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“We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading.” B.F Skinner, the American author once said. My parents have been implying this philosophy to our family for as long as I can remember. Coming from a family of 8 children, my parents never lavished my siblings and me with toys. When our cousins received Barbie dolls or toy trucks as birthday presents, we would get Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl books. And, guess what? We didn’t mind at all. (But then again… all of us knew better than to be ungrateful!)
My mother made it a point to bring us to the library at least once a week. She would force us to bring the wet-market trolley to put all our books in. Bags could never hold the weight of the books as they ended up torn and tattered. You can only imagine the amount of books we borrowed! My sisters and I would have intense fights about who should push the trolley. We didn’t want to be seen in public, with an ugly trolley full of books. Little did we know that those books played a big part of our happy childhood.
Since my family of 10 loves to read, I thought I’d share with theAsianParent readers our favorite childhood books. I sent out a mass email to everyone and waited impatiently for their replies. I chased after my brother in Scotland, and bugged my sisters in Kuala Lumpur to get their answers.
As I searched for the titles at Borders, a wave of nostalgia hit me. It was wonderful to relive my amazing childhood through these books and I hope your child would have the chance to do so too.
1. Chicken Licken
My dad replied to my email: “Chicken Likken… Something… about the sky falling.” Even though he probably had to rack his brains recalling books he last read 20 years ago, I couldn’t help but smile at his choice of book (and spelling of title).
The foolish Chicken Licken hysterically runs around telling his friends that “The sky is falling down!” after an acorn falls on his head. Not even thinking twice, he runs off to tell the King and ends up being tricked by a cunning fox.
I thought this book was a perfect fit for my dad. Always reminding us to act intelligently and think sensibly, my dad’s teachings definitely reflect the moral of this fable!
2. Amelia Bedelia (Series)
“Don’t be such an Amelia Bedelia!” My mum always says whenever she sees any of us doing something silly.
The book series ‘Amelia Bedelia’ is about a maid who never ever seems to be able to follow her master’s orders correctly! Amelia Bedelia takes metaphors and figurative speech so literally, thus causing her to carry out unbelievably hilarious acts.
My mum loved reading this series to us for a good laugh and never fails to recall this memorable character whenever any of us have an ‘Amelia Bedelia moment’.
3. Billy Goats Gruff
My eldest brother chose this title simply because it was the only book he can “remember reading over and over again”! Whether it really was his favorite book or the only book he actually bothered to read, this book has to be one of the top children’s classics.
Each time a goat walks over the bridge; suspense builds up and kids just can’t wait to know if the troll would eat them or not! What most children, like my brother, enjoy most about Billy Goats Gruff is the ending where the mean and ugly troll is defeated. Shows to you that big bullies never win… especially in fairy tales!
4.The Hardy Boys (Series)
My 2nd brother was around 9 years old when he discovered The Hardy Boys. According to my mum, he was the most stubborn child when it came to reading books. However, when he read this series, he instantly became their number one fan!
Frank and Joe Hardy’s lives are in a world of constant adventure and action. Which boy doesn’t like to read about fights, mysteries and villains anyway? These clever boys never lose their nerves in dangerous situations- they are ‘hardy’ after all. This series is 100% packed with exciting mysteries that is a MUST READ for all little aspiring sleuths.
5.The Boxcar Children (Series)
My elder sister was fascinated with this wonderful series of books when she was young. “I loved to observe the Boxcar Children unfold any mystery- they work so well as a team! These 4 orphaned children have a special and close connection that is similar to our family too!”
The Boxcar Children seem to attract mysteries where ever they go. Follow these children’s lives as they travel and help them solve some of the most bizarre cases!
Words cannot describe how much I absolutely adored reading ‘Matilda’! I remember reading the book and watching the movie in awe. How did Roald Dahl think up of an amazing character such as Matilda? This book is, hands down, my utmost favorite childhood book.
5 ½ year old Matilda, an extraordinary child, is the main character who lives with her unpleasant family. She attends a private school which unfortunately, has the principal from hell, Miss Trunchbull. In one incident, Miss. Trunchbull actually throws a girl over a fence by the pigtails because students are not allowed to have them! This story follows Matilda’s life where she outsmarts grown-ups with her intelligence and uses her magical powers to scare her cruel principal.
This story is simply full of laughs, shocks and tears for your children to enjoy and remember forever.
7. The Cat in The Hat (Series)
“I know it is wet/ And the sun is not sunny/ But we can have/ Lots of good fun that is funny!”
It’s everybody’s favorite feline character- The Cat in the Hat! My 1st younger sister took delight in this book that rhymes so lovely and simply. Two kids are stuck in the house on a rainy day and are surprised by an unexpected guest. The Cat in the Hat bursts into the house, full of tricks up his sleeve with a whole lot of cheerful chaos.
Your child is sure to revel in the enchanting tricks and words of this charming cat!
8. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
I don’t think this book even needs an introduction. Once described as “one of the greatest childhood classics of all time”, this book comprises of all things children love.
- Fun and large illustrations
- Simple counting and 7 days of the week
- Colorful fruits and food
Children can see the different sorts of foods the famished caterpillar eats and watch as he grows into a beautiful butterfly! My creative 2nd younger sister loved this book as a child. “I was mesmerized by the colorful graphics and the unique aesthetic of the pages- especially the holes!”
9. The Magic Finger
Yet another Roald Dahl masterpiece, this is my 3rd younger sister’s pick. Roald Dahl’s works are such wonderful escapes to the magical world that you can’t help but to fall in love with his concepts.
The Magic Finger is narrated by a little girl who is angry at her neighbors, the Gregg family, for hunting ducks. Little did the Gregg family know that the girl has a crafty magic finger! She turns them into ducks to teach them a lesson. My sister loves to read about the comical transformation from human to ducks. It’s terribly fascinating to see the challenges the Gregg family face when adapting into the wild.
10. Hansel & Gretel
Out of everyone, my baby sister gave me the longest list of favorite books! When I asked her why she decided on ‘Hansel & Gretel’, she pleasantly shared that she loved the gingerbread house made of sweets. Later, she also quickly added, “I like it even more when the witch falls into the fire!” So much for being innocent!
Hansel & Gretel is the legendary tale of 2 lost children in the forest. They come across a gingerbread house which is owned by an evil witch! Just like my baby sister, these kids are very intelligent. One of my sister’s favorite scenes is where Hansel sticks out a bone from the cage whenever the blind witch checks on him. Because he doesn’t seem lean enough, the witch delays eating him!
We would like to thank Borders for helping us out with this article! All books featured here can be found at Borders, Wheelock Place.
For related articles on reading and your child’s education, see:
When do we start reading to our kids?
10 speed reading tips
10 favourite childhood books