Thursday, 6 November 2008

Releasing the child within ...

Is there ever a 'right' time to read a particular book?

I know there's a long line of books that people say 'I should have waited to read this' or 'I was too young/old to appreciate it', but what I'm really wondering is if there are certain books that are reserved for a single time in one's life, and when that time is passed, whether we should just consign them to the highest, dusty, shelf of the bookcase.

The genre I am particularly thinking about in this case is children's literature. When you reach a certain age it seems so indulgent to read a child's book, and how many people have got criticism in some form for confessing to having read Harry Potter?

However, I think a little children's literature never did any harm, and with some, might even help to recapture those values that might have been mislaid.

Want to learn how to be tolerant? Read 'The Secret Garden' (which of course shows adults that they shouldn't be too judgemental or insular as well as children).

'A Little Princess' reminds us how to triumph over adversity (as does 'Little Women'), 'Black Beauty' helped a generation to understand the pain an animal went through for our gratification, '101 Dalmatians' is a beautiful tale of animals outwitting an evil human.

The point is that these books taught us so much when we were young, and even though we think we have learned the lessons, it never does any harm to revisit them.

What's your favourite children's book, and does it still resonate with you today?

10 comments:

Kirsty said...

Matilda by Roald Dahl. Not only my favourite children's book, but one of my favourite books full stop.

The copy I've had since I was 7 is falling apart, but I will never, ever part with it.

oxford-reader said...

Oh! How could I have forgotten this one!!! I've not read it in a few years, but I remember loving it when I was little and realising there WERE other people out there with the same attachment to books as me!

Jenny said...

I have far too many favorites to name, from E. Nesbit to the Little House on the Prairie to The Princess and the Goblin to Edward Eager's books to Roald Dahl and the Melendy books by Elizabeth Enright... and when I'm tired or ill or stressed, I re-read them all. And I'm not the least bit ashamed! I try to keep up with children's and YA fiction. There're some good authors out there these days. Who says everything you read has to be Literary Fiction, in all caps?

Teresa said...

I wasn't actually introduced to much classic children's literature as a child, just the Little House books, Black Beauty, Charlotte's Web, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (why no one tried to get me to read the rest of the Narnia books I'll never know). When I'm feeling worried or scared or sick, I reread These Happy Golden Years or Little Town on the Prairie. Does the trick every time.

As an adult, I've introduced myself to Anne of Green Gables, the rest of the Narnia books, Madeleine L'Engle, and "new classics" like the Lemony Snicket books and Harry Potter. I have lots more children's and YA books on my shelf. I'm only embarrassed that I'm in my mid-30s and still haven't read Lloyd Alexander or The Wind in the Willows.

Peta said...

So many favourite books as a child that I read over and over again! Enid Blyton, Winnie the Pooh, The Narnia chronicles, Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, The Chalet Girls, How to Eat Fried Worms, The Hobbit... I could go on and on! Reading this post inspired me to dig out and read The Land of Green Ginger - which is a book I remembered with enormous fondness and I am very glad I did too. Thanks!

oxford-reader said...

You've all got fantastic taste! I love many of these and obviously have some to look forward to!

offmytrolley said...

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf was my favourite picture book but I am so grateful to the student teacher who introduced me to Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Karen said...

As a young child it was definitely The Folk of The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton but then when I was a bit older it changed to Anne of Green Gables. I still adore these books today - the magic hasn't faded!

Nicola said...

I'm 45 and a good 50% of my reading is children's literature - in fact I'm studying for an MA in children's literature. I really don't care if anyone thinks adults "shouldn't" read Harry Potter. Nice blog, by the way!

oxford-reader said...

I adore Ferdinand! My nephew, who turns two soon, has got the nickname of Ferdinand, because he shoves his whole face in flowers whenever he sees them!

I agree with Nicola too - I almost did an MA in Children's lit, and I really don't think any genre should be for one set of people alone. All for one and one for all, as a certain French writer was wont to say!