So, I’m super excited because Netflix have announced that they’re making a series based on The Babysitter’s Club book. I loved the BSC when I was younger, and loved the film when it came out, so a whole TV series sounds amazing (please don’t screw it up, Netflix!).
So as I was thinking about the series I started to think about other books I loved when I was a kid and decided it would be a good idea to make a post about it, and maybe see what books others liked when they were younger as well.
So here we go, the books (and authors) I loved as a kid.
‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, by C.S. Lewis
You can’t have a list of brilliant children’s books without C.S Lewis popping up, so I figured I’d start with him and get it out of the way.
The first Narnia book I read was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (obvs). I got it out of the library and fell in love as soon as I started reading it. Then I was given the entire series in a beautiful A4-sized hardback (I think either from my parents or my godparents, I honestly can’t remember, sorry guys). And I got to read the whole series. I still have that hardback and it’s one of the books that I know I’ll refuse to ever get rid of.
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is my favourite of the series, closely followed by Prince Caspian (also, Ben Barnes playing Caspian in the film was a beautiful thing!).’
‘The Story of Tracy Beaker’, and basically anything by Jacqueline Wilson
I was a HUUGGEE Jacqueline Wilson fan when I was younger (as I think most kids were/are). I loved her writing style and the fact that she wasn’t afraid to shy away from difficult subject matter, especially for kid’s books.
Take The Story of Tracy Beaker: It’s about a young girl in a foster home who has to deal with the fact that her mother left her there and no family seems to want to take her in. It’s a horrible situation for a child to be in, and the way she wrote the character was so believable. The tough exterior that won’t admit that she’s cried or that she’s upset when her best friend dumps her for another girl. It’s so true to how kids are.
I realise I’m probably coming at this from an adult perspective, and I probably didn’t have any of these thoughts when I was younger. I was just enjoying the books. But there’s a reason Wilson is as beloved as she is, and I really do think it’s in the way she writes real children dealing with real situations like parents divorcing, or a death; stuff that people think kids can’t handle.
Other than Tracy Beaker my favourite Jacqueline Wilson books were The Bed and Breakfast Star, The Lottie Project, The Illustrated Mum, and Double Act.
‘Six Haunted Hairdos’, by Gregory Maguire
I have no idea how I found this book (I think my dad might have bought it for me at some point), but it was one of the funniest and most random books I read as a child.
It follows a class of schoolkids, the Copycats (boys) and the Tattletales (girls). The Copycats are sure that ghosts exist and make sure they’re prepares for when they see one. The Tattletales, on the other hand don’t believe in ghosts, but definitely believe in pranking the boys by dressing up as ghosts. But when real ghosts turn up (one being a giant woolly mammoth if I remember correctly), all hell breaks loose
I only recently found out that this is one of a series and I’m devastated I didn’t know when I was younger because this book was brilliant and I’d have loved to read more about the Copycats and Tattletales.
Oh, and yes, the author is the same Gregory Maguire who wrote the Wicked series.
‘The Babysitter’s Club’ (And Little Sister Karen), by Ann M. Martin
On to the books that started this post.
My sister was the one who got me into The Babysitter’s Club, she had all the books and let me read them, and even gave them to me when she was getting a bit too old for them.
There’s nothing not to love about this series that follows a group of young girls as they set up a local babysitting service. Like Jacqueline Wilson, Ann M. Martin wasn’t afraid to deal with topics that maybe other writers were afraid to. Divorce and an absentee father is dealt with in Kristy’s family situation, losing friends is dealt with when Dawn moves away, even diabetes is brought up when Stacy is diagnosed with it.
One of my favourite BSC books, and one that I think really shows Martin’s ability to empathise with how kids and teenagers see the world, is Claudia and the Sad Goodbye. I swear, the death of Claudia’s grandmother Mimi is bordering on Mufasa levels of sadness, it still hurts me.
When I was a little younger I also liked the Babysitter’s Little Sister books. They follow Kristy’s stepsister, Karen, and how she deals with spending life between two homes. They’re aimed at younger kids, so I grew out of them and stuck with The Babysitter’s Club books, but they’re worth a read for anyone looking to entertain their youngsters.
‘The Twits’, by Roald Dahl
Like CS Lewis, you can’t have a list of great children’s books without a mention of Roald Dahl. It was a toss up between Matilda and The Twits for me, but The Twits eventually won out, mostly because I think it’s a slightly underrated book.
I think what drew me to The Twits was how utterly disgusting it was. Every time anyone jokes about getting food stuck in their beard I still think of Mr Twit and his revolting stash.
As a child (and an adult as well, to be fair) it’s not only hilarious to see all the pranks Mr and Mrs Twit play on each other, but it’s also so satisfying to see them get their comeuppance from the Muggle Wumps and the birds.
I wish someone would make a film or TV version of this book because I think it would be as hilarious to watch as it is to read.
‘The Faraway Tree’ Series, by Enid Blyton
Again, there were a few Enid Blyton books that could have made this list. I was a big Famous Five fan, and I loved The Secret of Moon Castle.
But I chose The Faraway Tree series for the same reason I chose The Twits earlier: It’s completely underrated and not enough people talk about it.
The series follows a group of children as they discover the Faraway Tree and makes friends with it’s inhabitants, including Moon-Face, Silky, and The Saucepan Man. The Faraway Tree holds a ladder to a magical land that revolves away from the tree to make way for a new land, so the children must make sure they come down before the land moves away, or else they’ll be stuck there (inevitably children get stuck on some of these lands, because where would the fun be in that rule if it weren’t broken?).
I’ve heard rumours that a film version of The Magic Faraway Tree is being made, and I really hope it’s true because I think it could look spectacular on-screen.
‘Under the Hawthorn Tree’, by Marita Conlon-McKenna
This is a book that I’m pretty sure every Irish child has read at some point, and it’s a book that sticks with you long after you’ve finished it.
It follows three siblings during the Great Famine in Ireland in the 1840’s as they go on a journey to find family and avoid the workhouses that mean certain death.
It’s not a bright and cheerful children’s book (obviously), and the scene when one of the children finds a dead body is pretty harrowing. But it’s a great depiction of life during the Famine and the things people had to do to survive. If you’re interested in that part of Irish history it’s a must-read.
It’s the first in a three-part series called Children of the Famine, which includes Wildflower Girl and Fields of Home.
So these are my favourite books from my childhood, and the ones that started my obsession with reading. What were your favourite books? Let me know in the comments.
All of these books can be found on my Goodreads shelf ‘Books I Loved as a Kid’.