- Because of Winn Dixie (Kate DiCamillo) – the captivating voice, the quirky and charming characters, and the mix of sad and sweet
- The One and Only Ivan (Katherine Applegate) – the beautiful and heartbreaking story, the innovative approach
- Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery) – the charm, the characters, and the nostalgic trips to my childhood each rereading brings
- Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling) – the magic, the themes, the stunning world-building/plotting…basically, everything (what’s not to love?!)
- The Wednesday Wars (Gary D. Schmidt) – the authentic voice, the Shakespeare stuff, the humor
- (I had half a dozen books vying for that fifth spot. I love them all, for different reasons. In case you’re wondering… Charlotte’s Web, The Tale of Despereaux, Home of the Brave, Rules for Stealing Stars, Hour of the Bees.)
- Harry Potter (JK Rowling) - The magic pulled me in and the story got me back into reading on a regular basis
- The False Prince series (Jennifer Neilson)- It was so engaging, cleverly written and I love the main character he's such an interesting and well calculated individual (and really anything by her pretty much goes on my automatic to buy list, her books and character reel you in and don't let go.)
- Fear Street (RL Stine) - I loved the murder mysteries and couldn't put them down, also prided myself as a young reader that I had the formula figured out and could figure out who would be the first suspect, the next after, who the misdirection was and ultimately who did it
- Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls (Beth McMullen) - This book has a strong female character, lots of action, and a ton of sass. It's a fun adventure and really awesome story.
- Quantum Prophecy Series (Michael Carroll) - This series centers around a group of kids whose parents were superheroes, but in the time after they were born, superheroes vanished. Now it's up to the children to develop their powers and protect the world again from new threats.
- Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery- best written MG character ever!
- A Wrinkle in Time - Madeline L’engle - wonderful story, great early STEM!
- Brown Girl Dreaming - Jacqueline Woodson - a life in all its complexities in exquisite poetry
- The War That Changed My Life - Kim Brubaker Bradley - the magic of love and hope in World War II.
- The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman - exquisite world-building and deeply philosophical
- BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE (The voice!)
- ONE FOR THE MURPHYS (I still wonder how the main character is doing. She was so, so real), THE TRUTH ABOUT TWINKIE PIE (The sweet Southern voice)
- DRUMS, GIRLS, AND DANGEROUS PIE (The heart wrenching premise)
- A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT (Hilarious and heart breaking at the same time. Spot-on MG voice. Plus music!)
- A WRINKLE IN TIME - Madeline L'Engle : when I first read this book in like 8th grade I think, I fell in love with the story so much that I focused too much on drawing pictures of what I thought everything looked like in the book, than working on a book report for it and proceeded to get a bad grade bc my cover was awesome, but the report stunk.
- HARRY POTTER SERIES - JK Rowling : I mean...come on....it's Harry Potter.......WHO DOESN'T LOVE HARRY POTTER!?!?!
- HOLES - Louis Sachar : This book got me into comedy / character development in MG. It's seriously such a great story that's "big fish-esque"
- A MONSTER CALLS - Patrick Ness : made me cry...nuff said.
- THE GOLDEN COMPASS - Philip Pulman : made me want a familiar.....such great world building, and incredible characters.
In no particular order, and with the understanding that there are a dozen other books out there that could easily slide into one of these places depending on the day:
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. The book that captured me the hardest when I was a middle grader myself.
- Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson. The first time I read it I was blown away by how thoroughly the characters were created and by the complete sense of place. I feel like I could spend the rest of my years as a writer chasing this book.
- Unclaimed Treasures by Patricia MacLachlan. I love how minimal this book is in its writing, and yet manages to tell such a complete and subtextual story.
- When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt. Great writing, great characters, anchoring sense of time and place.
- Tangerine by Edward Bloor. Again, strong characters, strong sense of place. I'm picking up on some themes here....
- All things Harry Potter
- Graveyard Book
- The One and Only Ivan
- A Wrinkle in Time
- The Moorchild.