I used books as my 'escape' from the real world, from bullies and family etc. I could be the girl at the Ballet school, or the one riding the prize winning pony, or the one saving the orphaned baby lamb, or I could hang around with Harry and Ron, or with Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. - an h2g2 Researcher
When asked about their favourite children's books, the h2g2 Community had a lot to say! Their recommendations fell into two rough camps - books that they enjoy or enjoyed reading to their children, and stories they remember reading themselves. Here follows an alphabetical list of the author's of these favoured books:
Janet and Allan Ahlberg
The work of Janet and Allan Ahlberg includes Funnybones, Peepo and all the Master and Miss books (like Master Bun the Baker's Boy), Cops and Robbers and Burglar Bill. One Researcher tells,
All these were favourites of mine, but are also favourites of both my daughter and son, who now at just under two insists on reading the knock-knock jokes in 'Mrs Jolly's Jokeshop'.
A master of rhyming books for under 5s, his books include Where's My Teddy? and sequels, the Duck in the Truck series, as well as illustrated books about flying dogs and chimpanzees in need of a hug.
Louisa M Alcott
Little Women by Louisa M Alcott is the story of the trials and tribulations of four impoverished sisters, and the rich but lonely boy who lives next door. A classic which everybody should read, there are three sequels. One Researcher simply summarised the book with the words,
Honestly. It's *Little Women*. Just read it.
Isaac Asimov is a world-renowned science fiction author, most famous for his laws of robotics. However, his Lucky Starr series of books was written especially for children.
Reverend Wilbert Awdry
During the Second World War Reverend Awdry told his son Christopher stories about trains, with characters based on people Christopher knew1. These Railway Series stories were published after the war and a character in the second book, Thomas the Tank Engine, has since become world famous. Christopher Awdry has since written Thomas the Tank Engine stories of his own. In recognition of the famous television series from the 1980s narrated by Ringo Starr, for best effect it is advised to read these stories in a Liverpudlian accent.
She wrote Brambly Hedge, a series of beautifully illustrated books about a community of mice who live in the English countryside. They wear clothes and have tiny 19th-Century homes in hollow trees and live self-sufficient lives. The first four books (Spring Story, Summer Story, Autumn Story and Winter Story) were published in 1980. The pictures are featured on various items like china and miniatures. Some of the books have also been adapted into films.
Peter Pan is a story that never grows old, just like the central character. The Disney cartoon adds to its timeless quality.
Lyman Frank Baum
L Frank Baum is most famous for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900 and illustrated by WW Denslow. He wrote 14 Oz novels as well as Oz spin-offs and many other novels and short stories. h2g2 Researchers recall of them;
I don't have children, but I was a child once. When I was sick, my sister would read 'The Wizard of Oz' to me.
'The Wizard of Oz' was published more than a century ago, and continues to stimulate new versions. In the 1970s, there was 'The Wiz'. More recently, there was 'Wicked'2 Stage versions of the 1939 film have also been mounted, and I imagine that there's a production of it going on somewhere in the world today.
Richard Doddridge Blackmore
The author of Lorna Doone, the 1869 novel set in Exmoor about the criminal Doone family.
The first Children's Laureate (1999-2001), Blake is an energetic illustrator whose books are perfect for under 5s, and many of his books are ideal in helping children learn how to count. One lucky Researcher has a signed and dedicated copy of Zagazoo, a story about a shape-changing animal. Blake won the Kate Greenaway Medal for Illustration in 1980.
The prolific Enid Blyton appears to be the most divisive children's author. Writing for young readers, many found the Famous Five and Secret Seven difficult to get into, too young or unappealing, and grown out of very quickly. The Magic Faraway Tree, Malory Towers, and Wishing Chair series all were remembered more fondly. The consensus was that her The Noun of Adventure series, her early, edgier work, remains her best. Blyton's use of language in names, including characters called Dick, Fanny and Fatty, was also noted;
I liked Enid Blyton as a child but now seem to be cursed to read everything she ever wrote to my son.
I remember being read some Enid Blyton in school when I was very young, so young I'm not sure if it was 'The Magic Faraway Tree', or 'The Wishing Chair' stories.
I read some Blyton, but only the Adventure series. For some reason, I attached some kind of stigma to the 'Secret Seven' and 'Famous Five' books.
I did read things like 'Famous Five' and 'Secret Seven' when I was very young, but I soon grew out of them.
The only thing I really remember of Enid Blyton are the plenty of meals of tinned food. Her books always made me wish for tinned peaches and meat. I think it was the main reason why I read them.
I also enjoyed 'The Naughtiest Girl in the School' and 'Malory Towers' (it's all fun and laughs until you find yourself unpacking your suitcase in the dormitory then all bets are off!!)... Boy-oh-boy what a shock boarding school was when I got there.
The Paddington Bear books by Michael Bond are ideal for young readers. They introduced the world to marmalade sandwiches and a bear named after a railway station, with a suburban bear living with the Brown family who had frequent run-ins with his next door neighbour. Obviously an influence on author Douglas Adams who mentions the bear when introducing Arthur Dent's love-interest, the similarly-named Fenchurch.
Elinor M Brent-Dyer
The Chalet School books are a series of 58 stories by Elinor M Brent-Dyer, which follow the girls at a fictional school started in Austria in the 1920s. The school moves to Guernsey after the Anschluss, then relocates to the English/Welsh border during the Second World War; after a couple of years on a Welsh island the school moves to its final location in the Swiss mountains. During the series, former pupils and staff marry and send their own daughters to the school, or come back to visit or teach, so the reader feels part of a big community of friends. There are currently two fan clubs, and several 'new' Chalet School books have been published in recent years. Elinor M Brent-Dyer herself wrote several more books with characters that subsequently arrive at the Chalet School (as well as others that have no connection). Not all of her books are currently in print but there is a wide second-hand market - although beware, as the paperback versions published in her lifetime were often heavily edited, and some of the hardbacks now change hands for over GBP£100 (at time of writing in 2012).
People are writing fill-in Chalet School books now, for all the missing terms, and there's also a prequel and a sequel. They're really good. There are several Chalet School books in the series that I never managed to find copies of. I always wondered what actually happened to some of the characters. My own set (somewhere between 45 to 50 of them) were passed on when I thought I'd outgrown them - which I occasionally regret.
An Austrian writer of children's crime books and also children's television. His most popular series of books is Die Knickerbockerbande (the Knickerbocker Gang), about four children age 8 to 13. The two boys and two girls find out about various crimes, which at first usually seem spooky and like ghost stories but it always turns out that criminals are behind everything, which results in book titles like Der Ruf des Gruselkuckucks (The Call of the Creepy Cuckoo) or Die Rache der Roten Mumie (The Revenge of the Red Mummy). The series has all-in-all 67 books, then additional books with short crime stories that the readers have to solve themselves, as well as stories where the reader can decide what happens. Knickerbocker Gang books have been translated into various languages, including English and simple English for learners.
Author of Christmas classic The Snowman3, Briggs also wrote the two Father Christmas4 books, Ug, Fungus the Bogeyman and The Bear. He also wrote what could be the most moving comic book of all time, When the Wind Blows.
Joyce Lankaster Brisley
The Milly Molly Mandy books were written and illustrated by Joyce Lankaster Brisley5. Millicent Margaret Amanda is a small girl who lives with her extended family in a cottage in 1920s rural England. Her playmates are Susan and Billy, and these gentle stories tell of a very simple life, about events like a day at the sea, buying fabric for a new dress, or mother having a haircut.
The Jennings books by Anthony Buckeridge are set in a prep school (so they are rather dated now) but relate the adventures of Jennings (who is of the 'Just William' type) and his best friend Darbyshire;
One of my favourites was the Jennings series, which I can still read today and find myself laughing out loud. Anthony Buckeridge really understood how the eleven year-old mind works.
Frances Hodgson Burnett
One of my favourite books as a child (and still a favourite) is 'The Secret Garden' by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I loved the mystery of it, and the idea of bringing a dead garden back to life. It became one of my daughter's favourites too, aided by the lovely film adaptation starring Maggie Smith. I think it also manages to retain a timeless quality which makes it cross-generational and something that children can still relate to today.
Edgar Rice Burroughs
The creator of Tarzan, he also wrote the Venus, Mars6 (Barsoom), The Land that Time Forgot and At The Earth's Core novels, writing between 1912-1950. His work inspired the following generation of science fiction and fantasy authors.
Author for the under 5s, his work includes Tiger, about a cat who wishes to be a tiger, the Percy the Park Keeper series, and The Whisperer, which brings the story of Romeo and Juliet to the world of cats. One Researcher said,
I used to babysit a little boy from when he was about 6 to 10, and I would practically beg him to let me read him Nick Butterworth's 'One Snowy Night', about all the park animals finding a bed for the night in Percy the Park-keeper's cottage. When I stopped babysitting him as I was leaving London, he bought me a copy as a leaving gift.
His book Dear Zoo is a lift-the-flap classic that has been translated into 17 different languages worldwide, from Arabic to Vietnamese. Under 5s love lifting the flaps and doing the noises of the unsuitable animal underneath.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a deceptively simple story which has been teaching children about counting, the days of the week, colours and metamorphosis since 1969. The holes the caterpiller makes as he munches through an exciting array of food of all shapes and sizes entices the child to touch and interact with the story. A whole merchandising industry has been invented around this character; this Researcher's son's toothbrush is decorated with The Very Hungry Caterpiller;
I am now collecting ['The Very Hungry Caterpillar'] in as many different language versions as possible.
Reverend Charles Dodgson, or Lewis Carroll, is best known for Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, however, his poetry including 'The Hunting of the Snark' should not be overlooked;
There are so many levels to 'Alice in Wonderland' that I imagine a person could go back to it several times during a lifetime, seeing new things in it every time.
Famed for Charlie & Lola (which has been adapted into a children's cartoon series), Clarice Bean and My Uncle is a Hunkle. The illustrations and prose are perfect bedtime stories for the very young through to the pre-teen.
The author of adult science-fiction including the haunting The Death of Grass also wrote for children, notably the Tripods series. One Researcher stated,
'The Lotus Caves' by John Christopher was one I absolutely loved. I've still got my original copy and re-read it last year.
Eoin Colfer is best known for the Artemis Fowl series of fantasy adventure stories. Artemis (despite the name) is a young teen boy genius who runs his father's crime empire when his father goes missing. He becomes aware that a fairy world exists and kidnaps a fairy in order to use the ransom to fund search-expeditions for his father. Fairies are not sweet loving flower creatures but represent an underground world of criminals, enforcement officers, demons and mythical beasts. In addition to magic fairy technology is far superior to human technology and has mainly been deployed to develop sophisticated weapons and other spy gear.
Susan Cooper wrote The Dark is Rising sequence of five fantasy books about 'The Old Ones' - not exactly wizards (although one of them is the original Merlin, still busy in the 20th Century), but protecting ordinary people from The Dark. The first book, Over Sea, Under Stone, gives the impression of being a family adventure holiday - subsequent volumes are much more mysterious and eerie. The film based on the book was considered to be very disappointing, however.
The Dark is Rising! I love that series, but especially the [second] book. The descriptions of snow! I swear that is the reason I ended up in Russia. Snow! Like The Dark is Rising!
The only series where I will tolerate, nay enjoy, Arthurian claptrap.
Among the funniest short stories ever written, Richmal Crompton's William Brown of Just William fame, is a dirty, scruffy, truculent, inventive and naughty 11 year old, leader of a gang of boys who spend their days climbing trees, jumping ditches, playing variants of cops and robbers, and avoiding chores. Created in 1919 but still having adventures several decades later, William himself is hugely endearing to the reader, but a trial and an embarrassment to his middle-class family: mother, who darns socks and is on various village committees; father, who goes out to work; older sister Ethel (something of a socialite) and older brother Robert (sometime poet whose romances are constantly being interrupted by William's escapades). William never *means* to get into trouble - but he invariably does - and although his attempts to get back out of trouble are usually successful, this is never quite in the way he intended or expected.
A New Zealand author who writes charming rhyming books for under fives, such as Hairy Maclary and Slinky Malinki. Researchers wrote;
Another set of books we love are the 'Hairy Maclary' ones, and again they bounce along with lots of rhyme and repetition.
My particular favourite, (which she illustrated and co-authored with Eve Sutton), 'My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes'. Young children love the repetitive rhyme and her adorable illustrations. There is enough humour in both the text and the images to keep parents amused even after countless readings.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
There's more to this world-class author than Sherlock Holmes and he wrote adventure stories for children, including Sir Nigel. He dedicated his classic dinosaur story The Lost World to 'The boy who's half a man, and the man who's half a boy.'7.
Susan M Coolidge is best known for her series of books about Katy Carr and her siblings, who live in Ohio, America. Katy is a heedless 12 year old, the oldest of six children who live with their father and his sister, Aunt Izzie. Katy wants to be beautiful and serene like her grown-up cousin Helen, who is an invalid, but is forever getting herself into mischief. Her life changes when she injures her back in an accident and is unable to walk; What Katy Did, the first book, tells the story of Katy and her scrapes, her accident, and her eventual recovery. In What Katy Did At School, Katy and her sister Clover spend a year at a small boarding school in New Hampshire. Three sequels followed, following Katy, and later Clover, into their respective marriages - and, in Clover's case, relocation to Colorado. These are excellent family stories, with humour and romance, and plenty of American scenery.
Roald Dahl is one of the most prolific children's writers of all time for the over 5s. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Twits - he wrote more books than can be named in this Entry. Every hero, no matter how humble, has his day and every villain his suitable come-uppance.
One of the greatest authors of the Victorian era, Charles Dickens used his talent to fight injustice in the world. Perhaps his best-loved story enjoyed by older readers remains A Christmas Carol.
'Franklin W Dixon' & 'Carolyne Keene'
Neither 'Franklin W Dixon' nor 'Carolyn Keene' existed. They were the names used by the Stratemeyer Syndicate of writers, who wrote the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Tom Swift books as well as others. The Hardy Boys were young detective brothers who flew aircraft and piloted speedboats whilst solving crimes; Nancy Drew their no less resourceful solo female equivalent. True, every case started at the beginning of the summer holidays and was solved at the end, but despite the industry churning out the books, they are remembered with fondness. In the 1980s the Hardy Boys series turned darker, following the murder of Joe's girlfriend, Iola Morton.
The first books I remember buying (and saving up pocket money for) were Hardy Boys and, to a lesser extent, Nancy Drew. I think we've still got them in an attic somewhere...
The seventh Children's Laureate (2011-2013), Julia Donaldson has collaborated with several artists to create a large number of books for young readers which are all a definite hit with young children, from pre-school to young readers. They are fun stories which often have rhyming sections that bounce along, and so are lovely to read out loud. One of the most popular books to read to younger children is Julia Donaldson's The Gruffalo. More Researchers plumped for that book than any other, and they had good things to say about her other books too;
At one time or another I have had to hide [books by Julia Donaldson] just to get a break from reading them several times a day.
One of the joys of the Julia Donaldson books illustrated by Axel Scheffler is spotting characters from other stories in the pictures, such as the Stick Man in The Gruffalo's Child, the Gruffalo Christmas decoration and fish in Stick Man and Tiddler. This view isn't shared by everyone, though;
It's a terrible thing but Julia and Alex really annoy me. There's always something in the books that is wrong. 'The Snail and the Whale' has children squirting and spraying to keep the whale cool according to the text, but the picture shows firemen. When you read it a lot (and oh do we) it really annoys you because otherwise they are very, very good. I keep wishing they were slightly less popular so their editor could be slightly stricter with them.
Living 1802-1870, Dumas was a French author of historical fiction, best known for The Three Musketeers and its sequels, as well as The Count of Monte Cristo.
My Naughty Little Sister (MNLS) was written by Dorothy Edwards. These are stories of childhood - an older sister writing about her younger sister - and are fairly short and usually amusing. These stories differ substantially from the modern day equivalent (Horrid Henry) as MNLS has a more complex personality, sometimes she's good, sometimes she means to be good, and sometimes she's naughty. These were originally written in the 1950s for BBC Radio's Listen With Mother, based on her own childhood experiences.
I remember one where MNLS was ill and spoke to everyone who came to the door during the day (the postman, the milkman) eliciting sympathy, stories and treats.
A German author who lived 1929-1995, he is most famous for The Neverending Story (Die Unendliche Geschichte), first published in 1979. Bastian steals an old book from a shop. The book is about the world Fantastica which is endangered by The Nothing, which lets parts of the land disappear. As he reads, Bastian becomes more and more involved in the story until he finally is inside of the book, exploring the world Fantastica and searching for his own true wish and recreating Fantastica. A few films have been based on the book, but none retell the story as it really is, and are quite disappointing if you know the book.
J Meade Falkner
Nils Olaf Franzen
Author of the books about Agaton Sax, a Swedish super detective who also edits a newspaper 'The Bykoping Post'. He fearlessly assists Inspector Lispington of Scotland Yard in the detection of crime and the snaring of cunning international masterminds (as well as their dimwitted associates). The stories are hugely entertaining, and brilliantly illustrated by Quentin Blake.
Claire Freedman is best known for her underpants books, beginning with Aliens Love Underpants8, illustrated by Ben Court.
[My son] is four, his current favourite is 'Dinosaurs Love Underpants'. This evening he took off his underpants and put them on his inflatable triceratops.
Her best known work is Inkheart, filmed in 2008. She also wrote the Wilden Hühner books.
René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo
The Asterix comics are about a village of Gauls who, with the help of Getafix's magic potion, the brains of the hero and the strength of Obelix defeat the Romans, preventing them from invading their village and helping friends all around the world. René Goscinny also wrote five Nicholas books. Since René Goscinny's death, illustrator Albert Uderzo has continued the Asterix series.
The Scottish writer best known for creating The Wind in the Willows, published in 1908. There have been several film and television versions of the story of friends Ratty, Mole, Toad and Badger, notably the animation by Cosgrove Hall in 1983 and Terry Jones' film in 1996.
Sir Henry Rider Haggard
Perhaps the ultimate Boy's Own Adventure writer, writing between 1885 and 1921 H Rider Haggard created the character of Allan Quatermain9, in King Solomon's Mines as well as Ayesha, She who Must Be Obeyed.
H Rider Haggard - I remember thinking very exciting as a child. Oh, 'King Solomon's Mines'! Brilliant.
The author of the Mr Men and Little Miss series which have been translated into 20 different languages since 1971. He wrote 49 Mr Men and 42 Little Miss books, inspiring a television series in 1974 narrated by Arthur Lowe. Sadly, after Hargreaves death in 1988, the television rights to the Mr Men series were sold on, with the resulting 21st Century Mr Men Show controversially redesigning many beloved characters, such as changing Mr Strong from being square to triangular.
Robert A Heinlein
One of the greats in 20th Century science fiction, often considered to be in the same class as Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke. Although famous for his works for adults, notably Starship Troopers, he also wrote for young adults, including Starman Jones. An interesting bit of trivia: he is often credited as the originator of the facetious adage 'Hanlon's Law': 'Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity'. One Researcher remembers,
As a teenager I thought Heinlein in Young Adult mode was the cat's pyjamas. Still do, although his adult books are more patchy I think.
The Spot lift-the-flap series is one of the best loved in the world, translated into 60 different languages and Braille. There are 16 lift-the-flap books, and any child will be delighted in helping Sally the dog look for Spot the puppy.
Perfect books for the 2+ age range, with Dogger a particularly moving story of a young boy who has lost his favourite cuddly dog, which won the Kate Greenaway Medal for Illustration in 1977. Abel's Moon is aimed at an older, young reading audience, but perhaps best loved of all are the Alfie series;
Probably my favourite picture books when they were little were the Alfie ones by Shirley Hughes, who also provided the illustrations for our copy of 'My Naughty Little Sister'.
Author of the thirteen Professor Branestawm books, written between 1933 and 1983. These feature an absent-minded professor, his inventions (which normally go wrong) and his constant search for his glasses, five pairs of which are normally located on his massive forehead.
Writing for young reading and older reading kids, from 5 up to teens, her books include the Colour Crackers storybooks based on true facts about animals, and the Monster and Frog and Titchy Witch books.
Author of the Kipper and Wibbly Pig books, perfect for under 2s.
Most famous for his Redwall series, Jacques wrote around 30 books about Redwall Abbey, Salamandasron and the surrounding areas. These sprawl across several hundred years of events, dealing mainly with the anthropomorphic animal residents of Redwall Abbey. The main characters are mostly mice, but the series also features boxing hares, squirrels, rabbits and hares, rats, foxes, stoats, weasels and badger warlords. Despite all the characters being woodland animals, they all had human personalities. These books were very popularly remembered;
There was fierce competition amongst us to get onto the top of the waiting list whenever the next in the Redwall series was published.
My sister was a huge Redwall fan: she must have about 25 of them. I borrowed and read a few of the early ones in my early twenties, and didn't regret it.
I first encountered these books aged around 6 or 7 as part of a cassette tapes for blind children scheme, where they sent you out a cassette each month and you listened and sent it back. Quite apt I suppose as the Redwall series was initially intended for Children of the Royal Blind School in London. It saddened me to hear that Brian Jaques had passed away10... I still have my collection of Redwall books, and whenever I come across one in a charity shop or book sale that I haven't read I tend to acquire it.
The Moomins are a family of small, hippopotamus-like trolls invented by writer and illustrator Tove Jansson (1914-2001). The Moomins live in the forest of Finland together with other rather strange but interesting characters. There are several books, picture books, comic strips, a television series and films about the Moomins.
The inspiration behind the Round the Twist television series, he wrote Unreal and Uncanny which included such stories as 'Wunderpants' (about a boy who gains super powers when wearing a certain pair of underpants) and 'Inside Out' (about a series of events surrounding things turning inside out...).
Captain WE Johns
Author of 169 books, including 11 about WAAF Flight Officer Joan 'Worrals' Worralson, ten following Lorrington 'Gimlet' King, six about crime fighter 'Steeley' Montfort Delaroy and ten science-fiction stories following the heroic exploits of Group Captain 'Tiger' Clinton and Professor Brane. However it is for his 100 Biggles books written between 1932-1968 that he is best known. These follow the exploits of James 'Biggles' Bigglesworth in the Royal Flying Corps during the Great War, flying a Sopwith Camel, his between war adventures in predominantly amphibious aircraft, fighting the Battle of Britain in the Second World War and then after the war becoming a 'flying detective', fighting crime all around the world. Researchers remember these books fondly;
When I hit puberty I got two Biggles books twice a year. I still have them since I had three girls and none of them showed any interest in reading them (which puzzles me to this day). I'm hoping for a grandson one day (another beautiful baby girl so far!).
My favourite was Biggles. I think that I probably read most of the then published list of Biggles, Gimlet and Worrals books at the time, along with anything else by WE Johns.
Now, since getting a Kindle I've been revisiting some of the books I read way back. Recently I tried the first Biggles book I ever read which was 'Cruise of the Condor'. I still enjoyed it.
Oh, Biggles! I liked Biggles. Adventure! Flying machines! Yay!
Diana Wynne Jones
Diana Wynne Jones was an English writer perhaps best known through Hayao Miyazaki's Japanese anime movie adaptations of her work, including Laputa: Castle in the Sky and Howl's Moving Castle. Although absolutely wonderful films, they are very loose adaptations.
The author of The Phantom Tollbooth. Milo is a bored early teen, when he get home from school one day there is a package addressed to him. He opens it and a large 'toy' car and a Tollbooth appear. There's a token. He's really bored but tries the car and booth anyway and is transported to another world. There's a war of sorts going on between the peoples of Digitopolis (the numbers) and Dictionopolis (the words). He meets a dog, called Tock because he has an alarm clock round his neck, in the first place he comes to, The Doldrums. Tock scares away the inhabitants and together they try to stop the war, save the Princesses, Rhyme and Reason and meet various strange characters and there is all the stuff about numbers being better than words and vice versa. It's a very clever, very funny little book made into a film in 1970. This has some live action and the main story is animated and quite psychedelic. One Researcher stated,
'The Phantom Tollbooth' - one of my favourite books as a child (the first time I read it, it only took me a day).
A German author and poet who lived 1899-1974. Among his more internationally well-known works are Emil & the Detectives (Emil und die Detektive), published in 1929 and is a boy Emil who gets stolen money and follows the criminal with the help of some other children, and Das doppelte Lottchen (1949)Lottie & Lisa, about twin sisters who are split as babies because their parents break up and the girls grow up in very different backgrounds. The sisters meet again at the age of 9 in their holidays and decide to swap parents. These have been made into Walt Disney films, the latter filmed twice as The Parent Trap11.
Best known for The Tiger Who Came To Tea, in which an impossibly cuddly tiger visits, eats all the food in the house, all the drink and even all the water in the tap12 and leaves, making any child wish with all their might that the tiger will visit their house next.
I don't remember many of the picture books I read, but I must have really liked Judith Kerr of a Tiger Came to Tea fame. Very seventies though.
She also wrote the Mog the Forgetful Cat series, 'purr-fect' for over 2s.
My all-time favourite was 'When Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit' by Judith Kerr. It's a kind of Anne Frank for beginners.
Lear (1812-1888) is famed for creating the limerick in 1845 and popularising the Nonsense literary genre for children with such timeless classics as The Owl and the Pussycat.
Although best known as a Beatle, John Lennon was the author of Nonsense anthologies In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works, inspired by The Goon Show, Edward Lear and particularly Lewis Carroll. John's first creative activity was writing Nonsense for his own fictional newspaper, The Daily Howl, while at school. Following the book's publication, John Lennon was said to be illiterate in a debate in Parliament by an MP who did not get the jokes.
On rainy days at school there was one book in the library guaranteed to make us laugh every time, even on the darkest days; John Lennon's 'In His Own Write'.
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) is best known for his seven Chronicles of Narnia novels, although he also wrote a science fiction trilogy and many short stories. Today the Narnia novels are fondly remembered13, though CS Lewis's Christian moral message is less contentious among modern readers than the reading order changing after the prequel The Magician's Nephew was published. The Last Battle won the Carnegie Medal14.
I loved CS Lewis. I recently reread them to my son. If you read 'The Magicians Nephew' before 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' it makes more sense. My favourite is 'The Horse and his Boy', I like those long days riding over the plains with nothing much happening. My son read CS Lewis before he encountered Christianity. When he met Christianity he kept saying 'it's like Aslan'.
If you read 'The Magician's Nephew' first, you miss out on that brilliant 'a-ha!' moment, which is why I stuck (and stick) to publication order when reading or recommending them. They were published with 'The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe' first , followed by 'Prince Caspian' , 'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader' , 'The Silver Chair' , 'The Horse and his Boy' , 'The Magician's Nephew'  and 'The Last Battle' . Later CS Lewis recommended the order that is now printed on the books (but wasn't when I was a kid) and it annoys me that I have some newer editions on my shelf in the order I prefer but the numbers are then in the wrong order).
Yes, I also loved Lewis's 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'. However, as a child, I had no idea that these books were but parts of series, which is such a shame, as I would have loved to read more of the same.
Not every reader remembers the Narnia novels with fondness, however;
I'm sorry, I just don't get the thing about Narnia. I find it rather boring and it makes no sense. I read the series up to some book that was about travelling on a ship ['Voyage of the Dawn Treader']. I can't clearly remember it, has been a few years ago. Maybe it's better if you have read it as a child.
Astrid Lindgren was a Swedish writer who lived 1907-2002, one of the best known children's book authors world wide. She wrote three Pippi Longstocking books in the 1940s - featuring the heroine who is a strong 9 year old girl who is lives alone in a house with a horse and a monkey. Her father, originally a seafarer, is king on a tropical island. Pippi's best friends are the children from the house next doors, but their mother disapproves of Pippi, who does not go to school and does not behave as she thinks little girls should behave. She also wrote The Six Bullerby Children series, six books written in the 1940s and 50s. They are about the children in the small village of Bullerby, which consists of only three farm houses. The books are told from the perspective of one of one of the girls and are about her every-day life on a farm in the 1930s, about going to school and the simple pleasures in life, like drinking lemonade from a bucket with a straw. Bullerby is portrayed as the perfect place for children. She also wrote Rasmus and Pontus. In 2005 the Unesco put her original manuscripts (in a library in Stockholm) on the 'Memory of the World' list and from 2015 she will be on the Swedish 20 kronor note. There is even an Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award given annually to writers of children's literature. Researchers remember reading her books with the words;
The 'Pippi' books were from my mother, they must be quite old now. Mum read them to me. 'The Bullerby Children' I read myself, one of the first real books I read myself, I think.
I do remember reading a 'Secret Seven' (Enid Blyton) book to my kids and then, absolutely by coincidence, hot on its tail a 'Rasmus and Pontus' book (Astrid Lindgren) with almost exactly the same story. The Lindgren was far superior, even though we were reading it in translation. I can't remember why, now, but I think, basically, the characters were more three-dimensional and the story more credible.
One of Australia's celebrated artists, he also wrote and illustrated the tale of The Magic Pudding, which sees the character of Bunyip Bluegum and his friends discovering a pudding that is able to be eaten, then regenerates. Written in 1918, it is still a great laugh out loud story for young and old.
Doctor Doolittle was written by Hugh Lofting in the 1920s. The doctor eschews his human patients in favour of animals with whom he can converse. The books are fairly long and densely written with some fantastic language yet nothing too alarming happens. There are a number of adventures, they have to save their house and then the doctor goes travelling, collecting animals from around the world and rescuing them from danger. One of these is the 'pushmi-pullyu', an animal with two heads which argues with itself. One Researcher informed us that;
I enjoyed these books when I was young and found them great to read with my son when his ability to comprehend language outstripped his ability to deal with plots meant for older children. They are quite innocent books and funny.
Scottish author Angus MacVicar (1908–2001) wrote a series of science fiction stories.
There was also a couple of rather good tales by one Angus MacVicar, 'The Lost Planet' which was turned into a BBC children's serial. Most of my books came via the local library and there was something like a 6 week waiting list for reserved books for that one.
John Masefield (1878–1967), being Poet Laureate, is best known for his poetry such as Sea Fever. However he also wrote two classic children's novels, The Midnight Folk and its sequel The Box of Delights, which was adapted by the BBC for a wonderful television series in 1984.
Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series are superficially high fantasy (dragons, castles, swashbuckling sword-fights, etc.), but in later books it turns out that the setting is actually a technologically regressed space colony set far from Earth. The 'Harper' sub-series are written most expressly for young adults. The main character is Menolly, a musically gifted young girl trying to succeed as a 'harper' (basically a bard) in a repressive sexist society. One reader remembers,
By the first year of secondary school - age 11-12 - I was reading as many adult books as 'young adult', but Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series straddled the two categories nicely. The specifically Young Adult targeted ones, 'Dragonsong', 'Dragonsinger: Harper of Pern' and 'Dragondrums' really captured my imagination.
Sheila K McCullagh MBE
Author of numerous schoolbooks to help children learn how to read, including Puddle Lane, Tim and the Hidden People and The Village with Three Corners, featuring Roger Red Hat, Billy Blue Hat and twins Johnny and Jennifer Yellow Hat.
Megan McDonald is the author of young girls fiction, such as one series featuring Moody Judy and one starring Judy's younger 'bother' Stink, illustrated by Peter Reynolds. Another story is When the Library Lights Go Out, illustrated by Katherine Tillotson.
One book I will never forget is called 'When The Library Lights Go Out'. Hubby and I used to take turns reading that each night. When it was it was his turn however, it wasn't [my child] that went to sleep, it was usually me...
Alan Alexander Milne and his son Christopher Robin Milne lived in Hartfield in Sussex. Inspired by his son's toys, AA Milne wrote two Winnie-The-Pooh books and two books of children's poetry:
- Winnie-The-Pooh (1926)
- The House At Pooh Corner (1928)
- When We Were Very Young (1924)
- Now We Are Six (1927)
These books are among the most fondest remembered from childhood, and several researchers not only mentioned enjoying them as a child, but deliberately reading them to their own children,
I still have all my children's books - I've never grown out of them and frequently return to them for comfort reading. If I had to pick one it would probably be Winnie the Pooh (we have both books in a single volume so that's not cheating, right?) and my favourite story of the lot is the Poohsticks one - I can still remember the first time I read it aloud to the children, although they were captivated more by my tears of laughter than by the story itself, I think.
Pooh! Now that is a wonderfully written series. My dad must have read me them a lot because now I am starting to read them to my son, the stories just trip off my tongue. I like Eeyore.
Winnie-ther-Pooh (if you know what ther means15). I remember that being read to me and have since read it to my daughters.
Although one Researcher has different, and rather unique, memories;
As for poor old Pooh, I avoided him for years and never really got on with him when I did try reading the books. This was for a rather odd reason: I knew Christopher Robin Milne, who ran our local bookshop and was, to my young mind, rather grumpy and intimidating. I've since been told by many people, not least my Mum, that he was a kindly, gentle but somewhat shy person. I suspect my impression of him was formed because he found it difficult dealing with children who he assumed associated him with his fictional alter ego.
Clement C Moore
Parents all around the world agree that on 24th December there is traditionally only one book that can be read to the children; A Visit from Saint Nicholas, better known by its opening line. 'Twas the Night Before Christmas'. First published in 1822, though much imitated, it has never been equalled.
Sir Patrick Moore
Everyone's favourite monocled astronomer, Sir Patrick Moore wrote the Scott Saunders Space Adventure series for children. He has also written astronomy books for all ages.
Third Children's Laureate (2003-2005), Michael Morpurgo is probably currently most famous for his story War Horse16. He has written stories based on true wartime stories that bring the truth of war to younger readers in a way that resonates to them.
Author of The Paper Bag Princess, one Researcher wrote,
Reading to a little one (2-6), it doesn't get much better and I defy anyone to read 'Love You Forever' to your little one in bed without a certain moistness in your eyes.
Writing as E Nesbit (1858–1924), she wrote numerous stories, including the Psammead trilogy, Five Children and It17, The Phoenix and the Carpet and The Story of the Amulet, as well as The Railway Children, the 1970 film version of which is considered one of the best family films ever.
Illustrated by Jan Pienkowski, Helen Nicoll wrote the Meg and Mog series about two incompetent witches and their owl, with the first published in 1972, fondly regarded today;
My favourite is one I remember with great affection from my own childhood - the Meg, Mog and Owl books. Meg is a witch whose spells never quite have the intended effect.
I loved Meg and Mog and the Worst Witch when I was 7/8.
A Swedish illustrator and writer who was born in 1946 and is famous for his Pettson and Findus book series, which are popular in both Sweden and Germany. The elderly farmer Pettson lives together with his young and cheerful cat Findus, who was found in a cardboard box. Findus can talk and wears trousers and a hat. All books have colourful and detailed illustrations and tell of the everyday life on the farm - which Findus makes a bit unusual. There is also a television series and films of Pettson and Findus. One Researcher stated,
For small(-ish) children I love to read illustrated books by Sven Nordqvist as example of translated books. Imaginative illustrations with lots of detail, keeps kids interested. Not sugary cute, which is a relief.
Author famous for The Borrowers series and the two The Magic Bed Knob books.
'The Borrowers' was my favourite book while I was at Junior school. It was specifically chosen by our English teacher for us to study. I recall she used to read a chapter towards the end of each English lesson, and 'The Borrowers' is the only one I can remember!
Author of Tom's Midnight Garden, a Carnegie-medal winning novel about time travel that was made into a classic BBC television series in 1989.
Perhaps the ultimate author of anthropomorphic animals, Beatrix Potter's series of 23 books from The Tale of Peter Rabbit onwards, published between 1902-1930, are aimed at children 2 and over. Often scary, but always beautifully illustrated, each story has a strong moral message.
Sir Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett, for most of his career, has been Britain's best-selling author, with his Discworld series famous throughout the world. He has written stories for children, including many Discworld books such as the Carnegie-winning The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents. His Bromeliad and Johnny trilogies aimed at younger readers. One of his main Discworld characters, Sam Vimes, regularly reads to his son Sammy, with the fictional books he reads, Where is my Cow? and The World of Poo by fictional author 'Miss Felicity Beedle', have also been published. He wrote novel The Carpet People when he himself was still a child. Many readers felt that his books were perfect not only for adults, but children of all ages.
Pratchett's 'Nation' is one of my favourite books of all time. It asks the fundamental question: what do you do when the world ends? We start off with two characters who lose everything and then have to rebuild with the book looking at all the different ways things can die and be reborn. Even in amongst these grand questions of philosophy and theology, the human story at the heart of it all doesn't get lost. Aimed at a young adult audience (though everyone should read it) 'Nation' doesn't shy away from the difficult questions and the biggest challenges and never once patronises its audience. There's a delightful seam of scientific enquiry in there as well as Pratchett's trademark humour.
Canadian author Willard Price was born in 1887 and visited 77 countries whilst on expeditions for both the American Museum of Natural History and the National Geographic Society. He wrote fourteen Adventure Series books for older readers, from Amazon to Arctic Adventure. These feature two brothers, Hal and Roger Hunt, explore the world, identify and capture rare animals for zoos around the world. Perhaps the best is Diving Adventure, where they live in a city beneath the sea and travel by a vehicle that is both a submarine and a hovercraft.
The author of Mrs Pepperpot, these are books for young readers. Mrs Pepperpot shrinks (to the size of a pepper pot). Once she has shrunk she had all sorts of amusing adventures, riding on a bird and falling in soup, although not simultaneously.
Oh yes, Mrs Pepperpot! fantastic stories!
Carnegie Medal and Astrid Lindgren Memorial award-winning novelist for older readers.
I'm not sure if we're including young adult stuff in with children's but the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy is some of the best writing in all of English literature... Covering similar ground to [Terry Pratchett's] 'Nation': following two teenagers through world-(or worlds-) changing events but the scale is so much bigger and the fundamental schism between destiny and free will. Whilst 'Nation' discusses alternate realties, 'His Dark Materials' explores them in gloriously rich detail.
Swallows and Amazons is the first book, and most the famous, in a series written by Arthur Ransome in the 1930s. A gang of children are given an impossible amount of freedom one summer and spend the time messing about on boats on the lakes camping out on islands and meeting pirates. He was the first Carnegie Medal winner, an award for Children's Literature, in 1936.
One of many pen-names for Charles Harold St John Hamilton (1876-1961), he is best known for the adventures of schoolboy Billy Bunter.
The fifth Children's Laureate (2007-2009) and author of books such as We're Going on a Bear Hunt and You Wait 'Til I'm Older Than You.
My son is 9 and Harry Potter has hit his class in a big bad way. He struggles with reading and I've read the full series to him. I was surprised by what great children's books they were. However, other parents in the class have deemed them unsuitable or have deemed the later books unsuitable (too scary) and not allowed the children to read them.
Sir Salman Rushdie
A Booker Prize winning author famous for The Satanic Verses, a book which resulted in death threats. He has also written children's books to meet a challenge set by his son, to write a book he would like to read.
I just read 'Luka' by Salman Rushdie to my son and it's my new all time favourite story book. He wrote it . It's a wonderful quest adventure which blends feature from modern film and classic mythology to create a world that's clever, rich and funny. My nine year old loved it and it's good enough to read as an adult.
Famous for the Lone Pine series;
I liked the Lone Pine adventures by Malcom Saville too. In fact, I suddenly realised the power of the Internet the other year and started collecting them - I think they are out of print in real life.
There is a publishing company called Girls Gone By and they are currently reprinting all the Lone Pines - I completed my collection and *finally* got to read 'Strangers at Witchend' a couple of years ago.
I'm so pleased to find several people mentioning Malcolm Saville's 'Lone Pine' books. There was something very special which set them above the general run of children's adventure stories. Perhaps it was the greater depth to the characters and their relationships but a big part of it was certainly the real locations used for the stories. I got a thrill finding myself at Swincombe Head on Dartmoor last year, the source of the 'Saucers Over the Moor', and I was amazed to find that I could find my way around Rye on my very first visit (and it all looked exactly as I'd imagined it, surely a tribute to Saville's descriptive powers).
I had forgotten about 'The Lone Pine Club'. I now remember reading and enjoying as many of these as I could get my hands on.
Author of books boasting to be the Busiest Books Ever, each full of bright pictures crammed full of detailed pictures of cats, dogs, mice and pigs doing jobs, driving vehicles etc. With few words they are ideal for under 5s, but can be enjoyed by children of all ages.
Loved those things as a kid. Oh yes, my kids loved those too. Hours and hours must have been spent looking at his drawings. I seem to remember the paper almost wearing out in some of the books.
Sir Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) was a Scottish historical novelist, famous for books for older readers such as Ivanhoe, Kennilworth, Rob Roy and Waverley. He was also a poet and was offered the position of Poet Laureate, which he declined. Scott also found the lost Crown Jewels of Scotland in 1818, hidden since 1707, created the name of the Wars of the Roses, made tartan kilts a symbol of Scotland and campaigned to prevent York's mediæval walls from being demolished.
Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award winning author of Where the Wild Things Are.
All my family, from 28 year old wife, ten year old daughter and two year old son stop everything to sit and listen to the story of Max and the wild rumpus!
Author of books such as How the Grinch stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat.
Favourites were the Dr Seuss books. Start with 'The Sneetches'. 'The Book of Bedtime stories' was a favourite.
#2's favourite is '1 Fish, 2 Fish', #1's favourite is 'Green Eggs and Ham', mine is 'Horton Hears a Hoo'.
Both of my boys enjoyed Seuss, 'Fox in Socks' was a frequent request.
Author of only one book, Black Beauty for older readers, written in 1877, shortly before she died.
Although best-known as an illustrator for Jacqueline Wilson's books and a series of lift-the-flap fairy-tales ideal for under 5s with Stephen Tucker, he has written some excellent children's books in his own right, including Shark in the Park, sequel Shark in the Dark and Muddlewitch does Magic Tricks.
Johanna Spyri (1827-1901) was a Swiss writer of fiction for both children and adults. Her most widely known book is Heidi, which was published in two parts - Heidi's Years of Apprenticeship & Travel in 1880 and Heidi Applies What She Has Learned in 1881. This is a much-loved children's story about a little orphan who goes to live with her grandfather and his goats in his hut in the Swiss Alps. It has been made into both films and television mini-series.
Neal Stephenson is best known for his adult science fiction work;
'Cryptonomicon' and 'The Diamond Age' are good for most ages - teens up to codgers like me. I suppose 'children' must include me, since I never grew up.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) was a Scottish novelist. His most famous novels include Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Famous for the Goosebumps horror and chiller stories written for older readers in the early 1990s. One Researcher remembered,
The first book I read was aged 7, it was Say Cheese and Die, one of the RL Stine 'Goosebumps' books. I'm still reasonably sure my mum had bought it for my older sister.
JRR Tolkien CBE
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien is best known for his Middle Earth books, namely The Hobbit and the The Lord of the Rings18 trilogy, although he wrote numerous other stories. His work was extensively discussed;
When the BBC did their Big Read, 'Lord of the Rings' eventually won. In the head-to-head debates, it was pointed out that most people who love Tolkien appear to have first read it before the age of about 15. If you wait longer, it seems, there is a significant chance you've missed the Buckleberry Ferry, as it were. This is, of course, not to say that people stop enjoying it when they get older, but it seems that it has special power in capturing the juvenile mind...
I do like the Hobbit. We live near the place where Tolkien grew up and every year there is a festival with adults in fancy dress, elvish poetry, traditional crafts and local players performing scenes from 'The Lord of the Rings' in the woods. I've only attended with children but I'm told it's bit of a pick-up venue for those who like that sort of thing.
I also like Tolkien's letters from Father Christmas. He wrote these for his children and they are beautifully illustrated. They make great stories with different characters but also a social history covering times of war and depression. I read them every December as a part of our Christmas traditions. There are different characters and we do silly voices.
I really don't know what everyone has against Tom Bombadil. I always liked him!
I read the 'Narnia' books at age 8 and 'The Hobbit' at 10. I found 'The Lord of the Rings' too difficult at age 10, but lapped it up at age 11.
Samuel Clemens (1835-1910), or Mark Twain, is best known for writing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.
One thing I have noticed is how far removed books like 'Tom Sawyer' are from children's understanding these days. My children couldn't enjoy these books in the way I did, without an interpreter on hand, because so many of the concepts in them and the way of life is so different from their own lives in the 21st Century. Of course, Tom Sawyer's life was very different to my own experience of childhood, but older generations were still alive then who could relate to books like that, and when I was growing up there was still a certain amount of freedom and 'safety' in being a free-roaming child that no longer exists today.
One of the fathers of Science Fiction, French author Jules Verne (1828-1905) wrote several books including 20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea, Mysterious Island, Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days. These have inspired numerous films and television series.
The father of British children's literature, Dr Isaac Watts (1674-1748) was a hymn writer from Southampton who also wrote several poems for children. These were compiled in Divine and Moral Songs for Children, first published as Divine Songs for Children in 1715, with Moral Songs added to subsequent editions. Popular throughout the 18th and 19th Centuries, he influenced many following children's writers, including Charles Dickens and Lewis Carroll, who parodied Watts' 'How Doth the Little Busy Bee' with 'How Doth the Little Crocodile'.
Herbert George Wells, another of the founders of the modern science fiction genre, is best known for his scientific romance novels, including The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds and The Island of Doctor Moreau.
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Famous for her series of autobiographies on her experiences growing up on America's frontiers, known as the Little House series (after the first two books in the series, Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie, which was adapted into a television series in the 1970s). The books are remembered with fondness by Researchers, however the television series was not;
'The Little House' TV series does seem very syrupy compared to the books.
The fourth Children's Laureate (2005-2007), Wilson is most famous for writing the Tracy Beaker books.
John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris, or John Wyndham for short, wrote several post-apocalyptic and science fiction stories, including The Midwich Cuckoos, The Kraken Wakes, Chocky and a recently discovered missing story, Plan for Chaos. He is best known for The Day of the Triffids, in which the population of the world is all-but wiped out and the few survivors are doomed to slavery, except for the inhabitants of the Isle of Wight. This novel, despite being labelled a 'cosy catastrophe', has inspired other genre and zombie fiction, including 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead, both of which use the hospital sequence.
Other Types of Books
There are, of course, other types of books available. Children who do not normally read may enjoy reading novelisations or original fiction based on their favourite films and television series. There are other varieties to consider for those children who perhaps don't take to reading like the proverbial duck to water;
I recall having a lot of 'pop-up' books as a girl, being the eldest of four siblings they didn't last very long once they'd been passed down for the others to read.
Ladybird is a British publishing company for children, with a book for every conceivable occasion, subject and need. You could learn how to read with the Peter & Jane series, learn about anything with the Learnabout series and the How it Works books, read every conceivable fairy tale and literature classics, books on castles, historical figures and events, places to visit, Rupert the Bear and the Frog Song, as well as the Garden Gang books, written and illustrated by a nine year old author. The classic format was for every page of text to be accompanied by a full-page colour picture. These books are now often remembered with fondness as an essential part of growing up;
My daughters were encouraged to read from an early age. Ladybird books were very good. Long enough for a good story, yet short enough to retain the interest from start to finish.
And we have lots of the Ladybird fairytale books, beautifully illustrated. [Youngest child] could 'read' them (making the up and down noises of speech) before she could speak; she knew what sounds to make from the picture opposite each page.
I've hung grimly on to most of my childhood books, even the Ladybird ones that my parents read to me when I was tiny.
Other books that children read and enjoy are comic books. These range from ones featuring superheroes, the Beano and Dandy, the adventures of Rupert the Bear as well as comics about wartime adventures, such as Commando, Warlord and The Victor. Researchers remembered many with fondness, saying;
I keep thinking of more and more stuff I read as a kid. Tintin, Asterix and Charlie Brown spring to mind: I think my mum was a big fan when she was younger, because my grandparents' house had loads of them, and we would all spend quite a bit of our summer holidays reading them.
[I loved to read] my eldest brother's stash of 'Commando' comics. A child's vocabulary isn't complete without "Gott in Himmel" and "The war is over for you, Englander!"
You forgot, "Kamerad"...
Choose Your Own Adventures
Other favourites included Choose Your Own Adventures books, where readers are given a choice, can make decisions and turn to different pages to continue the story based on the decision they have made. Steve Jackson19 and Ian Livingstone wrote the Fighting Fantasy books, essentially Choose Your Own Adventure for bigger kids;
When I was about 10 or 11, there was a bit of a craze in my class for those Jackson/Livingstone and 'Fighting Fantasy' books. I picked up a few, but although the idea was right down my alley, I found the gameplay a bit too fragmented to really keep me entertained.
I must admit, I got into the books, tracing the Adventure Sheet from the book and getting my mum to photocopy it so I could play again and again. 'The Warlock of Firetop Mountain' was a fave, but the 'Forest of Doom' and 'Deathtrap Dungeon' were also well thumbed, and I did play the first 18 books. Then I discovered girls.
Fairytales, Folklore and Nursery Rhymes
Of course, not every story is one written by a recognised author. Children often enjoy books of fairytales, mythology and nursery rhymes. In some backgrounds, children are raised on Bible stories retold for children. Many of these are based on stories such as Aesop's Fables. Others were written or re-written by Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm, many others are traditional tales, the telling of which preserves local customs and folklore.
I was trying to think what 'must-have' Russian books we are sharing with my son, but oddly enough, apart from Pushkin poems, what he gets from that side of the family are cartoons. Although I don't think the word 'cartoon' really does justice to what is some top quality visual storytelling. I mean, there are a lot of children's books, but for my son's age a lot of them are retelling traditional tales.
Other h2g2 Researcher Comments
Books, and authors, inspire us - as evident by what the h2g2 Community has to say about them;
I've always been a voracious reader - my mum tells a story about spending hundreds on a bouncy castle and ball pool for a massive 10th birthday party and finding me under the bed with a book and a torch.
I always found that books that are 'too old' for the reader were my favourites. It makes you feel grown-up. At age six, I wouldn't touch 'stories for six year olds' (or whatever) by Enid Blyton, but I'd devour 'stories for eight year olds'.
Often, these older titles are available in bookshops - but they are overwhelmed by newer, brasher looking titles - often spin-offs from cartoons with little literary merit. Even though my previous occupation had much to do with stocking libraries for children, I often forget those beloved titles.
I loved books as a child. I still do! I was very reluctant in letting my little sister, or younger cousins have my books once I had outgrown them, but eventually I had to give some away, so I could make room for more.
The last time I looked, my middle son was writing his thesis on English children's literature of the 19th Century. I don't know what kids these days would think of it - I suspect they'd have to be at least 12 to get most of the references. But there certainly is a lot of it.
Grateful thanks to Bluebottle for collating and preparing this Entry.