Children’s books for misfits, eccentrics, and other inadvertant loners

These don’t necessarily have the best morals… generally they’re ugly duckling kinds of stories.  We’re different because in some ways we’re better.  That’s probably why they’re not listed in Some of my best friends are books (unless Caldecott or Newbery winners).  But they sure are satisfying reads when you’re out of sync with your peers and you worry that the problem is you.  Maybe we should celebrate our differences and not be so eager to squish square pegs into round holes (“Won’t fit?  I’ll make you fit!”)  After all, boring people seldom make history.


Pippi Longstocking


Jennifer, Hecate, and Me, Elizabeth (and other books by E L Koningsburg, the most famous being From the Mixed up Files)

The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Stanley Family (Also many other books by Zilpha Keatley Snyder… like The Egypt Game)

Bagthorphes Ordinary Jack
by Helen Cresswell


The Bagthorpe Saga

Ender’s Game

Artemis Fowl

(Also Harry Potter..)

And a song for y’all.

“Anything other than that and you know you’re dealing with someone who is different, and different is not what you’re looking for.”

Are we missing any?

19 Responses to “Children’s books for misfits, eccentrics, and other inadvertant loners”

  1. Everyday Tips Says:

    I loved ‘From the Mixed Up Files…’ and my kids really enjoyed it too. However, they have not read the book you mentioned. They also loved all the Roald Dahl books. (Would BFG qualify for your list?)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      E.L. Koningsburg has written a LOT. A proud taste for scarlet and miniver is also a classic.

      The BFG qualifies (as really, do most Roald Dahl books). Though not quite as in-your-face as Matilda.

  2. Suzita @ Says:

    My kids would definitely second this list. The only ones from it we haven’t read are The Headless Cupid (though loved Egypt Game) and Jennifer, Hecate… – and I’ve just added both of these to our library list! Thanks!

  3. Frugal Forties Says:

    I LOVE Ferdinand! I still read it now and then. :)

    The Lemony Snicket series is a great series, too, with some “misfit” kids as the main characters.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We’ve got the first few Lemony Snickets, but haven’t actually read them. I have a hard time getting past the title “a series of unfortunate events!”

      • Debbie M Says:

        The unfortunate events do get old after a while, but they teach lessons that no other books do. Mainly: sometimes you shouldn’t do what grown-ups tell you because some grown-ups are crazy or evil. I also like one paragraph where it is explained that sometimes even the most trustworthy person in your life may not be someone you should trust in certain terrible situations (such as when they have to choose between being trustworthy and something even more important to them, such as their lives). Plus a more normal lesson about doing whatever it takes to be there for your loved ones.

        The events are actually horrifying (and the first book is the worst–you shouldn’t start with that one–I recommend starting with the fourth one like I did–it’s more silly and less realistic).

        The kids are amazing, though, and you just know they’ll be able to think of something in the nick of time. Also, the two older ones are so likable and fun and interesting, and the youngest is hilarious with the sarcasm.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Thanks for the tips! During the school year I’m mostly only up for brain popcorn, but maybe this summer. DC will probably like them when ze is older… ze loves The Gruffalo, which I find kind of creepy.

  4. MutantSupermodel Says:

    The only title I’ve read on your list is Matilda which I (shockingly) loved to bits and pieces. Oh and if Harry Potter is actually on the list (I think it is) that’s another I’ve read. For what it’s worth Percy Jackson’s a misfit (ADD kid and often gets into fights) that turns into a hero. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid is pretty self-explanatory. And yes, A Series of Unfortunate Events. The vocabulary in that is absolutely incredible and you’re talking about orphans.

    • MutantSupermodel Says:

      Oh and for picture books you have Where the Wild Things Are and No, David!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Your Percy Jackson loving son should read the rest of these! I haven’t read the Percy Jackson books yet, but I got a pretty nice deal on the entire set from Scholastic and should be getting them by the end of the month. Also haven’t read Diary of a Wimpy kid yet, though I saw the movie on a plane… that’s one where it’s after our time but DC isn’t old enough to really get it. One day!

  5. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    Have I mentioned that one about those people in the plane crash in the Andes who had to eat the dead passengers to survive?

  6. darchole Says:

    Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Highly recommended if princess characterizations make you gag.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The first one definitely fits… a princess who doesn’t fit in with other princesses. I don’t like the third (or fourth) book very much for reasons that involve spoilers. It is far too formulaic.

      • darchole Says:

        Yes, the main male character in the 4th book was totally annoying and it was her fault. (trying to be as spoiler free as possible)

  7. julier Says:

    Many of the protagonists in Tamora Pierce’s books strike out on their own to do things that are new and different, but I’m not sure that really makes them misfits, loners, or eccentrics.

    My favorite book that fits in this category is Me and the Weirdos by Jane Sutton. The main character wants to be normal but she lives in a family of total weirdos (her mom calls herself Squirrel pants dandelions in the yard, for example).

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