The 90s was the best time to be a kid. Pokemon, Tamagotchis, Furbies and dial up. OK, not that last one, but most of it was awesome. With the internet still in its infancy, and smart phones a distant glimmer on the horizon, we had so much more time to read.
Not only were the 90s an epic period for childhood but for being young bookworms. This decade was full of fantastic books that eventually turned into children’s classics, and some that were already classics. We read so much we got told off in class and stayed up all night finishing our books. If you grew up in the 90s, prepare for a serious nostalgia trip. Here are the top 7 books that 90s kids loved growing up.
The Northern Lights
For many of us, The Northern Lights was our first fantasy book. Following the adventures of Lyra, a brave, young girl with a keen sense of justice, many a growing girl found their own bravery in a world as corrupt as hers. We were enraptured by the magic of Dust and the characters’ animal companions – their daemons. The first in the trilogy of His Dark Materials, The Northern Lights turned many a 90s fledgling bookworm into a hard-core fantasy fan.
The Goosebumps Series
Who didn’t love this series? This was another first for us: our first time regretting reading by torchlight under the covers after dark. From ghosts to mummies and evil gnomes, these books had us listening for every creaking floorboard after the sun went down. Our parents may not have enjoyed sharing their beds with us those nights we got really scared, but for us, it was worth it. We’ve never been able to look at dummies quite the same since 1999.
Fantastic Mr Fox
Few children’s authors have stood the test of time as well as Roald Dahl. Although it was published in 1970, children continue to read his books today. But none loved them quite as much as 90s kids.
Out of all of Dahl’s timeless classics, Fantastic Mr Fox is a real standout. A craft fox who, in an effort to feed his family gets caught up in his own ambition to outsmart three greedy farmers to the point where his family and friends are digging for their lives. It is a tale we will always remember, even if Mr Fox no longer has his (spoiler alert.)
Our greatest lesson from Mr Fox was to always aim high, but to know when to stop. Our enemies aren’t always as stupid as we hope they are.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
You had to know this one was coming. An absolute powerhouse today, the Harry Potter series started with The Philosopher’s Stone in 1997 and as kids, we jumped on it like ants on fallen cake. Magic, a school of witchcraft and wizardry, and an 11 year old we all wanted to befriend, we couldn’t get enough of the Harry Potter world.
90s kids can take almost sole credit for spawning a fandom that exploded the franchise in so many exciting ways. Now we have Harry Potter world, the Warner Brothers Studios tour and more merchandise than we know what to do with. Could we prouder? Doubt it!
Moving cities that eat each other? Yes, please! Mortal Engines was first published in 2001, but us 90s kids were all over it. Set thousands of years in the future, when historians believe we worshipped Mickey Mouse as a deity, cities are mobile, and they’re gobbling each other up.
Mortal Engines introduced 90s kids to their first taste of dystopia, and the cruelties of a dog-eat-dog society. Protagonist Hester Shaw was the first facially disfigured character we had ever met and we felt her struggles of living in a society that mocked her and deemed her lesser because of her scars. We learned empathy, bravery and sacrifice from a book that helped shape the dystopian genre as we know it today.
OK, this one was a guilty pleasure. You remember how satisfying it was watching the mean kid get told off by a grown-up? That kind of guilty pleasure.
Doing crazy things when we were kids often meant we got into big trouble, but there was no need to when we could read Horrid Henry instead. This series channelled our inner rebels and gave us an outlet that wouldn’t land us either grounded or losing computer privileges. (What do you mean no Habbo Hotel for a week?) Sometimes, Henry would serve as an inspiration for our own mischief, though we couldn’t pull it off nearly as well. Terrible a child as he is, we can’t help but love him for his determination to cause mayhem.
The Story of Tracy Beaker
Author Jacqueline Wilson has produced dozens of introspective children’s books which never shied away from the hard-hitting issues experienced by children, and it all started with a young girl called Tracy Beaker.
Tracy was angry and hurt child, frequently let down by the adults who cared for her, but she was inventive, pro-active and highly imaginative. Like many of us, she struggled to make friends and couldn’t always make sense of the world she was in, so she made it her own. Despite her hardships, her personality blossomed and we loved her for it. As well as touching our hearts, Tracy inspired an entire generation of girls to shout “bog off!” to their problems.
Us 90s kids had some fantastic books to choose from while we were growing up, and there was little better than curling up on those rainy days with one of these books to have our minds thoroughly blown. One thing is for certain: these books will definitely be found on our children’s bookshelves in the years to come.