Whilst looking through the bins of a vintage store a few days ago I came across a very old copy of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. You could tell the book had been well-loved as some its pages were falling out and the title was almost all rubbed off. Running through the pages took me straight back to my childhood and it made me think about all the books I loved as a little girl.
Trying to keep my list of childhood favorites to only ten books was a challenge, especially since I wanted to include both French and English books to reflect my upbringing. I know there are many other wonderful kids’ books out there that I either left out or haven’t heard off yet. That’s why I’d love to hear about your favorite books too so please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments section!
Winnie The Pooh’ by A.A Milne
‘Winnie the Pooh’ was one of the first books my parents read to me. My favorite character was Tigger and I used to love bouncing all around my bedroom to be just like him, which drove my mother up the wall (she is more of a ‘Rabbit’ type character). I also remember being obsessed with honey for a while although the taste never quite matched up to how delicious Winnie always made it sound…
‘Noddy’ by Enid Blyton
Truth be told, all I remember about Noddy is the sound of my father’s voice putting me to sleep whilst reading it to me. I think a big part of Noddy’s charm laid in its characters names; who wouldn’t want to give Big Ears, Bumpy dog and Teddy Tubby Bear a big hug? And if you thought that wasn’t adorable enough: Noddy translates to ‘Oui-Oui’ in French (sic).
‘Where the wild things are’ by Maurice Sendak
I think this one would feature on anyone’s favourite list really. It’s an absolute classic and the illustrations are absolutely beautiful. Love, Love, Love this book…
‘The Little Prince’ (Le Petit Prince) by Antoine de Saint- Exupery
‘Le Petit Prince’ is a beautiful little book that tells the story of a prince who searches the universe for the meaning of love, life and friendship. It is an absolute French classic and you’d be hard pressed to find a French person that hasn’t read it. As a kid I mainly loved it for its cute drawings but as an adult I can now really appreciate all of its poetic nuances and life lessons.
‘Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland’ by Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland is one of these books that I never get tired of reading over and over again. I’m always on the lookout for new editions with different illustrations and this one here is my current favourite. As a little girl I was particularly fascinated by the chapter about the game of croquet; it wasn’t a well known game in France and so I used to think that it was a game that only queens could play.
‘Asterix’ by Uderzo & René Goscinny
In France, comics are much more ‘mainstream’ than in the US or the UK and are really popular with kids and adults alike. My love for ‘Asterix’ probably started when I was seven years old. My father’s best friend, whom I called ‘uncle Thierry’ because he was practically family, took me out for the afternoon one day and bought me a copy of ‘Asterix and Cleopatra’. I was so excited, I read it in less than an hour and begged my parents to get me the rest of the collection. Sadly, Uncle Thierry died a few years later, but I’ve managed to hold on to my copy of ‘Asterix and Cleopatra’ all through the years and I think about him every time I read it.
‘Little Nicolas’ (Le petit Nicolas) by René Goscinny
Le Petit Nicolas is another French classic which was also written by Asterix’s René Goscinny. It tells the story of a little boy called Nicholas and the various adventures he shares with his school friends. What makes the book so special is that it is told in the first person by Nicholas himself and really reflects how nine year olds think. It is funny and sweet and brings you back to your childhood immediately.
‘A Little Princess’ by Frances Hodgson
I cried so hard reading this book and yet I loved it so much! I also watched the cartoon that was based on the same story and my mum used to tease me for crying so much whilst watching it. In my defence, the story was pretty heart breaking, hell ,I’d probably cry again if I watched it now!
‘The Witches’ by Roald Dahl
I could probably put all of Roald Dahl’s books on this list to be honest as I love them all pretty much equally. However, if I really have to pick the one that marked me the most as a child then it would have to be ‘The Witches’. Not so much because of it was the one that was written the best but because it scared the bejesus out of me! Despite my parents explaining to me that it was ‘just a story’ and that witches didn’t exist I still looked suspiciously at anyone that wore gloves for a long time… The movie didn’t help matters: Anjelica Houston made for one scary witch….
‘Black Beauty’ by Anna Sewell
Another tear jerker and yet amazing book. Black Beauty is probably one of the books that affected me the most as a child. It taught me a lot about respect and the way people and animals should be treated. I think some books just get under your skin and Black Beauty resonated with me like no other story before. I’m almost scared to read it again for fear that my adult cynicism would ruin it.