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Books every child should read! May 17, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Books.
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My humble list of books that every child should read, based on my somewhat unusual collection of childhood reading…

  • The Lorax – Dr Seuss
The Lorax Cover

The Lorax

Dr Seuss can probably be attributed as the single most important literary experience of my life. The reaction to this sort of comment (in the UK, anyway) almost inevitably results in some sort of muttering about cats in hats, but if you look away from that irritating stripy bugger then you actually find a creative world littered with morals. The Lorax is the best of a great bunch, and my copy is tattered, and loved so very hard.

  • Oh The Places You’ll Go – Dr Seuss

Not as good as The Lorax, but this book shows kids that they can do and be anything – and it is the book I bought my friends at home when we all went our separate ways to explore and experience the world.

  • The BFG – Roald Dahl

“The witching hour, somebody had once whispered to her, was a special moment in the middle of the night when every child and every grown-up was in a deep deep sleep, and all the dark things came out from hiding and had the world all to themselves.” It sounds scary, and at times it can be, what with the bone crunching and the child eating. However, the ending is a touching one full of dreams and excitement.

  • The Witches – Roald Dahl

Another Roald Dahl, but this one with the explicit intent of scaring your kids. In the same way that I believe kids should eat a bit of mud and fall out of trees as often as possible when they are little, I also feel they should have a little bit of fear instilled in them from an early age. And what better way to do this than with bald witches turning you into mice?! Once you’ve read it head down to Newquay and scare them silly with the building it was filmed in!

I’ve inserted a break, so I don’t take up my entire blog with this post…

  • Charlotte’s Web – E. B. White

Head breaking, touching – this teaches so many bittersweet lessons about life, death, and fitting in. The film is just as gut-wrenching., and I don’;t thin it has ever failed to bring a tear to my eye.

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle

When you’re really little, you need something simple. This book is just that, and for all its randomness I know of very few people for whom this hasn’t been an important childhood book. For posterity alone, we need to keep kids reading books like these, so that our culture keeps these little ribbons of connection running across generations. That and it’s just cool!

  • Mummy Laid An Egg – Babette Cole
Mummy Laid An Egg

Mummy Laid An Egg

I believe wholeheartedly that there is nothing wrong with sex, and there is nothing wrong with kids understanding where babies come from. Maybe if there was less shame and secrecy everyone would be educated and able to make their own decisions as and when they want. I respect Babette Cole totally and utterly, for getting rid of the stupid rumours and letting the kid tell the parents what is what. She is delightfully attitudy!

  • The Bear’s Picnic – The Berensteins

Yet more American books picked up on my travels, but this one has a definitely British vibe. The Berensteins do plenty of great books (the Spooky Old Tree is one that stands out), but the Bears Picnic is the best one. It reminds me of traipsing around the British countryside looking for a perfect picnic spot – sheltered from the weather, with a good view, and comfortable ground… as you can imagine, something of a fantasy!

  • Where The Forest Meets The Sea – Jeannie Baker
Where The Forest Meets The Sea

Where The Forest Meets The Sea

This is one of the calmest books I have ever read. There aren’t any words, just collages images of this most beautiful of locations. We watch as this idyllic space where the forest meets the sea is gradually invaded by double exposures of fairgrounds, and people, and destruction - and the fading memory of where nature once was. A warning against damaging the environment, even thinking about this book makes a place of calm in the whirliness of my mind.

  • Winnie The Witch – Valerie Thomas

There aren’t really any deep moral lessons in this one – unless you count tidying your house! It’s just great fun, and silly, and really enjoyable to read as a family!

  • The Borrowers – Mary Norton

Imagination is a wonderful thing. It can keep us from boredom, from misery. It can lead to more creative lives, to dreams and thoughts and fun. Books that give your imagination a real boost are, therefore, of vital importance. The Borrowers is one such book, pure literary fun. I defy you to read this book and not have a bit of yourself wish you were a Borrower, making your life out of anything you can find, having adventures and getting involved in various daring dos.

  • The Animals Of Farthing Wood – Colin Dann
The Animals Of Farthing Wood

The Animals Of Farthing Wood

If Dr Seuss was the most popular author of my childhood, then The Animals Of Farthing Wood was my childhood. In my head I lived in this world, braving trouble and strife to find a safe home. School was spent playing various characters, and the games were perhaps some of the most formative of my childhood. The book is just as good as the TV programme, albeit missing that utterly catchy and nostalgic theme tune…

  • The Magic Faraway Tree – Enid Blyton

Wonderful. Awesome. Beautiful. A world with so many possibilities and so much potential! This is one of those rare books that are just all about the fun and the excitement. Typical (and some would say classic) Enid Blyton.

  • Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tales

I refer back to my earlier point – the world is a big and scary place, and keeping kids wrapped up in happy glittery anti-bacterial bubble-wrap is a recipe for disaster. Or, at the least, for allergic and irritating kids. Fairytales aren’t meant to be happiness and love and light – they are a way to introduce some of the darkness of the world and instil a little healthy respect, without actually mentally scarring the poor things. Forget princes and totally happy endings – these are the real deal.

  • Mallory Towers – Enid Blyton

Another Enid Blyton, but for when you are a little older. Despite the slightly dated quality, this is a “girl power” book, showing lasses that they can (and should) be whatever and whoever they want to be.

  • The Chronicles Of Narnia – C. S. Lewis

Again with the imagination. What child doesn’t love the image of disappearing through your cupboard into a whole different world?! There is also the added bonus that this wonderful world is meticulously crafted – the imagery builds an entire universe in your mind, detailed down to the very last.

  • His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

Any teenager who hasn’t read this is missing out. These books broke my heart, and then I went back and read them again. We have all the normal ingredients for an adventure – yet at it’s heart this trilogy is a simple story of love and life. For me reading this, in year 6, was a moment that stayed with me, it latched onto my soul and wouldn’t let go. It can make me well up, laugh out loud, and above all desperately desperately dream that I was there, in that crazy wonderful world, dæmon at my side.

  • Tawny Scrawny Lion – Kathryn Jackson
Tawny Scrawny Lion

Tawny Scrawny Lion

Another one for the little kids, I think this book was picked up on the Australian leg of our global tour. The ultimate hippy story of converting the ravenous meat eating lion into a gentle vegetarian is gently tongue in cheek, and it so resembles my hippy upbringing!

Any more for any more?!

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Comments»

1. Elemental Grace - May 18, 2011

Where’s the famous five and the secret seven?

Loved the Animals of farthing wood, Jills Ponies and anything by Christine or Josephine Pullein Thompson as a kid.

Lauren Cooke - May 19, 2011

I really didn’t like Famous Five and Secret Seven – I was oddly picky about my Blyton! I wasn’t so into ponies/horses, but I was very obsessed with Animal Ark and (totally unconnected, but only just thought of them) Sweet Valley High! They should go on the list!

2. Garrett - May 22, 2011

Nice list, Lauren. I would suggest “The Sign On Rosie’s Door,” by Maurice Sendak, the Pooh books, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, the Mary Poppins books by PL Travers. My favorite Dr Suess is I Had Trouble Getting to Solla Sollew. My favorite Roald Dahl is Danny the Champion of the World. For the teenage set, I recommend The Chocolate Wars. thanks for posting and inviting comments.


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