If you were born before 1990, this book probably needs no introduction. For everyone else, it's the novel that launched author Judy Blume's career and introduced a generation to real talk about periods and sex.
"Thank you, Judy Blume, because without you and your book, 'Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret,' I am pretty sure I would have remained clueless about periods and puberty during my tween and early teen years," Wallace, the digital correspondent, said.
"We never had the 'period' talk in my household, and I can't really remember any deep discussions about how my body might change, either. I loved Margaret, and reading about her first period and buying her first bra opened my eyes to what would happen to me one day. ... It was one of the most popular books among my friends, and is a book I look forward to giving to my daughters when the time is right."
"This book taught me how Spin the Bottle is played, and made me daydream about that game going the way I wanted (alas, I never played)," said CNN Health's Elizabeth Landau.
"More seriously, it brought up issues of multiple identities that have stayed with me for many years. Margaret is the daughter of a Jewish father and a Christian mother, so she has numerous conflicts about who she is and what she believes and where she fits in. Both of my parents are Jewish, so I don't have this precise struggle. But I am sharply cognizant of all kinds of divisions of myself: Being a Jew and an American, being a journalist and an American, being a Northerner living in the South, etc., etc. And what do any of these specific identities really mean, and how do we weigh the values and ideas and beliefs of one against another? I think that this book introduced me to the idea that we all juggle multiple aspects of ourselves, and there are no clear cut answers as to who we really are. "
"Then Again, Maybe I Won't" and "Forever" by Judy Blume, 1971 and 1975
The two closest runners-up behind "Are You There God" got a few votes for their frank depictions of sex -- another prominent theme in young adult books.
"The former taught me what a 'wet dream' was and helped me to realize that boys were just as confused about their bodies and emotions as I was. The latter was about the sexual awakening of a teen couple -- and let's just say I could relate to the swirling emotions and hormones!" CNN Entertainment producer Lisa France said.
"The Face in the Frost," "The House With a Clock in Its Walls" and "The Chessmen of Doom" by John Bellairs, 1969, 1973 and 1989
Young adult books aren't all about girls and periods. Fantasy and science-fiction novels offer young readers a glimpse of alternate worlds before they become jaded adults.
"Like many children, I was a tasty gazelle in the wild savannah of grade school. Sometimes things could be scary, but as I got older, the works of John Bellairs were of some comfort: At least my concerns didn't foretell the end of the world. Johnny, Lewis and Anthony had far bigger problems to solve and I ate up their stories," CNN's Nicole Saidi said.
"Now that I am a writer, and an adult, I can feel the influences of the freaky, fantastic setting details from 'The Face in the Frost' when I think about how to describe a place in a compelling way."
"The Chocolate War," by Robert Cormier, 1974
In the face of overwhelming pressure to bend to the status quo and join his classmates in Trinity High's annual chocolate sale, freshman Jerry Renault just quietly said no. His adversaries weren't just garden variety high school lunks, but rather a decades-old secret, sadistic cabal of students operating with the full cooperation of the faculty. Having recently lost his mother -- and the attention of his father, still mourning her loss -- Jerry wasn't about to give up the one thing he had left: his free will.
"A quote from 'The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock' stuck up in Jerry's locker acts as his emotional compass, asking 'Do I dare disturb the universe?' He does, merely by refusing to play along and facing the physical and emotional punishment he knows he'll incur as a result. It's a powerful lesson about standing by what you believe in, even if you must do so alone," Kat Kinsman said.
"Morning Is a Long Time Coming," by Bette Greene, 1978
"Summer of My German Soldier" is a frequent inclusion in high school English curriculums, but far fewer people followed along to find out what happened to the teenage protagonist, Patty Bergen, after the German soldier she'd been harboring was caught and summarily executed.
"Anton Riker had been one of the few people to ever treat Patty (the eldest daughter of the only Jewish family in town) as a creature of worth, so after reform school and graduation, she leaves Jenkinsville, Ark., behind and travels to Europe to find the family who made him into the kind, insightful person he was," Kat Kinsman said.
"Little does she know that freed from the stigma, shame and abuse she weathered back home, she'll finally be able to see and accept herself as a person who's always been worth loving -- and that the people around her were just too limited to see it. Home and family, she finds, are where you make them."
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," by Douglas Adams 1979
"I read a Scotch tape-reinforced copy of the 'Hitchhiker's Guide' snagged from an English teacher's classroom sometime in the mid-1990s. I laughed and laughed and laughed, but had no idea there were more books, that it had started as a radio show or that it was a mortifyingly awful-amazing TV show," Jamie Gumbrecht said.
"One morning, I happened to catch a radio interview about it, and was stunned to realize that there was more Douglas Adams out there to read and apparently, I wasn't the only one doing so. (Oh, high school.) Shortly thereafter, I fell in with a grand group of friends, the kind of kids who made high school memorable and giggled when you answered "42" on a tough Quiz Bowl question. (Oh, high school.) And you know what? I read it now, and I still laugh and laugh and laugh."
"Both Sides of Time" by Caroline B. Cooney, 1995
"This is the first time I remember feeling like I belonged when I picked up a book," CNN's Ashley Strickland said.
"Like 15-year-old Annie Lockwood, I, too, felt like a hopeless romantic living in the wrong century. It's an overwhelming age, trying to figure out who you are and where you'll end up. Cooney captured that sentiment perfectly and placed it at the heart of her writing. I was a literature and history nerd fascinated by the past, eager to explore it, and here was a character with the chance to do so over a quartet of wonderfully written books. It seemed like Cooney was able to reach into my soul and write the exact story I wanted. So naturally, I read them over and over."