Top Five Books from My Childhood
This blog post is off-topic for us. I know! I’m branching out. I wanted to talk about reading to children and how important it is for children to explore books from a young age. You might be thinking, ‘But Sarah, what qualifies you to talk about child development?’ Well, I have a BA in Teaching and an MA in Education, so, I reckon I’m okay to talk on this! But not only that, my childhood was filled with books. Like, filled to the brim. Library trips every week. Being read to every single day. Bedtime stories. My mum is also a huge reader. I grew up around books, and so it makes sense to think there might be some link between reading books to young children and them developing a love of the written word. But you don’t have to take my word for that! There are so many studies out there that rave about the importance of reading to young children for their language and communication development, their relationship, their imagination, the list goes on and on. Here are a few if you’d like to take a look… Research Paper One; Research Paper Two; Research Paper Three; Research Paper Four. However, if you’re not fancying reading a research paper, and I don’t blame you at all, they do have a tendency to be a little dry, maybe check out these articles on early reading… World Literacy Foundation; One Education; Make Way for Books. Anyway, the general gist is that books are important, okay? I might be a little liberal with my use of ‘five books’ because I have a feeling I’ll be including a few series here, but hey ho! In no particular order, here are my top five books from my own childhood.
The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
When my brother and I were younger, we’d get a bedtime story read to us every single night. Our favourite was The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. Blyton has this magical way of writing that just captures your imagination. Being read to before bed is one of my most treasured memories from childhood, and The Faraway Tree is the book we read the most. It wasn’t just The Faraway Tree, however. We also loved The Wishing Chair and The Family Collection too. I still have the exact same books on my shelves to this day. They are perfect for primary school aged children, especially if they are being read by a loved one. There’s a little controversy around some of the language in the books so it is worth bearing that in mind. However, I do believe this opens up for a conversation about how certain beliefs, which were the norm back then, are no longer acceptable. I’m a huge fan of open conversation and books are a great way to broach tricky subjects such as this racism and racial slurs.
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
One of my earliest memories is of my Nannan June sitting and reading The Worst Witch (and all the books that followed) to me. I was totally obsessed with the series and so badly wanted a cat like Tabby. The universe that Murphy created took over my world. My Auntie Julie, who lived a couple of hours away at the time, used to tape it from the TV on a Saturday morning (yes, a VHS tape) and bring the tapes when she came to visit me. Mildred Hubble is still a character that I remember very clearly and hold close to my heart. Also, random fact, I just this second found out that Jill Murphy wrote the Peace at Last books, which were another staple from my childhood. Small world!
Arthur by Marc Brown
Yes, this is another series. Don’t come for me! Arthur is one of those things that all 90s kids remember from their childhood. (Do you guys have it in the US/Canada?) Marc Brown tells the story of Arthur, an aardvark and his family and friends, as he gets up to trouble. The best character by far, in my opinion, had to be DW, Arthur’s naughty little sister who caused him no end of problems. My mum used to take me and my brother to the library every week and we’d come back with ten books each, of which most were Arthur books admittedly. We’d then get sat on the sofa and work our way through them all. My mum will love that I’m telling you this story, by the way. She often jokes that the only reason she wants grandkids is so she can read to them!
Topsy and Tim by Jean and Gareth Adamson
I had no idea how many Topsy and Tim books there were out there until I just looked them up on Wikipedia. Take a look here if you’re interested! There’s hundreds, I reckon, without counting them! Wiki Topsy and Tim. We had a pile of these books on the shelves and I knew them all by heart. They were our go-to books for daytime reading, and we would read three or four at once. The one I remember very clearly is when the twins went swimming and they had to wash their feet in a little footbath on the way to the pool. It’s funny what you remember, isn’t it!
Winnie the Witch by Valerie Thomas (illustrated by Korky Paul)
Not only are the Winnie the Witch books some of my favourite books from childhood, but they were also my favourite to read to my class when I was teaching. The illustrations are out of this world, so unique and detailed. The storylines are absolutely crazy. You can’t help but fall in love with Winnie and Wilbur (her cat), as you watch Winnie mess up in so many different ways and then have to find her way out of the mess she’d caused. They are stories that stick with you and can make anybody smile, which is why I love them. The first book was published back in 1987 and the most recent in 2017, which means that a whole other generation is growing up with these magnificent books.
I’d love to hear about your favourite book (or books) from childhood! Please do reach out and let me know. If you want more blog posts about education, reading, and all that jazz, then you’re in luck. I’m planning to get some use out of my degrees!
As always, wishing you love and books that make your heart skip a beat,