We love a good bedtime story – especially the oldies we were lulled to sleep with as children.
And it turns out the nation happens to agree, as a survey from The Reading Agency found Winnie-the-Pooh topped the list of Brits’ favourite childhood book characters, even beating the modern obsession with Harry Potter.
Nostalgic favourites from the likes of Roald Dahl, Beatrix Potter and CS Lewis also ranked high up the list, proving that when it comes to a great children’s story, the old ones are still the best.
So to celebrate the enduring popularity of our childhood reads and the milestone anniversaries of many
of the biggest names in children’s fiction this year, we leafed through some of the books we adored and have enjoyed reading to our own children over the years.
Winnie The Pooh
He may be celebrating reaching the grand old age of 90, but our love of Winnie-the-Pooh is still as fresh as the day we first heard about his charming jaunts with Christopher Robin, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga and Roo.
Author AA Milne named his famous little bear after Winnie, his son Christopher Robin Milne’s favourite cuddly toy, in turn named after a Canadian black bear he’d taken a fancy to at London Zoo.
In the Ashdown Forest of Sussex, Milne’s Pooh got up to all sorts of fun, mainly helping himself the contents of a ‘hunny’ pot, enjoying a game of Poohsticks or rescuing his beloved friends from all sorts of sticky situations.
He might have been the slow-witted ‘bear of little brain’, but we will always have a soft spot for what he taught us and the next generation about kindness, love and what it means to be a friend. It’s no wonder even The Queen, who shares her 90th birthday year with Pooh, is a big fan!
A boy who finds a wild, magical world inside a gigantic peach, a precocious little bookworm with special powers and a boy with a golden ticket who finds oompa loompas and chewing gum that turns you into a blueberry inside a chocolate factory! All this could have only come out of the head of Roald Dahl, who would have been 100 this September.
One of the most inventive writers of the 20th century, he’s given our children the wackiest imagination fodder possible, as well as lots of made-up words such as swatchscollop (meaning disgusting food) and frothbuggling (silly).
DID YOU KNOW
Roald Dahl also wrote the screenplays for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and You Only Live Twice
It’s one thing to be a creative illustrator ora storyteller, but Beatrix Potter, born 150 years ago this July, was both. Beatrix, who never went to school, adored making delicate sketches of animals and plants, which soon came to life on the page.
Mischievous Peter Rabbit was the first to bounce out, published by Beatrix after a series of rejection letters from publishers. Squirrel Nutkin, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and Jemima Puddle-Duck became some of the best-loved books for more than a century.
It’s thought Enid Blyton never sat down and planned a book – she just let her mind run wild – but she certainly knew how to tell a good story. In fact, in the Fifties she was publishing up to 50 new children’s books a year.
Typing out her stories with two fingers while sitting in the garden, typewriter perched on her knee, Enid transported us to wonderful, often adult-free places of sheer fun.
In 1940 there was The Naughtiest Girl in School, followed by Mary Mouse, then her most famous gang of them all, Julian, Dick, George, Anne and not forgetting Timmy the dog, who together became the Famous Five. But our favourite of her creations was probably the little man in the red and yellow car, Noddy.
DID YOU KNOW
Enid was apparently able to write 10,000 words of publishable story a day!
We all know a Mr Bump, a Little Miss Chatterbox or a Mr Grumble. The inspiration for the series of Mr Men books came to author Roger Hargreaves in 1971 when his son asked him what a tickle looked like. Roger responded by drawing a round orange figure with long bendy arms.
And so Mr Tickle was born! Roger created 49 Mr Men books followed by 42 Little Miss books from 1981. Son Adam carried on the tradition, illustrating and writing new stories.
- For more nostalgia, grab the latest copy of Yours.