Thursday, July 9, 2009

My favourite childhood storybooks

For a while now I’ve been meaning to write a post listing my favourite childhood picture books. Until today I could only come up with two, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss (both of which I read to my children today).

I remember nursery rhymes and songs (I loved and still love singing).

Nothing else really sprang to mind and I wondered if it was because my parents didn’t read to me often (but I do have an impression they read to me and my brother every night) so I didn’t think that was the reason. Maybe I was just to young to remember? Maybe I just needed something to jog my memory?

So, today I decided to see if my memory would be jogged and looked at a list someone had made up of popular picture books from the 1970s and 1980s and suddenly some memories started to flow in.

Here are the picture books I loved,

The Flower Fairies Series by Cicely Mary Barker.

I was so in love with these books. The idea of a fairy world and the beautiful illustrations completely hooked me. I remember daydreaming for hours about how wonderful it would be to be a fairy.

The Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck by Beatrix Potter (and the whole Beatrix Potter series).

I was also in love with these books. The illustrations were completely magical to me and the idea of the animals living like humans was very appealing. I had guinea pigs, cats and a dog myself and I used to imagine us having conversations together.

The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss.

I remember I loved the rhymes and repetition. I remember The Cat in the Hat was the first book from which I could proudly read each word by myself without an adult even present. I was never too keen on the illustrations, they were a bit too wacky for my taste but non-the-less I loved the rhyme.

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne, illustrations by E.H. Shepard.

I loved the characters and the beautiful simple sketches. The Disney version the kids see today feels like a betrayal to me after those lovely illustrations by E.H. Shepard.

When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne, illustrations by E.H.Shepard

I loved the poems and illustrations and the feeling that I was so close to the characters.

Lastly I must not forget The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. This book was wonderful to me, to watch the journey of the caterpillar, to be able to repeat the words myself, the colours, the originality yet simplicity of the illustrations… a truly wonderful book in my opinion.

So, thank you, thank you, to the authors and illustrators of these books! You added a lot of joy to my childhood!

I also remember vividly being fascinated and frightened by classic fairytales,

Little Red Riding Hood (although I don’t remember which version)
Hansel and Gretel (probably the Brother’s Grimm version)
Snow White
The Three Little Pigs
The Ugly Duckling y Hans Christian Andersen

I haven’t introduced my children to these fairytales, not by any conscious choice but now I am looking at them I am not sure I am in any rush to do so. I remember the stories vividly and the pictures that accompanied them but I also remember feeling frightened of adults and the world after hearing these stories. I won’t do too deep a psychological analysis of myself (who knows where I may end up!) but for now I think my kids are doing ok without these stories.

I would love you to tell me about your favourite childhood books. I wonder if you share with me?

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