I love children’s books.
Even as an adult, I’m still completely fascinated by stories aimed at children. I think it probably has something to do with my love of magic and fairytales. Children’s books always seem to do those genres better than adult ones, don’t you think?
And I’m also completely in awe of children’s writers.
Writing for children is HARD, waaay harder than writing for adults (which is hard enough as it is!)
The really, reaaaally good children’s books are complete works of art, masterpieces that have stood their ground in history alongside adult classics by Shakespeare, Dickens and Wilde.
I have a MASSIVE amount of these at home in Spain. My birthday presents always used to include several books and I was frequently offered ones that other people didn’t want, so over the years I’ve managed to build up quite a collection!
I’m feeling all nostalgic and a bit homesick this week and, continuing my obsession with Goodreads, I’ve been categorising all my favourite childhood novels into their own particular list. So I thought I’d go back to my trusty Top 5 lists and give you all a quick rundown of some of my very favourite children’s books :)
So after all that fuss about fairytales and magic, the first book on my list isn’t actually about magic AT ALL…
Ballet Shoes is a gorgeous story by Noel Streatfield about three young girls in the 1930’s.
Adopted from around the world by an eccentric, globe-trotting paleontologist, they are sent to London as babies to be cared for by his great-niece and her old nanny.
Pauline grows up wanting to be an actress, Posy is a gifted ballet dancer, Petrova desperately wishes to learn how to drive planes, and all three want to make their mark on the world and get their names in the history books.
It’s beautifully written and I love the relationship between the three sort-of-sisters.
Streatfield wrote a whole series of “Shoes” books, but this one is my favourite (closely followed by White Boots, if you’re interested!)
PS. there was an ace TV adaptation made by the BBC a few years ago. Emma Watson played Pauline!
In one of my very first blog posts, I mentioned that I loved Matilda by Roald Dahl. And it’s true, she’s one of my very favourite fictional characters.
But, story-wise, my favourite book by Roald Dahl has to be The BFG.
Sophie is an orphan-girl who gets kidnapped by a giant after catching him blowing dreams into children’s windows. After getting over her fright, she learns that he’s actually a very nice giant (in fact, he’s a Big Friendly Giant), unlike all the other inhabitants of Giant Country, who do nothing but eat children from around the world.
I think the plot is super imaginative, Sophie is an ace little heroine and The BFG himself is funny and insightful and kind.
And also, THE QUEEN makes an appearance. In her dressing gown.
You just can’t beat that.
PS. There’s a live-action film adapation coming in 2016!
If any of you need a description of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, we’re going to have to have some serious words…
The ever-lasting story of the boy who lives in Neverland, flies like a bird and refuses to grow up.
J.M. Barrie first wrote Peter Pan as a stage play for children, and it was only years later that he adapted it into a novel.
I love the characters in the book version. Wendy, in particular, is much more kick-ass and interesting than she’s usually depicted (*cough*DISNEY*cough*). She stands no nonsense from Peter or any of the boys, and at one point leaves to become a pirate. What a legend.
Can we also just take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous this edition of the book cover is??
That’s the edition I have and I think it’s so pretty that, if I could, I’d rip the cover out and frame it.
I’ve read all of the Chronicles of Narnia books, but this one is my favourite by far.
The classic tale of four children from war-torn England who walk through a giant wardrobe and find themselves in another world. There are fauns and witches and talking beavers and lion called Aslan.
IT IS BRILLIANT.
Yes, the film is pretty good. Yes, Peter is very pretty and that’s a fully legit reason to just keep re-watching the films.
But I really think you should go and read the book as well.
And actually, I’d recommend reading all the six other novels, as C.S. Lewis’s metaphors about religion, God and How The World Came To Be are actually pretty fantastic and only make sense once you’ve read all of them.
Hands up who wasn’t expecting this?
Now, I know there’s argument against Harry Potter not being a children’s series. And, as far as the later books go, I’d kiiiiind of agree. Maybe. (Probably not).
But you cannot argue that the very first book, the one that started everything, isn’t a story for children!
A school for young witches and wizards, a friendly giant with a pink umbrella-wand, owls and rats as pets, unlimited food at feasts, flying around on broomsticks, spellbooks and potions and ghosts and staircases that move…
It’s every small child’s fantasy land.
I’ve talked extensively about my love of HP before, so I won’t go on for long now. I just want to mention that I’ve read and re-read my copy of Philosopher’s Stone so often, that the pages have actually started falling apart.
THAT’S HOW GOOD IT IS.
If you’ve only watched the films, I beg you to please go find yourself a box set and read the books. Now. Immediately.
So that’s my list.
Are there any that you’re HORRIFIED haven’t made My Top 5? What’s your absolute favourite children’s book ever?
And more importantly: HAVE YOU ADDED ME AS A FRIEND ON GOODREADS YET? I need more people/books to stalk :)
Have a lovely weekend everyone!