What were your favourite childhood books?

I asked ten writers and bloggers to share what their favourite childhood books were, why they loved them and what special memories they associated with those books.

Their answers provided a list of classic children’s books for all ages. Did you love any of these books in childhood? What were your most loved books as a child? And who were your favourite children’s book characters?

Perhaps you loved a series of books or have too many childhood favourite books to choose one overall. Perhaps you have one particular favourite book which has stayed with you over the years, either in your mind or literally stayed with you, like my dusty but still beautiful old copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!

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The best children’s books from our childhoods

It’s fantastic when as parents, grandparents or family friends we can share the classic children’s stories we enjoyed with the next generation. I’ve really enjoyed showing my son the old children’s books from my collection, including classic children’s novels like The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and The Hobbit. Reading our own old favourite books with our children now can be so rewarding.

The books listed here are also good books for kids to read now. The suggestions include famous children’s books and those which may be less well known. The list includes books for all age ranges, from picture books to children’s mystery books.

Read our contributors choices and let us know which books you loved during childhood in the comments below.

This post may contain compensated links. Read my disclaimer here

An overview of the books featured

Great kids books from childhoodTitle and authorSuitable for ages:Check availability and prices of:

Whistle up the Chimney
by Nan Hunt.
Illustrated by Chris Smith
0-5

Whistle Up the Chimney

The BFG
by Roald Dahl
8+The BFG
Harriet the Spy
by Louise Fitzhugh
8+Harriet the Spy
The Baby-Sitters Club
by Ann M. Martin
8+The Baby-Sitters Club
The Famous Five book series by Enid Blyton9+The Famous Five
The Faraway Tree book series
by Enid Blyton
8+The Faraway Tree
Meet Felicity by Valerie Tripp8+Meet Felicity
The Little Prince
by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
10+The Little Prince
Alfie Gets in first
by Shirley Hughes
3-5Alfie Gets in First
A Bear Called Paddington
by Michael Bond
8+A Bear Called Paddington
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L.Frank Baum
8+The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Whistle Up The Chimney by Nan Hunt

Approx. age range: 0-5

I have beloved memories of my mum reading me Whistle Up The Chimney, written by Nan Hunt and illustrated by Craig Smith (and published in 1981). It’s a beautifully illustrated book about a lonely old woman who gets a delivery of fireplace wood that originated from some old trains.

Something magical happens when she starts adding it to her fireplace in winter: trains start rumbling through her living room every time she lights a fire.

The memory of the sound each train makes came flooding back when I had my daughter. My mum managed to find a recent reprint and bought it as a gift for her. Just opening it up and flicking through made me feel about 4 years old again.

Every time I read it to my girl, the sounds of each train roll off my tongue from memory alone, and I love every minute of sharing an important part of my childhood with her.
by Lisa Scott

Lisa is an avid reader, writer, maker and mum. She blogs at Make + Do a website about making the best use of what you have

Click here to check availability of Whistle Up the Chimney by Nan Hunt

The BFG by Roald Dahl

Approx. age range: 8+

I was in the fourth grade when I first had The BFG read aloud to me by my then teacher. It was the first book that allowed me to get lost in my own imagination and I would lay awake at night wishing that a big friendly giant would pick me up and take me away.

I could relate to the protagonist, Sophie, a child mature for her age but still with the innocence of youth. I also loved the silly concepts throughout the book like weird smelling pickles, jars of dreams and all the made-up words which were made even funnier when my teacher said them aloud.

And of course, I loved the BFG. He was funny, charismatic, caring and he stood up for what he believed in which is important for kids to understand.

Like many children’s books, the story touches upon complex ideas like empathy and the acceptance of differences in a simplistic and easy to understand way which is what makes it so great to read. It’s a true adventure.
by David Hutchison

David writes at Paid Surveys Fanatic

Click to check prices of The BFG by Roald Dahl

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Approx. age range: 8+

My favourite book from childhood was Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. Like Harriet, I knew that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.

It was Harriet’s journaling that led me to start writing my own observations down in notebooks and later, a little diary with a key lock. I have always had the fear that someone would one day find and read my journals, so I learned to be cryptic when writing about certain topics and people from a young age.

As an adult looking back at this book, there’s a Dangerous Liaisons (or Cruel Intentions) element to it, with Harriet’s diary found and read by her classmates, leading her to become ostracised as a result. But Harriet learns the hard way that forgiveness and a new beginning start with an apology, and she applies her spying and writing talent to the school newspaper.

This book stuck with me like very few other books I grew up reading ever have. I can’t wait to share it with my son in a few years when I so hope he’ll love it as much as I did.
by Sandra Muller

Sandra is a content strategist by day and novelist by night. She blogs at www.thesmarterwriter.com 

Click to check prices of Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin

Approx. age range: 8+

The Baby-Sitters Club books were the first books I really fell in love with as a kid. I bought my first book with birthday money from my 8th birthday after pouring over the book club pamphlet we got from school and agonizing over my choice of book. Many more were to follow.

The girls in the books were only a few years older when I first started reading them and seemed like they had awesome lives to me.

I wanted to be just like them. In fact, too much as at one point I made flyers to advertise my own baby-sitters club when I was only 9 and distributed them in letterboxes in my neighbourhood. My mother was not happy when a neighbour came and told her!

I also hid junk food around my room like one of the characters and tried to dress like them. (Although even then I did not understand how pink tracksuits were cool!)

They bring back happy memories of much time spent reading the books when I was a kid and I have just bought my daughter her first one for her 8th birthday this week.
by Sharon Gourlay

Sharon writes about everything Melbourne and Family at MelbourneFamily.com.au 

Click here to check availability of The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin

The Famous Five by Enid Blyton

Approx. age range: 9+

The Famous Five books by English author Enid Blyton were my all-time favourite children’s books. I was so addicted to the stories that I would finish one book in hours, keen to move on to the next story of the series.

The books revolve around four kids; Julian, Dick, Anne, and Georgina (who loves to be called George) and Georgina’s dog Timmy. The kids would return from their boarding schools to spend the school holidays together and would stumble upon some kind of clue to a new adventure.

Together they would head on an adventure where they would find a hidden treasure or find clues about a crime which would help police catch the culprits.

That would sound like so much fun and thrills to us as kids. The first book in the series, Five on a Treasure Island, was published in 1942.
by Rashmi and Chalukya

Rashmi and Chalukya are travel bloggers from Mumbai, India. They travel as a family with their daughter who joined their travel trails from 6 months old

Click here to check prices of The Famous Five books by Enid Blyton

The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton

Approx. age range: 8+

As a child, I loved how reading books allowed me to use my imagination and transport me to another world. Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood (originally published in 1939) introduced me to a world of magical trees, memorable characters and ever-changing worlds.

The Enchanted Wood is the first book in The Faraway Tree series, with the others being The Magic Faraway Tree, The Folk Of The Faraway Tree and Up The Faraway Tree.

The story tells the adventures of Jo, Bessie and Fanny, who discover a magical tree in a nearby enchanted wood. In this tree live characters such as Moon Face, Silky and Saucepan Man. At the top of the tree is a land, and this land rotates and changes on a regular basis. From the Land of Take-What-You-Want to the Land of Birthdays, the kids never knew what they’d find at the top!

My sister and I created our own magic faraway tree in our backyard – we transformed a large tree into our own creative world, complete with hanging oranges which were “magical lights”.

Reading Enid Blyton’s books gave me the thirst to travel and explore our world and find my own real-life magical places.
by Natalie Alleblas 

Natalie is a Melbourne-based blogger and digital marketer with a passion for health, travel and helping others build online businesses. She writes at www.homehealthliving.com

Click here to check availability of The Enchanted Wood and other The Faraway Tree books by Enid Blyton

Meet Felicity by Valerie Tripp

Approx. age range: 8+

I adored reading as a child. I could sit for hours under the windowsill in my bedroom, listening to a rainstorm and burning through my current local library haul. As a kid, I went to the library so much that I memorized my library card number, and I can still recite it to this day!

However, one set of books that I was glad to own was the American Girl books – since I read each one so many times that the binding on some of them fell apart.

The first one I ever got was Meet Felicity. I remember clearly because my mom gave it to me but asked that I not tell my little sisters that I’d gotten a present when they hadn’t. Of course, I only kept my six-year-old mouth shut about five minutes before blabbing.

I adored reading about Felicity’s adventures in Williamsburg, and it made visiting Colonial Williamsburg a few years later that much more special. I highly recommend all the American Girl doll books for boys and girls to learn about history with a side of period-appropriate feminism.
by Stephanie Craig

Stephanie writes at History Fangirl

Check out availability of Meet Felicity by Valerie Tripp here

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Approx. age range: 10+

The Little Prince, the simple story of a young boy who leaves his home to explore the universe, is now the most-translated book in history. Written in 1943, this timeless tale still offers much to readers today – both children and adults alike.

Seeing the world through this innocent young prince’s eyes is a truly eye-opening experience and one that is every bit as relevant today, when racial and class prejudices are still as rife, as they were in the twentieth century.

Children will love this for the fun and exciting story but adults will appreciate this on a spiritual level. What is to a child a happy tale, will one day, when they look back at it, reveal that with every passing day we have in fact become less and less wise.

This is a book that I’ll continue to treasure for the rest of my life and will be at the top of my list for books to read to my own children one day. Introduce your kids to the Saint-Exupery when they’re young and they’ll thank you in the decades to come. It holds so many important lessons for children and is not one to be missed!
by Laura

Laura is a culture, lifestyle & travel blogger at whatshotblog.com

Click here to check availability of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Alfie Gets in first by Shirley Hughes

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Photograph by Gail from Big Books for Little Hands

Approx. age range: 3-5

I really like children’s picture books – while other first-time pregnant mums browse baby-gros, I was in the bookshop. But what did I like when I was the child?

My mum still shudders when she thinks of how often I asked for this book. It’s part of the Alfie series which follows our eponymous protagonist going about his daily life. The real joy in these is that not a lot happens! Just enough to give a narrative arc to the tale but nothing out of the ordinary.

Does the birthday boy acting up at his own party sound familiar? Or entering the school fair’s art competition? It’s the pre-schoolers’ version of those real-life blogs us parents read voraciously.

Alfie Gets in First has that little bit more drama. It plunges Alfie into real independence when he gets locked in the house alone.

With a growing crowd outside trying to help, will Alfie rise to the challenge or simply stand and cry? The answer, rather charmingly, is a bit of both. Being an independent-minded pre-schooler myself, this foray into adulthood really appealed. Who needs mum after all?!
by Gail, from Big Books for Little Hands.

Gail reviews all the children’s books she loves and enjoys with her children at her blog Big Books for Little Hands.

Click here to check prices for Alfie Gets in First by Shirley Hughes

A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

Approx. age range: 8+

While growing up, one of my favourite characters was Paddington Bear, the subject of A Bear Called Paddington and the ensuing series of books by British author Michael Bond.  He was also a fixture on BBC children’s TV when I was growing up in the 1970s, so I got to see and hear him as well as read his books.

I was always charmed by this seemingly hapless Peruvian bear who had stowed away to London, and who seemed to wreak havoc wherever he went. I didn’t read all of the Paddington books – I would sometimes borrow some from the local library, including Paddington Abroad, in which he plans the family holiday to France and accidentally wins a stage of the Tour de France!

It’s been such a pleasure to revisit Paddington again over the last few years after becoming a father myself. My son has had a Paddington Bear since he was a month old – he now has four – and they have been constant companions.

I often read him Paddington books in the evening, and we’ve also watched both films a few times, it’s wonderful to see my son get the same joy I did from this eccentric young bear.
by David Angel

David writes at travelwithlittleone.com 

Click here to check availability of A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L.Frank Baum

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Approx. age range: 8+

I couldn’t resist adding my own personal favourite book from childhood, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to this list. From a young age, I was a big fan of the classic film starring Judy Garland. When my Aunt gifted me with a beautiful edition of the book I fell in love with the book too.

The story of Dorothy’s frightening yet magical adventure through Oz unraveled on the page. I was amazed at how many more intricate details and storylines were packed in the book. Not only that, but the Wicked Witch of the East’s magic shoes were not made of rubies as in the film, but were actually silver!

As a young reader, I began my own nerdy journey of comparing books with films as we fans often do. I concluded that even when a film is very different from its source book it can still be great, and occasionally even a great piece of art in itself.

While the book is an enduring children’s classic, there are also lots of debates about Baum’s intentions in the book. As a child, I was completely unaware of theories that the book was an allegory of American economic policy.

Find out more about that and the significance of Dorothy’s silver shoes here. But even without an awareness of these layers, this book remains one of the best early chapter books for kids!

Click here to check prices for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

by Angela from readinginspiration.com

A big thank you to Lisa, David, Sandra, Sharon, Natalie, Stephanie, Laura, Gail, David, Rashmi and Chalukya for their time and contributions to this article!

What are your favourite childhood books?

What are some of your favorite books from childhood? What memories do you associate with them? Let us know in the comments below. And check out more cool books for kids here.

– Find out about lots more great books to read here at readinginspiration.com –

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Angela

Angela is a mum who loves sharing reading ideas for kids and grown-ups alike. When she is in the mood for serious reading she loves dystopian and speculative fiction including the works of David Mitchell and Margaret Atwood. But secretly Angela enjoys borrowing all her son's books and shares his love for middle grade fiction, especially fantasy. She has a background in education & publishing and believes all children - no matter what holds them back or where their interests lie - can enjoy wonderful story-telling. Angela has created this blog to provide a resource for families to find great books for the whole family - parents included!

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Anna

What a sweet post! My favourite books have to be the ‘swallows and Amazon’s ‘ series by Arthur Ransome. The children acting independently is the hook… and I became an arm chair sailor with dreams of becoming skilled. I liked lake sailing but my first sea adventure with ocean youth club was a sea sick disaster. I still love camping and the outdoors. Arthur Ransome knows how to spin a good tale and will support your imagination to take flight. Other loves were Laura Ingalls Wilder and the ‘Anne’ books by Lucy May Montgomery and as a younger child ‘Millie mollie Mandy ‘

Reply
    Angela

    Thank you Anna! I love how thinking about our favourite childhood books takes us right back to those imaginative childhood dreams!

    Reply
Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins

Oh my goodness, what a list!!! My heart is totally swollen with nostalgia right now ?❤️ I, too, loved The Babysitter’s Club, the Enid Blyton books, and The BFG – but I’d *have* to add Matilda (what young, weird, bookish girl couldn’t relate?) and also The Saddle Club series. I’ll have to go back and re-read them all one day; I’m not sure how well they’d hold up, but the lure of the nostalgic comfort is just too great to resist!

Reply
    Angela

    Thanks for your addition to the list, Sheree, Matilda is a great one! This list reminded me of lots of great books I hadn’t thought about for a long time. The BFG was one of my favourites too!

    Reply
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