Must see, must read

by Pari

Ever since my children have come to the age of true intellectual analysis, I’ve wondered how best to give them a rich understanding of their heritage as Americans, New Mexicans and so forth. To me, one of the biggest gifts I can cultivate in them is a cultural fluency that goes beyond Hannah Montana and Disney.

I know this sounds heady, but I take my work as a parent quite seriously. Plus, it’s fun to introduce these bright young people to what I consider iconic examples of the best works—or the most representative of the best minds of our past and present—for the first time.

With the glorious advent of Netflix, my husband and I have been able to show our kids movies such as Gandhi—where we’ve been able to talk about nonviolence which then triggers discussion of the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. and what’s happening with racism and intolerance in contemporary society. We showed them Modern Times and talked about industrialization and its impact our economy and the human soul. Last night we watched the astounding The Great Dictator and, yet again, I was flabbergasted with Chaplin’s incredible prescience and articulation of the madness of embracing maniacal dictators like Hitler.

My children are also voracious readers. No books in our house have ever been off limits though I did, at one point, put some on the highest shelves so that my then eight-year-old—who was reading at a high-school level—wouldn’t get something with social implications that she truly wouldn’t understand. At least if the books were high enough, and she walked by with a stepping stool, I’d have a clue that she was trying to get at them and we could discuss their appropriateness.

Though my children are no longer pipsqueaks, we still read together every night. We’ve read Shakespeare, Austen, Bronte, Pratchett, Tolkein, Rowling and more. At school, my older child is reading John Steinbeck, Mark Twain, Harper Lee and other thought-provoking authors.

But now I’m searching for masterpieces, the best representatives of genre works.

Of course we’ve gone through the kid stuff already, the beginner mysteries that are tame or clever, but written for a younger audience. We’re waaaaay beyond those now. Without bragging, I can say with confidence that my kids are sophisticated when it comes to themes and language. Dine with us sometime and I guarantee you’ll be fascinated by the depth these kids bring to our dinner conversation.

So . . . I need your help. Please.

What are the fabulous examples of mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, romance that every person needs to have read to be truly literate in these genres? Which books had a profound influence on your world view, tastes or—for authors especially—your own work?

Was it a Heinlein or an Asimov? A Poe or Doyle? Did Ender’s Game change your life? Did Listening Woman? What do you consider the must-reads to give this new generation a solid grounding for the future?

On the same topic, are there movies that encapsulate an important point or time in our history? Is Citizen Kane still relevant? Is the first Star Wars seminal? Should we go back and watch all the original Star Trek episodes?

 I really can’t wait to read your responses.

And thank you for helping me to be a better parent.

 

 

43 thoughts on “Must see, must read

  1. billie

    Ray Bradbury had a big effect on me when I was young. My two have enjoyed Madeleine L’Engle and Ursula K. Le Guin. Oh, and Tove Jansson’s Moomintroll books. Tamora Pierce. You may have already read these though!

    Reply
  2. meanon

    Science Fiction: Octavia Butler, Fledgling. Vampire novel, but not. Do be sensitive to content and the readiness of your kids.

    Reply
  3. Paula R.

    "1984" was a big one for me as was "Animal Farm." I know you said future, but nothing comes to mind right now. So, I will continue listing some of what comes to mind. Poe is always apropo, as are Thomas Hardy. Tolstoy and Follett were weighty though provoking reads too. I can’t wait to read more of the responses too.

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

    Reply
  4. Janet Reid

    I just wrote a blog post on the reissued Parker novels by "Richard Stark." I’d offer these up as among the best written novels of the genre indeed.

    They’ve just been re-issued by the University of Chicago Press.

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  5. RKCharron

    Hi πŸ™‚
    Congratulations on raising great children.
    If they are well-read in classics then SILVERLOCK by John Myers Myers is an excellent book.
    Also Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry trilogy is excellent, a modern classic, in the fantasy genre.
    C.J. Cherryh is terrific for SF.
    Larry Niven’s RINGWORLD (he predicts flash mobs called "flash crowds" 20 years before they are actualized).
    Philip Jose Farmer’s TO YOUR SCATTERED BODIES GO is amazing.
    Stephen King’s THE STAND (complete & unabridged) is terrific.
    There are just so many great classic novels.
    πŸ™‚
    All the best to you and yours,
    @RKCharron
    xoxo

    Reply
  6. PK the Bookeemonster

    DUNE by Frank Herbert has some great issues of economics and government. Asimov’s FOUNDATION series is excellent for social issues. Are you sticking to fiction? Throw in some classics like the Constitution itself, COMMON SENSE, THE FEDERALIST PAPERS, or anything on the Founding Fathers like JOHN ADAMS. A BEAUTIFUL MIND by Nasar is great to introduce math not as torture but vibrant. THE DANCE OF THE WU LI MASTERS by Gary Zukav is an interesting introduction to physics.
    Even newspapers like the WSJ for current/international events. SFF seems more to cover big topics; mysteries more for criminal justice. Perhaps Grisham’s A TIME TO KILL.
    Okay, time for breakfast.

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  7. Dana King

    I’ve done much the same thing with my daughter and movies, so she’d have a sense of at least popular culture before her time. We started with THE STING and APOLLO 13 and worked our way through BUTCH CASSIDY, THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI, THE GREAT ESCAPE, and a ton of others. Showed her JAWS so she’d know where the whole summer blockbuster thing came from. As she got ready for college, I NetFlixed LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, THE LION IN WINTER, and a few others of that general level.

    I didn’t get together to read much with her after she got to school, as the honors program she was in had her reading constantly, including over the summer. If she wanted to escape into GOSSIP GIRL after what they gave her all school year, I was okay with that. As for recommended novels, I second the nomination of DUNE in the science fiction category. THE MALTESE FALCON is a good choice for hard-boiled American mystery. They might also get a kick out of GET SHORTY, which is as much fun as I’ve ever had reading a book. THE GRAPES OF WRATH is long, but it’s always appropriate, especially in this economic climate.

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  8. JD Rhoades

    I love that someone else here loves SILVERLOCK. This is a very cool crowd πŸ™‚

    For Sci Fi: Gotta read Clarke’s CHILDHOOD’S END and RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA. Heinlein’s THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS and STARSHIP TROOPERS are essential, and I suggest following STARSHIP TROOPERS with Joe Haldeman’s THE FOREVER WAR, which is a totally different take on the same topic. I second the recommendations for DUNE, FOUNDATION and RINGWORLD and I’d throw in Pohl’s GATEWAY as an essential work. Bester’s THE STARS MY DESTINATION blew my mind as a youth. Then there’s Harlan Ellison….

    Movies: You almost have to watch the original STAR WARS because it contains so many lines that have become iconic cultural references: "These aren’t the droids you’re looking for," "Use the Force", etc. CASABLANCA, same thing. And of course THE GODFATHER & GODFATHER II, IMO the greatest American movies ever made.

    I confess, however, that one of the things I love is sharing my affection for great 80’s trash: CONAN, RED DAWN, ROAD HOUSE, etc. But you’ve got to bring the right attitude to them, which is a mocking one. Think MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000, which I also recommend.

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  9. pari noskin taichert

    Oh wow. I thought everyone would be off barbecuing and making potato salad . . .

    Billie,
    Do you have some titles in particular that moved you — we’ve read L’Engle together but none of the other authors yet.

    Meanon,
    Can you tell me a little more about the vampire book, so I can gauge its suitability?

    Paula,
    Which Hardy moved you the most?

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  10. pari noskin taichert

    I am soooooo loving this! At the end of today, I’m going to copy all the suggestions and use them as our reading list for the next few months — at least.

    Janet,
    Thank you. We’ll check those out for sure.

    RK,
    Thank you for the specific titles. That helps a lot. I love Cherryh and wonder now why I haven’t insisted on reading something of hers to the kids. Do you have a particular work that you loved? And if you’ve got any "classics" suggestions, I’m definitely open to them.

    PK,
    Thanks also for the specific titles, too. Wonderful. And no, I’m not limiting our reading to fiction — just things that are interesting and part of what will give them the grounding I feel they need (and that they won’t get in school already).

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  11. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Jesus, Pari, I think you’ve got your bases covered.
    I’d add "The Tale of Genji" to the reading list, and Kirosawa’s "Akiru" to the movies.
    Some other important novels: "The Fountainhead," "All Quiet on the Western Front," "The Things They Carried," "On the Road."
    Your kids sound wonderful. I wish I would have grown up in your household. I would’ve walked around on stilts.

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  12. pari noskin taichert

    Louise,
    Thank you for that Child reference.
    I’m curious, did YOU have any books that made a big impact when you were a young adult?

    Dana,
    Great ideas. Some of those movies might not have occurred to me. As to the books, I know what you mean. My kids aren’t in Honors, per se, but the older one attends an academically rigorous school where many of the "classics" are par for the course. The younger child will be making the jump to the same school soon.

    JD,
    I love that you mentioned the iconic works as well as the junky ones. You’re right, that’s part of the education too. My kids have pretty developed senses of humor–both scatalogical AND sophisticated–and appreciate well written books with sarcastic, truly witty protags. It might be worth getting a couple of trashy books just to see how they respond.

    I might have to wait on the Godfather movies though — just because of the violent imagery . . .

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  13. Lisa Hendrix

    Everyone’s doing a great job with detectives and fantasy & science fiction (tho’ I’ll put in a word for the short works of Ursula K. LeGuin, in particular: The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas in THE WIND’S TWELVE QUARTERS, which is a life changer. And always, always read her introductions to her stories.)

    So I’ll touch on my personal love, romance: Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and (my favorite) SENSE AND SENSIBILITY almost go without mention. Then there are the books that rocked my world when I read them in 1978, Kathleen Woodiwiss’s THE WOLF AND THE DOVE and THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER, which essentially created the historical romance genre. Finally, I’d suggest Laura Kinsale’s briliant FLOWERS FROM THE STORM.

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  14. PK the Bookeemonster

    What are those "words of wisdom" sayings, like "Never eat at a diner called Moms"? Add: Never ask book addicts for reading suggestions. πŸ™‚
    I got on a film kick a while back and ordered these books for guidance:
    THE FILM CLUB by David Gilmour (film critic trying to teach and reach his son – very good)
    REEL FULFILLMENT by Maria Grace
    THE MOVIE LOVERS’ CLUB by Cathleen Rountree

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  15. Leslie

    Knee Deep in Thunder by Sheila Moon was and early favorite of mine and sounds like a good fit for your strategy. I reread that book every year from third grade on until we moved and left that library behind. I was reading way beyond my grade also, so appropriate for older child.. I went looking for it as an adult (Amazon special order!) and found the author, unknown to me as a child, incorporated her background in Navajo mythology. It might be a good way to explore Navajo myths, perhaps by researching and identifying the ones used.

    Years after graduating, one of my best friends from college and I were discussing books we loved as children, and she described the story of one of her favorite books that she’d been searching for without success because she couldn’t remember the title. Same book.

    Sheila Moon went on to write several other books.

    My first mysteries beyond Alfred Hitchcock & the 3 Investegators, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Danny Dunn level were by Dick Francis. I was horse-mad. I read a lot of english mysteries also, Christie, Sayers, and others. I think that is where my fondness for afternoon tea must stem from… all those descriptions of high teas, vicariously consumed.

    I remember reading historical biographies of figures in English history, and a couple about the Byzantine empire.

    Loved the Foundation trilogy, I devoured the first one, finishing it late at night, and was at my neighbor’s door early the next morning to get the next two. I was very impatient waiting for the clock to tick over to a decent hour. If I’d had the second I would never have gotten any sleep πŸ˜‰

    I enjoyed HG Wells, Tolkien also… never read the Narnia chronicles until I was an adult.

    Have fun, introducing children to books you loved or finding new books to share with them is so much fun!

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  16. Fran

    Let me echo the endorsement of Guy Gavriel Kay’s "Fionavar Tapestry". It’s fabulous! And I’d add Christiopher Stasheff’s "The Warlock in Spite of Himself". The rest of the series is fun, but the first one does deal with preconceptions, stereotypes and governmental issues in a flashy, fun way.

    Asimov’s "I, Robot", which is nothing like the movie, has set the bar for all robotic interaction, up to and including Commander Data’s positronic brain.

    Frederick Pohl’s "Gateway" series is good too, especially the first one. And if you can find Alexi Panshin’s "Rite of Passage", I always recommend that for young adults coming of age who have hard choices to make.

    Octavia Butler’s "Fledgeling" is great, I agree.

    And on a mystery level, all of Barbara Hambly’s "Benjamin January" series are well worth the read, if your kids haven’t done so already.

    I’d throw in the Niven/Pournelle book "Lucifer’s Hammer" as well, to springboard a discussion of what-would-you-do-if.

    And there’s some great theological discussion to be gleaned from Morris West’s "The Clowns of God", in my opinion.

    Oh, I could go on and on and on. If I can find it, I’ll mail you my list of books that I gave my high school kids to choose from. It’s in a box, somewhere. . .

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  17. Gayle Carline

    I recently introduced my 16-year old to THIS IS SPINAL TAP, but it’s not exactly a must-see for all generations. I just wanted him to know what it means when the dial goes up to 11. One movie he loved that surprised the heck out of me is CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. He’ll stop what he’s doing to come watch it with me when it’s on.

    As far as books, he’s read and loved Steinbeck, Edgar RIce Burroughs, and he even enjoyed this summer’s reading assignment, THE LORD OF THE FLIES. If I could recommend books that I think everyone should read, they would not be easy books, but they taught me a lot:

    1. OLIVER TWIST – This book taught me the meaning of poverty, as in, having absolutely nothing. Our government aid may not be perfect, but I had completely taken for granted that there are places in the US to get a meal if you are starving.

    2. LES MISERABLES – Inspector Javert is pridefully pious. The Thenardiers are selfish, amoral louts. Between them is Jean Valjean, a man saved by grace and attempting to redeem himself. The story is beautiful. Plus, in his excess, Hugo explained Waterloo and Paris street life to me as no one ever had.

    3. THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO – Action! Romance! Mystery! This is a classic.

    Gayle
    http://gaylecarline.blogspot.com

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  18. Leslie

    Bradbury definitely, Heinlein, and King… The unabridged Stand was wonderful… I second that!

    I remember reading a book about a girl in Russia sent to live on the Steppes of Siberia… I still remember her grandmother insisting that a lady’s hands must be manicured and trying to maintain those standards in the environment of Siberia… that little bit of business showed how much their circumstances changed and how hard it was for her grandmother to accept. I wish I could remember the name, it is in a box at my parents house somewhere. Probably out of print by now. It gave me that understanding of how different the circumstances and conditions other may face. Of course Anne Frank was another essential book.

    One I got for my older nephew on the recommendation of Elaine Petrocelli was A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. He really liked that one and I thought it was important for him to see what life could be like without the protections we take for granted.

    The book thief was one I gave to the younger nephew when it came out.

    Also loved the Brontes. Jane Eyre… so many good books and good memories! πŸ˜‰

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  19. Leslie

    I went searching on Amazon and found it… still in print, it is autobiographical and won a number of awards. From all the reader comments it looks like it had an impact on many young readers.

    The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia by Esther Hautzig

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  20. toni mcgee causey

    I would add some southern literary fiction in there: The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Earnest Gaines, Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Robert Penn Warren’s All The King’s Men, Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, John Kennedy Toole’s Confederacy of Dunces, Eudora Welty’s Why I Live At the P.O. (one of my favorites) and Faulkner, for all his misogyny and sentences which go on forever, had his moments. Dorothy Parker’s a good antidote to Faulkner.

    One of my favorites is James Lee Burke’s In The Electric Mist of the Confederate Dead. I discovered him with The Lost Get Back Boogie and have been reading ever since.

    For historical fiction, plenty of battles and political machinations, I still highly recommend Dorothy Dunnett’s The Lymond Chronicles, but it’s weighty going.

    Nobokov’s Lolita is interesting. Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. And everyone should read Flannery O’Connor. A modern collection of short-stories that wowed me was Ellen Gilchrest’s I Cannot Get You Close Enough.

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  21. kit

    I would refer to two *classics* first…Where the Red Fern Grows, and To Kill a Mockingbird…
    for contemporary fiction and here you would have to use your judgement…as to theme and age appropriate-ness, definately….Chiefs..Robert Parker, The Green Mile -Stephan King, The Quiet Game- Greg Iles, Mystic River-Dennis Lehane.
    Boy, I wish we could have done this when I was a kid….

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  22. kit

    oh yes, I forgot about Nicholas Sparks’ THE NOTEBOOK..it’s a love story, but I find it’s also about choices. some of my choices may be a little too adult,IDK.

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  23. Eika

    Enders Game was incredible, but I have to also recommend 1984.

    And… I don’t know what reading level or maturity level you’re going for, but I’ve been reading at adult level since grade school, and now that I’m at college, I’m probably a YA expert. Because that’s what I read and write the most. So, lots of these books might be newer, or not have the amount of vocabulary others do, but…

    Unwind by Neal Shusterman. I read it in eleventh grade, and had to lock myself in the bathroom and shake at one scene. I told the school librarian I was surprised no one had banned it yet (which she used to recommend it to other students). Abortion, pro-life/pro-choice, when life really starts, what makes a person, the thin line between right and wrong and the gray areas… it’s incredible.

    I also have to strongly recommend Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. Read 1984 with them first, but both books can be found on-line with a quick search… 1984 because it’s public domain, Little Brother because Mr. Doctorow decided it was too important and wants it in as many hands as possible. It takes place in the nearby future- I’d guess 15 years or so, because video game consoles play a key role and it’s two or three consoles after the current xbox. Not only could I picture everything happening, but… you really have to read it for yourself. Schools had face-recognition cameras until they were ruled unconstitutional, so now they have gait-recognition cameras kids fool by putting rocks in their shoes. And they’re not allowed to put trackers on students, but they put trackers on library books, so they can pinpoint the location of the book anywhere at any time, and the trackers can be destroyed in microwaves. There’s a website entirely for people who snap photos of kids and teens during school hours to upload them so administrators can tell if they’re skipping. And all of this- and more, even creepier and probably possible now- is essential to the plot.

    As for fantasy… honestly, I have to say Diane Duane’s Young Wizard series. They get better and more complex by the book. It features a language that everything speaks- it is literally the language of life, and if you know how you can talk to rocks or trees. In the hands of wizards, they can use the Speech to literally reprogram the universe (which is why they don’t lie often). And younger wizards have more power, but they can’t use the Speech as well, which means they have to rely on older ones frequently. A Wizard’s Dilemma features the female lead trying to talk cancer cells from attacking her mother. Wizard’s War is about, as she sums it up to someone else, "The universe is expanding too fast, and we have to stop it before it tears itself apart." The books also bring a unique perspective by necessity- at one point, it’s mentioned trees are arguing and they think they can get one to loosen up about sapling distribution if the other will lighten up on sun percentages. Or they take messages to other planets for the cats who manage the world gates.

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  24. Sandy

    Especially for the heritage of the Southwest, culture encountering culture, I recommend Frank Waters’ THE MAN WHO KILLED THE DEER.
    For a story with deep layers and rich characters from Orthodox and Hasidic belief systems, a story about fathers and sons and so much more, I recommend Chaim Potok’s THE CHOSEN.
    For a beautiful, often lyrical story, of human spirit, I recommend Ernest Gaines’ A LESSON BEFORE DYING.
    Sandy

    Reply
  25. pari noskin taichert

    Eeek! I went for a walk and there are so many good comments here. Thank you!!

    Lisa,
    Thank you for the romance examples. One of the fun things lately is that I’ve read both Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre with my kids. It’s so cool to compare and contrast.

    PK,
    This is PRECISELY why I decided to ask. I figured you all would give me gems and so far you have! I’ll look at those film books too.

    Leslie,
    Thank you for your longer answer. I loved how you gave us a neat historical perspective on your own reading. I’ll look for that Sheila Moon book in particular since we live in the SW.

    Louise,
    I’ve never read Black Beauty. Even if it’s an easy read, we might still love it.

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  26. pari noskin taichert

    Fran,
    I’m so glad you chimed in. Thank you. This is such a pleasure to read all of your suggestions. Really. It’s getting me so jazzed!

    Gayle,
    I didn’t even think of Williams for movies yet. CoaHTR is a great a film and play. It might be fun to read it and then watch the movie together. We’ve read Oliver Twist but not the other two yet. I had to read the Count of Monte Cristo in French — and that kind of turned me off, but I bet I’d like it better in English.

    Leslie,
    We’ve read a few of those already. I know that one of my children would really like that boy soldier one, too. AND THANK YOU for finding the one about Siberia –given our Russian ancestry, this one is bound to be a winner on a lot of levels.

    Toni,
    Thanks for speaking up for the South <g>. We’ve read Jane Pittman, but not many of the others. And I was wondering when someone was going to mention Dorothy Dunnett. I adore the Lymond series but like the Niccolo Rising one even better! I finished the Burke you mentioned earlier this summer and loved it.

    I might have to wait on Lolita for the kids for a few more years . . .

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  27. Paula R.

    Hey Pari, I was thinking of Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Hardy. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray is also a great book too. How about "Lady Chatterley’s Lover" by D.H. Lawrence? "The Handmaid’s Tale" by Margaret Atwood is another book that made quite an impression on me. I second the "Lord of the Flies" and Lisa Hendrix’s suggestions. I also thought that "Roots" by Alex Haley and "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett would be great choices. Just thought of "She’s Come Undone" by Wally Lamb. It would be great for discussion. I think "Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson would be a great one for discussion too. I love the suggestions here too…"Great Expectations" by Dickens…so many to choose from. Homer’s "Iliad" and "Odyssey" are great . Anything by George Eliot would be great too, especially since Mary Ann Evans had to write under a male pseudonym to get recognized as a great author. I can only imagine the kinds of discussions you could have about the author herself. It is great to see the "Victorian" world through the eyes of a female in the guise of a male. (Victor/Victoria anyone?)

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

    Reply
  28. pari noskin taichert

    Kit,
    Thank you for chiming in. I don’t think some of these are too adult, not if we read them together and discuss them; that’s part of the pleasure of doing this with kids. I love hearing their ideas and also clarifying/discussing issues that the books examine. BTW To Kill a Mockingbird remains one of my all time favorites, period.

    Eika,
    Wow. What great recommendations. Thank you for sharing your particular expertise and sensitivity here. You probably have quite a bit in common with my kids — though they’re younger than you obviously are. I really appreciate the suggestions.

    Sandy,
    Beautiful recommendations all. I hadn’t even thought about The Chosen yet, but it’d be a definite winner. And both the Gaines’ and Waters’ books are right on target too.

    Toni,
    Thank you for the additional reference. This is an absolute gold mine.

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  29. meanon

    Re: Fledgling – The relationship between humans and vampires (or Ina) carries overtones of, and some overt, sexuality; complicated by the fact that the MC physically appears to be about 10 in human years. The relationships need not be sexual, but the Ina’s saliva is designed to bond the human and Ina together in a symbiotic fashion. Two reviews that give a bit more detail on the book overall:

    thethunderchild.com/Reviews/Books/Fiction/OctaviaButler/Fledgling.html
    wordwanderer.wordpress.com/book-notes/fledgling/

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  30. Tom

    Pari, glad you like Cherryh. The Chanur stories, Downbelow Station, the Morgaine stories – amazing stuff for younger readers.

    I’d also suggest Kage Baker’s historical SF, beginning with In The Garden of Iden. It takes hard looks at human motion from the Old World to the New World.

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  31. pari noskin taichert

    JT,
    Ah, yes, Wuthering Heights . . . I still feel the wind blowing on those cliffs.

    And as for parenting, I can say that my parents never read to me as a child. One of the pleasures of doing it with my own is discovering books I missed as a kid. No complaints here about how I was raised, I just want to approach it a little differently.

    THANK YOU TO EVERYONE FOR THEIR WONDERFUL RECOMMENDATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  32. allison davis

    I hate to pile on but my dad read to us at the dinner table. I was the oldest and maybe the most appreciative. If he hadn’t done that I never would have fallen in love with A.E. Housman, Shelly, Keats, ee cummings, Alfred Noyes, Countee Cullen ("Once riding in old Baltimore…") and many more. There is real joy in reading some of this poetry together and I still remember it.

    Also, he read lots of Robert Service — The Cremation of Sam McGee, Face on the Barroom Floor, (Dad grew up in Alaska), and others, many of which I can still recite. (Bessie’s Boil, try and read that dialect!)

    Lastly, he read short stores to us and I learned about writers I never would have read — try "Ransom of Red Chief" by O’Henry. The John McPhee stories (Giving Good Weight, etc.)

    My friends in high school would come over after dinner just to hang out and listen to my dad read (oh, and he’d let us have a little wine and make chocolate souffles to keep us there). You are giving your kids fabulous memories.

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  33. pari noskin taichert

    Allison,
    Yes! Poetry. Great idea to do that at dinner. I really like that. I’m also looking forward to reading plays out loud with the girls.

    Sally,
    I’ll look for that book too. This has been such a wonderful post; the comments have made me exceedingly happy.

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  34. Catherine Hartley

    My parents let me "discover" the books in the shelves as well. I appreciated the conversatoins driven by some of th ebooks to this day.

    Here are some books I enjoyed or that my teen-aged nieces and nephews enjoy:

    Ender’s Game (discovered my freshman year in college and skipped class to finish the book!), I Heard the Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven, Litle Brother by Cory Doctorow, The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, The Once and Future King by TH White, The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain(as well as A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court), His Dark Materials by Philip Pulman…

    I also think that Star Wars is a great hero story and I prefer the version with the Biggs storyline put back in (since it w sin the novelization).

    Reply

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