An (Almost) Epic Office Poll

In honor of’s Epic Book Drive to raise money for the New Orleans Recovery School District, Workman’s Editorial staff have nominated their favorite childhood books: the ones they read in bed with their parents, named their stuffed animals after, and repeatedly checked out with their first library cards. Of course, narrowing down this list was no easy task for our book-loving editors–hence it’s nearly epic status. What books did you love as a young reader? Let us know in the comments section. To help kids discover their own favorites, check out the Epic Book drive! ( is the amazing organization behind Do Something! A Handbook for Young Activists.)

Here’s what we had to say:

Eloise, Kay Thompson; The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle

“It’s a toss-up. I love Eloise’s spunk and NYC know-how, but I also really liked making butterflies a la Eric Carle’s final image.” –Emily


Redwall, Brian Jacques

“Actually, I was enamored with the whole series… particularly Salamandastron, which may have fueled a lifelong fascination with badgers. The characters regularly sit down to lavish feasts, speak in their own dialects, and have epic battles—kind of like Lord of the Rings, but with talking animals. And what little girl doesn’t love talking animals? May Mr. Jacques, who died this February, rest in peace.” –Liz


Heidi, Johanna Spyri

Heidi is not my absolute favorite children’s book by any means, but it holds a special place in my heart, because my dad and I read it together as part of a fourth grade class project (basically, read a challenging book with one of your parents). I went on to name one of my stuffed animals (a sheep) Schneehöpli after one of the protagonist’s goats (guess I didn’t have any stuffed animal goats…).” –Liz

Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh; Matilda, Roald Dahl

“I loved Harriet the Spy and Matilda. Harriet kindled my lifelong obsession with dumbwaiters, not to mention composition notebooks. Matilda, with her wagon full of library books, remains a role model. Both 1996 film adaptations are highly recommended!” — Heather

The Trouble with Jenny’s Ear, Oliver Butterworth

“When I was a kid my mom gave me a copy of her favorite childhood book, The Trouble with Jenny’s Ear by Oliver Butterworth, and it immediately became my favorite as well. The story is original and really charming: After her big brothers play a prank involving an extremely loud radio, Jenny finds she’s able to hear people’s thoughts. Over the course of the book Jenny uses her new power to cheat on a game show (by “listening” to the answers) and raise money to save a neighborhood park, among other funny adventures. It’s a book I’ve recommended on many occasions, because it still has its appeal even 50 years after it was written.” –Avery

A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L’Engle; From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E. L. Konigsburg; Beautiful Joe, Margaret Marshall Saunders

Mixed-Up Files was a sort of uber-Boomer-kid thing—published around the same time as Harriet the Spy. Beautiful Joe, I just found out, was written in 1893! I had a paper-over-board version someone gave me as a gift—it might be the original anti-animal cruelty story.” –Bruce

Nancy Drew mysteries: Ramona, Age 8, Beverly Cleary; All The Babysitter’s Club books (obviously); Anastasia Krupnik, Lois Lowry; From the MixedUp Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E. L. Konigsburg


“When I was six, my dad would read me a chapter from a Nancy Drew book before bed. They always ended on these intense cliff hangers (Oh no! Nancy’s sporty coupe was cut off by a truck–will she crash? Oh no! Carson Drew’s seaplane looks like it’s in trouble–will he crash?!).  My dad would be nodding off and I’d be like: DON’T STOP.” –Maisie

The Complete Illustrated Stories of Hans Christian Anderson, Hans Christian Anderson

“I’d read the sad tales over and over, particularly The Snow Queen and Little Match Girl.”  –Netta

Momo and The Never Ending Story, Michael Ende.

“If you’ve only seen the movie, you’ve only just begun.” –Netta

Every book by Lois Duncan

“I thought that if I practiced enough I would develop ESP. I’m getting close.” –Netta

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