‘Where do you want to go?” (by book)

Hello again, Paul here.  In my “Back to School” post, I discussed how important reading was to me growing up.  I also asked you, the reader, to tell us your favorite children’s books.  I want to thank everyone that stopped by, read the post, commented, and tweeted.  There were some excellent recommendations for entertaining books to read during the upcoming school year.  In case you missed the post, you can read it here.  We (Sher and I) thought it would be great to take it one step further and discuss your recommendations.  Let’s get to some of the responses. We’re saving others for the next post.


Lisa Tortorello, author of Lisa Tortorello ~ Teacher and Author blog, left a great comment.  She reads aloud to her students, just like my fifth grade teacher, no matter what grade she teaches.  This is fantastic.  I talked about reading to the class in my last post, so you know how I feel about that.  Ms. Tortorello also listed two of her student’s favorite books.  One is There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom and the other is Sideways Stories from Wayside School, both by author Louis Sachar.  I admit that I am only familiar with Holes by Sachar, and I have only seen the movie.  Interestingly enough, though, I had a conversation with a co-worker of mine the other day after he read my latest post.  He is quite a few years younger than I am and he informed me that Louis Sachar was his favorite author growing up.  I have added Holes already to my “to read” list on Goodreads and plan on adding the other two as well.  I just reserved There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom from my local library. However, if you’d like to buy any of the books pictured in this post, just click on the cover and a new tab will open to Amazon.

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These are great suggestions, but as great as they are, they are not the best part of Ms. Tortorello’s comment.  The best part, in my opinion, is the fact that a former student of hers reminds her all the time what an impact Ms. Tortorello had on her by reading books to the class.  Guess what?  That former student is now a colleague of hers, and she reads some of the very same stories to her class!  How great is that?  I hope those students realize just how fortunate they are to have such great teachers.  I’d like to give a great big round of applause to Ms. Tortorello and her former student for their hard work and for reading to their students. Hopefully this will foster a lifelong love for reading, but if not, at least it may give those children some fun and entertainment. 


Cynthia, author of Read is the New Black blog, weighed in with some real classics as well.  She listed Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books as some of her favorites. Great Ramona titles include Beezus and Ramona, Ramona and her Father, and many, many more.  Open up a Ramona book and you are transported to Klickitat Street in Portland, Oregon.  Judy Blume is another author that Cynthia mentions.  Who can forget what happens to Andrew when he mixes up the ingredients in Freckle Juice?  A couple more authors Cynthia included were Lois Duncan, author of Hotel for Dogs, and Christopher Pike, author of kid lit classics Slumber Party, Weekend, and Chain Letter.  Thanks so much for your input, Cynthia.

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I’d like to discuss a few of my childhood favorites with you as well.  I mentioned my love for J.R.R. Tolkien in my last post, but that came a little later for me. The first books that I remember falling in love with were the Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective series (also mentioned by Cynthia), by Donald Sobol (who, sadly, we recently lost).  I loved these books.  Encyclopedia is a great character.  He is sooo smart and he has his own detective agency.  I remember wishing that I could set up shop in my garage, use fingerprinting kits and solve mysteries.  I did have my own chemistry set once, but I don’t think we should bring that up in case my Mom is reading (better not to remind her of how that turned out).  I was not able to set up my own detective agency, but at least I had my Encyclopedia Brown books to take me away to a world where he did.

Another of my favorite book series was The Three Investigators by Robert Arthur.  I loved these books.  They are definitely “boy” books, but they’re great.  I loved Jupiter Jones and his crew.  They had the coolest fort in Jupiter’s uncle’s junkyard.  There were multiple entrances (some secret) and they used items from the junk yard to furnish their really cool HQ.  I didn’t have a family member with a junkyard, but a bunch of us neighborhood kids used every scrap of junk we could find to build a fort.  It wasn’t as good as the Three Investigators, but in our minds it was still great.

I have really enjoyed writing this post.  I hope that you enjoy reading it.  I still read a lot of these books today.  I am rereading the first Encyclopedia Brown book and it is just as great today as it was then.  It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by the Russian writer Maxim Gorky. “You must write for children the same way you write for adults, only better.” I love that quote, and I love all the responses we received.  What great books! Whether you’re reading just for fun, for a stable, settling influence, or to escape the otherwise stressful and uncertain world, I only have one question. “Where do you want to go?”


With all these great book recommendations, you’ll have to decide if you want to go to Middle Earth, Wayside School, Idaville, Klickitat St, or somewhere else.  Thanks everyone for stopping by to read my post and for taking the time to provide excellent feedback.  Until next time, keep reading.  Feel free to leave a comment about any of the books discussed or tell me your favorites that we are missing out on.

Share A Heart

Indie author-friendly freelance editor, children's book blogger for picture books through YA, kid lit, SF/fantasy lover with special fondness for middle grade, pun-loving SCBWI member, meter-maid for poetry and rhyming picture books.


  1. You’re so welcome. =) I think the appeal of Encyclopedia Brown for me back then was seeing a kid my age being able to solve “grown-up” problems and mysteries….I also mentioned There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom in a very recent post on my blog.

  2. Thanks again Cynthia! You’re so right about Encyclopedia Brown. Here is this youngster solving the toughest crimes and mysteries in Idaville. How neat is it to read about the Chief of Police (his dad) going over mysteries with his son at the diner table (Family diners, who knew?). I can’t wait to read There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom! Have a great day!

    Paul R. Hewlett

  3. I was away for the weekend and didn’t do much computing. It was a pleasure sharing my reading experiences here. Seeing Judy Blume’s name brought back many memories of how much I enjoyed reading her books when I was growing up. For some reason, Lois Lowry came to mind as well. I have enjoyed many of her stories from Number the Stars, to the Giver, to The Silent Boy.

    And I can’t believe I forgot to mention Flowers for Algernon. I read that book for the first time when I was in high school and continued reading it when I taught 8th grade. I was so impressed with the book that I read a follow-up by Daniel Keyes entitled Algernon, Charlie, and I and in it Keyes shared how much of himself was actually part of the story and how what was purely science fiction when he first wrote the book has somewhat changed over the years.

    I can go on and on, but I’ll leave with a quote from Harper Lee, “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

    How wonderful it wold be if every child could have such a passion for reading!

  4. Ooops…”would” I should have used spell-check 🙂

  5. Thanks Lisa for the great suggestions! More great reads for me to check out. I love that quote! How very true it is. I hope that you had a great weekend. Does school start soon? My sister-in-law in a 4th grade teacher and she starts Monday. Have a great day and best of luck in the upcoming school year.


  6. Nice article, thanks for sharing.

  7. Thank you so much for stopping by. I appreciate your comment. I hope you stop by again. Have a great day!

    Paul R. Hewlett

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  9. Holes is such an amazing book! I hope you enjoy it. I have read a few of his other books, too. I loved Judy Blume books growing up and Ramona is one of my all time favorite characters. I need to read The Three Investigators series!

  10. Thanks for the comment! I can’t wait to read Holes. I loved the movie. Judy Blume is great too. I haven’t read that many, but I plan to. I would love to hear what you think of the Three Investigators when you get a chance to read them. I always preferred them to the Hardy Boys. Have a great day:)


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