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Book trends come and go, and no list is more indicative of the times than the school-mandated Summer Reading List. Those of us (young, fresh-faced) bookworms who came of age in the '90s will see some familar gems in this nostalgia-packed list. Share your favorites with us on Twitter at @QuirkBooks!

Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls (1961)
It was one of the golden rules of childhood fiction: the reader must be traumatized in some way – mostly in the form of death; specifically, of a beloved animal. After reading about the *SPOILER ALERT* deaths of Old Dan and Little Ann, I slept on the floor next to our dog for a week straight. 

LESSON: The floor is hard. 

 

A Wrinkle In Time, Madeline L’Engle (1963)
Meg Murry’s universe-warping search for her father was one of our first entries into the world of speculative fiction. Plus it was part of a series, which we loved as kids. Series and glossaries, those were the best. The more made-up words we had to learn to understand a book, the better.

LESSON: There is such a thing as a tesseract. 

 

The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton (1967) 
Confession: we read this story of the Greasers, the Socs, and self-acceptance after crushing on Ralph Macchio in the film adaptation. S.E. Hinton wrote the book between the ages of fifteen and sixteen – at the same age, we were writing bad Sylvia Plath-knockoff poetry. Hinton gave us a much-needed kick in the ass, a reminder to drop the affectations and start getting real. 

LESSON: Stay gold, y’all. 

 

Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson (1977)
Real talk: Who hasn’t tried to make a bridge to Terabithia across any body of water – even a puddle – as a child? Any introvert understands the power and appeal of ones interior world and imaginary sanctuaries, and having someone to share that with is invaluable.

LESSON: Don’t EVER choose your teacher over your best friend! 

 

Hatchet, Gary Paulsen (1987)
Before Bear vs. Wild ever came along, there was Brian Robeson vs. the Canadian wilderness. By detailing the action-packed dangers of a boy surviving in the woods with only his handaxe, Gary Paulsen's Newbery Honor book made us eternally grateful for modern day search-and-rescue efforts.  

LESSON: When flying in airplanes, always carry a sharp wilderness tool—er, wait.


Carrie Jo Tucker's picture

Carrie Jo Tucker

Carrie Jo Tucker is the author of I Love Geeks: the Official Handbook (Adams Media) and contributing lifestyle editor for FLOOD magazine. She’s currently working on her second book, a retelling of the seven deadly sins mythos. Follow her on Twitter or, if you like super-cute French bulldogs, The Daily Walter.