Hi again! Welcome back for another book-ish listicle. I recently posted a review of ‘Ballet Shoes’ by Noel Streatfield- one of my favourite classics as a child- and I thought I would do a post of my 5 favourite classics as a child. When I was younger my head was always in a book, and that book was very often a classic.
As a young history lover, the worlds created by classics seemed both real, and imaginary, and I would spend hours immersing myself in the culture and time of another period. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy history so much today! This post was also inspired by a display I saw at my local Waterstones. You can check it out on my Instagram and Twitter.
As always, this list is in no particular order 🙂
1. ‘What Katy Did’ by Susan Coolidge
This was one of my favourite books as a child, and it really captured my imagination. ‘What Katy Did’ is about a young girl who gets into an accident, and has to learn to walk again, her rebellious ways changed as she grows into a kind and loving young woman.
Now that I think back to what Katy was like before her accident, she was just a normal girl, fighting against a system which treated her as a second rate citizen. But at the time I just loved her adventures with her sisters, and I was totally immersed in her exciting world.
2. ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott
This has always been a firm favourite of mine. Focussing on the four March sisters, Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy, ‘Little Women’ recounts their ups and their downs, as well as their friendships, relationships and arguments. I loved the world of the March sisters, living in America during the Civil War, and I thought their family life seemed like so much fun. Again, I was captivated by the period in which the sisters were living, and I could see myself along with them as they danced at balls, or bought Christmas presents for their mother in the snow.
3. ‘The Folk of the Faraway Tree’ by Enid Blyton
This book literally made my childhood. My best friend in primary school had also read this book, and we used to play games based on it. This is a book about a crazy, mysterious tree, which has many levels, and where incredible things happen. I loved reading about the adventures of the children and the many people they met in the tree, and I just think the sheer craziness of the plot and characters meant that this was a world which I could crawl into and never look back. So far removed from my own life, I loved the adventure and mystery of this magical world.
4. ‘Charlotte’s Web’ by E. B. White
This book is actually such a good book! Even though I wasn’t particularly an animal lover when I was younger, I loved both the book and the film of ‘Charlotte’s Web.’ I don’t know what it was that enchanted me about this novel, but I would read it over and over. Sometimes the best novels are the ones that are familiar to you.
5. ‘Malory Towers’ by Enid Blyton
I loved this book so much! Based on a young girl going to boarding school for the first time, I was so excited to read about a world so different from my own, and I ached to go to boarding school as a child. I think I would have found it quite different to the experiences of those in ‘Malory Towers.’ Again, the camaraderie and friendships of these girls enchanted me, and I would get lost in their world again and again, feeling like I too had made friends for life. That makes me sounds really sad… I just enjoyed reading, I did also have real life friends!
6. ‘A Little Princess’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I actually didn’t read this book until I was a bit older, but I adored the film. Now I think about it, it’s actually quite a sad and depressing story, but of course, all works out well in the end. I loved everything to do with servants, and the whole idea of ‘below stairs’ as a child (I was weird, I know) so I loved reading and watching the life of Sara, as she was transformed from a rich girl in a posh school, to the servant of those who were her former classmates. Everything about the historical class divide fascinated me, and this book ticked a lot of boxes for my childhood self.
7. ‘The Naughtiest Girl in the School’ by Enid Blyton
Another Enid Blyton… I’m sorry! I loved this book, again for the strong female lead, and the boarding school aspect. Who knew that I grew up loving the life of the middle classes haha! This book was funny and light, but still packed in all those historical details that I loved. I was definitely living in a different century throughout most of my childhood. In fact, I was probably living in a boarding school in the country, in my mind.
8. ‘Five Children and It’ by E. Nesbit
I really liked this one, although perhaps not as much as the others. This was such a weird and funny read, and I think I just found the whole concept of the book intriguing. I don’t remember it that well, but I seem to remember some kind of sand creature which grants wishes? I’m not sure, but I lapped up this book, and the adventures of the children it centred on.
9. ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I looooooved this film! I didn’t read the book until later, but the film made my childhood. I was enthralled by the spooky setting and the mysterious happenings of the old house, and I adored all the characters and relationships in the book. Friendships definitely made these childhood classics what they were, and ‘The Secret Garden’ is no exception.
10. ‘Carrie’s War’ by Nina Bawden
I remember going through a phase where this was my favourite book and film, and I would read and watch nothing else. This is a slightly more modern classic, first published in 1973, but as I remember it was set during the Second World War, and this was, again, a time I found fascinating. I thought Carrie was a cool heroine, and the whole concept and experience of evacuation was really interesting to me. This book was much darker and deeper than the others that I read, but nevertheless played an important part in my childhood reading.
This post has brought back so many memories- I could keep going on and on about the books I enjoyed as a child! I loved so many Enid Blyton books, but I wanted to keep it limited within the list. Now I read them back, I realise they are well and truly stuck in their time, with racist and sexist undertones. But when I was younger, I was in love with the world of Malory Towers, so far removed from my local primary school.
Do you have any classics that you read and re-read as a child? Are there any I should read now? What books did you like as a child? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below!