With variety being the spice of life and all that, I will try to keep reading and reviewing widely (fear not), but you may notice a few more genre-specific books being reviewed here at Through the Wardrobe because…(drumroll please)…I start an MA course in Children’s Literature later this month! I am so unbelievably excited to start university again, tackling the great and the good of children’s fiction, and I hope to be able to share some of the treasures I uncover with you along the way.
Why Children’s Lit? You may well ask. I started reading from a very young age and, as both of my parents are readers, have grown up surrounded by books. The worlds I entered as a child have stayed with me forever and have shaped my outlook on life. To work in an environment where I create books that make other children feel the way my books made me feel is my absolute dream and studying them feels like the best starting point towards achieving that.
To celebrate my impending enrollment onto a Children’s Literature MA course (SO excited!!!) I wanted to share some books with you. To write a definitive list of my favourite children’s books would take far too long and I know I would miss some out so here’s a list of the thirteen books that affected me most as a child, the ones that absolutely stuck with me (and you never know, some of your own faves might even feature):
Cuckoobush Farm by Dick King Smith
My Mum read this to me and my sister when we were absolute, unable-to-hold-our-own-heads-up babies and, despite my infancy, this is the first book I really remember. The graphic, stylistic images perfectly match the simple story that follows the farm through the seasons.
The BFG by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl is one of my absolute favourite authors and there are so many of his books that featured in my childhood but The BFG is, by far, my favourite. The jumblied up words and idea of bottled dreams blown into your bedroom by a giant is just too ingeniously fun and magical to resist!
The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton
Whatever the modern opinion of Blyton is now, all I know is that she was one the main authors who turned me into a complete bookworm. As a HUGE Famous Five, Secret Seven and Malory Towers fan I read an awful lot of Enid but the world of the Faraway Tree was particularly special. This trilogy just oozed imagination to little me and its magic has never really faded.
Charlotte’s Web by EB White
One of the most wonderful stories ever to hit bookshelves, this brilliantly written tale follows the friendship of pig Wilbur and spider Charlotte. Bypassing over-sentimentality this book is a superbly written exploration of loyalty, friendship and self-sacrifice –utterly heart-warming.
The Stinky Cheese Man And Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
It was Year 2 and one of my favourite teachers ever, Miss Tuffin, sat us down to read one of the most ingenious picture books I had (and have) ever come across. Turning fairy tales on their heads and wreaking havoc with the best loved fables, this book gave me a lesson in not taking stories on face value!
The Butterfly Lion by Michael Murpurgo
There is something so charming about all of Michael Murpurgo’s writing but his Butterfly Lion is particularly special. Its tale of friendship and perseverance affected me as a child and this amazing story makes me cry every time I pick it up, even now.
The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson
The childhood Tracy experiences was so decidedly different from my own that when I read it for the first time I felt in awe of with this feisty protagonist who was making the best of her situation. Resilience and honesty in the portrayal of Tracy really hit home and really diversified my reading.
Sophie’s Snail by Dick King Smith
Growing up I was more tomboy than girlie girl and so I identified with Dick King Smith’s feisty heroine – to the point where I too wanted to become a lady farmer! Much like Sophie, I have named all the pets I hope to have one day though.
Little Women by Louisa M Alcott
When I grow up I want to be Jo March. Enough said!
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
As you can probably tell from the title of this blog, this particular novel had a profound influence on me as a child. I absolutely loved the idea of finding a magical world in the most unlikely place and still have a pang of disappointment when I see the back of a wardrobe.
Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
I grew up with the world of Hogwarts and these magical books are still my very faves. I was asked recently what event in your life shows your age and mine was definitely going to the Year 4 Come As Your Favourite Book Character Day as Harry and no-one knowing who I was (and no it wasn’t because I was unrecognisable, the costume was excellent thanks very much!)
Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
You can’t help but fall in love with Anne, this scatty orphan who tries so hard to do her best and be perfect and yet falls at the hurdle every time. The world of Green Gables is so homely and comforting that I always want to revisit it.
(un)arranged marriage by Bali Rai
Rai’s debut novel was the first insight I had to Anglo-Indian novels and one that really ignited an interest in them from then on in. I absolutely loved the story of this teenage boy expected to follow tradition but unwilling to and the tensions created by cultural fusion.
So those are just a few books that inspired my reading and influenced the path I took as a bookworm. I’d love to hear if there are any books that really made their mark on you as a child? Have you discovered any gems since?