I believe that these are appropriate for those who are slightly younger (Elementary and Middle school), though everyone else should read them. Again, these could appear in other sections of the list.
Zazoo (I forget the author at this moment)-found in chinaberry; bittersweet and worthy of a cry. I read it in a night- best not to be disturbed while reading.
Shadow Spinner* by Susan Fletcher- a modern tale of Shahrazad, each chapter starts with a lesson in story telling.
Juniper, Wise Child, and Colman by Monica Furlong- comfort books until my mom gave our copies away to someone. Involve an earthy, dark magic.
Dealing With Dragons and the other three that follow as well as anything by Patricia C. Wrede- A read aloud when Jake and I were little and always comfort rereads. Jake and I drew illustrations for the text while my mom read aloud.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland/Alice Through the Looking Glass by Louis Carroll- of course a classic but a good one that should be reread and looked at again as you get older (it only gets stranger) as references to it are liberally sprinkled about the world.
Septimus Heap: Magyk by Angie Sage -finally, a fantasy story in which the parents are very much present and take their own roles within the narrative. An exciting adventure about the discovery of magic.
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart- Good for people who enjoyed the Series of Unfortunate Events. Illustrations by Carson Ellis, which add a quirky feel to the beginning of every chapter heading.
The Bad Beginning and all the other Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snicket- these are funny with British sound (don’t be fooled- he’s from Chicago). The movie isn’t bad, but the costumes and end credits are what make it. Illustrated by the amazing Brett Helquist. Also check out The Unauthorized Autobiography.
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie- My mom read this aloud and it’s better read aloud than by yourself. Fun but interesting when politics are applied. Strongly suggested, especially for adults.
Skellig* and Heaven Eyes both by David Almond- both are slightly haunting but in a beautiful way.
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum- a classic that is light-hearted (I read in 4th grade) and should be followed by all the sequels- which are greatly forgotten but lots of fun (more so than the first).
Jacob Have I Loved* and The King’s Equal by Katherine Paterson- both good. The second one is very short and strong- though it may be hard to find a copy as it’s out of print- try to find the full-color illustrated version as it’s lovely. The first is touching, strong, and truthful.
Number the Stars* by Louis Lowry- a holocaust story told from a young girl’s point of view- isn’t too depressing or graphic and is nice with white cupcakes with pink frosting. Strongly recommended for mother daughter book clubs.
Turnabout and Running out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix- strange, interesting plots that might be considered sci-fi.
Star Girl* by Jerry Spinelli- not an author I’m crazy about; his writing isn’t the greatest but I really enjoyed some sections and passages and this book has important messages and relationships.
King of Shadows* by Susan Cooper- I love this book. Goes along with A Midsummer Night’s Dream and features Shakespearian historical content.
The View from Saturday* and The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg- at first I couldn’t read The View from Saturday, so I listened to it on tape and really enjoyed it. The second is really a classic and a recommended read if you plan on visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Stewart Little and Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White- I was a little unsure about putting these down as they are very young, however, the first goes along with a New York trip to Central Park and the second is sweet and sad- I dislike animal stories but loved them both. Again, I listened to these on tape first and enjoyed them. Stewart Little entranced the 1st and 3rd graders whom I baby-sit- they wouldn’t go to bed until I finished. However, the movie should not be touched.
Julie of the Wolves and My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George-Again, I’m not an animal person, but I enjoyed these (though they seem quite distant, now). The sequels should also be read.
Gone Away Lake* and sequel by Elizabeth Enright- a sweet reread. Lighthearted and fun- nice male and female protagonists.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt- I’ve read this a couple times but enjoyed it all of them. However, I wouldn’t go see the movie (the previews showed that it was nothing like the great book so it was boycotted).
Chasing Redbird* and Walk Two Moons* both by Sharon Creech- I prefer the first one to the second. Good book club material.
Going Through the Gate* by Janet S. Anderson -a coming-of-age book good for 5th graders and transitions (from elementary to middle school or junior high).
The Giver* by Lois Lowry -interesting book and one my mom gave to everyone. Almost a younger version of Anthem. Gathering Blue is the sequel but it’s nothing to rave about.
Narnia by C.S. Lewis- simply a must. My mom read these to Jake and me when we were in early elementary school. You don’t register the Christian undertones until you’re older.
Madeleine L’Engle: anything by her is amazing. Great fantasy and twined tales. 5th grade plus. The audio versions are okay- her voice takes getting used to.
Anne of Green Gables and sequels by L (ucy) M (aude) Montgomery- I read these in 3rd grade and fell in love with Anne, so much fun.
Peter Pan by James M. Barrie – References to this classic are sprinkled throughout literature. The many spin-offs of this classic story mean children are likely to encounter it. Best that it begin with the story in it’s true form. Once children have read the story it’s a nice exercise to do a comparison with a stage or movie version as well. The newest movie is very good and follows the book and “Finding Neverland” is a good supplement for adults.
Peter and the Star Catchers and sequels by Dave Barry and ? – What happened before Peter Pan. How Neverland came to be, all aided by a girl named Molly. And of course there are Mermaids, and Pirates, and Indians and stardust. The illustrations are a wonderful complement to the text.
The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black illustrated by Toni DiTerlizzi– recommended for early elementary students before reading before the Series of Unfortunate Events. Good for children to read on their own…lovers of Narnia may enjoy. The series follows three siblings in their large old house as they make discoveries of fantastical creatures. They are aided by the books and inventions of the professor who had previous lived in the house.
The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner- Fictional series taking place in ancient Greece. Very, very good. Originally recommended by Julie Diewald. The Thief himself is much like a young George Cooper (Lioness Quartet). NOTE: read this series beginning with the second, then the third. Read the first book last. I know this seems strange, and I very rarely encourage people to read series out of order, but this is a very enjoyable way to read these, specifically for older readers. Also good in audio book form.