If you were a kid in the ’90s, chances were you were treated to such delights as Rugrats, Baby Bottle Pops, fanny packs everywhere (did you know they’re back in style?), and the Spice Girls. Maybe you spent most of your days at the local elementary school and, when library day came around, you were psyched! You headed straight to your favorite paperback series or maybe nonfiction on horses—I mean, is there anything else in the world worth knowing about? There wasn’t for nine-year-old me. And now, nearly 20 years since the last of the ’90s, it’s time to look back at some of those great children’s books from the ’90s. But remember: only ’90s kids will remember these books from the ’90s.
Frindle by Andrew Clements
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet—or would it? Nick Allen has recently discovered the world of linguistics, which brings him to creating a new word for what we call a pen. That word? Frindle. Such a simple thing couldn’t throw a whole town—a whole country—out of whack, could it?
Bluish by Virginia Hamilton
With blue-tinted skin, Natalie is the only girl in her class who uses a wheelchair, the only girl in class getting chemotherapy treatments, and the only girl in class with cancer. When Dreenie takes a chance and befriends Natalie despite their differences, Natalie gains the new nickname of Bluish and Dreenie, a friend. But fifth grade is tough enough without navigating a serious childhood illness—how will the girls make this work?
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
A baby fruit bat learning the ways of life, Stellaluna is separated from her mother. Before long, she finds comfort with a family of birds. While the birds are a bit strange in their ways—wiggly worms for dinner? Ew!—they are kind and welcoming. Still, Stellaluna yearns to be reunited with her mother as she learns about birds, bats, and the world around her.
Welcome to Dead House by R.L. Stine
Siblings Amanda and Josh aren’t so sure about the new house their parents have moved their family into. There’s something not quite right about it, and even other parts of the town seem off. Soon, Amanda and Josh discover the town of Dark Falls is haunted. Now, if only their parents would believe them.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
Kenny and his family are about to go on the trip of a lifetime. Driving from the relative comfort of the north to Birmingham, Alabama to visit Grandma, the Watsons—especially the kids—don’t quite know what to expect. But it’s 1963 and racism is alive and well.
Holes by Louis Sachar*
*Okay, so this one was published in 2000. But bear with me. In Holes, our hero adolescent is Stanley Yelnats, whose family has been followed by a curse for as long as family memory serves. Stanley is pretty sure this curse is what landed him in a juvenile correctional facility called Camp Green Lake, where he and other boys are tasked with digging holes five feet wide by five feet deep. The counselors say it builds character. But is that all? Stanley is about to find out.
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
When this came out from the bookshelf at school, you knew you were in for a good time. The ocean is home to many beautiful creatures but none so lovely as the Rainbow Fish. With his blue-purple-green scales and shiny silver scales tucked between, he swims through the ocean without a care until it’s clear others dislike him. How will the Rainbow Fish make friends? (The morals and methods of The Rainbow Fish are, in retrospect, questionable. Revisit at your own risk.)
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Jonas has never known anything but his utopian society where lifetime jobs are assigned and the world is black-and-white—literally. When Jonas is told he’s going to be a Receiver of Memory, he isn’t sure what to expect. But his world is about to be turned upside down.
Meet Addy: An American Girl by Connie Porter
One of the American Girl classics, Addy Walker was born into slavery. In her introductory story, she works to escape even when the perils could be fatal. With help along the way and a determined spirit, Addy makes the dangerous journey north. Will her family be whole on the other side? And what awaits in the north?
Did we miss any of your favorite nostalgic books from the ’90s? Let us know in the comments!