Today is World Book Day, which means every school in England has a fancy dress day, except for Bernard’s school which is having a Lent assembly instead. They are dressing up next Friday, which gives me more time to figure out how to sew two t-shirts together to make a Horrid Henry outfit.
The Telegraph gives us a list of the Best Children’s Books of All Time, and that of course can’t possibly be definitive so let’s see what we think.
- Watership Down: I must have been about Bernard’s age when my dad first read this to me, as it was about the time that the film came out. It terrified me, though I went on to re-read it several times. We have a copy but Bernard hasn’t read it yet.
- The Hobbit: Absolutely one of the most excellent books of all time, I first had this read to me by my teacher at school when I was in what is now called Year 4, so maybe we’re nearly ready for this. And then we can watch that film, too.
- The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: We have the entire Narnia box set, and have read four of the six in the last year. Bernard insisted that he was enjoying them, but I am not convinced he was following much of it. Incidentally I know these are supposedly heavy on the christian allegory, but you can totally read that as paganism at least in the early books and I’m fine with that.
- Charlotte’s Web: I never read this as a kid, I was probably put off by the MASSIVE SPIDER on the cover; but I enjoyed it last year or the year before when we had it as a bedtime story. I might put it back on the to-read shelf for another go.
- The Little Prince: Another one I didn’t read as a child, but have since discovered what I was missing. Weird little tale, but sweet. Bernard was nonplussed.
- Pippi Longstocking: Obviously it’s important to include fiction featuring strong female characters, though I find Pippi a little violent and nihilistic. Bernard tolerated this for my sake.
- Emil & The Detectives: This is the first on the list that neither of us has read, so I’ve wishlisted it. Any thoughts?
- James & The Giant Peach: One of my favourite Dahls (after Danny the Champion of the World). It has been noticed that I like his older work better; The Twits is mostly dreadful. Bernard is a big fan of George’s Marvellous Medicine, and we can recite the audiobook of Fantastic Mr Fox.
- Winnie The Pooh: I loved, loved, loved this as a child, slept with it under my pillow etc. Bernard has been less enthusiastic, though he does have the very box set given to me by my grandparents.
- A Little Princess: Another of my favourites, and of course I need to give myself a stern talking-to and not avoid this one because it seems a bit girly. I don’t currently have a copy, but we do have The Secret Garden, so we’ll give that a go instead.
- The Just So Stories: A staple of every child’s bookshelf, surely? We have this on two audiobooks, one read by Geoffrey Palmer and one by Johnny Morris. Both are super.
- A Journey To The Centre Of The Earth: I think I owned this but never read it, so have no opinion of it; do you?
- The Wind in the Willows: We have a beautiful illustrated copy of this, and have certainly read it more than once, as well as spent a great deal of time in the exhibition in the River & Rowing Museum at Henley.
- The Doll People: I don’t know this, but it sounds a bit scary.
- The Child that Books Built: Another one I don’t know, and from the Telegraph’s comment I’m not sure I would rush to wishlist it, unless for myself.
The Telegraph list, featuring only one book written in this century, strikes me as a list written by someone my age, of books they think children should be reading. It would be nice to add a few modern classics, but perhaps they were trying to avoid being all Harry Pottery.
Later I will get Bernard to compile his own top ten. It will feature mainly Horrid Henry and Sponge Bob. It doesn’t matter how much culture I throw at him, he remains a seven year old boy and will do for another few months.