Classic YA/MG Readalongs!

January 14, 2014 2014, fantasy, readalong, Wendy 84

classic ya mg the midnight garden

Are there classics you’ve always wanted to read, or favorites you’ve wanted to revisit? Our list is a mile long, so as we previously mentioned, this year we thought it’d be fun to read them with you!

As bloggers, we chase so many shiny new books that it’s easy to forget that there are lots of amazing books that have withstood the test of time. One of my personal goals for the year is to read more for pleasure, and as Kate pointed out, it’s also great to choose books that are readily available at the library for all of us to experience together.

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Classic YA Readalong: February 2014

Beginning in February, we’ll discuss one classic or middle grade title on the last Friday of each month. We’ll also have a #tmgreadalong hashtag so that we can discuss all of the books on Twitter throughout the month.

The first book we’ve chosen for this readalong is Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass. It’s a special favorite of several of the ladies here at The Midnight Garden, and the perfect thing to read in the middle of a snowy winter. Whether you’re rereading the book or tackling it for the first time, everyone is welcome! The ebook and paperback are only around $5 on Amazon at the moment, though I think I’m going to be trying out the audiobook version this time around. According to my friend Bonnie, the author is the narrator and I think there’s also a full cast, too.

13510575Title:                            The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1)
Author:                        Philip Pullman
Amazon Links:            Kindle ebook and paperback
Discussion Date:         Friday, February 28th
Hashtag:                     #tmgreadalong

Lyra Belacqua is content to run wild among the scholars of Jordan College, with her daemon familiar always by her side. But the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle—a struggle born of Gobblers and stolen children, witch clans and armored bears. And as she hurtles toward danger in the cold far North, Lyra never suspects the shocking truth: she alone is destined to win, or to lose, this more-than-mortal battle.

Philip Pullman’s award-winning The Golden Compass is a masterwork of storytelling and suspense, critically acclaimed and hailed as a modern fantasy classic.

Lyra is one of the most unforgettable heroines in literature, so we hope you’ll join us for this dashing adventure! THERE ARE WARRIOR ICE BEARS, people. I mean, c’mon, how can you resist that?

After we discuss the book on the 28th, we’ll also be inviting you vote on the book we should read in April. (We’ve already pre-chosen March so that we can keep things moving along.) Write-in suggestions are welcome in the comments below, which we’ll discuss internally for interest on our end, although we’ve already come up with a really fun mix of books to choose from, too.


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2014 Classic YA/MG Challenge

We’re challenging ourselves to read more classics this year, so if you’d like to do the same, please feel free to grab the button below. (I wish there were some sort of challenge widget thingy we could use for this–if anyone knows of a good WordPress plugin, please let me know.)

classics challengeYour commitment:

  • read at least 8 classic YA or MG books in 2014 (does not necessarily have to be the ones we read here, although obviously we’d love for you to join us when you can!)
  • discuss them with us here at The Midnight Garden monthly (you can tell us what you’re reading in our classic readalong posts)
  • post reviews on your blog or GoodReads to spread the word to others
  • post this button on your blog and link back to us —–>

We’re loosely defining classics on the basis of the following criteria: publication date, award recognition, long-lasting appeal, acknowledgments as standouts in the genre, etc. Although honestly we have at least one pick that’s going to just because it’s so darned fun, too.

Those who complete the challenge will be entered into a drawing for a special bookish prize at the end of the year. We may have occasional goodies for other participants in our monthly discussions, too!

2014 is going to be fun, my friends. We hope you’ll join us in embracing more classics this year.


Wendy signature teal




84 Responses to “Classic YA/MG Readalongs!”

  1. Angie

    I am not sure how this slipped past me until now (I am totally blaming the chaos of moving) but I am all over this. This is the perfect “excuse” to reread Anne of Green Gables. Such a wonderful idea.

    • Wendy Darling

      Yes, of course Juli! All the information you need is above. :)

      The next book we’re reading as a group is HARRIET THE SPY (discussion 9/26 on the blog, or you can talk about it on Twitter with us using hashtag #tmgreadalong), please join if you can! If you’d prefer to read classics on your own, just keep track of what you’re reading and reviewing. Do you think you can read/have read 8 by the end of the year? More updated info is at the bottom of our last discussion, too:

      But even if you don’t finish the challenge, we’d still love to have you participate. :) Let me know if you have any questions.

      • Wendy Darling

        Oh, I’m glad you figured it out, E! Sorry I wasn’t around earlier to answer, it’s been pretty nutty here. Look forward to chatting all things Westing Game with you on Friday! :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Well, look at you all prepared! I”m glad you already have a copy of Anne in hand and will be joining us for the discussion here on 4/25. :) Don’t forget to use the hashtag #tmgreadalong if you feel like talking about it on Twitter, too. Look forward to discussing with you!

  2. Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

    Here I am, late to the party again — but I’m definitely in. Looking forward to jumping in with Anne & then Meg! And I think there are re-reads of The Little White Horse, Linnets and Valerians, The Secret Garden, The Perilous Gard, and The Sherwood Ring in my future — to name just a few! And perhaps Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising trilogy as well.
    Lark @ The Bookwyrm’s Hoard recently posted…Sunday Post – 4/06/14

    • Wendy Darling

      Thanks again for posting about the readalongs on your site, Lark! I need to stop by and visit you soon, it’s been a little nutty over here.

      I was JUST thinking about The Secret Garden today–spring always brings it to mind. :) I need to reread The Dark is Rising sometime, too–I haven’t read it since I was little. So excited to have you joining the challenge and Anne/Meg readalongs!

    • Wendy Darling

      Absolutely not, E! Please do join us! Basically, to join the classics challenge, you just want to read any 8 classic YA or MG books before the end of the year, and then tell us about it.

      I’d also LOVE it if you’d join us for THE LUCKIEST GIRL readalong/discussion, which is our March book. We’re talking about it on March 28th. :) It’s a lovely retro read, and such a nice slice of Americana. (Even for those of us who live here and didn’t grow up in that era!)

      • E

        Great – thank you so much! What a fun challenge! And I’ll see if I can get hold of THE LUCKIEST GIRL and read it by March 28th (my to-read pile is dangerously large…). I’ve never heard of it – must be an American classic rather than British, so it’ll be interesting for me.

        Thank you!!

        PS I’m reading Second Star and thank you so much for reading it – you’re the reason I requested it on NetGalley when I saw you were reading it. Loving it so far!
        E recently posted…Happy Birthday Coombe Cottages and co and GIVEAWAY!

      • leia

        i’m sorry to bother you but,i would like to join you. how do i do that please?

        • Wendy Darling

          Leia–you’re welcome to join any of our readalongs! Most discussions take place here on the blog on the last Friday of each month.

          September HARRIET THE SPY

          Just read the book and drop by the blog to discuss it with us! And if you post your own review on GoodReads or your own blog, be sure to link us to it so we can visit that, too.

          If you’d like to officially join the MG/YA challenge and be eligible for prizes at the end of the year, just post the challenge button on our sidebar (third up from the bottom) and complete at least 8 books by the end of the year.

          • leia

            thank you you have been VERY helpful. i will reccomend all my friends to this site


  3. Diane

    I’m super excited to have found this read-along and other readers who love YA/Middle Grade books as much as I do.
    I read the Golden Compass series several years ago and have seen the Golden Compass movie a few times so I’m familiar with the story even though I won’t be able to read it this month. Can’t wait to see what the choice is for March.
    Thanks for this opportunity.

    • Wendy Darling

      Hi Diane! I’m so glad you love TGC as much as we do. You’re absolutely still welcome to join in the discussion with us tomorrow, even if you didn’t specifically read along with us. :)

      I’m glad you found us!

  4. Nevey Berry

    I would love to join but currently I have only Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking glass in my mind but what else is there to read?

  5. Michelle

    Count me in! This is a fabulous idea and just the motivation I need to read the books everyone else seems to have read ;) One of my reading goals this year is to get through the mountains of books I’ve purchased but not read as well as catching up on some classics (both adult and YA/MG) so this fits in perfectly – and I can discuss with other bloggers which is always fun! It’s definitely easy to get caught up in all the shiny new books, so I think it will be good to take the pressure off myself and just enjoy reading whatever I want :)
    Michelle recently posted…Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

    • Wendy Darling

      Ah, I hope we can help you get through that goal, Michelle. :) I have huge piles of books I’ve purchased by haven’t gotten around to reading either, it’ll be interesting to see if any of them end up in the list of the ones we’ll tackle.

      Thanks for sharing the readalong badge on your blog, too!

  6. Sunny

    Oh man. This sounds so fun and I love that you all are doing this! I always get so nervous at readalongs though, but I know that I should read The Golden Compass sometime.
    Sunny recently posted…10 Steps of Fangirling

    • Kate Bond

      Oh, you MUST read Golden Compass, whether you do it with us or not!

      And this is a pretty low-stress readalong–not like our Book Thief one, where we had to read a huge chunk of book each week.
      Kate Bond recently posted…Dress the Part: Cress

    • Wendy Darling

      Hooray! I’m glad your library had a copy, and I love that you’re going to be joining us, Lucy! I’m so looking forward to this. And ooo, I see you have Lucy Christopher guesting for you today, I must come visit to find out what that’s all about. My ARC never arrived, sadly, but I’d still like to read it anyway.

    • Wendy Darling

      I am excited that you are excited! I’m so glad you’re going to join us. And apparently, all this was just MEANT TO BE. :) Look forward to chatting about the book–and we’ll be on the lookout for any emergency feeeeeelings that need to be discussed on Twitter!

  7. Savannah

    This is such a great idea. I have been wanting to read The Golden Compass as well as other books such as City Of Ember, The Secret Garden, and so many other classics that I want to dive into.
    Savannah recently posted…Review: Ruins

    • Wendy Darling

      I originally had The Secret Garden on our list, but I didn’t know if people would want to do that one so I took it off! It’s such a lovely book, though, and so perfect for spring reading.

      I’ve always meant to read City of Ember, too. I’ve had a copy forever, I’m ashamed that I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

      • Stacy Renee @ LazyDayLiterature

        The Secret Garden is one of my favorite books. I’d re-read every year if I could fit it in.

        I really love this idea. I was planning on reading some classic children’s books this year anyway. Matilda. Little House on the Prairie. Mary Poppins.
        I wasn’t planning on it previously, but I think I just may re-read The Golden Compass with you all as it was my favorite for years but I haven’t re-read it in over a decade. :)

        • Wendy Darling

          Ah, I’ll add it to the mix and see if we get votes on it! I love that book too, I try to reread it every few years during the spring.

          I’m so glad you’re excited about these readalongs–I am, too! I reread some of the Little House books around the holidays every year. I talk about those so much elsewhere (GoodReads, Twitter, Instagram) that I decided not to torture people with it here, though. At least not this year. ;)

          I hope you will join us for Golden Compass if you can. I’m really looking forward to revisiting it again. DAEMONS! <3

  8. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    Oooh darn. I am already hosting a read-along in Feb meaning I’ll have little time to actually participate in one. Hmm…but I really want to dig into The Golden Compass! It would be fitting since Kate got the series for me as well.

    Is it just the first book? If yes, then I will participate. *fingers crossed*
    Melanie (YA Midnight Reads) recently posted…Review: Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

  9. Jools

    I’m in! I’m aiming for at least another 300 books this year and I definitely want to read more classics. I’ve been itching to reread The Phantom Tollbooth and the Wrinkle In Time series. I’ve yet to read His Dark Materials, it tends to get bad reviews in the conservative community I grew up in, but I’ve been wanting to read it for ages. I just read…er listened… my way through Pullman’s Sally Lockhart series and that was quite entertaining, so I’m definitely up for more of his work. I just need to get my hands on a copy. Is this going to be a week by week thing or are we just discussing it on the date?
    Jools recently posted…Author Interview: Becca Campbell

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh ho! ONE of the two titles you’ve been itching to reread is on the list. :) I’m glad you’ll be joining us for this challenge, and for this book in particular! It’s such a beautiful story, and I’m sure you’ll see why it’s been hailed as a modern classic.

      I quite like the Sally Lockhart books, too. I listened to the first two books on audio last year, and they were just as fun as I remember them being. I do have a soft spot for that time period, England, and mysteries, though.

      And we are doing one big discussion here on the blog on February 28th, BUT if you use the hashtag #tmgreadalong on Twitter, the ladies and I (and hopefully other participants) will be chatting online about the book as we read, too!

        • Jools

          Yes. The first Sally was great, the second and third did get weird and you’re right bout the death. They just weren’t as good as the first. The fourth, The Tin Princess, which doesn’t feature Sally very prominently was pretty good though.
          Jools recently posted…Author Interview: Becca Campbell

      • Jools

        Ooo! How exciting. I’m guessing it’s A Wrinkle In Time. I’m really looking forward to this challenge.

        Did you listen to/read the 4th book in the series? The Tin Princess. It doesn’t feature Sally very prominently, but that and the first one are my favorites of the series.

        Great. I’ll have to save that as a hashtag search so I can participate. Maybe I’ll read a copy and then listen to the audio book too, especially if it has a full cast!
        Jools recently posted…Author Interview: Becca Campbell

  10. Heidi Schulz

    I vote for Harriet the Spy, which I have never gotten around to reading, Mary Poppins, which I love, and Flowers in the Attic, for melodrama. This is so fun!

    • Wendy Darling

      Harriet was one of the first books I put down, and I think we are going to do it! I can’t believe you’ve never read it, it is HILARIOUS and you will love it. She’s extremely suspicious and bad-tempered, it’s glorious.

      I adore Mary Poppins as well, I wish we’d done a readalong before Saving Mr. Banks came out. And you know, I tried to read Flowers in the Attic when I was probably too young, but I love crazy melodrama so I am definitely watching that Lifetime movie! We do have a really good campy, so-bad-it’s-good pick on the docket, though.

    • Wendy Darling

      I am SO glad that we are snagging you newbies! This book means the world to me, so it’s truly a joy to be sharing this with you guys. Please use the hashtag as you’re reading/tweeting so we can follow along with the parts you’ve gotten to, I wish I could experience it for the first time all over again.

      And clever boyfriend you have there! Anyone who has such good taste is definitely a keeper. ;)

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, readalongs are so much fun! At least, they are with the right company. ;) Ahem.

      GOLDEN COMPASS still shakes me to the core whenever I read certain scenes, and this is one of those few books that truly…changed me as well, both as a reader and as a sentient human being. So yes, please–we’d love for you to join us if you can! It’s always so much better to talk about books with people who love something as much as you do.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh yay! I hope you’ll be able to join us for this one, Candace–it’s such a beautiful book, with so much material for discussion, too. I will keep my fingers crossed that you aren’t too busy!

    • Wendy Darling

      Hey Rebecca! Definitely come back in February to vote on the March book, and so and and so forth. :)

      We tried to loosely define classics in the post above (right by the reading challenge button at the end); age-wise I think we’re talking 20 years old at least, unless it’s pretty universally recognized (through awards, broad appeal, etc) as being a book that will probably stick around for generations, such as Harry Potter or The Book Thief or something like that. Does that make sense?

      I’m not really planning on playing the Classics Police, but you can always ask–it’s mostly up to your judgment whether you think something really qualifies. The only time I’ll probably check anything is when we pick a winner for the drawing at the end of the year.

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m horrible at challenges too, but I figured if WE hosted it I have to commit, hah. I’ve actually only officially participated in one previous one (Aussie books a couple of years ago), I keep telling myself I’m always on the lookout for debut authors and LGBT and such anyway, but I’m too lazy to actually track things. This one seems fairly easy, though.

      Can you believe I’ve never read 101 Dalmatians? I’ve had a copy forever but have never gotten around to it.

  11. Marlene

    Wendy, this is such a wonderful idea! Actually, one of my goals this year is to revisit classics, so this is PERFECT! Though I never committed to a # of books or anything of the sort, my goal was to simply make an effort. With this kind of structure, I know I can’t lose! I’m SO in! Plus, I own the Golden Compass already, but I haven’t read it yet. Was this meant to be? I think so. :)

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review
    Marlene recently posted…Feels Like the First Time…Heather’s Top Ten-ish 2014 Debuts

    • Wendy Darling

      Marlene! I am thrilled that our goals dovetail with yours so nicely. :D This was all just written in the stars, it seems.

      I cannot wait for you to discover the loveliness of this book. Cannot WAIT. It’s full of thrilling, chilling adventures but so much depth of feeling as well. <3 Very excited that you're going to be joining us for this challenge and this book!

  12. Nemo @ the Moonlight Library

    The audio version of Northern Lights really is amazing. I’ve listened to it twice in its entirety and bawled my eyes out on commute. It is indeed read by the author with a full cast, but the author doesn’t use monotone and can actually inflect and make it sound interesting, unlike a lot of other author-read audiobooks. The full cast is amazing, too. It’s one of my very favourite audiobooks. Enjoy!
    Nemo @ the Moonlight Library recently posted…Top Ten 2014 Debuts I’m Excited For (62)

    • Wendy Darling

      That is so wonderful to hear, Nemo–thank you for telling me all this! I can imagine his reading voice is probably lovely, and I’m glad to hear the audiobook as a whole is so good.

      Are you following him on Twitter, by the way? I was flabbergasted when he joined a few months ago, and he actually TWEETS. Weird things sometimes, but every time one shows up on in my feed I sort of look at it in awe. It’s like Ray Bradbury tweeting or something–one of the few authors with a profound impact on my emotional reading life.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oooo, I am pleased as punch that we’ve persuaded you to join us! It seems like one of those books a lot of people have been meaning to read but just haven’t gotten around to yet. I think–and sincerely hope–you’re going to find that the fuss over this book is completely deserved.

  13. Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings

    OH, this is SUCH a great idea! I love it, Wendy! Plus, The Golden Compass is an all-time favorite of mine which I haven’t read in years, so if I manage to clear up the majority of my February ARCs before the read-along starts then I’ll definitely be joining in. Thanks for conducting this Wendy – I can’t wait for it to kick-off! :D
    Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings recently posted…Review: Foreplay by Sophie Jordan

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m so glad you’re pleased with our choice! I will keep my fingers crossed that your speed-reading abilities come into play over the next few weeks so you can join us. I’ve been touting your calculations on how much you can read around these parts, btw. ;)

  14. Joyousreads

    I wish I have the time nowadays! This is a great idea, ladies. I’m interested to see which books you’ll be reading so I’ll keep my eyes open on your choices. ;)

    • Wendy Darling

      I thought about whether we should post the whole list of books we’ve discussed internally so far, but then we decided it might be more fun to let everyone do multiple choice for most of the books. Except for Halloween and Christmas, we’ve already pre-selected those. ;)

      I hope you’ll be able to pop in for a discussion now and again, even if you aren’t able to reread with us.

  15. starryeyedjen

    Oh, I will definitely be participating in The Golden Compass readalong…that’s been a favorite for ages! I might go the audio route, too…I’ll have to check out the narrator(s) and see. And I love the idea of a classic YA/MG challenge, too. I’ve sworn off challenges this year, except for total books read, but I think I’ll “unofficially” participate in this one. :D
    starryeyedjen recently posted…{Blog Tour} Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes: Guest Post on Being Ruthless

    • Wendy Darling

      Yesss! I feel like the audio for this might be a good idea, it’s such a bedtime-story kind of a book, you know?

      I know what you mean about challenges, too–I never really participate in any officially any more, but I’m glad you’re going to be unofficially joining us now and again for this one. xoxo

  16. Vivien

    The Golden Compass is a great one to start with! I’ve been wanting to re-read it for some time. I first read it by audiobook and I thought it was fantastic. This time around I may just read it, unsure at this time. Excited to start this ‘event’.

    • Wendy Darling

      Yay! We thought it’d be a good one to start with, too–so fun, so emotional, and so much room for discussion. Plus, ICE BEARS.

      How funny that we may be doing the opposite things with this–you with the physical book and me with the audio.

  17. Rashika

    I’d join you guys in a Golden Compass re-read because it’s one of my all time favorite series but then I’d die of a broken heart. Every time I remember the ending to The Amber Spyglass.. my heart breaks a little. Although.. there is no Will in the first book so I won’t have to deal with seeing encountering him again. Hmmph. I’d have to dig out my copy. I THINK I AM GOING TO JOIN YOU GUYS IN RE-READING ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh man–this is one of my favorites of all time too, Rashika. And we are not reading the next two books in this series as readalongs, because yeah, all the heartbreak would be too much and people would never speak to us again. I think I’ve read the first book four or five times, whereas I’ve never reread the sequels. I may do it someday when I’m feeling brave, though.

      Please do join us! There’s so much loveliness in this book, and you can help us persuade other people to give it a chance.

    • Wendy Darling

      Yes, you’ll have to check back in February to vote on the next book! We’ve already vetted out a really good list of ones we’d be interested in hosting. :) Please feel free to join us for the Golden Compass discussion too, even if you aren’t specifically rereading it.

    • Wendy Darling

      Hooray! I’m so happy you’ll be joining us, Jen. :) I’m really looking forward to spending more time on beloved classics this year, too.

  18. Kim

    My level of excite is through the roof!! I *cannot* wait to discuss The Golden Compass with everyone!

    • Wendy Darling

      I am dancing in my seat, too! I am SO excited to revisit this book, and that we’ll be reading with newbies to this series, too.