e a m harris

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Archive for the tag “children’s books”

30 Day Book Challenge – day 13: A favourite childhood book (maybe)

imagesDoing this challenge, I’ve written about several childhood books already. So many of the questions are about things from the past. Unavoidable I suppose, how can something be my ‘fave’ or ‘most hated’ or ‘too emotional’ if I haven’t read it in the past.

Looking at the list of items to come though, I can see there are a couple of questions that look to the future or the what-if. The future and the what-if are places the mind can really run riot and create whole libraries of loved stories without the effort or cost of writing or buying them. I look forward to those challenges when they come round.

But rather than go on with the past right now, I thought I’d change today’s questions a little and look at some ‘might have beens …’ – some of the books that might have been childhood favourites if I’d read them as a child or at all.

I start with the Narnia books. I read the first one as a young adult and quite liked it, but having seen two great films made out of them, I think I should have persisted and really got into the Narnia world.

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, would definitely be among my childhood favourites if it had been published when I was a child and if I’d read it. I could say the same of Harry Potter.

E. E. Nesbit is an author quite a number of my friends praise and say they loved. Far too late for any of any of her books to become childhood faves of mine and I doubt if I’ll ever read them. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome is another series I missed out on.

None of these are individual books and most are in series. Is this because people remember them better having read several? or is it because something only becomes a favourite if one can immerse oneself in its world at intervals?

Picture from Harper Collins.

30 Day Book Challenge – day 10: The first novel I remember reading

Now we’re really reaching back in time and and through layers of faded memory. My first experiences of novel reading were in childhood – and that was a while ago now.

The first stories I read for myself and remember with any clarity are the Milly Molly Mandy Stories. Cover artThese are short tales by Joyce Lankester Brisley about a little girl who lives in an English village. They were published, and are set, in the 1920’s, but at the time I read them that meant nothing to me. Anything longer ago than a few months was in a sort of  pre-history limbo where parents and grandparents were young and might have shaken hands with Good Queen Bess.

But this 30-day challenge is for a novel and I have no idea which one I read ThroughTheLookingGlass2first. It was most likely something like Alice in Wonderland. I can clearly recall reading Alice through the Looking Glass and I’d already read Wonderland by then. We had ancient, illustrated editions of both around our house – not bought for us children but inherited from some other household.

These are all children’s books, as would be true of almost anyone’s first reading experiences. As I wrote this sentence something occurred to me that I’ve not realised before.

Books intended for children are usually referred to as ‘children’s books’ or ‘children’s stories’. Why not ‘children’s novels’ or ‘children’s short story collections’? Just because they are aimed at a young readership doesn’t make them a radically different kind of thing to adult novels. I think this is some kind of ageism.

Whatever. I enjoyed all these books, but have never re-read them so my memories of them are a bit hazy.

Cover art cqout.

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