Here's the list I came up with off the top of my head, though I'm certain that I'm leaving out something important. I refrained from including the romances that I started reading at the age of 12 and included only those non-romance books that I read up to early teen years. The late teen years were basically exclusively dedicated to Harlequin.
Baby Sitters Club Series by Ann M. Martin - Pretty much the series that made me love reading. When I was in elementary school, my mom worked for the local Wal-mart, one that didn't open until 9 am (gasp!), stocking shelves in the early mornings before the doors opened. Since she was a single mom and I was too young to stay alone, she often woke me up at the crack of dawn to go to work with her. Small town, Arkansas FTW. An empty Wal-mart is pretty much a 7 year olds dream, or nightmare, depending on how many lights were turned on on a given day. I did like to wander around the toys, but inevitably, I would wind up in the book aisle, sitting on the floor, reading the BSC books that I loved but couldn't afford to buy. Then they'd go back on the shelf. As an adult, I can only hope that I didn't damage them too much.
The Giver by Lois Lowry - I think I found this in the middle school library, and its the first book that I can remember which made me really think about the message it was putting forth. I was a really type A kid, and part of me was really attracted to the way that Lowry's dystopian society was so organized and regimented. It was an interesting exercise to get to the end and have to evaluate Jonah's actions and what they meant about my own attraction to the system he was escaping.
The Graduation by Christopher Pike - This was the 3rd book in a series, and I'm not really sure if I ever read the other two books that precede it. I include it because it's the first book that I was truly crazy about because I had a crush on a character, Michael Olson, and I wanted him to get the girl in the end. It was also probably the first book I read that included reference to teens having sex, though it was fade-to-black. There was even discussion of condoms! Heady discussion for a pre-teen. Can you tell my mother didn't screen what I read at all?
Others I loved:
- The Hardy Boys (I loved the ones set in the 80s)
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (school assigned book that I loved)
- All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (the main characters were Jewish girls in NYC in the early 1900s, and I was fascinated by the culture differences)
- Sweet Valley High Series by Francine Pascal (Duh.)
- Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Also duh.)
- Nancy Drew Series by Carolyn Keene (I loved the 50s set ones best)
- Bad News Ballet Series by Jahnna M. Malcolm (Thanks to The Mighty Ducks, I loved these books because one of the characters was a hockey player)
- Palm Beach Prep Series by Elle Wolfe (Again, blame a movie, but I got into this series because one of the characters was a soccer player and I had just seen The Big Green)