I come from a family of bookworms.
I remember as a child being excited when getting a book token for my birthday and/or Christmas because it meant that I could then spend a long time in Goulden & Curry’s bookshop on the High Street, Tunbridge Wells, browsing through the childrens’ section and choosing several books that would then be wrapped in brown paper (yes! Actual brown paper tied with string!) for me to take home.
Then, sitting in the back seat of our car, I would lovingly untie the parcel and look at my new books and relished the adventures I would discover when I read them.
So, what books did I love to read as a child? Well, I have been thinking about that, and as I mentally trot through my book collection, I came up with this list, which is by no means exhaustive but these are the books I loved to read again and again as I was growing up.
1. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien. My uncle bought this for me and I loved it. I can’t remember what age I was when he gave it to me but I was still at Primary School and I was as fascinated with the beautiful cover illustration as I was the content which I devoured many, many times. I still read it.
2. The Family from One End Street – Eve Garnett. This and its two sequels (Further Adventures of the Family from One End Street and Holiday at the Dew Drop Inn), tells the story of the Ruggle family; a working class family living in a place called Otwell, thought to resemble Lewes, East Sussex where the author lived. Everyday adventures of working class folk told with sensitivity and love that I adored.
3. The Adventures of Sam Pig – Alison Uttley. Alison Uttley wrote many books about a little pig called Sam who lived with his brothers and Brock the Badger and I had them all! The story where Sam Pig fell in love, but had his love crushed had me in tears on more than one occasion!
4. Tom’s Midnight Garden – Philippa Pearce. Ahh, a magical story about a boy who because his brother is ill with the measles, has to go and stay with his Uncle and Aunt in a flat with no garden. One night he hears the grandfather clock strike 13 and upon investigation, he finds the back yard is now a magnificent sunny 19th century garden, and wonderful adventures ensue.
5. Winnie-the-Pooh – A.A. Milne. What more needs to be said? A true children’s classic and even Mr Milne’s poetry books are wonderful. If you ever get the chance, please do go and play Pooh Sticks on the wooden Pooh Bridge in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, where the stories are based. I managed to beat my sister several times!
6. Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH – Robert C O’Brien. Love, love, love this book! It tells the story of widowed field mouse, Mrs Frisby, who asks for help from a group of former lab rats to rescue her home from being destroyed by the farmer’s plow. Along the way, we also learn the history of the rats’ escape from the laboratory.
7. The Famous Five/Malory Towers/St Clares books – Enid Blyton. These were my favourite of the Enid Blyton empire and I would read these over and over again. There has been much argument about Ms Blyton’s worth as a writer and about the quality of her books, but to me growing up, I knew nothing but the fact that I loved them and wanted to have midnight feasts in the boarding schools and enjoy lashings of ginger beer with the Famous Five (especially Timmy the dog!).
8. Paddington Bear – Michael Bond. I wanted to come from Peru and walk about with a marmalade sandwich in my hat! And of course, dear Paddington is the originator of the Paddington Bear Hard Stare that I love to do so well! I still have my original 1970’s plush figure and what a treat that was when I opened my present one Christmas (or birthday, I forget which) and saw that – of course, it was what I asked for.
9. Teddy Robinson – Joan G Robinson. Stricly speaking, these should not be on this list because I never had these books as a child, but they were regularly read to us at Primary School so I still include them here. Suffice to say that I loved to hear about the adventures of a cuddly, loveable but accident prone bear. When I found these in a second-hand book shop a few years ago, I bought them and enjoyed discovering Mr Robinson all over again.
10. Blackberry Farm books – Jane Pilgrim. For a short while, my Dad worked away from home during the week and we only saw him at weekends. To be honest, I don’t remember much about him not being there during the week when I came home from school, but I do remember him returning to us on a Friday evening and giving me another edition in this series of stories about a farm with animals that talked and interacted with the humans who looked after them. There are 25 books in the series and I still have them all, although they are rather tatty and some are falling apart now. Don’t care, won’t part with them!
I read many more books than listed here, but I think these were my favourites and ones that I kept going back to.
So, tell me, what did you love to read as a child?