Our book club met in the library last Monday to discuss our favourite children’s books and it turned out to be a very successful evening. I had been a bit worried that the subject, chosen by me, would not be of particular interest to our members as we are all middle-aged or older and none of us have young children any more. Quite a few of us are grandparents though and all of us are parents and believe it or not all of us had been children once. I need not have worried.
Because of my concerns I had broadened out the subject somewhat to ask how they had been introduced to books and reading and how their love for literature had developed. I drafted out a very last-minute and hastily-put-together children’s book survey (see earlier blog). Purplecooers also gave me their views which was a great help as we could compare their replies with the book group’s. This comparison went down very well, I had done a similar thing when the Purplecoo book group also discussed Margaret Forster’s Diary of an Ordinary Woman. It helps to widen the viewpoints and bring in new opinions.
What struck me most though in this case was the similarity between the answers by the library book club to the answers from the online survey. Time and time again, as we chatted, the same book titles were being mentioned and the same kind of experiences in childhood were coming through. It became obvious that we are all like-minded souls, a special breed of bibliophiles, never happy without a book or books close to hand. A lifelong passion rooted very early on in our childhood.
We disagreed over Roald Dahl. In the past, as a book group we have read his autobiography and perhaps we feel that we know him well. I had to defend him again last week and did my best to explain his appeal and why I consider him to be my number one classic children’s author.
I was also alone in that I was the only person in the group who had not been read to as a child (everybody say Aaaahhhh) but in Purplecoo there was one other so I am not completely alone in that respect.
A few people brought in very old, rather obscure children’s books, some were school or Sunday school prizes passed on to them by their parents. Funny how we all hang on to these prize books. One or two were very old indeed and made for interesting reading, very un-politically correct some of them! Some were beautiful classics.
Our discussion ran over the clock. We usually finish at ten but were still chatting at twenty past and could have gone on even longer.
The response online from Blogland and in Purplecoo was amazing too. The discussion in that forum is still ongoing.
So what were the best loved books/authors according to this random survey in the library group?
You won’t be surprised, here are a few.
A A Milne
Dear old Enid Blyton
C S Lewis
Alice and all her adventures
Anne of Green Gables
Winnie the Pooh
What Katy Did and what she did Next and at School.
Mabel Lucie Atwell
Grimms Fairy Tales
Boarding School Stories
Christine Pullein Thompson
Little Grey Rabbit
It seemes that Wind in the Willows would be most people's Desert Island choice.
When we got to talking about books the younger generation enjoy, more names emerged.
These are a few, pretty obvious aren’t they?
J K Rowling
The Daisy Meadows Fairy series.
Illustrators got a mention too, Quentin Blake for one.
Alison Uttley, remember her? There are so many, I feel a blog coming on.
We discussed (and looked at) some of the wonderful picture books around for very young children. Board books for tiny babies and touchy feely ones as they grow. We talked about how important the library was to us when we were children and how it fed our appetite for books, for a while anyway. Most of us had soon devoured everything on the shelves.
I did mention that boys on the whole go mad for non-fiction,
( girls like it too but not as much, they generally prefer fiction).
The children have a love of poetry books here in Wales, I don’t know if it is a Welsh thing?
What I gleaned from all this is that the love of books about adventure both in real life and as a fantasy lives on. Also stories about animals and fairies. Witches have always been popular as well, even before Harry Potter. And funny books are always enjoyed.
So a real winner of a book could maybe combine all these?
Is the new J K Rowling out there somewhere?
Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,