A list by Jen Summers
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Jen Summers
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Watership Down
Richard Adams
An unforgettable story written for children but enjoyed by all
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Little Women
Louisa May Alcott
One of my favorites. Unforgettable characters and a beautiful portrait of home life.
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Peter Pan and Wendy
J. M. Barrie
Despite your familiarity with the outline of the tale, a reading of the novel Peter Pan and Wendy is likely to astonish you with its sophistication, allusiveness, and compelling, yet paradoxically reflective, storytelling. For all its fantasy and adventure, the book is very much written from an adul...show more
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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
L. Frank Baum
There’s no greater tribute to the pleasures of L. Frank Baum’s book than to say that the story is so good that it isn’t overwhelmed by the images from the wonderful Judy Garland movie. The story unfolds with a declarative matter-of-factness that puts no barrier between the real and the imagined; bec...show more
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Madeline
Ludwig Bemelmans
In this first of seven Madeline tales written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans, our heroine, a French charmer whose special blend of moxie and mischief wins the hearts of all who meet her, proves her mettle. Madeline and her world— including Pepito (the boy next door), the dog Genevieve, Miss Cla...show more
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Beowulf
Surviving in one manuscript dating from around AD 1000, and believed to have been composed some two or three hundred years earlier, Beowulf is a poem composed in Old English, also known as Anglo-Saxon, a language worlds apart from even Chaucer’s Middle English. Although written in England, the poem’...show more
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The Bible
In the first chapter of the Book of Genesis—in just thirty-one short verses—the world is given form, light is summoned into being, Day and Night are named, Heaven hatched, the stars invoked, and Earth fashioned into land and sea, seeded with plants and populated with creatures. All in less than eigh...show more
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Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
Judy Blume
Narrated by Margaret Simon, an almost twelve-year-old who moves from New York City to the Jersey suburbs, Blume’s novel for young readers engages, with directness and a strong dose of appropriate preteen bewilderment, themes seldom treated so familiarly at the time. Top of the list is the perplexity...show more
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Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë
Destitute young woman leaves rotten boarding school for job as governess in sprawling mansion, falls in love with broodingly handsome employer with dark secret. In the twenty-first century, the plot of Jane Eyre might sound clichéd, yet Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel, about a plain orphan girl exceed...show more
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Wuthering Heights
Emily Brontë
In its intense drama and disregard for orthodox morality, Wuthering Heights continues to surprise and challenge us today. To attempt to chart the web of relationships of blood, marriage, social strata, economic dependence, love, envy, hatred, and revenge that bind Catherine and Heathcliff to the boo...show more
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Goodnight Moon
Margaret Wise Brown, pictures by Clement Hurd
As the pages are turned and the simplest of poems unfolds in casually rhymed lines, pictures of the cow jumping over the moon and of the three little bears are given their due, as are kittens and mittens and toyhouse and mouse, and the quiet old lady in the rocking chair whispering “hush.” The conte...show more
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The Secret Garden
Frances Hodgson Burnett
The story begins in India, with sickly, plain, moody Mary Lennox. Unloved by her pretty mother, Mary has been raised by servants who’ve done nothing but indulge the child in order to appease her petulance. Orphaned by cholera, she is shipped off to England to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven, a...show more
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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
Lewis Carroll
More than the sum of its parts, Lewis Carroll’s Alice oeuvre has taken root in our collective imagination like few other literary creations. Despite—or perhaps because of—its nonsensical pedigree, it has proved to be an addictive pleasure for analysts seduced by its dense mix of childish frivolities...show more
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The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins
As story and as media phenomenon, Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games is at the top of the pile of wildly popular dystopian teen fiction that has dominated twenty-first-century bestseller lists (in no small part by appealing to readers well beyond their teen years). In the nation of Panem, power and ...show more
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The Hunger Games Trilogy
Suzanne Collins
Fantastic read!
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The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank
Anne Frank’s intimate two-year record of her family’s hiding from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic is one of the most famous, powerful, and beloved books of the twentieth century. Encapsulating the terror of the Holocaust in the domestic drama of the Franks’ anxious existence and the private yearning...show more
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Cold Comfort Farm
Stella Gibbons
Imagine a Jane Austen heroine stumbling into an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, with the hillbillies portrayed by method actors. That will give you something of the flavor of this giddy tale, which presents a picture of country life that is roaringly bizarre—and hilarious. Flora Poste is a sophi...show more
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The Wind in the Willows
Kenneth Grahame
From its first pages, in which the amiable Mole and the resourceful Water Rat inaugurate their friendship with a waterborne picnic, The Wind in the Willows transports us to a genial and welcoming world. The story of life on the riverbank is peopled with a cast of players—Rat and Mole, the formidable...show more
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The Scarlet Letter
Nathaniel Hawthorne
The story, at least in outline, is probably familiar. Its setting is seventeenth-century Boston, during the Puritan era. Hester Prynne wears the scarlet “A” that marks her as an adulteress. While she thus pays openly for her sin, the “godly” Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale endures the torments of a guilt...show more
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All Creatures Great and Small
James Herriot
All Creatures Great and Small is a semiautobiographical account of a Yorkshire veterinarian of the animals he treated, and, most tellingly of all, the farmers, families, and neighbors of the town of Darrowby and the surrounding countryside. Herriot’s professional attention to the calves, horses, dog...show more
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