November is International Novel Writing Month and tomorrow is International Day of the child, so it seemed like a perfect time to do a Tuesday Top Ten that celebrates children’s books and maybe give you a few ideas for those Santa lists in the process. I do love seeing children curled up engrossed in a book. My daughter, Saoirse used to often hide under the dining room table in her reading happy place. A child who reads, is an adult who thinks, and God knows the world could do with a few more of those. I have looked at the full age range of the child, as a book is a perfect present at any age.
- Matilda – by Roald Dahl. I could be lazy and just list ten Roald Dahl books and this list would be complete, but I have so many children’s authors that I would like to recognise, that I picked my favourite by this magician with pen, or actually he wrote with a pencil. Super strong, smart, engaging Matilda is who we all aspire to be like and I’m sure we all know our own Miss Honey and Miss Trunchbull from our school days! A close second to Matilda, has to be Witches, and I still have my suspicions about a few women I’ve met along the way, so I keep my eyes peeled for blue spit and long gloves. Every book Roald Dahl has ever written could fill this number one spot. He’s been teaching our children important lessons for over 50 years, my favourite being “A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” A man who quotes kindness as his favourite virtue, will always number one in my book.
- Stick Man – Julia Donaldson. Another exceptional author, who has written an abundance of mini masterpieces. I adore everything she has ever produced with Axel Scheffler, with the exception of ‘The Highway Rat’. But everyone can have an off day. ‘Stick Man’ is my absolute favourite and I now always check for faces, on the sticks I collect for the fire, just in case. I still can tell Tabby McTat from start to finish, without looking at the pages, having read it to my daughter Saoirse, so many times when she was small. Erin my youngest child, and I scour the pages of all of the books looking to find the hidden picture of the Gruffalo in each one. We still cannot find it in ‘The Smartest Giant in Town’, so if anyone knows that particular secret, please please will you share it with me. I do hope that Santa brings the latest book, The Smeds and The Smoos this Christmas.
- The Three Bad Brownies – Enid Blyton. This was one of my favourite books from my childhood, my Mum used to read it to me every night. I loved all of the craziness of it, the train, the man with the pans, the toffee tower all of it. Thank God for Ebay, where I found an old copy of this and another childhood favourite The Musicians of Bremen to read to my children. They arrived when we went on a glamping holiday with my parents many years ago. I had just suffered my second miscarriage and didn’t have the emotional strength to read a word. I just sat and listened as my Mum took over reading it to Patrick and Saoirse. Sometimes, you still just need your Mum to look after you.
- War Horse – Michael Morpurgo. An exceptional writer of young people’s fiction, that adults can enjoy too. I started to read his books to Saoirse, when she was too old for Fairy Tales, but I just wasn’t ready to give up her bedtime story. This book is exceptionally well written and has you on the edge of your seat as you wait on to hear what will happen next for Joey. Mick, Saoirse and I went to see the play/show of this earlier this year and it think it is the most emotional stage performance I have ever experienced. I also love many more by Mr Morpurgo but particularly; ‘Waiting For Anya’, ‘When The Whales Came’ and ‘Kensuke’s Kingdom.’ A box-set of his books would make the perfect gift for any tween.
- Aliens Love Underpants – Claire Freedman. My friend Joy introduced me to this book years ago and I went out and bought 20 copies and gifted them to all of my friends. This book and many of those that came after it, are absolutely brilliant. The fact that I still laugh at ”Granny’s spotted bloomers” is a measure of my maturity. My son Patrick’s squeals of laughter reading this book, always filled me with great joy. A great giggle of a book, no matter what your age.
- Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret! – Judy Bloom. The wonderful Judy Bloom helped many of us navigate our way through the issues our teenage years presented. She has books to suit every stage, including the somewhat racy ‘Forever’, Ralph was the moniker of choice if I remember correctly! I wasn’t sure how well these books aged, so, I was delighted that when I bought Saoirse a box set (age appropriate only) of these books last year, she devoured it in just 2 days. Timeless books are always a joy. ‘Are You There God? It’s me, Margaret!’ perfectly nailed the absolute confusion of the transition from child to teen. However, I think I may have overdone it on the exercise she suggested in the book!
- Stories of Rebel Women for Rebel Girls by Erica Favilli. A great selection of true stories about amazing women who blazed many trails for the rest of us. My only disappointment about these books is the title. They should be for everyone, not just rebel girls. Our boys need to be reading about these exceptional women too.
- The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson. The original is always the best and there isn’t always a happy ending the way we envisioned it. I love this story, but not the Disney version, The original, where love conquers all.
- Going On A Bear Hunt – by Michael Rosen. This book is actually 30 years old, I missed it as a child, but it has brought hours of great joy to my children and to me as a parent. Much like the hokey cokey, it’s impossible not to join in with the actions.
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B White – Because animals have feelings too. I still cry reading this classic and remember vividly, going to my next door neighbours birthday party at the school hall. Where we watched the original animated version on a projector screen. We all travelled in the boot of their estate car, it was such an adventure!
- Monster at the Park – Leah Carroll. This one extra on my list, is extra special to me as it was written by a lady I used to babysit for back in Wales, a long time a go. Leah Carroll, has a gorgeous daughter Magi, who was born prematurely and I have watched her grow and progress through the Facebook for the last few years. Magi is profoundly deaf and wears a cochlear implant. To help others understand, about differences and how not to be scared, Leah created this beautiful book. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1731071477?fbclid=IwAR1xjAM9kpewXVUZV1e2KMDRwYofPYCk9ZlP-Aiz-Jp61wQbWW2jmpaVYc8
A few other favourites in my house at the moment, that didn’t make the top ten are:
The Day the Crayons Quit
The Great Dragon Bake Off
The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas
The Magic Moment
Also, some tween/teen recommendations from my daughter Saoirse, that I haven’t personally read are:
‘Apple in the Rain’ and ‘One’ by Sarah Crossan
Everything ever by J.K Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai