Having grown up outside of the US, I didn't read the typical books thrust on most middle schoolers in this country like - Catcher in the Rye, The Outsiders, you know... the tried and true books of teenage angst and desires. They are great books in their own right, and as an adult reading them for the first time a few years ago, I enjoyed every story and wished that I could have discovered them earlier. However my favorite book or rather books to read when I was of middle school age was - The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton.
The Famous Five was a book series written in the 1940s - 50s by English author Enid Blyton.
The Famous Five are a group of children who have the sort of adventures most kids dream about, in a world where ginger beer flows and ham rolls are a staple diet. Julian, Dick and Anne get together with their cousin George in the first adventure, Five On A Treasure Island. George is actually a girl who wants so desperately to be a boy she crops her hair and struts about doing boy things. She hates it when people call her by her correct name, Georgina. She has a dog called Timmy - oh yes, and an island. Most kid just have a dog, but George's parents own Kirrin Island and let her run around on it as if it were her play-thing. Her parents are known to Julian, Dick and Anne as Uncle Quentin and Aunt Fanny
Now even though the books were written in the 40s and 50s, I didn't come across them till the 1980s when I was in middle school, (I knew what you were thinking!) The Famous Five were a cooler and less annoying version of the Scooby-Doo gang, chasing criminals instead of monsters and ghosts. They were timeless and I loved each and every character in the book. They offered escape from my latch-key existence, taking me beyond the walls of our small apartment and romping around on the ever exciting Kirrin Island. I fell in love with Julian who was the oldest and the most mature. George irritated me with her constant "tomboy-ness"and Dick and Anne were the perfect brother and sister I would have gladly traded my little sister for.
I read all 21 books in the series over and over again, swapping copies with my friends and sneaking the stories with my sister under the covers with a flashlight at night, up way past our bedtimes. When the Famous Five show came on the air, I was beyond excited and I diligently watched every episode I could.
Now with a middle-scholar of my own on the horizon, I plan to sneak in all my old favorites into her summer reading book bag. Based on the YouTube video, trying to watch the shows with her might not work out, but I hope I find her one day, laying in the sun, reading about the antics of my famous five on Kirrin Island.