What are your favorite children’s books?
People ask me that a lot. It’s a hard question to answer because where do you begin? The best children’s book are, of course, the ones which are nothing of the sort. They are those books which can be enjoyed by a child of any age, from 6 to 106. They are the ones you want to return to them again and again–whatever age you are. A good children’s book is living. And true. (There are a lot of children’s books published but not all of them are either true or living. But don’t get me started.)
A good children’s book is one that an adult and a child can enjoy together. There is nothing in the story that is snuck in there to appeal to an adult/to keep the adult’s attention. Nothing happens behind the child’s back. It is a story that is generous and true and good enough to keep everyone’s attention. (Pixar for instance do this brilliantly in their movies.)
The list below certainly isn’t complete, but at least it’s a start (in no particular order) …
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
I read it as a child and adored it. Loved it so much that my best friend and I acted it out together out in the grounds of my boarding school. I was Huck.
The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
A classic. A great story that keeps you turning the page. Redemptive.
Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Graham)
Funny. Genius. You won’t be able to go by a river without wondering about who lives there and where is that crazy Toad.
Tarka the Otter (Henry Williamson)
I loved this as a child. I couldn’t put it down. It remains vivid in my mind.
Danny Champion of the World (Roald Dahl)
This is one of my favorites of Dahl’s books. The relationship between the boy and his dad is so tender. Plus there’s a great adventure going on.
The Complete Nonsense (Edward Lear) The first book I ever read all the way through. I adored it. I didn’t know you were allowed to have so much fun inside books. It’s filled with silliness and joy. (He does his own drawings and everything!)
The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) Beautiful and tender. Heartbreaking. And true.
OK. Your turn. Which of these books do you still need to read? Which is your favorite? If you think I’ve missed any (and yes, of course, I have!) please add your favorites to the list by submitting your comment below.