Books I Will Make My Children Read

This list is a work-in-progress, at least until my as yet non existant children are born and are old enough to read. I’d love to hear everybody else’s opinions on some of the books that affected them when they were young. FYI these are listed in no particular order.

Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

Summary: “For as long as Josephine Alibrandi can remember, it’s just been her, her mom, and her grandmother. Now it’s her final year at a wealthy Catholic high school. The nuns couldn’t be any stricter—but that doesn’t seem to stop all kinds of men from coming into her life.

Caught between the old-world values of her Italian grandmother, the nononsense wisdom of her mom, and the boys who continue to mystify her, Josephine is on the ride of her life. This will be the year she falls in love, the year she discovers the secrets of her family’s past—and the year she sets herself free.

Told with unmatched depth and humor, this novel—which swept the pool of Australian literary awards and became a major motion picture—is one to laugh through and cry with, to cherish and remember.”

Reasoning: We had to read this book in 9th Grade. Yes it’s an Australian book which is why you probably haven’t heard of it or read it (unless you’re an Australian). Being from an Italian background, and sharing the same name as the heroine this book really struck a chord for me. I never felt like I belonged. Was I Australian or Italian? Now I’m going to be marrying an American and my children are going to be half Australian and half American (with Italian looks most likely) I’m sure this book will have something meaningful for them in it like it did for me.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Summary: “Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed for ever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard!”

Reasoning: I cannot imagine anybody from my generation neglecting to give this magnificent series of books to their children. I hope that the recent news about HP being studied in schools will only grow. I would love for my children to study them. Although that brings up the debate whether kids grow to hate books they’re forced to study, even if they are good books. More on that another time. Harry Potter just encapsulates everything that YA and Children’s fiction should have: magic, fantasy, love, mystery, pain, and adventure. I don’t think I will ever read a series I love more and that makes me sad, because I can never go back and have that ‘reading for the first time’ feeling again.

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Summary: “High in the Transylvanian woods, at the castle Piscul Draculi, live five daughters and their doting father. It’s an idyllic life for Jena, the second eldest, who spends her time exploring the mysterious forest with her constant companion, a most unusual frog. But best by far is the castle’s hidden portal, known only to the sisters. Every Full Moon, they alone can pass through it into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of this magical realm.

But their peace is shattered when Father falls ill and must go to the southern parts to recover, for that is when cousin Cezar arrives. Though he’s there to help the girls survive the brutal winter, Jena suspects he has darker motives in store. Meanwhile, Jena’s sister has fallen in love with a dangerous creature of the Other Kingdom–an impossible union it’s up to Jena to stop.

When Cezar’s grip of power begins to tighten, at stake is everything Jena loves: her home, her family, and the Other Kingdom she has come to cherish. To save her world, Jena will be tested in ways she can’t imagine–tests of trust, strength, and true love.”

Reasoning: I’ve always loved YA Fantasy, and when I discovered that Juliet Marillier had written one of her incredible fantasy books for Young Adults I excitedly bought it from the bookstore and read it in one day. Boy was it gorgeous. An otherworld that I would happily move to, like one of the characters does, and Stephenie Meyer’s Edward eat your heart out because Marillier got the mysteriously sexy and smouldering quiet boy first. This must sound like nonsensical rambling to someone who has not read this book but I can’t recommend it highly enough. My reason for wanting my children to read this is that it has powerful female and male role models  as does Marillier’s sequel, Cybele’s Secret and all of the books on this list. I feel like YA is starting to get corrupted by weak female role models, interestingly written BY females. These books will hopefully set any daughters and sons I have on the right path of equal rights for both sexes.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Summary: “In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival”

Reasoning: The Hunger Games is relatively new so you might be wondering why it is on this short list. It’s simple: Katniss is a sharp, intelligent girl who beats all the odds (pun intended) to ensure the survival of herself and her friends, family and anybody else who is not part of the Capitol’s corrupt government. She is basically the female version of Harry Potter. The story itself has some flaws, and the ending of Mockingjay was disappointedly rushed, but the characters have a depth that I want my children to understand. It’s not about the way you look that defines who you are, it’s who you are as a person: intelligence, passion and love.


About Josephine Hardy

A 28-year-old writer from Melbourne, Australia currently living with her husband in Fayetteville, Arkansas (USA). Content Marketing Producer at Simply Measured, hobby genealogist, cat lover, and world traveler.

Posted on May 18, 2012, in Featured Lists and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The Harry Potter series always and forever will be a symbol of my generation, just as Lord of the Rings is for the one before us, and Twilight and the Hunger Games for the one after. I remember picking up the first HP book when I was 8 or 9, and the last movie had come out just as I was graduating high school. It’s incredible the amount of growth that can be witnessed in a book series with which a generation has aged.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with you. It makes me tear up thinking about how those books literally were around while a whole generation of children went from pre teens to adulthood. Kind of like we were in Harry’s year. I’m sure there will be nothing like it again – at least for a long time.

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