Must-read children’s books

In the library, while most teens can be found browsing the Young Adult section, I can often be seen in the children’s fiction section. For me, children’s books have always been more enjoyable reads than YA fiction, whether it is because they are often simpler, or if it is just because they tend to be more lighthearted. While I have tried popular YA series such as the “An Ember in the Ashes” series and the “Lunar Chronicles,” neither have made a lasting impact on me. Although both YA fiction and children’s fiction have their share of amazing and not-so-amazing books, my all-time favorite books to this day still happen to be ones I read as a kid. Here are three of my favorite children’s books and series. 

The Mysterious Benedict Society

“The Mysterious Benedict Society” is the first book of a four-part fantasy series by Trenton Lee Stewart. The plot follows 11-year-old Reynie Muldoon, an orphan who passes a series of odd tests to finally join children Kate, Sticky and Constance in a team brought together by Mr. Benedict. Together, the children are sent on a mission to discover the source of strange subliminal messages being broadcasted around the world, and put a stop to it. 

One of the reasons I continue to reread “The Mysterious Benedict Society” is the cleverly designed plot. Not only are there many exciting plot twists, there are also witty riddles I enjoyed solving along with the characters. Another impressive part of the book is that all the characters are well-developed, especially the four children. Each of them has a unique, likable personality and their own set of strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to play a role in their mission and increasing reader relatability. Throughout the book they each learn important lessons, such as being OK with not doing everything by oneself, and overcoming fears for a greater cause. One lesson that resonated with me was the way Reynie learns it is OK to doubt oneself and start over, something that took me a long time to understand in myself and implement. 

Anne of Green Gables 

Relating to characters: The uniqueness of Anne Shirley’s personality in “Anne of Green Gables” was one of the strongest points of the book, as it allowed me to empathize with Anne throughout the story. (Photo courtesy of Goodreads)

“Anne of Green Gables” is the first book of an eight-part realistic fiction series by L.M. Montgomery set in 1870s Prince Edward Island, Canada. The book follows 11-year-old Anne Shirley, an orphan who finds a home at Green Gables with middle-aged siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. Covering the first five years of Anne’s life at Green Gables, readers experience Anne’s mishaps, her successes and most of all, her striking personality.  

Anne’s simple life in Avonlea makes “Anne of Green Gables” a comforting read, which has made it the perfect escape for me in times of busyness or stress. The book’s strongest point is Anne’s eccentric character — her temper, chattiness and boundless imagination get her into hilarious mishaps that are bound to make readers laugh. Underneath it all, however, the book tells the tender story of a child looking for a place she can call home, giving me all the more reason to care and root for Anne. 

The Wingfeather Saga

“The Wingfeather Saga” is a four-part fantasy series by Andrew Peterson. Set in the world of Aerwiar, the series follows three siblings Janner, Tink and Leeli as they live under the oppression of Gnag the Nameless and his Fangs of Dang. 

I love all four books of “The Wingfeather Saga” because of the action-packed adventure from beginning to end. In most children’s adventure fantasy books such as Harry Potter, the parents of the protagonists are dead, not in a good relationship with their child or in some other way “gotten rid of.” However, in this series, the children not only have a good relationship with their mother and grandfather, but their guardians also are part of the action. In this way, familial bonds strengthen the characters in their fight instead of weaken, which I think is both refreshing to read and spreads the important message that it isn’t just orphans who can have heroic adventures. Additionally, the books have amazing cliff hangers and plot twists, as well as themes around what it means to be a part of a family — a unique message that was valuable to me, since I was able to relate with challenges Janner faces around pursuing independence while protecting his younger siblings.