What’s your favorite childhood book? I am often asked this question, and I have the hardest time answering. My mom got me a library card for my second birthday, and I never stopped reading. I loved flipping through picture books, devoured any children’s mystery series, and escaped to so many worlds. Every book felt like something magical. Now, as an adult, I find myself looking for books that give me the same feeling. I want something that feels nostalgic while also offering a new perspective. If you are looking to recapture that nostalgia too, then try one of these adult pairings for childhood favorites.
If you liked Where the Wild Things Are try… In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
If you loved following mischievous Max and the slightly scary Wild Things, then you might like following Lundy as she travels through an impossible door into the Goblin Market. Both stories are atmospheric with well-developed characters and an intriguing setting, but In an Absent Dream turns more sinister as Lundy deals with the consequences of her decisions.
If you liked Charlotte’s Web try… Only the Animals by Ceridwen Dovey
If you loved the story of Wilbur, Charlotte, and all of the animals on the farm, you should enjoy this collection of stories from critical moments in history, told from the perspective of animals who were there. Both books tackle heavy themes with a whimsical tone and lovable characters. Only the Animals is odd, but surprisingly warm and insightful.
If you liked From The Babysitters Club try… Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
When I read Such a Fun Age, I was immediately reminded of the babysitting fun and strong female friendships found in the Babysitter’s Club. It opens with a young Black woman being harassed by security at an upscale grocery store in a predominately white neighborhood while babysitting her white charge. From that captivating beginning, it shows a nuanced portrait of a woman struggling to define herself apart from the white people in her life who attempt to speak for her. It’s absorbing, challenging, and filled with complex characters.
If you liked Encyclopedia Brown try… Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
As a kid, I was obsessed with piecing together Encyclopedia Brown mysteries. I would write down clues as I read and make my guess before finishing. It is harder to do that in adult books, with many authors opting to do a big reveal at the end, but Magpie Murders is a delightful exception. It is witty, engaging, and led by a super smart amateur sleuth not unlike Encyclopedia Brown.
If you liked Goosebumps try… Full Throttle by Joe Hill
Honestly, Goosebumps were way too scary for me. But if you loved R.L. Stine’s spooky stories and are ready for something creepier, turn to this collection of haunting stories with complex characters, a strong sense of place, and elements of the supernatural.
Check out my list for more pairing suggestions based on favorite childhood stories. What’s your favorite book from childhood? Maybe I can find a good match!