Favourite Children’s Books
The books we read as children stay with us throughout our lives. Re-reading them in adulthood can be a visceral shot of nostalgia or a chance to question a book that once seemed perfect. Here are 10 books I adored when I was younger:
Matilda – Roald Dahl
“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.”
Roald Dahl wrote some of my favourite books such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG. But it’s Matilda that’s stayed with me the longest. I identified with Matilda as a voracious reader and as someone who loved to learn.
The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
“Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia.”
Warning: this book will result in you always checking the back of wardrobes for an entrance to Narnia. Whenever I was absent from school with illness, I would re-read the Chronicles of Narnia. I just loved the magic and adventure that these four ordinary children experienced. I wanted to visit Narnia so much it was like an ache at times.
Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie
“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”
This was my favourite book as a child. I read it so many times that I lost count. I dreamed of flying to Neverland and playing with the Lost Boys. As a child, this was simply a book filled with adventure, no parents, fairies, mermaids, and pirates. Reading this as an adult, however, the book lost some of its shine. I understand that it’s a product of its time but it’s blatantly misogynistic and racist, and it’s hard to read with the same enjoyment.
The Enchanted Wood – Enid Blyton
“Well, come back and have tea with us,” said Moon-Face. “Silky’s got some Pop Biscuits – and I’ve made some Google Buns. I don’t often make them – and I tell you they’re a treat!”
I loved The Wishing Chair series and Famous Five, but the Faraway Tree series was my absolute favourite. My sisters and I even named a tree near our house after it! The lands at the top of the tree sounded like so much fun and I really wanted to meet the folk of the faraway tree. Plus, Pop Biscuits seemed like they’d be delicious. Enid Blyton knew exactly what children wanted to read.
The Worst Witch – Jill Murphy
“Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches stood at the top of a high mountain surrounded by a pine forest. It looked more like a prison than a school, with its gloomy grey walls and turrets.”
Before Harry Potter, there was Mildred Hubble, a trainee at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. I absolutely loved this series when I was younger and I vividly remember reading along to the audiobook. The series is filled with magic and mayhem, and Mildred is so likeable. I also loved the 1998 TV series and remember watching it after school. I haven’t seen the new series yet but I’m pleased a new generation of children are getting to enjoy these stories.
The Story of Tracy Beaker –Jacqueline Wilson
“I started this book on…I don’t know. Who cares what the date is? You always have to put the date at school. I got fed up with this and put 2091 in the Day Book and wrote about all these rockets and space ships and monsters legging it down from Mars to eat us all up, as if we’d all whizzed one hundred years into the future. Miss Brown didn’t get half narked.
Jacqueline Wilson has to be the best children’s author. I devoured every one of her books, which was humorous yet thought-provoking. I think every child should read Jacqueline Wilson. She can do no wrong!
Stormbreaker – Anthony Horowitz
“Believe me, It would be better if we didn’t meet again. Go back to school. Go back to your life. And next time they ask you, say no. Killing is for grown-ups and you’re still a child.”
My sister and I loved the Alex Rider series and couldn’t wait for the next release. Fourteen-year-old Alex finds himself caught up in a web of espionage, adventure, and violence. There are now 10 books in the series, with an eleventh set for release this year. This is a perfect series for reluctant readers as it’s just such fun.
Nancy Drew Mysteries – Carolyn Keene
“That’s the direction the thieves took,” Nancy told him, noting the dust and tire marks which revealed the van’s exit onto the highway. “But,” she added, glancing at the dashboard clock, “they’re probably too far away by this time for us to catch them.” “Yes, ding it,” Jeff muttered. Nancy drove as rapidly as the law permitted toward Melborne. All the while, Jeff Tucker peered from one side of the road to the other.”
I have to admit that I can’t remember the details of these stories but I do remember how much I enjoyed reading about Nancy. I wanted to be a sleuth just like her!
The Recruit – Robert Muchamore
“CHERUB agents are aged between 10 and 17. They live in the real world, slipping under adult radar and getting information that sends criminals and terrorists to jail.”
Similar in style to Alex Rider, the CHERUB series is based around the idea of children trained as undercover spies. The first book introduces us to the newest recruit, James and details his training and first mission. I absolutely loved these books as they had a grown-up flavour to them as the characters started maturing. Each book was devoured in one sitting. This is another series I would recommend for reluctant readers.
The Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling
“Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!”
I am part of the generation that grew up with Harry Potter so these books will always be special to me. I’m a complete Potterhead and re-read the series every year. Filled with magic, friendship, and adventure, I can’t imagine any child not enjoying Harry Potter.