Top 5: Favourite Childhood Reads

Even when I was younger, I was an avid reader. I would read well into the night by the light on  my nightstand – much to the annoyance of my parents, but really they’re partly to blame! After all, they had a habit of reading me and my sisters stories before bed, and thus installed in me a love of good stories.

However, I wasn’t just an avid reader. I was a big fan of re-reading (so much so, that one point my dad decided to just buy me a new book and push it under my nose until I’d read “something new”).

1. Stravaganza series by Mary Hoffman

Lucien is sick. Very sick. He has a form of cancer and is bed-bound most of the time. As sometimes he finds it hard to speak, his father brings him a notebook he randomly found to write in. That day, he also tells Lucien about Venice. Going to sleep that night, with the notebook still in his hand and thinking of Venice, Lucien wakes up to find himself in a place that looks an awful lot like the City of Masks.

In total, there are six books in this series. I must admit, the first three are my favourites (I think it set out to be a trilogy, but more books got added). However, I do get to see my favourite characters in the later books, so I don’t mind them. Though I think this series might take some getting used to, it is completely worth the effort! Masks, intrigue, magic and betrayal: these books are truly magical. It was due to the City of Masks that I wanted to visit Venice myself (and did so in 2012 – it was beautiful!) and for a long while I longed for a talisman of my own so I could be transported to Bellezza.

2. The Doomspell Trilogy by Cliff McNishdoomspell

Siblings Rachel and Eric unexpectedly find themselves transported to another world by the Witch. As they try to escape her claws, they experience many adventures and learn they possess gifts they never even imagined possible. 

I must admit, out of the bunch these books are the ones I re-read the longest time ago. Though I might not remember many of the details, I do remember loving this trilogy. It gave me a new twist on magic, a setting that pulled me in, two great protagonists and a wicked villain. Funnily enough, I think this trilogy was the book my dad insisted I should read as “something new”. I would love to re-read these sometime soon!

Unfortunately, I think these books might now be out of print (however, if you click the link in the title, you might be able to get your hands on a new one. If not, try Amazon’s second-hand buys or Abebooks).

the letter for the king3. The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt

This is a wonderful story about Tiuri, a 16-year old squire in the kingdom of King Dagonaut. It is the night before his knighting and, as is tradition, he and his fellow to-be-knighted friends are holding a vigil in the chapel. They are not allowed to speak to anyone. They are not allowed to sleep. And they are not allowed to leave or even open the door.

But then, Tiuri is startled by an urgent knocking and decides to see who it is. Following this, he is sent on a quest of which the outcome could determine the fate of an entire kingdom.

I absolutely adored this book when I was younger! It has knights, fights, long journeys, treachery and friendship. It is a wonderfully crafted story, told in seven parts (each comprise up to nine chapters), and despite its size is a great read for middle graders, I’d say. For those younger, it’s a great bedtime story.

It was originally written in Dutch (and first published in 1962!), which is the language I have read it multiple times it, but as of last year it is also available in English! YES! I actually read it in English recently, and I can confirm it’s just as great a story: translator Laura Watkinson did a great job. Even more exciting, its sequel, The Secrets of the Wild Wood, is set for publication by Pushkin Press this September! You can preorder it here.

Sidenote: the illustrations, including the map, in this book were actually drawn by the author herself. How cool is that?

4. The Saga of Darren Shan by Darren Shan

The saga starts with Cirque du Freak: Darren Shan (named after the author?) and his friend Steve stumble upon the opportunity to buy tickets for a freak show. Being the young boys they are, they can’t resist this chance. The freak show is really quite freaky, but amazing. Afterwards, Darren accidentally overhears his friend asking something strange of one of the acts. Later, Darren does something strange of his own, setting of a series of irreversible events.

Comprising of 12 books in total, this is quite a commitment to make. However, the books are quite short and easy reads, yet completely enthralling, so I’m sure if you put your mind to it, each installment will leave you wanting for more. I think my favourites of the bunch might be Vampire MountainTrials of Death and The Vampire Prince (books 4-6), but they’re all amazing. Also, the ending to this series is so incredibly emotional and perfect. Sigh. These books are really due a re-read.

HP one 15. Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

Raised by his unloving aunt and uncle after his parents died in a car crash when he was just one, Harry is surprised when around his 11th birthday he receives a letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. With the help of giant Rubeus Hagrid, Harry is whisked away on the Hogwarts Express to spend his school year learning magic. Little does he know, danger is lurking around the corner and waiting for him.

It is completely impossible to not include this series in any sort of “all-time favourites” post. I grew up with these books – my dad read them to me and my older sister first, but as I grew older I read them myself (too impatient to wait for bedtime!) and loved them even more. I’m not sure it was at all necessary to include a description of the plot, but I figured I might as well. These books are incredibly near and dear to my heart and, if for some absurd reason, you still haven’t read them – get on it! You won’t regret it. Promise.

That’s all for today – thank you for reading!




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