Even though I did do a fair bit of reading when I was little, there are a lot of children’s “classics” that I haven’t read. That might be because I wasn’t that interested in them, they weren’t widely available in the UK, or I just didn’t know that they existed. It happens sometimes.
I could go ahead and seek out those books I missed out on and read them as an adult, but there is a big problem in that: I’m an adult who doesn’t have children and doesn’t plan to have children. There are children’s books out there that are still enjoyable to adults but I prefer to read things that are more suited to my reading age. Mostly.
The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis – I have actually read about 3/4 of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe at school. The movie came out when I was 10 so the teachers at my primary school decided that we would read it as a class before we all went to see it as part of a school trip. Unfortunately, the teacher I had decided to stop reading it because, according to her, the book is “supposed to last forever”. It’s 208 pages long. Harry Potter books are longer than that. But anyway, I’m kind of on the fence about reading the series now because C.S. Lewis wrote these books for religious kids to help them explore their own faith, and I’m not religious anymore so I’m not sure.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – I did try to read The Hobbit when I was 14 but never finished it because I thought it was kind of boring. But then again, I was a horribly pretentious 14-year-old who was more interested in reading George Orwell so maybe I wasn’t that good at judging what is boring or not. Maybe if I’d read it when I was younger and more into fantasy I would have enjoyed it. And then I would know what everyone is talking about when it comes to The Lord of the Rings.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – I actually read this book for the first time earlier this month, but I wish I’d read it when I was younger instead of reading the abridged Disney versions that I had instead. Alice in Wonderland was my favourite when I was little (so much that I was devastated when my brother taped over my copy of it) and not to brag, but I was so many reading levels ahead of the other kids, so I think I would’ve been able to handle the language.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – I didn’t actually know that this book existed until I started blogging. I think the UK is very proud of its kidlit industry so “foreign” kids books (like the US and Canada) have to be ultimate classics to become household names here. We do know authors like E.B. White, Judy Blume, and Louis Sachar though, so we do have some North American books that are considered classics.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum – This is another book that I didn’t know was a book until I was a teenager. I love the movie The Wizard of Oz, but because I was a child when I watched it for the first time, I didn’t know that it was based on a book until the librarian at my secondary school told me that she and her sister were collecting special editions of the series. I don’t think I would read it now because I’m probably too old for it and there’s 11 books in the Oz series.
Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers – This is yet another book I didn’t know existed until Disney made a movie about the making of the movie adaptation. Is this anybody’s fault? Not really because when I was a kid, we couldn’t go onto the internet until after 6 pm when it was cheaper and people were less likely to call the house, and there also wasn’t much to do other than play games on the Cartoon Network website. But anyway, would I read this one now? Probably not because I think this is another long series and I’m not a big enough Mary Poppins fan to read them all.
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond – I love Paddington bear things, but I don’t think I read the book as a child. Maybe I did and I just forgot about it, who knows. I had so many Paddington things when I was little, I had toys, stationery, I had a coat that looked just like his, and I’m pretty sure I watched at least one of the TV shows about him. I’ve even been to the Paddington shop at Paddington station but couldn’t buy anything because I was broke.
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling – I’m very torn between whether I want to read this book now because Kipling wrote some influential children’s literature, but he also gets heavily criticised for having imperialistic views. And I’m not about that. I don’t know if that crops up in The Jungle Book, but we all know that a European author writing a book set in India and featuring only Indian characters and talking animals would not go down well today, even despite the fact that Kipling was born in India.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones – I think this is the only book on this list that I will definitely read because the movie adaptation of this book is one of my favourites (shoutout to Christian Bale for being a celebrity voice who can actually voice act) and I want to see where it came from.
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy – I used to watch the ITV series of this book every single day after school when I was little, but it never occurred to me that it was based on a series of books. Naturally, I’m not going to read them now but it is a nice fun fact for me to know.
talk to me!
What books did you miss out on when you were a child? Would you still want to read them today?