At Intellectual Takeout, we strive to offer not only commentary on current events but also tangible advice for engaging with our increasingly chaotic world. That’s why we’re proud to present this ongoing series of literature recommendations.
Whether you’re reading the more challenging books to a 6-year-old or handing all these tomes off to a 12-year-old, these texts are perfect for your daughter, granddaughter, young sister, cousin, or neighbor. Avid and reluctant readers alike will find fairy tales, adventures, and stories of animals to capture their imagination.
Read the previous list here.
1. Hans Christian Andersen. The Snow Queen. 1844.
“When Kay is cursed by a magic mirror, he can no longer perceive goodness in anything – not his best friend Gerda, nor the roses in the garden. One wintry evening, he is kidnapped by the wicked Snow Queen and swept away to live for ever in her kingdom of ice. Friendless and shoe-less, Gerda must travel through inhospitable lands, with only crows to guide her and bandits for company, in order to find her beloved friend.”
2. Louisa May Alcott. An Old-Fashioned Girl. 1870.
“The book revolves around Polly Milton, the old-fashioned girl who titles the story. Polly visits her wealthy friend Fanny Shaw in the city and is overwhelmed by the fashionable and urban life they live–but also left out because of her ‘countrified’ manners and outdated clothes.”
3. Anna Sewell. Black Beauty. 1877.
“As a young horse, Black Beauty is well-loved and happy. But when his owner is forced to sell him, his life changes drastically. He has many new owners–some of them cruel and some of them kind. All he needs is someone to love him again.”
4. Elizabeth George Speare. The Witch of Blackbird Pond. 1958.
“Orphaned Kit Tyler knows … that her new home will never be like the shimmering Caribbean island she left behind. In her relatives’ stern Puritan community, she feels … lonely. The only place where Kit feels completely free is in the meadows, where she enjoys the company of the old Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond, and on occasion, her young sailor friend Nat. But when Kit’s friendship with the ‘witch’ is discovered, Kit is faced with suspicion, fear, and anger.”
5. Catherine Marshall. Christy. 1967.
“The train taking nineteen-year-old teacher Christy Huddleston from her home in Asheville, North Carolina, might as well be transporting her to another world. The Smoky Mountain community of Cutter Gap feels suspended in time, trapped by poverty, superstitions, and century-old traditions. But as Christy struggles to find acceptance in her new home, some see her — and her one-room school — as a threat to their way of life. Her faith is challenged and her heart is torn between two strong men with conflicting views about how to care for the families of the Cove.”
6. E.B. White. The Trumpet of the Swan. 1970.
“Louis is a trumpeter swan, but unlike the rest of his family, he can’t make a sound. And since he can’t trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays no attention to him. But when his father steals him a real brass trumpet, Louis has to find out if it’s the key to what he’s wanted all along. E. B. White’s classic book is a tender novel of overcoming the odds and learning to do things on your own terms.”
7. Katherine Paterson. Jacob Have I Loved. 1980.
“Sara Louise Bradshaw is sick and tired of her beautiful twin Caroline. Ever since they were born, Caroline has been the pretty one, the talented one, the better sister. … For once in her life, Louise wants to be the special one. But in order to do that, she must first figure out who she is . . . and find a way to make a place for herself outside her sister’s shadow.”
8. Lois Lowry. Number the Stars. 1989.
“Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It’s now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are ‘relocated,’ Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen’s life.”
9. Clare Vanderpool. Moon Over Manifest. 2010.
“Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. … Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was. … And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.”
10. Branka Ryan. The Twelve Dancing Princesses; and Other Stories from Europe. 2022.
“This book holds five beloved tales from European tradition and culture. After being passed down for generations, they have arrived here, in your hands. … From enchanting to perilous to charming, these stories are a joy to read aloud or to oneself.”
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons-Eduard Klieber, PDM 1.03 comments