Top 5 Kids/YA Books To Read In Your Lifetime

Here is my list of books you absolutely must read before you die.

#5 Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

The summer Opal and her father, the preacher, move to Naomi, Florida, Opal goes into the Winn-Dixie supermarket—and comes out with a dog. A big, ugly, suffering dog with a sterling sense of humor. A dog she dubs Winn-Dixie. Because of Winn-Dixie, the preacher tells Opal ten things about her absent mother, one for each year Opal has been alive. Winn-Dixie is better at making friends than anyone Opal has ever known, and together they meet the local librarian, Miss Franny Block, who once fought off a bear with a copy of WAR AND PEACE. They meet Gloria Dump, who is nearly blind but sees with her heart, and Otis, an ex-con who sets the animals in his pet shop loose after hours, then lulls them with his guitar. 

Opal spends all that sweet summer collecting stories about her new friends and thinking about her mother. But because of Winn-Dixie or perhaps because she has grown, Opal learns to let go, just a little, and that friendship—and forgiveness—can sneak up on you like a sudden summer storm.

(Description from Amazon)

Because of Winn-Dixie is a book I will never forget from my childhood. It was the first chapter book I ever read and it changed my life. I love dogs and this book is absolutely perfect for the dog loving child in your life. Or even the dog loving adult. This book will warm your heart and put a smile on your face. It’s easy to love the characters in this book. It has just enough conflict and personal struggle to make it a stand out children’s book.

#4 Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

In the small town of Ealing, Iowa, Austin and his best friend, Robby, have accidentally unleashed an unstoppable army. An army of horny, hungry, six-foot-tall praying mantises that only want to do two things.

This is the truth. This is history.
It’s the end of the world. And nobody knows anything about it.
You know what I mean.

(Description from Amazon)

So this book is one I stumbled upon and can’t stop raving about. It’s weird, it’s funny, and it really encompasses being a teenager. I love it’s quirks and how it tackles human problems while also creating a praying mantis apocalypse. It really is a beautiful but ridiculous book. I love it and I recommend it all the time. Forewarning though, this book is not for everyone. It contains very raunchy scenes but I do not believe that it detracts from the wonderfulness that is Grasshopper Jungle.

#3 The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

When Death has a story to tell, you listen.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. 

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

(Description from Amazon)

I read The Book Thief for a class I took in high school. It was one of the first books that made me cry real tears. Sobbing, ugly cry, snot-nosed tears. This book should be required reading in my opinion. The Book Thief tells an interesting WWII story. It’s unique and beautiful. I wish I could erase it from my brain and reread it fresh once again. It hurts but also makes you love. I will forever recommend this to anyone who asks.

#2 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.

(Description from Amazon)

The Hobbit is one of my all-time favorite books. Tolkien is my writing inspiration and this book was my first foray into his beautiful world. Tolkien originally wrote this book for his children and it exploded into what it is now. I’d argue it’s one of the most well known fantasy stories ever told, and well loved. My dad used to read this book to my brother and I every Christmas season. It’s a fantastic must-read.

#1 The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter is a series of fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the lives of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main story arc concerns Harry’s struggle against Lord Voldemort, a dark wizard who intends to become immortal, overthrow the wizard governing body known as the Ministry of Magic and subjugate all wizards and Muggles (non-magical people).

(Description from Wikipedia)

If you ask me The Harry Potter series is the penultimate children’s series. It did everything it needed to. It teaches you about love, friendship, and having the bravery to do what is right. This series grew up with its audience. Book One and Book Seven have totally different tones but they were appropriate for the audience they were originally intended for. This series just makes sense and it brings me such a great amount of joy. I reread this series every year. It has such a jovial atmosphere in the first books, then turns serious at the right moment. I feel like it has a little bit of something for everyone.

What are your top 5 Children’s/YA bookS? Do you share any with me? Let me know in the comments.