Recently mindyklasky posted an item about re-reading favorite books from her youth, which got me thinking about my youthful favorite The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which helped me to find this NPR essay on why that book is so memorable. I agree completely that the book is about the unhappiness that neglect can cause. I think one reason it appealed to me (even though I had a happy, stable childhood) is that Mary Lennox takes control of her own destiny. She's willing to really look at herself, and to make the changes she needs to make herself happy. Another reason, of course, is that Burnett was a master at setting the scene. I loved the description of the wild Yorkshire moors and the people there.
One advantage of books over visual media—I could follow the Yorkshire dialect in print just fine. But when PBS showed a BBC version of the story, I couldn't understand a word the Yorkshire folks said!