What book would you bequeath to your children?


The University of Worcester have conducted a very interesting-sounding survey and asked 2,000 adults which book they’d most like to pass on to their children (A Christmas Carol came first, with 19% of the vote). You can read more about the results on The Guardian’s website – after reading the story, I conducted one of our patented office polls to find out what one title everyone at Nosy Crow would leave to their children.

After much agonising, Kate could still only settle on two books: The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury.

Ola chose The Six Bullerby Children by Astrid Lindgren.

Victoria picked Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Imogen has gone for Burglar Bill by Janet and Allan Ahlberg.

Kristina would leave Not Now, Bernard by David McKee.

Adrian’s choice is Kim by Rudyard Kipling.

And although I found this immensely difficult (largely, I think, as a result of wholly overthinking the question), I’ve decided on Matilda by Roald Dahl.

In a happy case of coincidence, Philip Ardagh, author of The Grunts, will be on Inheritance Books on Radio4 Extra at 4pm today, discussing the very same subject – tune in to hear his choices!

And if you could only choose one book to leave to your children, what would it be? Leave your answers in the comments below!


No Responses to “What book would you bequeath to your children?”

  • A difficult one this, and a question I’ve pondered over. The answer is, I don’t have an all time favourite. I go back to different books for different reasons and I can trace each book back to moments of my childhood and adult life.

    If I had to choose one, it would be a picture book…
    Old Bear by Jane Hissey. I’m so excited that this is finally back in print this autumn because it really is a charming, wonderful story and one I read time and time again and have such fond memories of. It’s amazing the power of memory. I certainly didn’t remember this book until I came across it when sorting out the roof with my parents a few years back. Ah, the power of nostalgia.

  • So difficult, especially as I have four such very different children. But I think the one that they’ve probably all loved the best has been Roald Dahl’s ‘The Enormous Crocodile’. Just the right length for a long-ish bedtime story for the little ones (my three year-old asks for it most nights), perfect for newly-confident readers, and funny enough for older children and to bear endless repetition. If I was allowed a sneaky second book it would probably be Alison Uttley’s ‘A Traveller in Time’, or something by Rumer Godden – perhaps ‘Little Plum’. Although unfortunately my three boys might perceive them as being ‘girly’; a shame, as fundamentally neither of them are.

  • So hard to choose, but I think it would have to be The Railway Children by E. Nesbit, which I adored as a child and which I think has a perfect story arc (and an ending that never fails to make me cry). If it could be a series, though, I would choose Little Women and its sequels, for its unforgettable characters and wonderfully humane vision.

  • Grimble and Grimble at Christmas by Clement Freud. Sadly it’s out of print but I do have my own childhood copy, dog-eared and much loved. It’s surreal and very very silly.

  • Thanks for all of your great suggestions!

    On Twitter, @JanTippett says:

    “The book of dreams for our family has to be ‘Morris’s Disappearing Bag’ so
    we would bequeath that”

    @NicolaOByrne1 (illustrator of Open Very Carefully) says:

    “It would be my mother’s Winnie the Pooh books, complete with her 4 year old colouring in.”

    And you can listen to Philip on Radio4 Extra here (from about 19 minutes in):

  • I have been very remiss and left out one of the answers from our original poll: Kate’s younger daughter has suggested The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (with the caveat that this should only be an edition with the original illustrations by William Nicholson).

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