Books, more than many other things, have the ability to invoke feelings of nostalgia. I have always been a reader, and therefore throughout my childhood (when I had decidedly less study time and decidedly more reading time on my hands!) I accumulated a steady list of books that I adored. For a long while now, I’ve been wanting to take a trip down memory lane and go through many of my old favourites, and although this post took far longer than I expected to write as I went pretty deep down some nostalgic rabbit holes, I’m excited to share what I found!
The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton (1939-51)
This is one of the earliest favourites that I can remember – my brother and I were read the tales of the faraway tree as long ago as I can remember, and this was over and over again. We just kept on requesting it! As soon as I could read for myself, I then picked up this book yet again to experience the story in which different magical worlds exist at the top of a tree through my own eyes.
Ginger Snaps by Cathy Cassidy (2008)
This is one of those books that I’m certain I read at the perfect point in my life – I was in year seven or eight, and therefore in the ridiculously awkward phase where you’ve just moved up to high school and are trying to fit in. The story follows the protagonist Ginger; a teenager who abandons her childhood comforts in favour of faking a persona so that she and her best friend can be the popular girls in high school. This concept is a common occurrence in high schools, and I felt as though Cathy Cassidy approached it in such an engaging way.
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White (1952)
The story of the heart-warming friendship between Fern and Wilbur the pig was another one that I loved from a very young age. I remember absolutely loving the scene in which Fern saves Wilbur, and from that point on my heart was totally invested in their fates!
The Emily Windsnap series by Liz Kessler (2003-present)
This series had everything that you want from a fantasy series when you’re growing up: friendship, mermaids, the kraken… I read this alongside one of my friends, and we were both utterly obsessed with it. I’ve always been fascinated by books concerning the sea and this was a wonderful fantasy journey entwined with that.
The Rainbow Magic series by Daisy Meadows (2003-present)
First things first, I was AMAZED (and let’s be fair, quite disappointed) to learn that Daisy Meadows is not one single superhero of a woman who has written over two hundred books. Under the pseudonym, a number of writers contribute to this series in which fairies have to save the world from goblins. Like so many other people, I thought this series was so magical, and I couldn’t wait to pick up the next one (if no one had beaten me to the library to take it out first!)
The Worst Witch series by Jill Murphy (1974-2013)
The Worst Witch series is one of those that I wouldn’t necessarily call an all-time favourite, but one that has sat on myself for years and probably will do for quite a while longer. I have vivid memories about very specific scenes in these books, and I really enjoyed them, but I don’t really remember how they all came together. There were definitely witches, and mischief, and disaster…
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan (2005-09)
I read this series when I was around thirteen – which I think is the absolute perfect age to read it. Not only did Rick Riordan write in a way that was both detailed and hilarious, but I learned more from reading this series than I have any other. Without PJO I wouldn’t know half of what I know about Greek mythology, and I probably wouldn’t have half the interest in it that I do now.
The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling (1997-2007)
The crowning jewel of all childhood favourites. I’m certain that I first read Harry Potter when I was nine, because I vividly remember my year five teacher telling me that my reading progress meant I could move up to the bigger kids’ section of the school library – an iconic day in the life of young Bex. What else can I say, though, about Harry Potter other than that a) I wanted to be Hermione Granger, b) I was bitterly disappointed when my Hogwarts letter didn’t arrive and c) it’s still one of the best series ever written.
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield (1936)
From the ages of four to eleven I did ballet and absolutely loved it. Ballet Shoes, therefore, had obvious appeal! Following three sisters who all have different dreams of what they want to do when they grow up, this story is one in which there are multiple opportunities to relate to different characters growing up, but also one which at its core is about sibling relationships. It just made me want to dance!
Literally anything by Jacqueline Wilson
Strangely, I’ve had the same conversation with a few different people in the last few weeks about the fact that Jacqueline Wilson’s books were so much darker, and real, than we ever realised when we were younger. The ones that stand out to me in particular are Cookie and My Sister Jodie, and looking back these both had such awful but relevant themes. In fact, there’s not a single of Jacqueline Wilson’s books that I can think of that didn’t reflect an important lesson about life, and it’s testament to her incredible authorship that these books still have immense popularity today, as do all of her new releases.
I really hope that you enjoyed taking a look through a lot of the books that shaped my love of reading when I was younger. Even though the point of this post was more to showcase the ones that I found, rather than provide an in depth review or summary of what I thought, it was really nice to look back and see how my reading tastes have changed (or not, in the case of a lot of these fantasy books!) It’s amazing how much more depth you realise these books have to them when you look back at them than you originally realised – I’m pretty sure there’s a moral or a message in almost all of these books. If any of the ones I’ve mentioned were your favourites growing up I’d love to hear why, or if not, let me know which books you’d pick in your list of favourites!
Have a lovely day,