Kate’s twelve favourite children’s books (because it’s still 12.12.12)


OK, so here, from the gut and without thinking terribly hard about it, are my own, entirely subjectively chosen, twelve “best” children’s books (I am NOT including any of Nosy Crow’s 58 published books – 58?! How did that happen? – because that would seem, somehow, wrong, like choosing between children) selected as I sit at the table on my first evening back home after a long working week in the US on the twelfth day of the twelfth month 2012.

These are the books that I would choose if I had to give a small child in some exclusively book version of Desert Island Discs a tiny library to last them from 0 to 12 (when they’d be rescued from the island and immediately taken to a really great library and/or bookshop). I know it’s not the most cutting edge of lists, but it’s what comes to mind this evening. The good thing is, of course, that I could come up with a completely different list of must-haves tomorrow (or, and this was written within an hour of posting this, below in the comments section).

But, tonight, this is my list:

Goodnight Moon
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
Winnie The Pooh by A A Milne illustrated by E H Shepard
A Dog So Small by Philippa Pearce
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
An anthology of really great poetry. For me, as a child, it was The Book of a Thousand Poems, but it might be The School Bag by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes
A Just William Book
The Hamlyn Encyclopedia of Animals in Colour (long out of print in the edition I had) or something similar

The astute among you will spot that I have listed thirteen books here, but there’s little chance of doing any more than adding to this list before midnight (and, therefore, the end of 12.12.12) UK time.

What are my most egregious omissions, do you think?


12 Responses to “Kate’s twelve favourite children’s books (because it’s still 12.12.12)”

  • Here are just some of the books I missed out:

    Green Eggs and Ham (Dr Seuss)
    Dogger by Shirley Hughes
    We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (or, as my husband shouted across the kitchen when he knew what I was doing, “That ‘swishy-swashy’ one” by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
    Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
    Where’s Spot by Eric Hill
    The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (but ONLY the William Nicholson version)
    My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards illustrated by Shirley Hughes

    and then, of course, there’s…

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J K Rowling
    Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
    The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
    The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
    Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer
    The Way Things Work by David McCauley

    That’s ANOTHER thirteen already!

  • I think my 12 would be:

    Matilda by Roald Dahl
    The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson
    Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
    Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
    Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
    An anthology of poetry… probably by Michael Rosen
    Where The Wilds Things Are by Maurice Sendak
    Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley
    Dogger by Shirley Hughes
    I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
    Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
    Burglar Bill by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

    …And although I have been quite strict with myself and kept to twelve, I will undoubtedly realise some criminal omission lying in bed tonight and seek to amend this list.

  • Okay, this is my list chosen entirely to please myself, although I don’t see how you can possibly miss Beatrix Potter, Enid Blyton and E. Nesbit off this kind of list!

    Meg and Mog
    We’re going on a Bear Hunt
    Mrs Tiggywinkle
    The Enchanted Wood (Ist in the Faraway Tree series)
    Five on a Treasure Island
    The Railway Children
    The Phoenix and the Carpet
    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
    The Dark is Rising
    The Weirdstone of Brisingamen
    Little Women
    Anne of Green Gables

  • Eurckkk! I missed The Dark Is Rising! I did (and this refers right back to the blog posts about gender that I wrote a month or so ago) have Little Women and Anne Of Green Gables in my head, but I lopped them out on grounds of being to much for girls. As for Nesbit, I had her too (The Phoenix and the Carpet or The Story of The Amulet), but ended up wondering if she still had enough relevance over a century after they were published (it already felt a very unmodern list…)

  • No, mine’s not a very modern list at all! And is skewed towards books that girls might prefer as you say and also female writers, interestingly, although that wasn’t deliberate. But then it was a list to please myself so perhaps I was doing something slightly different from the original remit!

    My modern(ish) half a dozen might go something like…

    Owl Babies
    The Snail and the Whale
    Hairy Maclary Sit!
    Sleepovers (Jacqueline Wilson)
    Mr Gum
    Artemis Fowl (the first one although I would happily put the whole series on my list)
    Cosmic (Frank Cottrell Boyce)

    I’m also wishing I’d had room for The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and Charmed Life on my first list.

  • If I asked my 10 and 12 year olds they would say (I think!)

    Ways to Live Forever
    War Horse
    David Walliams (any of them)
    Hunger Games

    And from when they were little

    Little Lumpty – think its out of print but they LOVED it (preschool pic book)
    Room on the Broom.

    Memory lane.. bit tearful now…

  • Ooh, this is such fun! Here’s a list off the top of my head (because I could think about it all day if I let myself):

    George and the Dragon by Chris Wormell
    The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
    The Apple Pip Princess by Jane Ray
    Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire by Andy Stanton
    The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
    The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
    Curtain Up by Noel Streatfeild
    Heidi by Joanna Spyri
    Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce
    The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson
    Just William
    The Oxford Treasury of Classic Poems

  • At the top of that list I’d have to put my all time favourite Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce. And I couldn’t leave out The Wind in the Willows, Goodnight Mr.Tom, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Millions and just about any picture book by Shirley Hughes (Alfie Weather if I had to pick just one!)

    Nicola Cobham.

  • Lost and Found – Oliver Jeffers
    Harris finds his feet – Catherine Rayner
    The boy in the stripped pyjamas – John Boyne
    What the ladybird heard – Julia Donaldson
    You’re a bad man Mr Gum – Andy Stanton
    George’s Marvellous Medicine – Roald Dahl
    Holes – Louis Sacher
    Winnie-the-pooh – AA Milne/EH Shepherd
    The gift of nothing – Patrick McDonnell
    Flotsam – David Wiesner

  • Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an really long comment but after I
    clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyway, just wanted to say superb blog!

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