January 25, 2016

Children's Lit Characters We Fell in Love With

Four years ago, many of my beloved university cohorts and I debated lists of the most attractive men in American and British literature. The conversations were intense and being the intelligent, humble ladies we are we, of course, thought our lists were far superior.

Last week, we picked up the conversation again, this time debating a recent list of what your first fictional literary crush says about you. Once again, we were shocked and disappointed by both the brevity (only 10 mentions) and vast oversights of the list.

Here's where I stand:

If we're supposed to be listing off our first fictional literary crushes, then unless (as the list presupposes) we were reading young adult and adult literature while still in early elementary school, wearing oversized t-shirts, scrunchies, and brightly colored leggings while playing with troll dolls at recess (oops, sorry, that last part was probably just me), then the list totally misses the mark.

I would hope that the first literary characters we loved were from books we read as children because this means we were reading (or being read to) as kids. Our love evolved and changed as we grew and moved from children's books to young adult novels and swoon-worthy adult figures (thank you, Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, amiright?), but they were not our first literary loves.

So, keeping these parameters in mind (books not films, children's lit not YA lit), I started to put together a list of "Children's Lit Characters We Fell in Love With." (I know that's not grammatically correct, but do people really want me to title it "Children's Lit Characters with Whom We Fell in Love"? I doubt it.)

OK, here goes. I'll be the first to say that this is a jumping off point and I invite more racial diversity particularly since this is an important area of improvement in the genre (read Walter Dean Myers' New Yorker article about the lack of black characters in children's lit). Please post your comments below! In random order:

The Gentlemen

1. Atticus Finch
2. The BFG
3. Danny (Danny, Champion of the World)
4. Charlie Bucket
5. Remus Lupin
6. Almanzo Wilder
7. Logan Bruno (The Baby-Sitters Club)
8. Mr. Quimby (the Ramona books)
9. Winnie-the-Pooh
10. Rudy Steiner (The Book Thief)
11. Brian (The Hatchet)
12. Peter Pan
13. Robin Hood
14. Calvin and Hobbes
15. Mr. Toad
16. Linus
17. Snoopy
18. Stanley Yelnats
19. Aslan
20. Mr. Tumnus
21. Max Vandenburg (The Book Thief)
22. Frodo
23. Samwise
24. Tom Sawyer
25. Huck Finn
26. Gilbert Blythe
27. The Tinman
28. Dickon Sowerby (The Secret Garden)
29. Theodore "Laurie" Lawrence (Little Women)
30. Harry Potter
31. Mr. Fox (the Fantastic Mr. Fox)
32. Encyclopedia Brown
33. Fudge
34. Wilbur (Charlotte's Web)
35. Fred and George Weasley
36. Tom Thumb
37. The Ugly Duckling
38. The (Reformed) Grinch
39. Paddington Bear
40. Curious George
41. Pa Wilder

The Ladies:

1. Pippi Longstocking
2. Laura Ingalls Wilder
3. Hermione Granger
4. Ramona Quimby
5. Mary Ann Spier (The Baby-Sitters Club)
6. Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables)
7. Madeline
8. Miss Nelson
9. Beezus Quimby
10. Kristy Thomas (The Baby-Sitters Club)
11. Stacey McGill (The Baby-Sitters Club)
12. Claudia Kishi (The Baby-Sitters Club)
13. Sara Crewe (A Little Princess)
14. Susan Pevensie (The Chronicles of Narnia
15. Diana Barry (Anne of Green Gables)
16. Matilda Wormwood (Matilda)
17. Lucy Pevensie (The Chronicles of Narnia)
18. The Little Match Girl
19. Little Red Riding Hood
20. Gretel (Hansel and Gretel)
21. Nancy Drew
22. Amelia Bedelia
23. Eloise
24. Wendy (Peter Pan)
25. Tinkerbell
26. Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz)
27. Becky Thatcher (Huck Finn)
28. Stargirl
29. Cindy Lou Who (How the Grinch Stole Christmas)
30. Charlotte (Charlotte's Web)
31. Ginny Wealsey
32. Molly Weasley
33. Luna Lovegood

Who else is missing from the list?


  1. How is it possible that the first list and our counter-discussion left of Laurie?!?! An important addition. Well corrected, J. I think you've hit on something here, which is the weird wording of the "first literary crush" perspective. I'm not sure I'd have gone the path you did but I think it's a legitimate, interesting approach.

    1. I know, Laurie! I love that book. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Sarah!