games, you’ll know Suzanne Collins makes a lot of statements by inserting parallels of heavier topics into her books, and this series is no exception. Though being a children’s series, these books hit a lot of cleverly disguised ‘adult’ topics relating to war that might not be immediately noticed. These topics include quite a lot of moral questions, packaged in a way a young child reading this can understand. This series is amazing, engaging and although the premise may seem childish, I’m sure anyone can enjoy it.
4. Holes – Louis Sachar
Holes is a classic. Stanley Yelnats is a 14 year old boy with terrible luck wrongly sent to a juvenile correction facility where they are forced by the warden to dig holes all day. Stanley soon suspects that the reason they are digging isn’t the reason they were told to, and something else is going on.
We’ve all read this book in elementary school! Holes is told in a very whimsical style, and all the seemingly unimportant details the author writes come together in the end. The story shifts perspective many times, from anecdotes in the past, which seem unrelated, but are nonetheless interesting. Everything ties together in the end. There is quite a lot of dark humour, however, contrasted with the lighthearted tone Sachar uses to tell the story, makes a perfectly fitting children’s book for all ages.
3. The Giver – Lois Lowry
The Giver follows a 12 year old boy named Jonah, in a society where they have taken away all pain and feeling and have selected roles for everyone based on their attributes. Jonah is selected to be a ‘ Receiver of Memory’, someone who holds all the previous memories and feelings society had as a collective.
Another classic we’ve been forced to read in elementary school? Yeah. I adore this book beyond words, as well as the series of related books Lois Lowry has also written in this same universe (‘Gathering Blue‘, ‘Messenger‘, and ‘Son‘). The Giver is another children’s book that deals with quite intense topics. The dystopian futuristic universe it is set in evokes a lot of questions on what is right. Is it better to be content at the price of happiness? Or to be happy and free for the price of pain?
2. A Series Of Unfortunate Events (series (duh)) – Lemony Snicket
This infamous series follows the three Baudelaire orphans who move from place to place, dodging an evil Count Olaf who is after their fortune.
Lemony Snicket writes in a very whimsical manner. The books have an odd mix of lighthearted prose, but extremely dark humour and can leave you feeling very, for lack of better word, depressed. This alternate universe ‘Lemony Snicket’ (who himself is a persona made up by the author, with backstory pertaining to the series) writes is very gloomy and damp, and all the adult characters are odd caricatures who lack critical thinking skills. However, this just makes the series even more charming. For a children’s book, the events that happen are quite dark, but Lemony Snicket’s simple, yet charmingly melancholic writing style is fitting for, well, children. The whole series is surrounded by mystery, and even to this day, there are a lot of unanswered questions I still wonder about.
1. Percy Jackson and the Olympians (multiple series!) – Rick Riordan
The original series follows a young ‘troubled’ boy, Percy Jackson, as he discovers he’s a demigod and his father is Poseidon. He embarks on quests to save the world from the Titans, followed by his friends. I don’t do the plot justice in this summary. Just go and read the books yourself if you haven’t read it!!
I’m sure if you were in elementary school any time in the late 2000’s you’ve read this series. I love these books and the following related series so much. Rick Riordan took the platform he was given as a straight, white male author and turned it into a hotbed of diversity, something children’s books don’t do very well. His characters are funny, witty, and relatable in so many ways, not just personality wise. Riordan manages to write and normalize many diverse characters – disabled kids, LGBT kids, and kids of colour in a children’s novel – something that is so so important for young children trying to see themselves in the media around them (especially for LGBT kids, since the connotations associated with the term LGBT holds a more ‘adult’ meaning even though this shouldn’t be the case). These books are amazing – not just for the diversity standpoint, (although that is something I respect Rick Riordan for more than I can put into words) but for the engaging writing and plot.
Thank you for reading! With love, Joy.