Youth Fiction: Our Top Ten Lists

As a family of readers, we’ve shared hundreds of books together and collectively read hundreds more. We have varied tastes and find ourselves sharing a love of some books but also find there are others we just can’t agree on. With today’s post we want to share our individual top ten favorite books in the youth fiction category. Our family defines youth fiction as books which feature young protagonists, usually between ages eight or nine and thirteen to fourteen. Themes may be intense but the content – language, violence, sexuality, etc are appropriate for kids that same age. If these books were rated they’d be rated G or PG.  Finally, we heartily agree with C.S. Lewis who said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” 

Books with a star following (*) indicate that it is part of a series.

Without further adieu then, here are each of our ten favorite books in the youth fiction category.

Aaron’s List

  1. Towers Falling by Jewel Parker Rhodes *
  2. Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpoole
  3. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  4. Refugee by Alan Gratz
  5. Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Johnathan Auxier *
  6. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis *
  7. The Elephant Thief by Jan Kerr
  8. Trouble by Gary D. Schmidt
  9. The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley *
  10.  The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau *

Consuelo’s List

  1. The Jumping Off Place by Marian Hurd McNeely
  2. Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
  3. Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpoole
  4. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
  5. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Mary Rose Wood * (audiobook suggested)
  6. Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
  7. Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead
  8. Pinky Pye by Eleanor Estes
  9. The Bark of the Bog Owl by Johnathan Rodgers * (audiobook suggested)
  10. The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder * (audiobook suggested)

Malachi’s List

  1. Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
  2. Redwall by Brian Jaques *
  3. The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson *
  4. The Moffats by Eleanor Estes *
  5. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  6. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling *
  7. All the Wrong Questions by Lemony Snicket *
  8. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket *
  9. Treasure Seekers by Edith Nesbit
  10. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George 

Sonora’s List

  1. Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt
  2. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery * 
  3. The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon *
  4. Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Spear
  5. Nowhere Boy by Catherine Marsh
  6. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall *
  7. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart *
  8. The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley *
  9. Boy by Roald Dahl
  10. The Avion My Uncle Flew by Cyrus Fisher


Who Are We?

The Screwtape Letters: A Reflection

The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis, is a collection of letters between two fictitious devils, “Uncle Screwtape” and his nephew “Wormwood”. This insightful little book follows the letters of advice from Screwtape, higher up in the satanic ranks, to Wormwood, a tempter on earth, on the methods and tricks to steer his patient away from the enemy “God and his kingdom”. This book, like no other, lays out all our tendencies and failings as human beings, while at the same time giving you, as a reader, incentive to rise above them. It opens your mind so vividly to the exponential power and light of Christ, that it can not help but bring you into the ever so real struggle between the kingdoms of Good and Evil, even if only in little ways. As a review in the New York Times put it, “Somewhere in the inferno there must be a considerable annoyance.” 

One of the biggest reasons I think The Screwtape Letters is such an effective and powerful book is because it is written from the devil’s perspective. In this form the book captivated me in an entirely original way. It gave me the powerful feeling of understanding, it was like a breeze in the fog, temporarily forcing me to face the distance. I really believe it is one of the most brilliant books written. The whole idea of Screwtape writing letters on the finer points of temptation to his nephew Wormwood, combined with an opportunity of sitting down with the edited thoughts of one of the greatest Christian thinkers, had an amazing effect on me. The result was, an opportunity for me to clearly face my faults and to see my potential.  By having the stereotypical perspective on Christianity reversed, I had the wholehearted satisfaction of feeling I was in some way outwitting the devil. This in particular had such an effect on me, that in recent weeks when had I found myself frustrated and about to lose my temper or discontent and snappy I would suddenly realize the benefit this would be to Screwtape, which would instantly cause me to check my behavior, and than to smugly feel I had outmaneuvered his trap, muttering under my breath a gleeful cry of “Not today Uncle Screwtape.” 

There were so many sections of this book that either introduced me to a completely new thought or concept, or phrased in clear English a foggy picture I might have otherwise never clearly understood. For example one of the points which hit me as a literal prescription to one of my biggest problems, which is me constantly over analyzing of the past, is the part where Screwtape says of God that, “His ideal is a man who, having worked all day for the good of posterity (if that is his vocation), washes his mind of the whole subject, commits the issue to heaven, and returns at once to the patience or gratitude demanded by the moment that is passing over him.” Too often I completely miss out on the present by indulging myself in a degrading self critique of every instance where I messed up in the day. I don’t commit these instances of failure, that I was probably the only one to notice, to heaven, then wash myself of them like God wisely says to do. Instead I dig through them all and let them define me. I dont give myself the love or grace God offers me. I unfairly give the past the power to cheat the present. 

Another passage that stuck out to me is where Screwtape says God, (the enemy in the book’s context) “wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another.” This passage is by far my favorite. Everytime I read it, it creates wonder in me, adding glorious details to my painting of what hope looks like. It speaks to me of a wonderful invitation, to begin a journey, a journey towards a kingdom that is full, but always has room for one more. Where people build cathedrals and know they are just right. As the passage goes on, it adds that, “The enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favor that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbors talents or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall. He wants each man to recognize all creatures ( even himself) as glorious and excellent things.” I love the fact that we were created to create and to someday have the kind of perfect love for our neighbors and ourselves, that we can say of what we have done, that, “It is good.” 

I think The Screwtape Letters is an important book to read. It has equipped me with answers to so many questions I have had and given me no choice but to confront myself honestly and begin to intentionally seek out my problems. It has opened my eyes to so many temptations I fall into daily but at the same time I see the incredible grace and love God has for me more than ever before, so rather than being discouraged I feel grace. Being reminded that if I fall I will be caught has filled me with the courage to keep on leaping forward. As C.S.Lewis says so well in his book, “He wants them to learn how to walk . . . and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles.

  • Age: 14-99
  • Awards: None
  • Our Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

By Sonora Myers