On Monday it’s the start of Children’s Book Week in the US, and it starts today, Saturday, in Canada. As always, people, schools, libraries and publishers are helping to promote children’s literature. The UK will be doing it at the end of June, and Australia in August!
I don’t know when I first started reading, but I’m sure it was quite early. Certainly I had my own books to read by the time I was seven – although the earliest books I remember are Winnie the Pooh and Wind in the Willows. I love the Enid Blyton “Adventure” series, which starts with The Island of Adventure, and whereas the Famous Five had Timmy the dog, the kids in the Adventure series had Kiki the parrot – or sulphur crested cockatoo, and that’s why I’ve always wanted one! I got into pony books quite early on, probably Ruby Ferguson’s Jill books were my first loves. Then I read nearly all the pony books I could get my hands on, some by authors who seem to be unknown now, like the Pullein-Thompson sisters, who wrote reams of stories and all good. I most liked the books where the animals were in their natural state, I think – there was a series by Joseph E Chipperfield (a few of which stood the test of time and I still have) mostly about wild animals in the mid-west, mustangs, wolves, and others. The Silver Brumby represented Australia well, too!
I don’t think I was into the school books until I was a tween – school books in the UK generally start when a kid turns 11 and follows through seven years of school here – same as Harry Potter. I still haven’t worked out how this translates through High School and College in the US. School stories I loved included the Malory Towers ones, and when I was a little older I found the Chalet School.
These are all now classics; I moved out of my teens too early to find A Wrinkle in Time, or lots of others that would not be considered staples of children’s lit – Roald Dahl, for example. I read BFG not long ago and enjoyed it. The other thing I find now, which wasn’t so common then, is the crossover between countries. ‘International’ bestsellers were less common, although I think the British Empire managed to get a good deal of British literature into other commonwealth countries without any reciprocation!
So to kick off CBW, I’m holding back on a book review and asking you instead… what was the best children’s book you read as a kid… and what is the best one you’ve read in the last five years?
Watch out for the Children’s Book Week Kindle Fire Kids Giveaway from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. Find it on the Princelings website on Monday!