Classic children’s library: 8-11

Title: Classic children’s library: 8-11

Author: The Guardian Newspaper

Full Text & Source: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2000/mar/24/childrens.library

The Internet, Online, 16/10/2015

This is the age at which reading starts to get interesting, both for you and them. Around now most children will be reading fluently on their own and will start to develop their own distinct taste in books, although, like aliens, yo-yos and skipping, particular writers go in and out of fashion in the playground.

It would, however, be a pity if you and your children stopped reading together at this point. You will both miss the closeness, and you will also miss some really good stories. This is the moment when your childhood reading and that of your own children’s meet and meld as you introduce them to E. Nesbit and Phillipa Pearce and they take you on flights of the imagination with Philip Ridley and JK Rowling. As every parent with children in this age range knows, a thorough grounding in the rules of quidditch is essential if you are to have any meaningful conversation with your children.

A word of warning. Take care when trying to introduce the books you loved or think you loved as a child to your own. Often your memory will be hazy as to exactly what age you were when you read it – you were almost certainly older than you think. There is sometimes a density to the writing of many of the older classics, which can be very satisfying, but which can also be a turn-off to a generation raised on the Oxford Reading Tree and Ginn. They will probably be appreciated in time, but read them The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in the cradle and they’ll firmly slam the door shut on you. Every child is different in their reading ability and their interests, and parents need to take their cue from the child.

Remember, a book which sports the label “classic” isn’t intrinsically better for your children than one which does not. Books are not medicine to be forced down; they should be fun, exciting doorways into other worlds and different feelings and points of view. The best books for this age group do not inform children about the world, but present it to them as a transformation. Best books. What does that mean? Between 8-11 there is no such thing as a bad book, it is the habit of reading that counts. Don’t get prissy and ban Enid Blyton. The child who thrills to the adventure of The Secret of Killimoon is only a step away from the excitement of Philip Ridley’s Kasper in the Glitter.

For some children this is also the age when books become friends, the same one consumed over and over in the same way that a teenager will play the same track on a new CD over and over. Assume, if this is the case, that the child is getting something crucial from it in the same way that the child who demands cheese three times a day for a week is probably unconsciously seeking some essential nutrient. At this age, books can be the most satisfying food in the world.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (Walker, £14.99)

A very modern “Alice” for the modern child that dusts off the Victorian fustiness of the book. Some adults will regret this approach and the passing of the dark Tenniel drawings but this is a perfect introduction to the story for younger readers and while Oxenbury’s fresh as a daisy illustrations make the story completely accessible they certainly don’t Disneyfy it in any way.

Rumpelstiltskin and Other Grimm Tales by Carol Ann Duffy, illustrated by Marketa Prachaticka (Faber, £8.99)

These are familiar stories such as Snow White, Ashputtel and Little Redcap told with a poet’s voice. They are bare, spare, and stripped down to the bone so that the story itself stands out like a skeleton. It was Duffy’s versions of the tales that were used by the Young Vic for its outstanding Grimm Tales. Reading the stories makes you aware how much the theatrical style sprung from Duffy’s gleaming, hard words.

Rumpelstiltskin and Other Grimm Tales by Carol Ann Duffy, illustrated by Marketa Prachaticka (Faber, £8.99)

These are familiar stories such as Snow White, Ashputtel and Little Redcap told with a poet’s voice. They are bare, spare, and stripped down to the bone so that the story itself stands out like a skeleton. It was Duffy’s versions of the tales that were used by the Young Vic for its outstanding Grimm Tales. Reading the stories makes you aware how much the theatrical style sprung from Duffy’s gleaming, hard words.

The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy Boston (Faber, £4.99)

Tolly’s great grandmother’s house is full of a very special kind of magic. There are other children living there, children who were happy there many centuries before. Boston’s novel really does conjure up all the magic of childhood for a new generation in this smart reissue of the 1961 Carnegie winner.

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by TS Eliot, illustrated by Edward Gorey (Faber, £9.99)

Essential for reading out loud as a family, TS Eliot’s felines are a wonderfully mysterious capricious and amusing group of must-have moggies. Cult American artist Edward Gorey adds more mischief with his illustrations.

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (Puffin, £4.99)

Just when you’re feeling down, the homework is piling up and life seems a grind and not fun, you need a dose of Pippi Longstocking, the irrepressible little girl who doesn’t live by the rules and creates a wonderful fantasy world for herself and her friends. This is a marvellous, stimulating book that is brilliant for children who’ve had the individuality bashed out of them by school.

The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley (Puffin, £3.99)

Abridged – and all the better for it – version of the classic Victorian tale of chimney sweeps featuring Mrs Do As You Would Be Done By and other morality figures. Of course it is stiff and old-fashioned, but there is also a kind of enchantment about it that survives changes in life and attitudes.

Please Mrs Butler by Allan Ahlberg (Puffin, £3.99)

A child’s school day told in verse through from going to school to bedtime. That doesn’t make it sound all that interesting, but Ahlberg’s easy-to-read poems are funny, sad and absolutely accurate when it comes to emotion. From the title poem about a teacher at the end of her tether, through the pinickety parent complaining about her son’s lost possessions to the quietly devastating Small Quarrel, this is a brilliant collection that not only makes children love poetry but gets them writing their own.

The Haunting by Margaret Mahy (Puffin, £4.99)

Carnegie award-winning novel about Barney who one “ordinary Wednesday” finds that “the world tilted and ran downhill in all directions.” Barney is being haunted but who is making the insistent ghostly footsteps in his mind? And why do his sisters’ attempts to unravel the mystery lead to a crisis that almost topples the entire family? Mahy’s attractively simple storytelling style will attract even the most reluctant readers and creates a convincing portrait of a family tipped out of kilter by the keeping of secrets.

Thunder and Lightnings by Jan Mark (Puffin, £4.99)

Victor was the oddest boy Andrew had ever met. How could he be so dim in school, and yet know so much about aeroplanes? But then, as Andrew starts to slowly appreciate, appearances can be very deceptive indeed and we all have our own strategies for survival. Smartly written, very enjoyable story about friendship and the differences between us all. Particularly good for boys.

The Snow Spider by Jenny Nimmo (Mammoth, £4.99)

Gwyn’s granny gives him five strange birthday gifts including a twisted metal brooch. Gywn gives the brooch to the wind and in return is sent the snow spider who weaves a silken web. Inside the web sits a girl who Gwyn knows but cannot place. Nimmo’s book deftly mixes magic and mourning, the ordinary and the other-worldly in this story of a lost sister, a battle of good against evil and the value of knowing the place where you belong.

read the rest of the article online …………..

Advertisements

About Author Annette J Dunlea Irish Writer

Irish Writer Website: http://ajdunlea.webs.com/ Twitter: @adunlea Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annettejdunleairishauthor
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Books, Children, Reading and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.