Growing up in Switzerland with Swiss-German as my mother tongue, I was naturally exposed to a lot of German children’s literature. Up until kindergarten, my parents would read me stories in Swiss-German and then German slipped in more and more the older I got. All the way up until I started high school and was introduced to English.
If you have a look at all the books I own, you will realize that starting with YA titles, pretty much all the books I own are written in English. Why? I honestly don’t really know. It’s just that I don’t feel like German is my language anymore. For whatever reason, I find it much easier to identify with English books, movies and music. It’s a strange phenomenon, really. 🙂
Given my Swiss background, it comes as no surprise that I never read any English children’s books. I wouldn’t have understood them. 🙂 So I just read them in German. Unknowingly. I loved Enid Blyton’s St. Clare’s (Hanni und Nanni) series. At least the ones with the O’Sullivan twins. Or are all of them about those two girls? I’m confused. 🙂
I had a friend in primary school, whose mother worked in a book store and we could always borrow new books from there. We just had to be extra careful and not bend any pages. And one series that we both devoured was Ben Baglio’s Dolphin Diaries. (Just realized that the original is actually written in English…) I never got to finish the series so I definitely intend on doing that now.
I don’t really know what it is, but for some reason I suddenly have this urge to read as many good old English children’s books as I can. And despite the lack of money in my bank account, this urge resulted in me going on an Amazon splurge and ordering a bulk load of books to get me started.
So let the catching up begin!
1. Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
This was the first one I got and consequently the first one I read. It tells the story of Danny and his father who live in a caravan and run a car workshop. His father – and pretty much the entire village – love to go poaching in the woods of the snobbish rich people. Poaching is a splendid fun thing to do and leads Danny and his father to go on many adventures.
2. Matilda by Roald Dahl
This is a classic, isn’t it? I picked it up on Sunday morning and had devoured every single page come dinner. Matilda is one of those book characters I would name my own daughter after. She is such a strong, intelligent, kind and good-tempered little girl that you just have to love her. And she loves to read. What more could you want, really?
Matilda grew up in a family that never appreciated her. Left to look after herself, she found comfort in the worlds of literature. And so she read Great Expectations at the age of four. She didn’t understand everything. But she still enjoyed it just the same. The book then follows Matilda to school where she is introduced to new friends and enemies.
I loved reading this story as it reminded me why I fell in love with books when I was younger. There is something very special about getting between the pages and living in somewhat of a parallel universe.
After reading it, I obviously had to watch the movie Matilda directed by Danny DeVito, and… Well. You’ll have to come back on Saturday for a review. This book is a special gem, so the review is going to have to be special too. 🙂
3. Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton
There are 12 books, aren’t there? I have ordered a collection of the first three books and will probably follow that up with the rest of them as soon as my bank account fills up again. 🙂
The reason I picked this one up is because of Jenny Colgan and her list of school related books. It is supposed to be about a girl who starts school at Malory Towers and is thrown into a world of friendship, adventures and a lot of trouble.
Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? I am currently reading this one and will report back as soon as I know more. 🙂
4. What Katy Did series by Susan Coolidge
I just googled the title and immediately realized that it must be a pretty old series. And I was right. 🙂 . It was first published in 1872 and I would love to get my hands on an older copy. There is something beautiful in old books. It’s like you get two stories at once. The one in the book and the one of the book. So if you have any idea where I could find one, please let me know. 🙂
Again this is a book from Jenny Colgan’s list. I wanted to buy What Katy Did at School, but couldn’t find it on Amazon. So this one will have to do for now.
According to the blurb on goodreads, it follows Katy who wants to change her ways and treat others better, but constantly fails.
I don’t know about you, but to me it really does sound like one of those old-school children’s books with a rather obvious moral. And I love it. 🙂 Not sure if children of this day and age will agree, but I don’t really care at this point. 🙂
5. The Chalet School series by Elinor Brent-Dyer
This series consists of about 60 stories and will thus give me plenty of new reading material. 🙂 Again it is an older one, published between 1925 and 1970.
If I read it correctly, this series is told out of the perspective of the teachers? But I might be wrong. Skimming through the blurb, I feel like this might be a Brontë type book. It somehow reminded me a bit of Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë and Shirley by Charlotte Brontë. Whatever the case, it sounds lovely and I can’t wait for my hot cup of tea and cuddly blanket.
But it does have to arrive first… Bloody Amazon, right? 🙂
All of the books mentioned above (except of Danny the Champion of the World) are rather girly and “schooly”. But I’m sure that there are many, many, many more good ones. Given that I’m currently really in the mood for good children’s literature, I would love for you to give me a few book recommendations. What did you read as a child? What do you suggest I read next? And are there any contemporary books that you really like? Let’s say books addressed to children aged 7 to 12. 🙂