Six picture books from my childhood that I bought for my children
1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle (1969)
This was the first book I bought for my then unborn first child. It’s just an essential book for every child. I remember as a child loving the different sized pages and the holes where the caterpillar has munched through. The art is gorgeous and iconic. Not only that, but it also teaches the lifecycle of a butterfly, counting, days of the week… It is an absolutely perfect book. So much so, I think I may upgrade the board book version we have to a paperback version so it can be enjoyed in our house for many more years to come.
2. Meg and Mog – Helen Nicol & Jan Pienkowski (1972)
I still love Jan Pienkovski’s art and our house is packed with examples of his work from Meg and Mog to pop-up Haunted House; from 1001 First Words to The One Thousand Nights and One Night… But this is where is all began for me, with the story of Meg the witch, her cat Mog, Owl and the spells that never work out. There’s nothing not to love about the Meg and Mog books but the first one is my special favourite, it’s probably one of the first books I read independently. The fantastic easy to read lettering and the bright contrasting colours means it catches the attention of even very young babies. I never tire of reading it.
3. My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes – Eve Sutton & Lynley Dodd (1974)
I always wonder what happened to Eve Sutton, I don’t think she wrote any other children’s books. Lynley Dodd of course went on to create the fantastic Hairy Maclary series plus many more. But this is still my favourite of her books. The Cat from France may well like to sing and dance but MY cat likes to hide in boxes, and that’s just fine with me.
4. Mog the Forgetful Cat – Judith Kerr (1970)
It seems to me that most people think The Tiger Who Came To Tea when they think of Judith Kerr, but it was always the Mog books for me. I love cats, we had a tabby cat, and I love how poor Mog accidentally saves the day in this story. Mog is such a lovable character in all her stories that I can’t bring myself to read Goodbye Mog (2002) as I know I’ll just sob the whole way through. Fortunately there are many more Mog books that I also haven’t read that I will get to share with my girls at some point, but this is the one I read and re-read as a child.
5. Big Sister and Little Sister – Charlotte Zolotow & Martha Alexander (1966)
I am a little sister with a big sister, which is probaby why I loved this book. I remember reading it when i was about 8, it was borrowed from the library and I tried to copy all the words before it was returned but never finished. It’s one of those random old memories: sitting at the bottom of the stairs reading this book. At 36 I no longer think of myself as being the ‘little sister’ but by virtue of birth order Destructo-Girl is and I think she will relate to this story too. Most importantly, I hope my girls do learn from each other so that they too ‘both know how’.
6. Dogger – Shirley Hughes (1977)
Dogger, the well-loved toy who gets lost. With one ear in the air and one folded over, Dogger was quite like a pet dog we had at the time. I loved this story of losing a favourite thing and regaining it, the kind big sister and the wonderful pictures that take me back to being very young. I still love the story and am happy to read it again and again to my girls.
All these books are still in print (except for possibly Big Sister and Little Sister) and will probably be on the shelves of your local independent bookshop, although Big Sister and Little Sister can still be found new online. I recommend them all for books to be treasured and to not get boring as you read them again, and again, and again…
What books from your childhood did you keep or buy again for your own children? Please comment and share your favourites!