#4. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
This book will forever be known as the first book that made me cry. It tells the mostly true story of a Nicoleño Native American who becomes the last of her tribe on an island, Karana.
After losing her brother she must figure out ways to survive on the island. Sound serious? That's because it is, and yet it is still a children's book. It's written that way, and in a way I'm grateful for that because it introduced me to some pretty intense topics that would expand my worldview; grief, survival, healing.
Despite the many serious events that happen, there are still parts of beauty and pure fangirl-worthy moments. I for one shipped Esperanza and Miguel, the poor boy of the fields. He teaches her how to sweep, and it's wonderful. It also featured characters of my race. Though I'm not Mexican, I am Latin, and their dark skin, hair, and eyes defined them more than it should, like I still find it does to me. I saw myself in Esperanza, which is what nine-year old me needed.
So maybe not all fangirls are bestowed with telekinetic powers because they like to read, but Matilda is another character nine-year old me needed. Matilda tells the story of a girl who does not fit in with an emotionally abusive and manipulative family and finds comfort instead with books and her teacher, Ms. Honey. Quirky, clever, nerdy--what better traits are there in a character?
The books follow brother and sister Jack and Annie, who one day stumble upon a tree house in the woods filled with books. They soon discover the tree house can transport them to the setting in any of the books the tree house provides. Their adventures are thrilling, and I was glad to be a part of them, as I was for all the other books on this list.
#3. Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz RyanThis is another serious one. It tells the story of a girl named Esperanza, daughter of a rich Mexican ranch owner. When her father is killed by bandits, all of Esperanza's riches go to her evil Tio Luis, so she and her mother must travel to the United States in search of work.
#2. Matilda by Roald DahlEvery fangirl can see themselves in Matilda, the girl who reads so fervently magical powers are eventually bestowed upon her.
#1. The Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope OsborneThis will always be the number one book series of my childhood. While things like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson were out and I would later love those books, I just couldn't get into them at a younger age. Magic Tree House was the perfect remedy for my reading conundrum.
What books did you read as a kid?