This is a listing of the books and series on this site by decade. Note, that this is when the stories were written and published, not necessarily when they take place. Because this site is dedicated to nostalgic books, there are no books here less than 10 years old by the current year (nothing newer than 2007 for the present). As always, this site is a work in progress, so there will be more here later! To put some of these books into context, I decided to include some information about events and culture in each decade with suggestions for further reading.
If you’re looking for a book that you may have read when you were young, don’t forget to check the decade or so before the time you actually read it because it might have been older than you thought or a reprint of an older book, not a recently-published book.
Special note for authors and researchers: If you’re writing a story and looking for children’s books to mention from a certain time period (books that your characters might have read during a certain decade, when they were young), remember to look not only under that decade, but the ones before it. For example, a child in the 1950s could have read not only the books actually written and published in the 1950s, but books from the 1940s and 1930s and even earlier that were still around. I can still get hold of these books in the early 21st century, and they were much more plentiful in past decades! Also note that certain series continued over a period of decades, so if you mention something like Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden or the Hardy Boys, check to see how much of the series was in existence during the time period you’re looking at.
Also, remember that a number of books in the various series written under the Stratemeyer Syndicate (and a few other books by other authors, but the Stratemeyer Syndicate is notorious for this) were changed significantly during re-release in different decades, not just the language and technological updates, but sometimes the entire plots of different books, even while still keeping the title the same! My favorite example of this is the Hardy Boys mystery The Flickering Torch Mystery. In the first, original version, the mystery actually involved a flickering torch as a clue. Later, the entire plot of the book was changed so that it was about a dance place called The Flickering Torch (just so they could keep the title of the book the same). Individual publication years matter, and this is important for collectors, too!
This was the decade of the Great Depression.
Baby Boomers were young, and rock and roll music was big. The United States entered the Korean War in the early part of the decade, and the Space Race began as an off-shoot of the Cold War technological race.
This was the decade of the Civil Rights Movement, and society was changing in more ways than one.
This was the decade of the Vietnam War.
The 1980s had a number of disasters, including the Iran-Contra affair, the Challenger Disaster, and the Chernobyl meltdown. It became known as a materialistic decade. It ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the beginning of the end of the Cold War.
Books from the 2000s
The beginning of this decade was marked by the terrorist attacks and destruction of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. Throughout the decade, there was an increasing awareness of the threat of terrorists and a determination to stop them with increased security measures.
A spooky little series of picture books about different children and the monster stories they invent and tell each other. It’s fun to be scared! By Rose Impey. 1988-2004.
An orphan girl, Jenny, goes to live with the grandfather she has never met before and is falsely labeled as an imposter with mysterious attempts made on her life. By Barbara Brooks Wallace.
An historical mystery series with Christian themes that takes place in turn-of-the-century South Carolina. Amanda Shaw is an orphan with a mysterious past who finds a new life with relatives she had never met. By Lois Gladys Leppard. 1983-2004.
The adopted son of a famous judge helps him to solve mysteries in feudal Japan. Not a series for young children! By Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler. 1999-2014.
“Queer” as in strange, weird, mysterious. No other sense of the word! Two friends, Gwen and Jill, solve mysteries with the help of Jill’s dog, Fletcher, who loves salami. By Elizabeth Levy. 1973-2003.
A girl goes to stay with her eccentric grandmother in the rural Midwest for a year just after the Great Depression. Hysterical! By Richard Peck.
Books from the 2010s
Coming in 2020 or later.