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Before Harry Potter: 3 Great Books Your Kids Don't Know Yet (page 2)

Before Harry Potter: 3 Great Books Your Kids Don

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Updated on May 5, 2010

Tom's Midnight Garden, by Philippa Pearce. Published in 1959. Ages 8-11.

Why she likes it: "The British critic John Rowe Townsend considers this the greatest British novel written since World War II. But of the 100 Best Books for Children, this is the one book that the most people are unfamiliar with. This is a great read-aloud family book. And for adults, it remains one of those rare children's books that can be read in every decade of life with a deeper understanding and appreciation."

The Hundred Dresses, by Eleanor Estes. Published in 1944. Ages 7-9.

Why she likes it: "This is a book typical of the 1940s. It's obviously old fashioned, and yet the theme of bullying, of being an outsider in class, and of children's ultimate responsibility to one another, is timeless. Encountering this book again took my breath away. It could have been written in 2007. That's because Estes stayed true to the essence of childhood. Fashion changes, but those things that are inherent to childhood don't change."

My Father's Dragon, by Ruth Stiles. Published in 1948. Ages 7-9.

Why she likes it: "In this fanciful book, 9-year-old Elmer Elevator travels to distant Wild Island to free a baby dragon enslaved by wild animals. This is one of the books that I tell parents not to miss, that they often have missed in their child's younger years. It's just magic with a child in this age group. And you could read it easily to a kindergartener, because it's a series of adventures."

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