Stumped for ideas as to what to read next? How about stepping back in time and picking up something to reread from your childhood (or perhaps read for the first time)? Here are 10 chapter books written decades ago that have stood the test of time, many of which are on today’s school reading lists, and which are captivating enough to satisfy older readers.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
A bored young boy named Milo receives a mysterious box that contains a magic tollbooth. Driving through the tollbooth in a toy car, he is transported to another world where he encounters hilarious characters, challenging adventures, and ultimately a journey that banishes his boredom.
Rascal by Sterling North
Autobiographical, Sterling North recounts a period of his youth in Wisconsin. Finding a baby raccoon in the woods, he takes it home to add to his already extensive menagerie. Naming him Rascal, North nurtures the raccoon and, both motherless, together they face the various challenges of growing up.
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
This book, based on a true story, focuses on the life of Karana, a young Native American girl left stranded on an island with her brother. After her brother dies, she takes on traditionally male tasks in order to survive. While befriending and taming a number of wild animals to combat loneliness, she exhibits again and again the great strength and resilience needed to endure a solitary existence of 20 years.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Meg Murry, Charles Wallace Murry, and Calvin O’Keefe travel through time and space in an attempt to rescue the Murry’s father, imprisoned by evil forces on a distant planet. The book was a winner of the Newbery Medal, the Sequoyah Book Award, and the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
Twelve-year-old Claudia Kincaid runs away from home with her brother, Jamie, and together they take up residence in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A new art exhibit with an angel sculpture intrigues both children enough to start doing some research. Who was the statue’s sculptor? Their sleuthing leads them to a Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, a meeting that changes their lives.
Sounder by William H. Armstrong
The main character, the son of an African American share-cropper, has to watch as his father is dragged away by the authorities for having stolen food to feed his impoverished family. With his father gone, the son must help take care of the family, relying on his father’s dog, Sounder, for comfort. All the while he longs to learn to read and write, a goal that seems will always remain out of reach until a chance encounter with a stranger.
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
Orphaned and in the care of his brothers, Ponyboy must negotiate a life filled with gang warfare. Among the many concerns he faces, he is forced to question the value of remaining loyal to a group at the expense of developing as an individual.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
Set in Mississippi during the Great Depression, 9-year-old Cassie Logan learns through various struggles the value of integrity, pride, and independence.
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
Julie, a young girl, is caught between the world of modern Alaska and that of her native Inuit traditions. Fleeing an abusive relationship, she finds herself lost in the wilderness. Coming upon a pack of wolves, she observes their behavior and learns to communicate with them, learning to survive her situation in the process.
M.C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton
C. Higgins lives in the Appalachian Mountains in a house threatened by a mine’s spoil heap that will likely one day slide down and destroy the homestead and all those inside. Despite his deep attachment to the mountain where he lives, he believes he and his family must leave in order to avoid calamity. But his father refuses to give this idea even a second thought. One day two strangers enter M. C. Higgin’s life and stir in him hope for a solution. Is that hope warranted?