I consider myself a girl of slender means since embarking on my career break. As a result, I like to be thrifty.
I love reading and buy lots of books. I can, of course, save cash by shopping online or going for highstreet deals—just last week I got PS, I love You plus Starter for Ten for a fiver in WH Smith. I have also joined my local library. Nonetheless, with a vast selection of paperback fiction already at my disposal here in the house, I’ve decided that the time has come to root through the bookshelves and start rereading.
Scanning my book collection made me think about all the books that I loved as a child. Here are some of my childhood favourites (by no means exhaustive and listed in no particular order):
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
- The Railway Children by E Nesbit (I love the film too and cry every time I watch it)
- The Land of Green Ginger by Noel Langley
- Matilda and The Witches by Roald Dahl
- Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
- Anything by Beatrix Potter but especially The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin
- The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M Boston
- Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- The Ladybird editions of fairy tales (mainly I loved the pictures)
- A Dog So Small by Philippa Pearce
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Anything by the Pullein-Thompson sisters (my pony phase!)
- The Jill series by Ruby Ferguson (more ponies)
- My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead and The Green Grass of Wyoming by Mary O’Hara (even more ponies)
- The Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene (but actually ghostwritten, I think)
- The Moomin Series by Tove Jansson
- The Famous Five and Secret Seven books by Enid Blyton (plus Noddy when I was very young)
- Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin (shared with my brother)
- The Asterix books by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo (ditto)
I think it’s safe to say that Puffin Books was the major recipient of my pocket-money back then and I was also a member of the Puffin Club (a so-called ‘Puffineer’).
I enjoyed reading from a very young age. In addition, my Dad was a great one for reading (and making up) bedtime stories. My childhood was also blessed by the presence of Jackanory on BBC1 every weekday afternoon before tea. For those of you unfamiliar with this show, the premise was simple. Each week a different presenter (usually an actor) sat in a chair for about fifteen minutes and read aloud from a children’s book. Some scenes were illustrated with a still image but there was no live action as such. I feel sure that listening to magical stories during my formative years fired up my imagination to seek out more books and start writing. Indeed, I wrote numerous ‘novels’ as a child, no doubt all highly derivative, depending on what I was reading at the time. If I was a child now, I would be obsessed with Harry Potter for sure.
Looking back over my selection of childhood books, I can’t help but feel fond. But it’s more than just sentiment. I’m also immensely grateful to the authors. For these are the stories that helped to make me who I am today.