A small list of the children’s books that influenced me
By Charlotte Whitehead
Does the Big Bad Wolf still haunt your dreams? Are you forever afraid to eat the red apple sitting in your fruit bowl? Have you ever opened a Cadbury’s chocolate bar, searching for that all-important golden ticket?
There are a fair few books that I used to read as a child – some classics, some not – with their messages still influencing me today. They had a great impact on me when I was little, firing my imagination and allowing me to explore fantasy worlds full of mystery and wonder.
These are the children’s books that I remember most, greatly influencing the way in which I view the world and the people in it too. These stories will stay with me for a long time yet, and will never fail to teach children vital moral lessons that they can carry with them forever.
The Famous Five, Enid Blyton
A series of children’s adventure novels that had me escaping through the rural English countryside with the main characters. These fantastic novels encourage a spirit of adventure, with each of the children discovering inventive ways to amuse themselves during the school holidays. From camping in the wilderness to sailing across the sea, the four children (and the dog) certainly knew how to explore. Blyton’s writing is timeless, making her one of Britain’s most loved authors. Her message is clear: having a sense of adventure and a passion for discovery fills you with courage and ambition. These books taught me to never be afraid of trying something new. However uncertain you may be, Blyton proposes that there is always a way to unearth the curiosity within you.
‘writing for children is an art in itself, and a most interesting one’ – Enid Blyton
Happy Mouse Day and The Invisible Dog, Dick King-Smith
Every Saturday is ‘Mouseday’, when Pete asks his parents for a pet mouse. He suddenly gets a terrific idea – maybe he can keep a mouse in his tree house! A charming children’s book with beautiful illustrations, I read it repeatedly as a child. ‘The Invisible Dog’ is another Dick King-Smith classic about a young girl called Janie who invents her own pet dog. These books are very easy for young readers and gives children what all writers have and need – a huge imagination and the ability to create and dream.
‘a little of what you like does you good. But you can have too much of a good thing’ – Dick King-Smith
Matilda, Roald Dahl
In all honesty, this should be entitled ‘any Roald Dahl book’, because he is a genius of a writer. However, my personal favourite must be ‘Matilda’, due to her book-loving nature and independent personality – I can very much relate. Despite coming from a very unwelcoming family, Matilda’s extraordinary determination and positive attitude makes her an incredible role model for young children all over the world. She is a gifted girl with a lively intelligence, desperate to learn and discover new things. Her character greatly influenced me as I was growing up, allowing me (and hopefully millions of other children!) to understand that no matter where you’re from and what problems you may have, you can succeed if you work hard. This moral lesson can and should be applied nowadays and to many future generations.
‘two hours of writing fiction leaves this writer completely drained. For those two hours he has been in a different place with totally different people’ – Roald Dahl
The Bed and Breakfast Star, Jacqueline Wilson
I think I read every single Jacqueline Wilson book as a child. She goes from the sublime to the ridiculous, from fun to sadness, from happiness and love to tears and disappointment. Jacqueline Wilson covers a huge breadth of themes, and one of my favourite books of hers was ‘The Bed and Breakfast Star’. After her mum’s boyfriend loses his job, Elsa (the main character) and her family move into a poorly-run hotel. Despite her broken family and poor background, Elsa is the epitome of positivity by staying cheery and by constantly telling jokes. This book teaches children to dream big and to make the most of life, whatever it may throw at you. Wilson’s charismatic style of writing and her ability to engage with young readers knows no boundaries; she always had me on the edge of my seat with excitement.
‘I have this belief that children become readers before they can read. They become hooked on books because they were read aloud to as a child’ – Jacqueline Wilson
Private Peaceful, Michael Morpurgo
I cannot recommend this book enough. I first read ‘Private Peaceful’ when I was nine years old, having always been fascinated by history and still am, particularly The Great War. But you don’t have to be interested in conflict and guns to enjoy this book – all you need is a love of literature. Morpurgo knows how to put images into words and does it so eloquently, to the point where you can almost hear Big Joe sing his favourite childhood song, ‘Oranges and Lemons’. This book will have you laughing and crying from the first page all the way to the end. It encourages children to take a step back from the modern reality that they live in, and find out more about an era that seems so distant and almost forgotten. ‘Private Peaceful’ is a page-turner, equipped with various themes that provide a different perspective of WWI.
‘Only the best books are special. Why? Because they open our eyes, touch us, excite us, extend us’ – Michael Morpurgo
So, Happy International Children’s Book Day! Although my choice of books is fairly random and a bit off-the-beaten-track, I hope that this will encourage you (and/or your children) to look them up and have a read, if you haven’t already done so. This day is about sharing what you love most about the books from your childhood, and acknowledging some of the important influences that they had on the decisions you’ve made over the years. What books do your children/grandchildren love and what will they take away from them? Just like a classroom, a book is a teaching method, only a lot more fun!
‘Books teach children to see the world through the eyes of others and empathise with others. It’s about the story’ – Malorie Blackman
Have a read of our top 10 children’s books about books and libraries: http://bit.ly/2owBXKG
Links to children’s books from Mardibooks:
Margin of Horror, http://amzn.to/2lPlwYV
The Barberry Fields, http://amzn.to/2nYHBY8
Under Loch and Quay, http://amzn.to/2n0UC4f