Our writers share the books that have stayed with them since childhood and why, even now, they are still worth a read!
The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
Before the frankly horrible film adaptation nearly a decade ago, there was a little book series called Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Released between 2005 and 2009, this five-novel series takes a spin on Greek Mythology with a modern twist. It’s fun and engaging and with the same surname as a certain Daughter of Athena, it only took a few chapters for me to begin falling in love with Camp-Half Blood.
And the best childhood books are the ones you can re-read as a teenager, then as an adult, over and over again, picking things out each time. Every reread is a treat of details layered in by Riordan’s own expertise in mythology. It got a whole new generation invested – myself included! (I’m not saying I picked up archery because of Cabin Seven’s Hunters of Artemis but it’s a good possibility.)
The series has now expanded beyond Greek Myth, with the Roman, Norse and Egyptian pantheons now joining in – and not even to mention the outstanding musical adapting The Lightning Thief and the upcoming Disney series. The renaissance of the Percy Jackson novels is coming, and my childhood dream of visiting Camp Half-Blood may become reality.
– Louise Chase
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
It may be mainstream, but the Harry Potter series have to be my favourite childhood books. In fact, my times spent reading and watching them are probably some of my most valued moments growing up, as well as dressing up as Hermione at every opportunity, of course. To me, they were magical in both their content and the imagination they inspired; to be honest, they still are.
Selecting a favourite is like picking a favourite child. The twists and turns of Prisoner of Azkaban keep me on my toes every time and I love the high-drama of Goblet of Fire, but Deathly Hallows has to be my top pick. I have such a connection to the series that both reading and watching its final part really tugs on the heartstrings. Even though I’ve grown up a lot since my mum first read the books to me, they never get old.
– Kate Byng-Hall
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Arguably the author most synonymous with childhood, Roald Dahl had a huge influence on my love for reading, and no book had a greater impact than the first one I read – Matilda. Picking this book at the ripe ol’ age of eleven (I know, I was a late bloomer), Dahl’s world of childhood precociousness turning into supernatural gifts was a book that packed unequal amounts of heart while telling a funny, magical story along the way. Characters like Mrs Trunchball, Miss Honey, and Harry Wormwood, all thrust into a world filled with the childhood antics and pranks of Matilda herself, paved the way into a memorable experience that exemplified everything great about reading. Truly a masterpiece of Dahl’s craft, it’s a book I’ll remember fondly as one of my favourites – even to this day!
– Sam Pegg
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman E. Juster
Never have I read a book that has pulled me in as much as The Phantom Tollbooth did. I was obsessed with it when I was younger; I would read it, get to the final page, and immediately flick back to the front to start reading it again. I adored the characters, the dialogue, the plot, but what enraptured me the most was the world of it all.
Milo, a bored little boy stuck at home, receives a mysterious parcel in the post; a toy tollbooth. He builds it, drives his small toy car through it, and is suddenly transported to the Kingdom of Wisdom, split up neatly into different subsections that all represent different modes, types and themes of learning; the Doldrums, Expectations, the Word Market, Dictionopolis, Digitopolis, and so on. He is given a quest, alongside his new friends Tock (a ‘watchdog’; literally a watch with a dog head) and Humbug, to go and rescue the princesses Rhyme and Reason, in order to restore peace to the land (are you seeing a theme here?).
The story is just massively clever. Everything is based around puns and wordplay, with an overarching theme on the importance of education. The two rivalling factions, for instance, are Maths and English. At one point, Milo accidentally ‘jumps to conclusions’, literally ending up on an island called Conclusions. I still flick back through it every now and again, because honestly even after I’ve read this story hundreds of times, it never gets old.
– Alice Fortt