It’s Top Ten Tuesday, and this week it’s books to hand down to your future kids! Or someone else’s kids, if they’re not really your bag.
Fortunately, I learned to read at some stupidly early age (my parents found out when I innocently asked who Colin Montgomery was after seeing his name in the paper my dad was reading) so I have no shortage of material from my formative years to choose from.
With a little help from my mother, here’s ten books that I’ll be forcing into the grubby little hands of any future kids I have.
Yes, this is a real book, and yes I did produce it and triumphantly yell “DOGGER!” in the middle of Waterstones once to prove it to my mum.
We can forgive the name, given that it was released in 1977. (Believe me, I googled VERY carefully to find the date.) It’s a beloved classic, a boy with his favourite toy dog and what happens when it goes missing at the funfair. Reach the end without crying. I dare you.
I mean, come on. Do I even need to elaborate on this one? Harry’s consumed my life since I was in single digit numbers and my future children will be force fed the books once they’re old enough to understand. If they’re not looking for their Hogwarts letter at some point I will have failed as a parent.
The Famous Five
Another classic. I can’t think of an Enid Blyton book I DIDN’T love to be fair, but the Famous Five were always my favourite. Who didn’t want to go on an adventure with all your friends, a remarkably intelligent big dog and lashings of ginger beer? With a combined age of less than fifty they seemed to be more competent than every single police force in the series.
That Book About The Jumper
I can’t for the life of me remember what this book was actually called, but one of my earliest memories is getting a bus to the library in Inverkeithing and insisting that my mum check me out this book about a favourite jumper. Remember it Ma? I had a real vested obsession. (No pun intended.)
Old Bear Stories
Find me a more perfect childrens’ series. Spoiler alert: you can’t. I can’t formulate the words to describe how nice these books are. Even as an adult all I have to do is think about Little Bear’s Trousers or hum the theme tune and I regress into a fugue state.
In fact, I think I might go out and buy the whole lot and never leave the house ever again.
This one’s a little past my time for picture books, but having a mother who worked in early years education meant that I have had the praises and relative merits of pretty much everything Julia Donaldson has ever written. There’s something charming about the Gruffalo, warts and claws and all.
Plus we – as in my entire, adult family – always end up watching The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child on TV every Christmas morning.
If Only They Could Talk
When I was little I wanted to be a vet, before I realised my ineptitude in maths and science might be a hindrance. It did lead me to James Herriot, and his stories of veterinary practise in the Yorkshire Dales. Fun for the whole family.
I have vivid memories of lying on the sofa ill as a child with books piled around me, reading about prolapsed uteri, obese Pekingese dogs and the best way to treat mastitis.
The Polka Dot Horse
This was – ironically, given the plot of the book – a forgotten favourite from when I was REALLY small. I haven’t read it for years, but I can still remember the pictures of the lonely little wooden polka dot horse rolling down the street in the dark.
Fortunately, it has a happy ending, but if this doesn’t make you want to weep, I fear you.
Wild at Heart series
OK so I LOVED these books as a child (see above re: veterinary dreams) and absorbed pretty much the whole series when they were sent to me from the US by my auntie Fee. I didn’t find out until years afterwards that they were written by Laurie Halse Anderson, who in my later years became my YA lit hero and the author of some of my favourite books. Now I love them even more.
Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness
I’ve always been a huge nerd and I loved these non-fiction books. Probably the reason my general knowledge is as broad as it is. In particular, anything involving animals and space. Or animals IN space.
And a special bonus shout-out to…
Every single electrical appliance my parents bought in my childhood. I had a bizarre proclivity for reading instruction manuals, which meant that as a youngster my understanding of how to work the TV, VCR, kettle, washing machine and hi – fi was sounder than that of my parents. It also meant that I was remarkably easy to entertain – just stick me in the middle of the room with a file full of instruction books and I was happy for hours.
Then I’d fix the clock on the oven.
Share your favourite childhood books with me! Or if you know the jumper book I’m talking about, y’know. For nostalgia’s sake…