Because deadra left this link in the comments yesterday and I thought that I could do so much better than that, here are my favourite children’s books, not including picture books and stopping shortly before young adults.
So that are the parameters:
- more text than picture (sorry, Where the Wild Things Are)
- target audience: 4-12 years old
- I have to have read it (or had it read to me) during that age
Maybe next week I can do the picture book version of this list.And then the young adult version.
Note: These books are not necessarily recommendations. I mean, I love them deeply and they definitely shaped my childhood but it’s been ages since I read them and I can’t vouch for their quality. :)
10. Peter, Ida & Minimum (Grethe Fagerström, Gunilla Hansson)
Let’s start with the one book that is not technically a text book but a comic. What’s more, it’s an educational comic about where babies come from and a pretty detailed one, too. Peter and Ida are the kids of the Lindström family and when their parents announce that they’re having another baby, the children start asking questions.
I loved it. My parents had to read it to us over and over again. I think we even own more than one copy of it.
Mary Poppins, the magical nanny of the Banks children, who only comes when the East wind blows.
I remember that I knew the movie already when I first got my hands on the book (the plus side of a family of readers: a lot of hidden treasures at home). I was equally fascinated and surprised and apalled by this much darker version. As I was usually one for dark verions, this actually suited me very well.
8. Pumuckl (Ellis Kaut)
Pumuckl is a small kobold who lives with a carpenter (Meister Eder) and does all kinds of tricks and “bad things”.
Pumuckl is a bit like The Hitchhiker’s Guide – first, there was a radio show. Later there were books and a TV series and movies and even a musical. Let’s just say, Pumuckl is huge in Germany and Austria. And rightly so. He’s cute and he’s cheeky and he’s just funny. And Meister Eder is awesome.
Alice follows a white rabbit down its rabbit hole and ends up in a magical world with a lot of weird stuff.
I probably don’t need to explain why Alice is on the list, but maybe why she isn’t further up: It’s because as a child I didn’t really get it. I reread it as an adult and suddenly, things were so much clearer. But as a child, I merely enjoyed the weirdness.
Winnie-the-Pooh is the teddy bear of Christopher Robin, but he mostly lives in the forest with his friends and looks for honey.
Pooh is so cute. And piglet! And Eeyore! And and and everything!
Bastian is a mobbed boy who steals a book, which he subsequently enters.
This book is just plain awesome. Makes me laugh, makes me cry and damn, I haven’t read it in forever… It’s been two years or so…
(Ende generally has great books. Momo is another good one for almost young adults. And Mirror in the Mirror is an incredible book for adults.)
4. Matilda (Roald Dahl)
Matilda is a super-gifted child unfortunately stuck in a horrible life – with horrible parents and a horrible school. The only good thing is her teacher, Ms. Honey.
Having to choose one of Dahl’s book is hard enough, but Matilda was the first one I read, so I’ll just stick to that one.
3. Amy’s Eyes (Richard Kennedy)
Amy is an orphan who inadvertently brings a sailor doll to life. Years later, the doll goes to sea and Amy magically becomes a doll herself.
This book borders on young adult. It touches so many things and I know that I was completely enchanted when I read it. I always mean to reread it, but as these things go, I never seem to get around to it.
2. Rosalinde hat ein Loch im Socken [Rosalinde Has a Hole in Her Sock] (Christine Nöstlinger)
Rosalinde has a hole in her sock, but she also has thoughts in her head – about family, friends, life and death and thoughts themselves.
Christine Nöstlinger is probably the most famous children’s author in and from Austria. She’s written a plethora of books and this one is one of her lesser known. But I love it dearly.
Karl and Jonatan are brothers. Karl’s the younger one, who unfortunately is very sick. A fire burns down their house and Jonatan dies saving Karl. A short while later, Karl succumbs to his illness. But that’s when the story gets started as they meet again in Nangijala, kind of the afterlife.
Oh, oh, oh, oh. The sadness and beauty of this book is staggering, absolutely breathtaking and awesome. While Astrid Lindgren has a lot of great stuff (see also Mio, my Son or Ronia the Robber’s Daughter or the Madicken books or of course Pippi Longstocking), the Brother Lionheart is my favourite. Hands down.