1. The BabySitters-Little Sister Series by Ann. M. Martin
Okay, don't laugh. This series holds a special place in my heart because I was a struggling reader when I was little. Seriously, I cried my heart out in Kindergarten because I couldn't for the life of me spell 'cat', 'hat and 'bat' on a test. About a year later, I connected with Karen & Co., and became a voracious reader and read my way to the top the class in reading skills.
2. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Have you ever read this book? The movie versions are lovely, but they can't compare with the book. It has a totally different ending. I love the beauty of this story. It's a wonderful tale full of Victorian England, it's gentility and its hardships, with the heart of the story being a little girl's courage and hope in the face of severe trials and abuse. My mother gave me the Tasha Tudor edition years ago, and it has a treasured place on my bookshelf.
3. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Need I explain why? This series transcends age and holds a special place in the hearts of millions who grew up with it. Thanks, Jo, for giving us this beautiful tale of good vs. evil, and for letting us watch The Boy Who Lived grow up and become an honorable man before our eyes.
4. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
This is the first book that made me cry. I couldn't get over the injustice and the resilience of the Logan family. I purchased this book in December of 1990 when I was 10 years old. I still have my worn out, much read and loved copy on bookshelf today. It was my first lesson in empathy.
5. The Giver by Lois Lowry
If the above book was my first lesson in empathy, then this book was my first in political policy. I actually hated it the first time I read it. I picked it back up a few years later and fell in love. It was a great lesson in the importance of free will, and the delicate balancing act between that and the public good.
6. The Tillerman Family Series by Cynthia Voight
I adore this family, and I still have not encountered better characterization by any other author, except for the book below. The Tillermans are people who get under your skin and teach you about what's really important. My favorite is Jeff's story, A Solitary Blue.
7. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Some books simply touch your soul. Like Harry, the reader gets to watch Francie grow up from cradle to young adulthood. She has a fine temper, a superb intellect and most important of all, hope. A not-to-be-missed book for any young girl or woman, and my favorite book of all time. The movie from the 1940s directed by Elia Kazan is wonderful, too.
****HOLY CRAP!**** Right before I was going to post this, my fiancee came in for Thanksgiving. Today also happens to be my birthday. My gift from him? He ordered my recent WoW for me: You Against Me by Jenny Downham. He ordered it from flipping ENGLAND! BEST FIANCEE EVER!
Oh, and he also got us tickets for Verdi's Requiem next weekend, but seriously, he paid international shipping!! Whoopee!! Especially thankful for the man in my life who supports my book habit!