When we think of the 1990s, we think of Beanie Babies and scrunchies. It was the height of Britney’s career, baggy jeans, and frosted tips and the best years of Nickelodeon. Everything was floral and tie-dye and puka shells. Lets delve into 1990s Nostalgia shows, books, and movies.
It’s easy to miss those simpler days. Cell phones were still brand new and logging onto the internet meant kicking people off the phone. We stayed out until the neighborhood grew dark, ate colored ketchup and yogurt from tubes. We also enjoyed some of the most iconic, memorable book series written and shared during those years. Our parents borrowed them from the library, shared them with friends, dog-eared them and got them sticky. They were our smartphones and streaming devices, and they have a strong, beloved place in our best childhood memories.
If you’re feeling nostalgic for your favorite kids’ books, these great shows and films are sure to give you a taste of the good old days.
1. Harriet the Spy
We love our cool girl spies, what else is there to say? Harriet the Spy was first written in the 1960s. However, the film featuring Michelle Trachtenberg came out in 1996, a pioneer movie for the Nickelodeon Feature Film Division. It also cemented Harriet the Spy in the hearts of teen girls across the country. It has since been made into a modernized film version, Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars, available on Netflix.
2. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
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If she tells you she can’t take her scarf off, believe her! Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was a collection of horror shorts that first came out in the early 1980s. It quickly became a staple of campfire creeps and shadowy nightmares because many of the stories were based on urban legends. Still, they were often scary merely because evil came in the form of man, rather than monster. The film version, with artistic styling similar to the iconic ink illustrations came out this year.
If you ever got a piece of Bazooka Bubblegum, you understood the undeniable love for Archie and friends. The CW’s Riverdale is a much darker, more sinister version of the comic book. It seems to fit the feeling that our favorite characters have grown up with us. Archie Comics have been around a lot longer than the 1990s, but they were undoubtedly a staple of comic book store runs.
4. Winnie-the Pooh
Winnie-the-Pooh is a classic story, and has been around for generations, but there’s no denying its lovely nostalgia for kids who grew up at the turn of the century. With Disney adaptations and reprints of the stories, it was hard not to fall for Pooh and his woodland friends. The 2018 film, Christopher Robin, starring Ewan McGregor, explores what it means to love your childhood favorites as an adult.
5. Series of Unfortunate Events
A Series of Unfortunate Events was a 13-book series by Lemony Snicket that first came out in 1999. After three children lose their parents in a fire, they try to protect their family fortune and each other. Jim Carrey starred in the film version in 2004 and in 2017 the Netflix released its TV adaptation.
6. Goosebumps II (The Night of the Living Goosebumps?)
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Goosebumps is so nostalgic it had to be mentioned twice. In 2015, Jack Black starred in the horror-comedy film adaptation where R.L. Stine exists and his fictional books have come to life. A sequel to the film, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, came out in 2018 and honestly, they’re hard not to enjoy.
7. Baby-Sitter’s Club
The only thing more nostalgic than The Baby-Sitter’s Club is that the remake will feature Alicia Silverstone, star of the 1995 film Clueless. The Baby-Sitter’s Club was a series of books about middle school girls who run, what else, a club for local babysitters. It hit home with a generation of girls looking for stories they could relate to and the new Netflix version is guaranteed to bring back memories.
8. Ramona Quimby
Beverly Cleary perfectly captured life with siblings, in her comedic family stories, The Ramona Books. She began writing in 1955 and her last book came out in 1999, to much critical acclaim. That first book, Beezus and Ramona, was the title inspiration for the 2010 film based on the series, Ramona and Beezus. It starred Selena Gomez and Joey King.
9. Dear America
The Dear America series was designed to bring history to life for young readers, and it was very successful. From stories of the journey to the New World in 1620 to the Gold Rush to World War II, the diary format of the Dear America books made history real and interesting–and even a little scary. The books first came out in 1996 and there were 36 stories in the original series. Some of the most popular titles were made into short films that aired on HBO in 1999 and 2000.
10. Where the Wild Things Are
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I’ll eat you up, I love you so.
Though Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak, was first published in 1963, it is a classic staple of children’s literature and will bring back memories of playrooms, libraries and school classrooms without fail. In 2009, it was produced as a film, with a combination of live actors, imaginary costumes, CGI, and animatronics.
11. American Girl
Instagram – @kitkatdolls
American Girl dolls were beautiful dolls that came with extensive background stories from all over the world. In addition to a series of books, many of the stories were translated into films. Most of them went directly to DVD for the true fans (though you could undoubtedly find them if you looked). Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, however, came out in theaters in 2008, starring Abigail Breslin of Little Miss Sunshine fame.
12. Captain Underpants
Captain Underpants is currently one of the most banned book series in America, but that hasn’t stopped its incredible success. The comic-book style and appeal to potty humor was an easy draw for young readers when the stories first came out in 1997. Both a Netflix television program and two films have been produced based on the book series.
Nothing says 1990s more than the classic Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine. He produced more than 60 books in a few short years. They included the iconic Night of the Living Dummy and The Haunted Mask. He was also involved in the 1990s television adaptation of the series, which features seriously ‘90s effects and lots of animatronics. It’s currently available to watch on Netflix.
14. Harry Potter
Harry Potter may seem timeless, but the books first came out in the late 1990s and the first film was released in 2001. These were the important years for most of us growing up during this pivotal time in young adult literature. There’s no denying the magic of the Harry Potter series, nor its deeper, more important lessons. If you’re in the mood for a trip down memory lane, you have eight feature films to start you off right.
15. Magic School Bus
Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.
The nerd kids know the sound of that bus honk on after school television all too well. Magic School Bus was a series of books, originally geared toward younger students. Eventually, chapbooks followed, as well as an incredibly successful educational TV show. Fans of the books and show can watch both the original and the Kate McKinnon reboot on Netflix.
Well before the sexy vampires of Twilight and True Blood came back into style, Bunnicula was scaring kids around the world. First published in the late 1970s, it features a vampire bunny who sucks the juice from fruits and vegetables. The bunny generally goes around terrorizing the dog narrator, Howard, and his cat friend, Chester. In 2016, Cartoon Network produced an animated TV show based on the series.
17. A Wrinkle in Time
A Wrinkle in Time was a classic children’s book well before the 1990s, but it remains a favorite of the day nonetheless. Written by Madeleine L’Engle in 1962, it a fantasy sci-fi adventure featuring the battle between good and evil and lightness and dark. It was first made into a TV film in 2003. After that, in 2018 Ava DuVernay adapted it for the big screen and it featured Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon.
18. Nancy Drew
Nancy Drew has been around longer than the 1990s, but her stories were foundational for young girls of the time. It was also about mystery, intrigue, and not taking no for an answer. That’s the kind of show you can expect from the new CW adaptation that just started airing this season. Everyone loves a good detective story.
19. Ella Enchanted
A new take on the classic fairytale, Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine, first came out in 1997. It features many of the beloved fairytale elements, including elves, giants, and ogres. The magic that made it impossible for title character Ella to say no (the gift of obedience). Anne Hathaway starred in the film in 2004.Next