I’ve always been an avid, enthusiastic reader, from mi born. I remember being three years old and literally falling over books as I brought them to my parents to read with me. Little old me, carrying tens of books down the stairs you know. Who did I think I was? By the time I was 5, I was already reading chapter books. Reading has always been my favourite past time. Thus, in honour of World Book Day, I wanted to share with you guys a few of my favourite books growing up – from baby to teenager. At almost 25 now, these books still hold such a special place in my heart, and my children we definitely be reading these books too!
The Bad-Tempered Ladybird
This book gave me such joy as a child. It was written by the same guy who wrote The Very Hungry Caterpillar, another childhood favourite for many. I read this when I was 4, I remember this because I put it in my book bag, exited the classroom stage left and walked down the side into the main playground. Reception. The moral of this story was what I loved about it most. It teaches children not to be selfish and learn to share because when you don’t…well… let’s just say karma is oh so real in The Bad-Tempered Ladybird, and it comes in the form of a big blue whale. I remember the images and the way in which the pages used to get bigger as the animals in the book increased in size. It was so interactive. The pages even had the time of the day on the sides. Look at that. It didn’t just teach kids to read, but taught them to tell the time too. Killing two birds with one stone. Love it.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Well to be honest, I had the complete collection of Narnia didn’t I? Still have it. But The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe still remains my favourite. I first read this book in Year 3, so I must have been about 7. I was totally amazed by every single page in that book. The edition I had was also illustrated, so seeing the visuals I had concocted in my head actually make it onto the page gassed me up even further. Everything about that story is genius and let’s be fair, Aslan remains one of the baddest characters in Listory. (That’s Lit History, guys). How can he be coming with them hard hitting bars like, “Do not cite the Deep Magic to me, Witch. I was there when it was written.” It’s sad to know that the Witch thought she could actually get one up on Aslan. It’s even sadder that I remember that quote word for word. Don’t even get me started on the whole concept of Spare Oom. Pure and utter class. You can imagine how excited I was when they released the film. It was like I was 7 all over again. This is a book that I will force my children to read, as well as the other chronicles of Narnia; because no child’s life is complete without C.S. Lewis and that masterful world of adventure.
Did you really think I would create a list without my boy, Roald Dahl? You must be on something, G. This guy is a pioneer of children’s fiction, and without him, it would be nothing. By reading his books, you can tell that he was quite a weird little man, but a genius nonetheless. The Twits seriously made my life. I can’t even tell you how many times my sister and I read this book. My sister hates reading, but this is one book we would fight over at home. Roald Dahl does such a great job in describing the nastiness of the Twits, you can almost smell their stench seeping through the particles of the page. Seriously. And of course, Quentin Blake’s crazy illustrations contribute massively to that, too. The pranks that Mr. and Mrs Twit play on each other are classic. I remember The Glass Eye and the Wormy Spaghetti pranks too well. All I’m saying is Mrs. Twit took revenge on her husband to a next level. If you ever catch your husband cheating and you’re looking for a way to get back at him – read The Twits. It ain’t pretty, but he will never cheat again. I can tell you that for free!
This was absolutely one of my favourite books as a child. A story about a little girl who finds a stuffed animal at a park, and decides to take it home. However, her conscience begins to kick in as she starts to feel a little guilty for not trying to find out who the owners of the teddy are. I didn’t realise it at the time but Juanita Hill did an amazing job of introducing ethical dilemmas into the plot line and in turn, inspired kids around the world to really consider what is right from wrong. Of course, we just thought it was a story at the time, but you gotta start from young. Those things really stay inscribed in your mind; so much so at almost 25, I can still relate to and find sense in this short story.
Let’s be totally fair. George Orwell’s 1984 is my past, my present, and my future. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure this book should be in this list, because I’m really not done with it. I don’t think I ever will be. I studied this book for my English Literature GCSE Coursework, I believe. I was in year 10, so I was 14 or 15. OCR couldn’t have rewarded me in a better way. Also a dystopian novel, 1984 illustrates a world of perpetual war and incessant public mind control, headed by the cult personality of Big Brother – the guy who harks and spits upon individuality and labels them THOUGHTCRIMES. George Orwell went in.
One thing you have to have when reading this book? Patience. One thing George Orwell could have made money from is a dictionary to go alongside the book, or something. My man created a whole new language in 1984. Thoughtcrime, Doublethink, Ingsoc, Newspeak, Minipax, Miniplenty, Minitrue, Miniluv, unperson, Doublespeak etc. (If you don’t have a clue what I’m on about, just read the book. I mean, it’s all there). Hard-hitting phrases, such as, “Freedom is Slavery,” and “Ignorance is Strength.” Ahhhh, mate. You cannot just read this book, and chill. You’ve really gotta think about it. That’s what makes it so great. That’s what makes the book…what it is. What was so captivating about the novel, was how accurate it was to life itself. Every word that Orwell penned in that book – every idea that he coined – I could see it all happening in MY world. It may not have been as extreme, but I could still see it. Individuality is dying – and Orwell prophesied it in 1949, when the book was written. It scared me, but astounded me at the same time. Gosh. Reminiscing all of this has made me want to read it again.
Where’s flamin’ Wally? Or Waldo as you Americans call it (I don’t know why – Waldo just sounds ugly, mate). One might say that this book doesn’t deserve to be here as TECHNICALLY, it’s not a story book. I beg to differ. As the audience, we follow Wally on his travels around the world – there’s nothing more story-like than that, if you ask me. As the series continued, more characters were added including Odlaw (Waldo backwards, obviously), Wenda, Wizard Whitebeard and Woof, Wally’s dog. Woof definitely did my head in the most. It’s like, you would be on a roll and you would have finally found everybody in the double-spread picture and the only thing left to find is Woof. But guess what? The only thing Handford has drawn of him is his bloody tail. SO ANNOYING. I used to get so mad! Anyway, I’d always end up finding him in the end.
Come to think of it though, I don’t think I ever found EVERYTHING that needed to be found in Where’s Wally? Well, not really. You see, with every mission came a checklist. And on that checklist wasn’t just the book’s characters. Once you had found the characters, you had to find the broken glass bottle, the three-legged horse, a certain amount of specs on every mission etc. Well, if you were a nerd like me, you had to find them. I’m pretty sure after finding Wally, most people aborted the mission. Well not me. I’ve always been a perfectionist. I’ve always been thorough. Still, I’m pretty sure there are some objects that I still haven’t found. Hmmm. Looks as if this mission must be extended. I still have drunken knights to find.
The Harry Potter series
The boy who changed my life and proved that wearing glasses can be cool. Seriously, Harry. You’re not even ready for me babes. I read this book in Year 5 making me about 10 years old. After reading the Philosopher’s Stone, I became totally smitten with everything Harry Potter. I even went as far as asking my mumzie for Gryffindor attire the next Christmas. (I’m a neek, I know). I was obsessed and to be honest – I still am. I still find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that Harry Potter will be no more. When I finished reading all the books, it was okay because they were still in the process of making the remaining films. Still, I knew that day would come…and it came too soon. In July 2011, as I watched the final scene of HP7 come to a close and the credits begin to roll, a tear fell silently down my cheek. That one single tear represented my childhood coming to an end. That tear was symbolic of the fact that…shit just got real. That tear told me, “Lydia, it’s time to grow up now.” And I couldn’t believe it. I don’t think I’ll ever find another book that will amaze me the way Harry Potter did. J.K. Rowling’s skills are beyond ridiculous. How one can create an astonishing magical world complete with trolls, three-headed dogs, dementors and house-elves (let’s pour a little liquor for my nig, Dobby. R.I.P.) is beyond me. Though some critics have not been blown away by Harry Potter, calling it ‘stylistically ordinary’ and claiming that Rowling’s mind is ‘governed by clichés and dead metaphors’ (harsh!); to me, all of that is bull. I don’t think she wrote Harry Potter with the hope of becoming the world’s greatest writer. I believe her aim was simply to create a story with loveable characters that children (like myself!) could grow up with and in which adults too, can escape their busy lives and enter an unimaginable world of infinite impossibilities. Harry Potter will indeed become a timeless classic and have a spot reserved on everyone’s bookshelf, along with characters such as Alice, Aslan and Dorothy.