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Hi, I am looking for a couple of children's novels that were either written or set in the 1960's to read with a class of 10-11 year olds. Any ideas of what I could use to inspire them?
Thanks in advance

Hi Abbi,

I'll give you a few suggestions and a link to more information about the books on After that, you can decide if you'd like some additional suggestions of books that fit your criteria; if so, I'll be glad to respond again.

#1. "It's Like This, Cat" by Emily Cheney Neville. This book was awarded the 1964 John Newbery Medal as the Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children of the year, and it isn't hard to see why. The speech patterns are highly evocative and bounce with a unique rhythm, bringing a welcome insider's perspective to the youth culture of the New York City area at the time. In addition, the themes dealt with are diverse, thought-provoking and written with skill belied by the easy-going pace of the narrative. This is an excellent novel.    

Link to "It's Like This, Cat" on

#2. "Here Today" by Ann M. Martin. Having lived through the 1960s herself, Ann M. Martin is well-equipped to write about growing up during the Kennedy era, and does so masterfully in this book. This is probably the best 1960s-set story I have to recommend. Interweaving powerful experiences of feeling lost in the shadow of an actress mother pursuing opportunities on the stage and screen, along with the national confusion of the Kennedy assassination in November of 1963, Ann M. Martin relates a narrative as deeply moving as it is uncompromisingly realistic. "Here Today" may be the finest work of one of today's finest American novelists for kids.

The link:      

#3. "The Bronze Bow" by Elizabeth George Speare. This one is set in the days of Roman occupation of Israel, a rarity for high-profile historical fiction. First published in 1961, the book was awarded the John Newbery Medal for 1962, and it's difficult to imagine any better choice having been made. Gripping and absolutely fascinating, resoundingly powerful to the core, the story throbs with action, drama and intense emotion, a stunning example of the heights to which the greatest literature can lift us. It's not only undoubtedly one of the greatest books published in the 1960s, but one of the greatest books I've ever read.

The link:

#4. "The Empty Schoolhouse" by Natalie Savage Carlson. First published in 1965, this book deals quite compellingly with the issues and emotions of racial segregation in school, but doesn't stop there. It's also one of the better portraits of a broken friendship I've ever read, and isn't likely to be forgotten anytime soon after reading it. "The Empty Schoolhouse" is that rare sort of novel that feels timeless even though it addresses uniquely contemporary predicaments.

The link:  

#5. "Dead End in Norvelt" by Jack Gantos. A newer favorite, and winner of the 2012 John Newbery Medal, "Dead End in Norvelt" is Jack Gantos's quirky, unpredictable look back at his own life in the early 1960s, drawing on many actual events he experienced to lay the groundwork for this novel. As much as I love Jack Gantos's writing, I, personally, wasn't crazy about "Dead End in Norvelt", but it's such a popular book that I thought I should list it.

The link:  

#6. "When You Reach Me" by Rebecca Stead. The author has had brilliant moments, and shows some of that in this book. While "When You Reach Me" won the 2010 John Newbery Medal for its portrayal of lost friendship in the 1960s, accompanied by more than a few genuinely shocking plot twists, it's actually not even my favorite book by Rebecca Stead ostensibly set in the 1960s. That would be "Liar & Spy", which I would have recommended in this slot had I been able to confirm for 100% certain that it is set in the 1960s. But "When You Reach" me is widely beloved and internationally acclaimed, and I'm sure it would work nicely for your purposes.

The link:

By the way, if you peruse through the reviews on Goodreads a bit, you may even find my reviews of the books I've linked to. I've written in-depth reviews of most of them, generally allotting several hours each for the writing.

If you need any further recommendations, or any additional information about any of the books, please don't hesitate to write again. I'm always happy to help!

Thanks for the question,


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Josiah Jones


I can answer a wide variety of questions about children's literature from almost any time period. My mind is particularly sharp with small details of the literature in question, and I have an extensive personal library of children's literature to reference should the need arise. I am ready and willing to tackle any question that is brought to me. My strongest facet of expertise is probably recommending books for kids and teens.


I am a reviewer of books for young readers on the WWW.Goodreads.Com website. I have most likely read more than 1,000 children's books, and I also write stories of my own for young readers.

High School Diploma, Christian Liberty Academy

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