I confess that anytime I see some sort of urgent recommendation that you MUST or HAVE TO or SHOULD read/view/see/do anything I get grumpy. And so I was glad that the Independent’s The 50 Books Every Child Should Read, a response to the British Education Secretary recommending that all kids be required to read 50 books a year, stayed clear of that sort of language. Rather they wrote:
We asked three of Britain’s leading children’s authors and two of our in-house book experts to each pick 10 books, suitable for Year 7 students.
The authors chose books that have brought them huge joy, while expressing their outrage at the “great big contradiction” of Mr Gove’s claim to wish to improve literacy while closing libraries across the country.
Among the recommendations are many I love and know kids still appreciate today too. Say Philip Pullman’s suggestions of the Alice books which he calls “Indispensable.” He also recommends two childhood favorites of mine: Eric Kastner’s Emil and the Detectives and Paul Berna’s One Hundred Million Francs, but I have to admit I haven’t recommended them myself to any of my students fearing they’d not take. He also recommended any Moomin book and I’m thrilled to say that I’ve been able to turn some of my students on to this delightful series. I wish I could also get them to read another recommendation of his, one of Joan Aiken, also a childhood favorite, but so far no.
Michael Morpurgo has some interesting choices including another favorite of mine, Kipling’s The Elephant’s Child. But he also writes of the Just William books, “These are a must for every child.” Hmm…there are many around the world who are doing just fine without reading them. He also suggested another childhood favorite of mine, Kate Seredy’s The Singing Tree, but do kids read her today? Again I wonder.
Among others Katy Guest also recommends the Moomin (yay) as well as Diary of a Wimpy Kid (double yay for a douse of reality). I was also tickled by John Walsh’s recommendation of Geoffrey Willams and Ronald Searle’s How to be Topp. An old favorite which reminds me a bit of How to Train Your Dragon in tone and look and style.
The great range and minimum overlap (I believe the Moomins may be the only one) is fascinating and also telling — how can any one person possibly make a definitive list of what EVERY Child SHOULD read?