Contemporary Books I Wish I’d Read as a Kid

Josie Leavitt - August 8, 2011

It dawned on me as I was shelving throughout the store the other day, that there are some great books for books for kids out now that I would have loved as a kid. I’m not complaining about what I read as a kid, but man, there are books I would have devoured had they been written in the 1970s and early 1980s. I liked animal stories where all the animals lived (not a huge supply of that back then), adventures, and silly books like the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series to name a few.
First off, the concept of waiting for the next book in the series didn’t seem to exist when I was growing up. Sure there were authors whose books I always read, but there were no midnight release parties or a slow build to the release of a particular book. I think that kind of fanfare could have really appealed to me. So, I think the entire Harry Potter series would have captivated me and been something I’d reread as often as my nephew does. Imagine coming to that series as a kid? What fun to explore that world and grow up with Harry.
Rebecca Rupp’s The Dragon of Lonely Island would have me rapt, I’m sure. The Penderwicks would have my relatively boring summers feel more full of fun.  I think I would have struggled a bit with The Golden Compass, but would have loved it at the end and waited patiently for the series as I did when it came out.
In the YA genre there are so many great books that it’s hard to pick which books I would have loved, but it’s safe to say that among my favorites, the ones my friends and I would have shared back and forth (the way we did with everything by Judy Blume), there would be some Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, Ellen Wittlinger and John Green books.
But the books that might have just rocked my world, in a good way, would have been the ones with openly gay characters such as: Empress of the World, Rainbow High, Kissing Kate and Boy Meets Boy. It’s sad to say that there was nothing for a questioning kid to read at my high school. Annie on My Mind didn’t come out until right before senior year, and my school did not even stock it in the library.
So, readers, I’m very curious about what books you would have loved to read as a kid?

10 thoughts on “Contemporary Books I Wish I’d Read as a Kid

  1. Kate Messner

    For starters, I’m openly jealous of every kid who’s had the chance to read HARRY POTTER as an actual kid. I would have loved that series when I was ten, maybe even more than I do now.
    But I was a realistic fiction fan, too – Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume were absolute favorites – so I know I would have waited with excitement for every new Wendy Mass book. Same goes for Cynthia Lord and Linda Urban. And I probably would have enlisted my sister to hide some Lauren Myracle and Laurie Halse Anderson YA novels in her shoe cubby for me. That’s where she kept my racier Judy Blume books after my mom started confiscating them and hiding them in the tall cupboard with the extra Kleenex and Scotch tape.

  2. Steven Withrow

    There are so books today that I would have adored as a child and teenager, it’s hard to pick just a few. But one thing I absolutely would have loved as a kid in the 1980s: To be able to borrow graphic novels and comics collections from my school and public libraries (beyond my well-worn Tintin and Asterix albums, and a few newspaper reprints). Comics I can read for free, in full-color books with spines — that would have been nirvana!

  3. Tim tocher

    As a huge comics fan, I would have loved Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, and all their contemporaries. Dahl would have been a favorite. As a teacher, I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at least 20 times, and enjoyed every one. It would have been great to know Richard Peck’s Grandma Dowdel as a contrast to my own rather staid grandmothers.

  4. Ellie Miller

    I’m backing up more than sixty years when the SF/Fant novels which I relish today would have been Balm in Gilead to a lonely, misfit, bookworm teen. Rowling and Pullman, of course, but I had no Tolkien no Wynne-Jones, no L’Engle, no Pierce and “Seventeeth Summer” was about the only even semi-realistic reading I could find. While I’m on that subject, let me make a plea here for a ‘forgotten treasure’ IMHO one of the BEST depictions in bang on! realism anent what it was like to be a teen in the 50’s: Ruth Doan MacDoughall’s “The Cheerleader” (1973)…still in print and available. SECOND your applause for the emergence of YA novels with a sympathetic gay focus…again, a coming-of-age novel that I never see on lists such as yours, “A Necessary Hunger” by Nina Revoyr which focuses around high school basketball as a ticket out of the LA ghetto for its two young women protagonists and handles both teen lesbianism and (adult) inter-racial marriage with ease, beauty and panache.

  5. Kat B

    I would have loved Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles. My daughter was crazy about them; we spent four years reading and re-reading them–she wanted to hear nothing else. It’s such a great, quirky, expect the unexpected sort of series. LOVE. IT.

  6. Sharon

    As others have said, I would have loved to experience Harry Potter as a child. I would have gobbled that up like so much deluxe chocolate cake. Other series like Meg Cabot’s Allie Finkle and Jim Benton’s Dear Dumb Diary are the kind of books I would have gotten into along with Judy Blume and Beverly Clearly. But the one book I really wish I had when I was a child would be Raina Telgemeier’s “Smile”. Coulda changed my life, that book. 🙂

  7. bill krayer

    Ransom’s Swallows and Amazons and Patrick O’brien to follow Horatio Hornblower. Sterling Lanier’s Hiero books. Cecilia Holland. Any of the Don Camillo books and of particular worthiness: Tim Dorsey’s Serge Storms series.

  8. Mica

    I loved every dog book out there, but so many of the dogs in the books died! I would have loved A DOG’S WAY HOME, by Bobbi Pyron, BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE, by Kate DeCamillo, LOVE THAT DOG, by Sharon Creech, and A DOG’S LIFE, by Ann Martin.


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