50 Must-Read Books for Kids?

IMG_4784Common Sense Media recently published a list of 50 Books All Kids Should Read Before They’re 12.

I have a love-hate relationship with lists like this one. On one hand, I can’t resist them. I have to see whether my favorites made the cut. And I’m eager to find new recommendations too.

On the other hand, I always find something to criticize. A common problem with lists for kids is that they try to encompass books for all ages. For example, this list includes everything from Sherri Duskey Rinker’s Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site to Marie Lu’s Legend.

Lists for kids also tend to be overloaded with classics. For instance, I enjoyed L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (published in 1908) when I was younger, but I would not put it on my sons’ must-read list. The Cheese Touch has much more relevance to their lives—and I give Common Sense Media credit for also including Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid (published in 2007).

Lists for kids also tend to favor the educational and inspiring over the humorous and fun. This list, though, seems to include a mix of both.

All in all, I wouldn’t use this list as a checklist, but it has some good suggestions.

Blaine has less than six months until his 12th birthday, and he’s only read half of these books. Maybe he’ll find a summer reading pick or two here. Or on TIME’s list of The 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time, NPR’s 100 Must-Reads for Kids 9-14, the New York Public Library’s 100 Great Children’s Books, or Time Out’s 73 Best Kids’ Books of All Time.

What do you think of these lists? Anything you would add? Or leave off?

2 thoughts on “50 Must-Read Books for Kids?

  1. I generally dislike all of these lists. As a Mom I don’t like to be pressured into feeling like I am failing if my 12 year old hasn’t read all of the “musts”. I want my son to read for pleasure in his own time. Whatever that is, I don’t care as long as he is enjoying it. Sometimes he reads magazines, sometimes it’s classics. Again, I am content that he is enjoying reading.

    That said, except for the “girl” books on this list and the genres that he really doesn’t care for, I have to say he has read well over half of these books. Some because they were my favorites and we read them out loud together (To Kill a Mockingbird). Some because they were assigned in school (Diary of Anne Frank).

    But after looking at this list there are alot of incredible books that did not make the list. I mean, only one Dr. Seuss book?? And although my son LOVED the Big Nate books, I don’t know if they are really “must reads”! And what about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn? Oh I could go on and on…..But he likes what he likes and I don’t care as long as he is enjoying the story:-)


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