Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Middle-Grade Books I’m Thankful For by Hilary Wagner

Books always leave an impression on us. Good, bad or otherwise, they leave us feeling something. Over the years, though, there have been certain books that have really left an impression on me, not just as a writer, but as a person. Books that have made me stop and think and really change the way I look at the world. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here is a short list of the middle-grade books I’m most thankful for. 

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

This was the first book I ever read as a kid that gave me that “wow” moment. I actually remember sitting up in bed and thinking to myself, ‘So this is why reading is so great! This is what my teachers are talking about!’ Not to mention, the first scene with the owl terrified me!

The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows was the first book that made me laugh out loud! The antics of Mr. Toad had me rolling on the floor, but I was also deeply touched by the friendship between Rat, Mole, Toad, and Badger. A true book about friendship. 

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

This book taught me about triumph over tragedy and forgiveness. I cried when the lion died. It was such a tragic scene and such a sad moment for me, but as those of you know who read the book, it did not last long. 

The Call of the Wild

How could you not love Buck? London puts you right there with him, feeling his struggles as he’s thrust into the harsh wilderness of Alaska. It was the first book that really made me feel that I was there in that space and time. I could actually feel the cold. 


Westerns are normally not a book I’d be drawn to. I’m so thankful to my teacher who forced me to read this! Shane is a powerful story of bravery, faithfulness, and taking the right path, even if it’s the hardest one to take. Shane is thought of as one of the strongest children’s Westerns ever and with good reason.

So, there’s some of the books that changed me as a young person and as a future writer. What are some of yours? 



  1. The Call of the Wild struck a chord w/me. I read that a few times as a kid, and really enjoyed it! I like that cover for it too.

    1. Such a beautiful book! It was the first book that really had me in that story's setting!

  2. Mrs. Frisby is such a favorite. My second-grade teacher read it to my class, and I read it to my boys when they were smaller. So many wonderful memories there.

    1. I know! Such an inspiration for me...as you may have guessed! ;)

  3. Huge fan of both Call of the Wild and Shane. I read up on it a while back and found out it was voted by The Western Writers of America as the best western novel ever.

    1. Steve, I did not know that about Shane! Wow! It's hard to get me to read books that aren't in the genres I prefer, so you know it's amazing if it's on my list! WHAT A BOOK!

  4. I have read all of these! My 8th-grade English teacher styled himself a little as Shane -- we read that and Call of the Wild that year.


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