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  • Recommendations of children`s classics, please!
    by Anna Reynolds at 09:43 on 11 June 2013
    Any recommendations of children's classics, for age 8-10 year olds, please? partly for my own child, partly for a project to get children of that age more engaged with classic stories/authors, which aren't so widely available in the school library we're using or as exciting looking, cover-wise, as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid/ Geek Girl etc stuff that covers the tables at Waterstones. I thought of a few- The Secret Garden, Lion Witch and Wardrobe, but not sure what age these were for...grateful for all suggestions but don't think we can stomach any more Famous Five/Malory Tower types as the questions have been exhausting about why people send their children off to boarding school/on a rowing boat to a deserted island/etc, usually culminating in, 'Don't they like their children? will that happen to me?'

    What classic books entranced you/your children? this could be quite recent or going back xxxx number of years...
  • Re: Recommendations of children`s classics, please!
    by cacooper at 13:36 on 11 June 2013
    Anything by Roald Dahl - all brilliant. They still feel so modern. The Worst Witch is also good. I found The Railway Children dated and rather turgid. In fact I have written about this - there are some more suggestions here: http://www.parentdish.co.uk/kids/should-parents-push-children-to-read-classic-books/

  • Re: Recommendations of children`s classics, please!
    by EmmaD at 13:41 on 11 June 2013
    For me it was mostly the historical stuff: Barbara Willard, Rosemary Sutcliff (try The Armourer's House for a gentler, non-military one), Geoffrey Trease, Cynthia Harnett, Leon Garfield, Mollie Hunter, Gillian Avery

    Also Noel Streatfeild; my sister adored Lucy Boston's Green Knowe books; the Carbonel books, Pamela Brown.

    Arthur Ransome, E Nesbit, Susan Coolidge (the Katy books - amazingly taut and forward-moving, I realised re-reading the other day), Louisa M Alcott, Frances Hodgson Burnett (city children might take to my favourite, A Little Princess, more that The Secret Garden), Robert Louis Stevenson (on audio book, perhaps - my son adored him at that age - Kidnapped more than Treasure Island)

    Anything by Antonia Forest, though they're not in print these days - my Vulpes Libris appreciation of her is here: http://vulpeslibris.wordpress.com/2008/07/10/celebrating-antonia-forest-the-grown-up-childrens-author/


    TAlking of E Nesbit, the magic ones wear amazingly well - Five Children and It, The Phoenix and the Carpet are my favourites.
  • Re: Recommendations of children`s classics, please!
    by saturday at 13:45 on 11 June 2013
    As well as The Secret Garden, my daughter also loved A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Other books that went down well at that age were things like Tom's Midnight Garden, Howl's Moving Castle, Charlotte Sometimes, Marianne Dreams (both of which are quite creepy, especially Marianne Dreams), The Railway Children and The Little House on the Prairie (which they used to read aloud in an American accent). They might be a bit girly but I shared childcare with my sister who has boys and they went down fairly well with them, too. Oh, and we had a big anthology of Greek myths and legends and they all loved that - they're still slightly obsessed with the minotaur and they're all teenagers now.


    Crossed with you both. Definitely the Green Knowe books and the E Nesbit magic books. I know what you mean about books seeming dated, but in my experience it's not necessarily a problem if the story grabs them.
  • Re: Recommendations of children`s classics, please!
    by Anna Reynolds at 13:56 on 11 June 2013
    Oh, thankyou all- some brilliant recommendations here. We've pretty much done Dahl now- The Magic Finger has remained top dog- but that mix of great storytelling and characterisation is exactly what I'm looking for. The Katy books are a great thought, Emma- and A Little Princess, although the word Princess is anathema at the moment...won't be to all of them of course. By the way, I'm not suggesting these kids/any others should revert only to the old classics, just that they can easily be ignored in favour of contemporary fiction with such bright grabbale covers and marketing...have just been told by friend of 9 year old reading Jane Eyre. Hmm..!
  • Re: Recommendations of children`s classics, please!
    by EmmaD at 14:00 on 11 June 2013
    Joan Aiken, Joan Aiken, Joan Aiken. One of the true greats - and equally good for boys and girls. (Wolves of Willoughby Chase slightly more girl-centred, perhaps). Doesn't date by a hair.

    Tom's Midnight Garden, Howl's Moving Castle, Charlotte Sometimes, Marianne Dreams

    Oooh, I knew there was a strand of my reading I'd forgotten, and that's it. Tom and Charlotte very high indeed in my list of all-time favourites.

    Also, Come Back Lucy, which is a bit more recent and excellent. Anything by Penelope Lively - The House in Norham Gardens is scary, The Driftway, The House of Thomas Kempe, The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy.

    Also, of the time-slip ones, I read and re-read Alison Uttley's A Traveller in Time. Beautiful, lyrical writing.


    Anna, there was a fashion recently for issuing Austen and Bronte, e.g., in chick-litty covers; I don't know if they still are. Inevitably, the literary book snobs got into a snotty lather (you'd have thought the pubs were re-writing the novels, to hear the fuss they made), but I thought it was a fantastic idea to put those books into a cover which said to someone growing out of the top of Jacqueline Wilson, 'You might like this'.
  • Re: Recommendations of children`s classics, please!
    by MariaH at 20:33 on 11 June 2013
    Hi Anna, I have very vivid memories of being absolutely enthralled by The Enchanted Wood, which our teacher read to us in instalments when I was around 7 or 8. Yes, I know, another Enid Blyton but no boarding schools, and I could never wait for the next chapter!

    8-10 seems a difficult age category though as some 8-year-olds are very young and some 10-year-olds quite mature. I think, for that reason, I would go with humour, maybe Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass? Also, I've never read any of Jacqueline Wilson's children's stories but I've seen clips of the TV series and they seem both amusing and contemporary.

    Emma suggested the Katy books, but I personally would only choose What Katy Did (read and loved aged about 9)for this age group as the other books are "older". And, much as I loved the Little Women series, I read them when I was around 11/12 and think I might have been too young to enjoy these at 8-10.

    There was a Five Dolls in the House series (Helen Clare) I loved, but probably too girly. I think, like humour, animal stories appeal to both boy/girl and younger/older kids. Black Beauty is the all-time classic, of course, but (sorry, it's another EB one but again no boarding schools!) my all-time fave animal story was Shadow the Sheepdog. Read this as a 9-year-old who was afraid of dogs, but after reading I LOVED sheepdogs! Brilliant!


    ps Just noticed saturday's suggestion of Little House on the Prairie - totally agree!
  • Re: Recommendations of children`s classics, please!
    by Account Closed at 20:56 on 11 June 2013
    Sorry, only skimmed this so apologies if I'm repeating ones others have said (I notice some of my own favourites on there - loved the Children of Greene Knowe and the whole Little House series!)

    Arthur Ransome
    LM Montgomery
    Joan Aitken
    Diana Wynne Jones
    Alan Garner
    For the more able ones, reading-wise, Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson

    If A Little Princess doesn't grab them, title-wise, what about starting with The Secret Garden and then moving backwards to ALP? I loved it as a child - now it seems a touch creepy, an old man sending his manservant to creep into a child's bedroom of a night! But luckily this was in the days before grooming...
  • Re: Recommendations of children`s classics, please!
    by Jaytee Conner at 21:14 on 11 June 2013
    The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit

    In fact anything by Edith Nesbit.

    Minnow on the Say by Phillippa Pearce - I actually met her when I was at Cambridge, an amazing woman, she had an aura about her just like her writing.

    A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley

    Bedknobs and Broomsticks by Mary Norton

    Carbonel by Barbara Sleigh

    Agaton Sax and the Criminal Doubles by Nils-Olof Franzen - any of that series though that one was the best with superb illustrations by Quentin Blake. Very funny and gripping.

    So many... can't remember them all.


    Oh my god of course Arthur Ransome - I still have them. all of them.
  • Re: Recommendations of children`s classics, please!
    by EmmaD at 22:21 on 11 June 2013
    Yes to all the Laura Ingalls Wilders. Also for Louisa M Alcott, Eight Cousins is great for slightly younger than Little Women suits.

    Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I agree that What Katy Did Next mightn't thrill a ten year old (it's not a very good one anyway - odd book) but I remember loving What Katy Did At School at about eight.

    If you can get them, from my US childhood - Elizabeth Enright and Edward Eager.

    When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.

    Coming up to date, Linda Buckley-Archer's timeslip trilogy which starts wtih Gideon the Cutpurse. Appeals very much to boys, too.
  • Re: Recommendations of children`s classics, please!
    by Anna Reynolds at 09:48 on 12 June 2013
    Am having such flashbacks now to my own childhood reading- and remembering something called Lizzie Dripping which I loved- can't remember what age though...? and Swallows and Amazons too, although that might be a bit gung-ho too (is that full of 'ripping' and 'frightfully' etc?)
    Black Beauty might work, although I can't even think about it without wanting to cry, so more sensitive kids will be the same... such lovely ideas, thankyou all so much!
  • Re: Recommendations of children`s classics, please!
    by EmmaD at 10:14 on 12 June 2013
    (is that full of 'ripping' and 'frightfully' etc?)

    Not as much as you'd think - they're surprisingly un-like that. Some things - like how the absolutely worst possible thing that can happen to John is to be accused of telling a lie - take a bit of a shift.

    But probably the biggest shift for modern children is the idea that four children aged twelve down to seven could camp out on an island or up a fell for weeks, or sail (albeit by mistake) through the dark from Harwich to the Hook without any grownups around or even - shock! - mobile phones.

    Actually, We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea is so brilliantly structured for narrative tension I suspect we should all go back and read it as adults.


    Lizzie Dripping - yes - and Worzel Gummidge?
  • Re: Recommendations of children`s classics, please!
    by MariaH at 10:40 on 12 June 2013
    Oh, yes, Worzel Gummidge, as Emma suggests!

    Another idea is L Frank Baum. All kids and grown-up kids love the Wizard of Oz movie but most of us (like me) have never read any of his other work. However, I remember a friend of mine often mentioning another L Frank Baum book, all about monsters etc, that he read and absolutely loved as a kid. Sorry, I can't remember the title though!
  • Re: Recommendations of children`s classics, please!
    by Account Closed at 10:42 on 12 June 2013

    Can you imagine that now!!

    "Well Social Services, you see my philosophy has always been..."
  • Re: Recommendations of children`s classics, please!
    by Account Closed at 10:49 on 12 June 2013
    Some of them could manage The Hobbit, I imagine.

    When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit - yes yes yes, everyone should be made to read that, regardless of age!

    I also loved KM Peyton's Flambard books but she's maybe slightly older. I probably read her at 12.

    Also loved the Carbonel series that someone else has mentioned. Depends what you mean by "classics" though. Those are lovely, lovely books but I don't know if they quite qualify as classics.
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