Having been born and raised in The Netherlands, I discovered I had missed out on a great deal of good children’s literature when I moved to the UK in 2013 and learned what my British peers had read when growing up (or what children’s books were around). Therefore, I have decided to make up a list of books that I wish I’d read while growing up – some of these I now have read, most of these I still haven’t gotten round to, but hope to get my hands on soon!
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
Four adventurous siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change… and a great sacrifice.
As a child, I’d never read The Chronicles of Narnia. At some point I did see the BBC adaptation, and later the film adaptations by Walden Media, but it wasn’t until I was about fifteen years old that I read the books. I enjoyed them, but didn’t think a whole lot of them. As I write this, I have just finished reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe for a second time as we’ll be discussing it in my Children’s Literature module at university. I definitely enjoyed and appreciated it more this time round, but I can’t help but feel I would have loved the series, had I read them as a child.
The blurb above is of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – officially this is the second book in the seven-part series, but it was the first that was actually written and published.
- The Wizard of Oz (and its sequels) by L. Frank Baum
Dorothy thinks she is lost forever when a terrifying tornado crashes through Kansas and whisks her and her dog, Toto, far away to the magical land of Oz. To get home Dorothy must follow the yellow brick road to Emerald City and find the wonderfully mysterious Wizard of Oz. Together with her companions the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion whom she meets on the way, Dorothy embarks on a strange and enchanting adventure.
I am a huge fan of the musical Wicked – a musical that is based on the novel of the same name by Gregory Maguire. A novel which, in turn, has been based on The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. I’ve read the novel Wicked, and have seen the film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, but am yet to delve into the pages of the novel that started all of it. And although I think I might be able to that soon, I think it would’ve been even better had I read it when growing up!
- Anne of Green Gables (and its sequels) by L. M. Montgomery
The Cuthberts are in for a shock. They are expecting an orphan boy to help with the work at Green Gables – but a skinny red-haired girl turns up instead. Highly spirited Anne Shirley charms her way into the Cuthberts’ affection with her vivid imagination and constant chatter, and soon it’s impossible to imagine life without her.
To be honest, I don’t know an awful lot about this book and its sequels, but I know it’s a British children’s classic. For my birthday this year I received a box set of all four books, so I’m sure I’ll read it soon (though ‘soon’ might not be soon at all, what with me having to read a lot of books for uni as well).
- Alice in Wonderland (and its sequel) by Lewis Carroll
On an ordinary summer’s afternoon, Alice tumbles down a hole and an extraordinary adventure begins. In a strange world with even stranger characters, she meets a rabbit with a pocket watch, joins a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, and plays croquet with the Queen! Lost in this fantasy land, Alice finds herself growing more and more curious by the minute…
I don’t know why, but I just have never read Alice. I’ve seen the Disney animation once or twice, the live action Disney adaptation a fair few times, but I’ve never read the book. I promise it’ll change within a year, though! I’ve got my hands on a gorgeous edition this year – one that is, I believe, almost exactly like the original manuscript – and I look forward to reading it.
- Sabriel (and its sequels) by Garth Nix
Since childhood, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who refuse to stay dead. But now her father, the Abhorson, is missing, and Sabriel must cross into that world to find him. With Mogget, whose feline form hides a powerful, perhaps malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage, Sabriel travels deep into the Old Kingdom. There she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life and comes face-to-face with her own hidden destiny…
Like with Anne of Green Gables, I don’t know an awful lot about this series, but it sounds intriguing. I know recently Garth Nix published two new books in this series (Clariel and To Hold The Bridge) with Hot Key Books – something from which I only can deduce these novels are still very well-loved and definitely worth a read.
Let me know if you’ve read any of these or if you think there are some books that are missing on this list!