Good Minds Suggest—Jeff Kinney's Favorite Kids' Books for Adults

Posted by Goodreads on November 5, 2013
When author and cartoonist Jeff Kinney first began telling the story of middle schooler Greg Heffley, he was actually writing with an adult audience in mind. These days, though, it seems as if every child between the ages of 8 and 12 is buried in the hand-drawn pages of a volume from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, snorting at the gross-out humor and taking devious note of the pranks that the characters pull on one another. With more than 85 million books in print worldwide, a few grown-ups must be reading them, too! This month Kinney comes out with the eighth book, Hard Luck, wherein our stick-figure hero hits a streak of bad luck, which he tries to turn around by leaving all of his decisions up to chance. So are the hapless exploits in the book based on the author's own life? As Kinney's bio says: "He has worked as a newspaper designer and computer programmer, and at other occupations that do not hinge on physical prowess." Kinney, whose ability to engage an audience is anything but wimpy, offers up five ageless favorites.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
"A book that has it all…relatable characters in a coming-of-age story with a dollop of science fiction to keep things a little off-kilter. When You Reach Me's protagonist is Miranda, the child of a single mother, doing her best to navigate life in 1970s New York. But when a series of strange notes begins to appear, tucked away in unlikely places, it opens up Miranda—and the reader—to the possibilities of real magic."

The Arrival by Shaun Tan
"A real modern masterpiece, the universal story of immigration told as a wordless allegory set in an alien city. By depriving the reader of language or text of any sort, Tan disorients his readers and then gently guides them toward mastery of the foreign landscape, causing them to go along the journey with the story's courageous protagonist."

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
"A classic that's worth dusting off, especially in this moment, when Hollywood has given it new life as a three-part film. The ultimate tale of an unlikely hero in a dangerous world, The Hobbit has everything you'd want in an adventure…excitement, action, humor, and magic. This is the book that got me into "serious" reading, and it's one that I don't mind revisiting time and time again with my own kids."

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
"A paean to kindness and acceptance that should be a part of every school's curriculum. We meet the protagonist, Auggie, just as he's making the jump from the comforts of home school to the cold halls of middle school. What makes the transition especially difficult is the fact that Auggie has a severe facial deformity, making the concept of 'fitting in' that much more challenging."

Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown by Carl Barks
"I consider Barks to be the most masterful storyteller in any medium. Fantagraphics has done the world a great service by rereleasing Barks's classic Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge stories in beautiful hardcover collections. This tome contains three of Barks's great works, The Golden Helmet, The Gilded Man, and A Christmas for Shacktown, a gritty tale of urban poverty that's worthy of Charles Dickens. I devoured these tales as a kid, and they haven't lost their appeal over time."

Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Children's Books I'll Reread No Matter How Old I Am.

Comments Showing 1-14 of 14 (14 new)

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message 1: by Spikeymom (last edited Nov 08, 2013 06:06PM) (new)

Spikeymom Wind in the Willows
Alice in Wonderland

These are two children's books that are frequently quoted or referred to in English literature, and in general English usage.
Both of them are entertaining and classics.

The Call of the Wild (classic dog story)

message 2: by Sheila (new)

Sheila Great choices! Don't forget A Wrinkle in Time and the Chronicles of Narnia.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett...still love it.

message 4: by Jack (last edited Nov 10, 2013 08:24AM) (new)

Jack Bee The Awesome Adventures of Pickle Boy

Teaches values, addresses bullying, and keeps the grownup readers and their kids interested in what happens next.

message 5: by Mike (last edited Nov 10, 2013 11:37AM) (new)

Mike Person Great list in the article. Followed up by some great additions from members. Let's not forget to add:
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Velveteen Rabbit.

message 6: by Brooke (new)

Brooke Allen The best up there is Wonder (which I just read) put you guys REALLY need to read The Hourglass Door (a classic love story with tragic moments that make you melt).

message 7: by Brooke (new)

Brooke Allen Sorry I didn't mean to say put I was meaning to say but.

message 8: by Randi-lee (new)

Randi-lee Robyn Julie of the Wolves
Tuck Everlasting
Charlottes Web

message 9: by Chriss (new)

Chriss Kendall-muniz I love teaching literature to young readers, gr. 4, 5, and 6, because there are so many great books-- and,yes many that adults can also enjoy. In addition to Wonder, one of my favs is Esperanza Rising. I always do Maroo of the Winter Caves with my 4th gr's and Hatchet with 5th Gr. Bridge to Terabithia, Sarny and Nightjohn, The Land, Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry and Watson's Go to Birmingham also top my list.

message 10: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Bergamin Nice list! Haven't yet been acquainted with Wonder, perhaps that will be next on the reading list.

Personal favourite has still got to be The Phantom Tollbooth though, would highly recommend to those of you looking for more along the same lines :)

message 11: by Michael (new)

Michael Theobalds I've always been a great fan of Alan Garner - Elidor, of course, and the Weirdstone. I love them both.

message 12: by B (new)

B Whitley I still love Robinson Crusoe (sp) and Swiss Family Robinson. Read them every summer for years.

message 13: by Cathy (new)

Cathy Stevens All the best Fantasy books are for children:
Chronicles of Narnia
The Hobbit
The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and other Alan Garners
Wind in the Willows
and of course
Where the Wild Things Are

message 14: by Angela (new)

Angela C Other great childrens novels to add:
The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper
His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman

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