1. The Chronicles of Narnia
Beautiful, whimsical, memorable, yet rife with weighty themes: Christianity, sacrifice, family issues, loneliness, betrayal. And if you don’t remember the very ending of the series, you’re in for a shock. Let’s put it this way: at least they get to stay in Narnia forever.
2. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
A deceptively sweet and simple story about a cute family of mice – and genetically tortured rats who escaped the National Institute of Mental Health. It’s the classic hero’s journey in many ways, but the hero is a brave young widow trying to protect her family. Not your typical children’s fare, but hard not to love as a child or an adult.
3. The Last Unicorn
The last of her kind: misunderstood, alone, and trying desperately to make a connection. Whose heart did not break at her brief foray into the world of humanity? Even the Red Bull is a strangely sympathetic villain who seems as much a prisoner as the Unicorns. There are no easy answers in this haunting tale.
4. A Wrinkle in Time
The book that made many of us love sci-fi: how amazing was it to watch the plucky protagonists figure out all the scientific riddles and clues? Filled with whimsy and puns, it’s also a fascinating story and at times downright scary.
5. Bridge to Terabithia
So many of us got sucked into the tale as children, only to have our guts ripped out by the unexpected turn of events. It was so easy to picture ourselves as the children in the book, traveling over a stream to an imaginary kingdom – and facing the devastating real-world consequences.
6. Charlie and The Chocolate Factory
It’s funny – oh, so funny. It’s also biting and moralistic. Unforgettable and surreal imagery abound in this fantastical book that is much, much more adult than you remember it to be.
7. The Little Prince
What a strange, dark little tale. A lonely prince alone on a tiny asteroid in space, only to fall to earth as a lost outcast – it’s almost a picture of depression. But it’s also beautiful, deep, and memorable, teaching us unforgettable lessons about friendship, acceptance, and the power of imagination.