In this month’s discussion post I will be taking a look at some of my top 5 reads when I was a child, as well as some contributions from some friends of my blog who kindly contributed with their favourites.
Note this aren’t in a particular ranking order as I genuine loved reading them all and this post does contain affiliate links.
My first book I have done a full review of on the blog recently but reading it again as an adult has just made me realise how much I loved this book when I was an 8 year old. Roald Dahl’s incredible imagination brings the story to life and his fantastical and magical Chocolate Factory will leave any child in wonder. Then there is the wacky Willy Wonka and of course the other Golden Ticket winners who are suitably horrible and nasty children, from the greedy Augustus Gloop to the spoilt brat Veruca Salt. I would highly recommend this book as I can probably say it is the book that made me fall in love with reading.
I would also recommend George’s Marvellous Medicine and Matilda by Roald Dahl as well.
Another book I loved as a child, probably due to the TV series that was on CBBC which starred Dani Harmer. Tracy Beaker is a feisty 10 year old who has been left in The Dumping Ground, a children’s care home. Though the book’s premise sounds very sad and there are some emotional moments as Tracy dreams about a life reunited with her mum, the book has some genuinely hilarious moments. Jacqueline Wilson writes the book from Tracy’s perspective and you can almost imagine the 10 year old girl who is telling you this story, with Nick Sharett’s excellent childlike illustrations also bringing the story to life.
The section where Tracy, Justine and Louise play a game of Truth or Dare has lived in my memory ever since I first read it. If you enjoy this book, there is also the sequels The Dare Game and Starring Tracy Beaker which I have also read and are excellent. Wilson also published a further sequel in 2018 called My Mum’s Tracy Beaker – a story about Tracy Beaker’s daughter which I am yet to read.
One character that most 9 year old boys want to be is James Bond (I can definitely remember dreaming of a life of adventures like he has in the movies). If you are looking for books for 9 year olds just like that then the Alex Rider books are perfect for them, starting with 2000’s Stormbreaker.
Alex Rider is the teenage spy and in the first novel he is sent to millionaire Herod Sayle’s mansion in Scotland as a competition winner to investigate Stormbreaker, a brand new computer system he is giving away to schools for free but when he discovers the villain’s deadly plan, so begins a race against time to stop it.
Armed with gadgets and with plenty of Bond style action this series has it all and with 12 sequels and a 13th being published it is definitely a series to sink your teeth into.
I would also recommend Charlie Higson’s Young Bond series beginning with Silverfin. The series of adventures features a young James Bond in his schooldays at Eton but tells the story as part of Ian Fleming’s original timeline for the character so is set in the 1930s. Unlike the Alex Rider series there’s no gadgets or MI6 but they are still very entertaining reads for young fans of the series.
Of course, being a 90s child, no collection of children’s books was going to be complete without the all-conquering Harry Potter series. Beginning with 1997’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (which I have reviewed here and don’t worry I will have reviews for them all eventually), the magical series follows Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione as they learn magic at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
I was born in 1995 so my first introduction to the series was the movies but eventually I read all seven books and have read them several times since. From the first books the series builds into a dark, epic battle between good and evil, especially from The Prisoner of Azkaban onwards. I can also still remember buying the final edition and reading it hungrily as a 12 year old on the day it came out.
It is a magical series and one I would recommend starting from the first and reading in order.
My fifth recommendation is Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events. I first read these books when I was around 11 years old and I actually remember reading them out of order as I borrowed them as they became available from the library (I’m also not 100% sure I read all 13).
However I would say the books as standalone entries are really interesting reads as they tell the story of three orphans, Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire whose parents die in a fire and they are sent to live with their scheming uncle Count Olaf, who wants to take their inheritance so places them in increasingly dangerous situations. As the novels progress the orphans are sent to live with a range of eccentric carers with Olaf usually hot on their tail before they discover a conspiracy which may connect Olaf, themselves and their parents.
The books writing style is very sarcastic with plenty of dark humour. I particularly remember in one of the books where the orphans are told to “never ever…ever fiddle around with electrical devices” and the author has an entire page with the word ever written on it to emphasise the point (literally just ever ever ever ever ever) as shown on this Reddit thread and it is that kind of humour which makes the books entertaining to read.
The three orphans are also very endearing characters. Violet Baudelaire is an inventor who comes up with a range of clever devices. Klaus is a speed reader with a photographic memory and even the tiny toddler Sunny is able to bite things with her overly strong teeth.
So there are my favourite children’s reads, now we can hear from some of my favourite bloggers and friends of A Novel Chapter who I’ve asked to recommend one book each.
A Novel Chapter Friends Recommendations
Louisa Smith from Epic Book Society (www.epicbooksociety.com) recommends this book. She said:
“Lost and Found is a heart-warming adventure story for children by Oliver Jeffers. It tells the story of a boy who one day finds a penguin on his doorstep. Unsure what to do with the penguin, he decides to take it to the lost and found at school. He sees in a book that penguins live in Antarctica, so he makes it his mission to help the penguin get home. The pair endure an arduous voyage in a boat where they heavily rely on each other through high seas and storms. Only when the penguin is gone and the boy has returned home does the boy finally realise what it means to be lost, and found. I loved reading this story to my grade 1 primary school students because of the endearing message it portrays about friendship and love. Lost and Found was published in 2005 and has since won the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award in 2006 and the Nestle Children’s Book Prize in 2007.”
If you have any other favourite books, let me know in the comments down below…