Discussion Post: What Is Your Favorite Children’s Series (If You Tell Me, I May Review it!)?

I don’t know about you, but I pretty much only read children’s books. And romances and mysteries. I minored in English in college and read a fair number of “real” books, and then I graduated and could read whatever I wanted and decided that about age 14 is the reading level that makes me happy. Reading should be fun! I don’t want to read An Unsuitable Boy, I want to read Betsy-Tacy! Anyway, tell me your favorite children’s books that you read as a kid/read to your kids/read now as an adult because reading has no rules.

I’ll give you my top 5 as a child:

Railway Children: All Nesbit books are good and I have read them all, but this one is something special. The way it flows together the day to day happy life of childhood with a child’s vague awareness that something is really really wrong in their world is just lovely. Also, TRAINS!

Image result for railway children illustrations

Betsy-Tacy: I just gobbled these books up. I can remember rushing through quizzes in 3rd grade because if I finished early I could read my book while the other kids finished. SO GOOD!!! The high school ones were a little scary and stressful to my 8 year old brain, but I grew into them.

Image result for betsy tacy illustrations

Sue Barton: EMILY! This is another redheaded heroine for you!!!!! It’s a nursing series like Cherry Ames, but better (I think). Our heroine goes through nursing school, then works in the inner city as a visiting nurse, than in rural areas as a visiting nurse, then founds her own nursing school, then is a very busy wife and mother who volunteers her nursing skills, and finally returns to work in middle-age and is happy to test out her skills again. Also, bonus weird thing, the author was a professional nurse herself and also the long time partner of Rose Wilder Lane, the co-author of the Little House books. Lesbians! Writing books for children! It’s the best. (or, alternatively, they were just good friends who lived together for over a decade and planned to build a house together, the way good friends do)

Image result for sue barton illustrations

Dragon Books/Patricia Wrede: Wrede has written a lot of fantasy novels, but her Dragon Book foursome is the most kid friendly and, I think, the funnest. It takes princess/dragon tropes and puts them on their head, and has wonderful characters like a sensible witch and an overly precise elf and (eventually) a young king who is more overworked and tired than heroic. Read the first one and you will immediately be in love with this world.

Image result for dragon books wrede

Janet Lambert/Penny Parrish Series: These are super popular books from the 30s-50s that went out of print and became hard to find. So when I was a kid, my library had like 2 of them, and I loved them and was frustrated because I couldn’t read the rest of the series. And then I went to grad school and discovered the magic of University WorldCat Interlibrary Loan. Yes, I made librarians at universities all over America dig out copies of obscure 1950s children’s books just for my own pleasure. I briefly considered writing a paper on them so it would feel less silly, and then didn’t bother. Anyway, you don’t have to do that, a wonderful publishing company has now bought up the rights and reissued all of them on kindle and paperback. They are great books about girls growing up, finding a career, and eventually finding love with someone who will be a true partner and fit into their lives, not just someone “romantic”.

Image result for janet lambert parrish

What are your favorites? As an adult or as an child? And do you know any of the ones I listed above?

15 thoughts on “Discussion Post: What Is Your Favorite Children’s Series (If You Tell Me, I May Review it!)?

  1. The Magic Tree House. Kind of repetitive, but it’s fun. They use a tree house full of books to travel to different places in different time periods in each book.

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  2. Aww this is taking me back to my childhood! Of the ones you mentioned, I only read Betsy-Tacy and maybe The Railway Children? I think I might be confusing it with The Boxcar Children series, though.

    Other series I read were The Moffats, which I only vaguely remember now, but I feel like I liked it back then. I’m hoping to read the All of a Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor and the Katy series by Susan Coolidge for the first time at some point this year, once I’ve read the Rose series by Louisa May Alcott.

    Also, I’m outraged that I recently watched a documentary of Laura Ingalls Wilder and by extension Rose and they didn’t mention that she was a lesbian!

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    • No one seems to say she is a lesbian!!! They just say she lived with Helen Dore Boyleston for like a decade. And then leave it! How can no one make assumptions based on that?

      Also read The Moffats, great series. I read All of a Kind Family as a kid and it was really nice. And so interesting for how it does a nice safe childhood story about a family that just happens to be Jewish and just happens to live in the inner city. And I read the Rose series by Alcott, but I’ll tell you now that Old-Fashioned Girl is better!!!! The Katy series I hadn’t even heard of before and now I am curious about it. Read it and tell me how it is!

      Oh, and so long as you are looking at children’s books, have you read the Enright books? There is the The Saturdays series, and also Gone Away Lake. They are set during WWII and just after, but the war is kind of just a background thing that comes up only on occasion when they buy war bonds and stuff.

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      • “No one seems to say she is a lesbian!!! They just say she lived with Helen Dore Boyleston for like a decade. And then leave it! How can no one make assumptions based on that?”
        And that’s the way the mention should be: “She lived in a relationship with another human being.” All above this is none of anyone’s beeswax.

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  3. Sue Barton was the best! I remember her living in the apartment in New York with—was her best friend George? A girl named George? Was that HDB signaling that she was a lesbian which I didn’t catch as an eight year old? And helping the Irish and Italian immigrants who were in the inner city at that time. And then she lived in Vermont and the hospital caught fire if I’m recalling correctly. And she got something like TB one time and had to save a patient while she was delirious. Anyway, I read them over and over and practically memorized them, although I don’t remember about the nursing school, so I guess my library didn’t have that one. Fun fact: my aunt became a nurse because of Sue Barton.

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    • Yes! Her best friend wasn’t George though, that was Nancy Drew’s best friend (also weird). But they lived together in an apartment in New York while she worked there. The TB was while she was in nursing school, so you must have read that one after all. But the “school” ones really focused on the life in the wards, so they felt as much like just “nursing” books as they did “school” books. And that is a VERY fun fact!!!

      On Sun, Feb 7, 2021 at 7:17 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • What WAS her best friend’s name? Now it will drive me crazy. She had one sort of jokey friend and one friend who was a delicate little rich girl, and apparently HDB couldn’t write for two friends so she got written out pretty soon. Her boyfriend was Bill, I think, a perfect 1930s-1950s boyfriend name.

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        • I looked it up! Kit was the sophisticated career woman, Connie was the poor little rich girl who ends up marrying a reporter. And they each had different career interests, which I thought was interesting. Connie ended up training as an anesthetist, Kit wanted to be a hospital administrator, and Sue wanted to work with patients.

          And her boyfriend was Doctor Bill Barry which really is a PERFECT 1930s boyfriend name.

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  4. Sue Barton sounds fun :). The medical skills are one of my favorite things about Claire’s character in Outlander. Such a basic human skill set.

    Realizing reading through this that most of the series I read and reread were fantasy. Besides Anne of Green Gables. My most read were CS Lewis’s Narnia books, Madeleine L’Engle’s everything but starting with A Wrinkle in Time, Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain series, Susan Cooper’s Dark Is Rising, and later David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, Robert Jordan, Robin McKinley, and Tad Williams.

    Of the newer series, my son’s favorites so far are the Hunger Games and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I haven’t tried him yet on Philip Pullman (my favorite of the YA series I read as an adult) or Rick Riordan. But my older kid is more into realism so I might need to wait for the little guy to get older. I’ve been carefully choosing some classics with female protagonists to read with them too, and so far the biggest hit is Ramona.

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    • Sue Barton is so fun! Especially because her post-grad stuff is all out in the world making use of every day objects kind of nursing. Lots of stuff like being trapped by a blocked road and having to improvise a splint to fix a broken leg. Or being a visiting nurse in the inner city and using newspapers to make a sterile field.

      I think I have read all of your fantasy suggestions, except David Eddings and Tad Williams. somehow I can never enjoy male fantasy writers. Every other genre, I can switch between genders, but not in fantasy. Anyway, YES the Dark is Rising!!!! It’s such an interesting series and I feel like not enough people know about it. So much pagan imagery and mixtures of history and fantasy and cool things.

      Phillip Pullman is good, but that ending is a tough swallow. I read it as an adult too and I appreciated the half-happiness ending, but also was upset by it. I can’t imagine how I would handle it as a kid. Rick Riordan is of course great. And educational! When I was teaching Sunday School, all my kids knew about religious history thanks to Rick Riordan. Not so much Jesus, but they could tell me everything about Zeus and Hades and stuff.

      The Ramona books were Too Real for us, they made my sister SO ANGRY!!!! Because there’s Beezus, just being cute and carefree, and there’s Romana working and worrying and trying to do the right thing and it’s NOT FAIR. Really a perfect capturing of the older/younger sibling dynamic, to the point of being too upsetting for the older sibling. I loved them though, Beezus’ life was great! Romana just took care of everything!

      On Sun, Feb 7, 2021 at 10:58 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Woops, I mixed up Beezus and Romana!!! I was Romana, my sister was Beezus, and she got so mad at Romana that we couldn’t read the books.

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  5. I pretty much devoured all of the following series around like 4th and 5th grade.
    – Magic Tree House
    – The Baby Sitter’s Club
    – The Boxcar Children
    – Junie B. Jones
    – Chronicles of Narnia (this was actually before I understood how series worked, and I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which is book 2, and then I read book 7 immediately after and was horribly confused.)

    Later on was Princess Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, and Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging.

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