Monday, 11 July 2016

Favourite children's books - poll vs personal

Every so often, someone will come up with a list of books everyone (or every child) should read. This week it is the BBC's turn following a local radio poll.

Often, as this list shows, the books that make it on to such lists are classic titles - books that have been in print for years and republished many times because they prove so popular. So if your favourite book is not on this list, don't despair. It's always difficult to judge a newly published title against such classics, since some titles that seem mega-popular with the reading public today will later sink into obscurity, and perhaps even vice versa... I don't have a crystal ball!

I find this particular list quite interesting. Harry Potter is there, along with the more old fashioned Famous Five. So far, so predictable. Both are popular choices for middle grade readers. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Wind in the Willows complete the middle reads for the more traditional. I never really got on with this type of book as a child, although admit to enjoying Harry Potter and - to a lesser extent - Wind in the Willows later as an adult reader.

Then we have The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Roald Dahl's BFG, and Julia Donaldson's Gruffalo for younger readers (children's lists are always very diverse). I am not sure any of these were around when I was that age... perhaps the Roald Dahl? I don't have very strong memories of my picture books, but can remember quickly getting on to illustrated Ladybird books such as Ned the Lonely Donkey, followed by Ruby Ferguson's Jill books and Judith Berrisford's Jackie titles, since I was pony-mad at the time and could read independently before I went to school.

For older readers, we get The Lord of the Rings (which you'll see on my personal teenage favourites list over on the right). I first read this book when I was 16, and since then I've read the complete LOTR trilogy eleven times over the years, which just proves how long JRR Tolkien's epic fantasy has been around! To my shame, I still haven't got around to reading To Kill a Mockingbird, the other more mature read on this list... my parents' fault, no doubt, for letting me read what I wanted, and not what I should or what everyone else was reading.

And finally, we get the Holy Bible. It's a best-seller and certainly counts as a classic text, being the most ancient of all of the choices... but it's still a slightly surprising pick for a children's reading list, particularly in our multicultural society. If the thought of giving the entire Bible to an 8 year old is rather daunting, there is some good Biblical fiction around - such as Geraldine McCaughrean's Not the End of the World based on the Old Testament account of Noah's Ark.

What this list does show is the importance of the fantastic in children's literature, and perhaps that means I have never grown up since I still enjoy reading (and writing) fantasy. Five of the books that spoke to me as a teenage/YA reader are over on the right... Anne McCaffrey, author of the Crystal Singer, also wrote a series of Dragonrider books, which were originally published for adults but would also be good for confident readers aged 10+.

So have you read all of the books on the BBC's list?
Which was your favourite book as a child?


Related Posts with Thumbnails