So I still remember the first time I ever got one of those Scholastic Book Fair brochures. If we can even call them that? That flimsy, almost tissue paper listing all the books one could order before the fair was set up in the library for a week. It was kindergarten and I was on the verge of becoming the middle child. I think that is the only reason my mom let me fuck around and get a couple of books; ‘Chicka Chicka Boom Boom’ and Eric Carle’s classic, ‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?’
Since then nothing has ever been as thrilling as the week Scholastic rolls into school. The level of excitement I’d feel during that time was insane. The smell…omfg, the smell of the library went from dusty to invigorating thanks to all those fresh books posted up, the assortment of erasers on the desk for sale, the cardboard posters of fancy cars and kittens ready to be bought. Life was good. It was also chaotic as fuck when a popular book series was afoot. For my generation, it was ‘Goosebumps’. I’m shocked I was not shanked over a copy of ‘Monster Blood’ back in the day.
However, as wild as the Scholastic Book Fair got at times – I love to see it. There is something truly special about being able to get kids and teens excited about sitting their asses down and reading and for that, I’m forever grateful for the following book crush series. Even if some spawned some insane ass movies, or others were penned by complete psychopaths. They all inspired people to ride the reading rainbow.
The Boxcar Children
The oldest on the list, ‘The Boxcar Children’ series, dates back to 1924. Yes, you read that right. Now, this is not a series I ever messed with. It was before my time and to be honest, I thought it was about a group of orphans who lived on an abandoned train. Not the case – at all. It’s about a group of siblings and their adventures.
Sweet Valley High
‘Sweet Valley High’ played on the Valley Girl mentality of the ‘80s like no other and came out at a glorious time for teen-centric books. It even garnered a show in the ‘90s and while it remains one of those pop culture moments – it’s also a series that was pretty niche. People loved it but it wasn’t as grand as some of the others on the list. Also, if you want to learn more about it, and other teen books, check out ‘Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of ’80s and ’90s Teen Fiction.’
So ‘Captain Underpants’ was at the tail end of my time with Scholastic Book Fairs and I distinctly remember one boy, in particular, going WILD for these during middle school. The series eventually got a movie, but it seemed like too much time had passed between then and its initial popularity but somewhere out there is a bunch of people in their late 30s who have fond memories of this one.
The Hunger Games
As I told Lala Loves in our chat, I had NO IDEA ‘The Hunger Games’ was a book series. I thought it was a reality show similar to ‘Road Rules.’ Yeah, I was wrong and 100% missed out on this craze some years ago.
The school library when I was in elementary had at least six of the ‘American Girl’ collections, and I read every single one of them. Which, not a big deal looking back because the font was huge and they were probably like 100 pages (if that) long. Nevertheless, I adored every girl’s stories and wanted nothing more than for my mom to order me one of their outfits out of the catalog but we were 1. Too broke and 2. I was too big to fit into any of those “my size” ensembles. That’s the thing though, American Girl went on to be more than a series – it became a fucking empire.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Not an empire like the above, but a series that I feel is as timeless as they come. Who doesn’t champion the underdog? So while I’ve never read the books – I have seen all the original movies, minus the ones where they switched out the kids for lesser versions, and OMG – it reminded me of those kids’ movies from the 90s; chaotic, cheesy, but overall charming. While I’ve never read them – my nephew loved them, and he was born five years after the first book even dropped.
The Baby-Sitters Club
Long before the Spice Girls taught us to scream “Girl Power” from the rooftops, Ann M. Martin was laying the foundation with ‘The Baby-Sitters Club.’ A series about a group of girls, each one relatable in one way or another to the readers, who are legit entrepreneurs? Okay, work. Not only was/is this series a constant for the preteen experience as it’s been reissued for decades now, but it’s spawned two TV series and a movie. Like I said earlier this week when talking about Logan Bruno, it’s a damn shame Netflix canceled the latest series because man oh man, every generation deserves these tales. At least kids can always pick up the books though.
To me, ‘Twilight’ is too damn much but there has to be a reason why it was a pop culture moment. People flocked to theaters for the movies, but not before many actually hit bookstores and read the source material. For that, respect.
Not until the next book series on this list had a series made readers so fucking rabid…
Despite the author being a piece of shit, Harry Potter remains a huge part of our pop culture lexicon. Even if you’ve never read a word or seen a second of one of the many films, you fucking know who and what Harry Potter is about. I truly believe that those before me had ‘Star Wars’ and my generation had this motherfucking wizard. It’s on that level and it all started with a love of reading.