Thursday, 2 April 2015

Children's Book Day: Our Favourite Books


It's International Children's Book Day, an event that takes place on or around renowned author Hans Christian Andersen's birthday since 1967. 

Celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children's books, its the perfect time for us adults to look fondly back at those books we remember reading, re-reading and becoming perhaps a little obsessed with as a child.

Perhaps you're a parent, aunt or uncle, grandparent, cousin or godparent who is keen to introduce some of your favourite children's books to a younger family member. In the age where games consoles, TVs and smartphones take priority, International Children's Book Day reminds us of the childhood wonder, excitement and fascination derived from a book. 

It encourages creativity, forges fond memories, gives a child strong role model characters to look up to, as well as enjoyment. 

The Geek Mash team have shared their favourite children's books. How many of these do you remember?

R.L. Stine: Goosebumps - Let's Get Invisible

Max and his little brother Lefty, love playing Baseball. Lefty is not his real name but because he always pitches with his left hand

After Max’s Birthday party, Max and his mates and Lefty uncover a secret room in the attic with the help of his Dog

They discover that the room holds a large old mirror that turns them invisible by pulling a chain from it’s light fixture

Soon after they all challenge each other to see who can stay invisible the longest amongst the usual hijinks that kids would get up to when being invisible

But being a Goosebumps book there’s some Spooky goings on!

The mirror has been trapping Max’s friends one by one and replacing them with their mirrored reflections, dark versions of his friends

His brother saves the day at the last minute, shattering the mirror by throwing a ball at it, with his right hand

This blew my tiny little mind as a kid, realising that was the evil version and it has stuck with me for the rest of my days. Not only for the magnificent twist in the story but for the whole idea of parallel dimensions, now one of my all time favourite tropes in any sci-fi story.

Honourable mentions: Paul Jennings for his Un-"Something" series which were a series of short stories, that later inspired the Round The Twist tv series 

Roald Dahl: Charlie & The Chocolate Factory 

My favourite children's book has to be Charlie & The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. It's hard to narrow it down to just one of Roald Dahl's books since the man wrote so many wonderful pieces of fiction but, when I think back on my childhood, this is the one that stands head and shoulders over the others. 

I'd never read anything like it before and Dahl creates such wonderful characters, especially the captivating Willy Wonka, that he enthralled children and adults alike the world over. Thinking about it now, my love of the Wonka character probably goes a long way towards explaining my love of Doctor Who!

J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban

There were plenty of children's books I could have chosen, but none of them captivated me as much as the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. The fact that even today at a grown woman pushing 27, I am still happy to revisit this series, means that Rowling was onto a winner here. 

The formula just works. As a kid, I loved dipping into the magical world of Hogwarts, following the adventures of "The Boy Who Lived", Harry Potter, and his loyal friends Hermione and Ron. 

Whilst I enjoy the entire series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is by far my favourite. The book introduced one of my favourite characters, Sirius Black, whilst my second favourite Lupin also makes a significant appearance. By this point, J.K. Rowling was clearly comfortable in her storytelling, and had pushed the story to deeper, darker places, whilst also retaining the fun, childlike elements that I fell in love with in the previous two books before it.

The world of Harry Potter remains a large obsession of mine, and writing this has just made me want to jump straight back into the series again! 

Honourable mentions: Cornelia Funke - Inkheart, Jill Murphy - Peace At Last. 

Roderick Hunt: The Magic Key Series

My choice is the Biff, Chip and Kipper books.

A little history on them first.

The Magic Key Series (as it is officially known) were written by Roderick Hunt and were illustrated by Alex Brychta. They were published by OUP (Oxford University Press) in 1985 and comprised of 30 stories which were used in 80% of British schools to teach, reading, writing and phonics. Now as of 2014 there are over 300 stories published in over 120 Countries.

So what are they about:

Biff, Chip and Kipper Robinson (along with Floppy the dog) embark on a series on adventures after they find a Magic Key which initially allowed them to shrink in size and as the stories progressed they discovered other abilities such as being able to open doors into other worlds. 

Why I love them:

I have always been a keen reader, I think it makes up for my awful handwriting. I also know that from a young age, I was a pain in the butt to teach. Most teacher’s thought I was daydreaming, doctors thought I had ADHD, my mum believed that in fact I had just taken in the necessary info and moved on. Any way regardless of that, when someone asks me what books I studied when I was younger, I can recall everything from secondary school, you get the usual Shakespeare, Dickens, Lee and Steinbeck but for my younger years all I recall is the Magic Key series.
I don't know what it was about them but they thrilled me for hours upon hours.

I remember how I was introduced to them, during my time in infants school I was asked to deliver a note to the headmistress, so chuffed at my important mission I left my class and made my way to the headmistresses office, I didn’t run as it’s dangerous to run in the hallways. I succeed in my mission and deliver the note and on my way back to my classroom I noticed a book left on a bench in the hallway, it was book 1 of the Magic Key Series, intrigued I started reading the first page, then the second, then the third and soon I had finished book one, and was devouring book 2 (which luckily was located on a shelf next to the bench), I think it was about book 3 when the teachers found me, (obviously worried at my lack of appearance), They saw that I had demolished three books already and I was reading at above grade so they invested in the last 27 books for the school. I also remember desperately pleading with the teacher to let me take the books home. I just remember the stories being delightful and happy and the artwork sweet and twee.

Eric Carle: The Very Hungry Caterpillar 

My favourite children's book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I remember that when my Gran used to look after me she had a box of toys in a box at her house. The book was one of the things in the box and I must have read it a thousand times. To further cement it in my mind as a favourite book is I told the story to one of my friends and he bought it for me as an 18th birthday present, which I found overwhelmingly sweet. 

Everyone knows the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar so I won’t regale you with it. However, the story is one that resonates with me even now… and after all, doesn't everyone want to be a beautiful butterfly?

What's your favourite children's book? 

Let us know by dropping us a comment, 
or letting us know on Facebook or Twitter!

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