The best children’s books
What are the top ten greatest children’s novels ever written? This is going to prove a contentious list, but below we’ve compiled what we think are ten of the best works of children’s fiction in all of English literature. We’ve had to make some (regrettable) omissions, but we think these are all classic books which children of around the ages of 5-11 would especially enjoy (though, being classics, they’re for ‘children of all ages’). They span from the 1860s until the 1990s. We’ll offer some interesting background trivia about each book as we go.
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Along with Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll was the master of Victorian nonsense literature, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is his best-known book. First published in 1865, the story originated in a boat trip that took place in Oxford on 4 July 1862, on which Charles Dodgson (the real name of Lewis Carroll) entertained the children of his friend Henry Liddell – children who included Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Alice in the book – with a humorous story involving illogical conversations and nonsensical events. The Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, and the Cheshire Cat have been firm favourites with readers of all ages ever since. Read the rest of this entry
The best nineteenth-century British and Irish fairy stories
Say ‘fairy tales’ to most people and several names will usually spring to mind: Charles Perrault (who gave us Cinderella, among others, in his Tales of Mother Goose), the Brothers Grimm (Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin – though the latter is now thought to be some 4,000 years old), and Hans Christian Andersen (the Snow Queen, the Ugly Duckling). But Victorian Britain gave the world its fair share of classic fairy tales too – but these are often eclipsed by those that originated in mainland Europe. The following classic Victorian fairy tales are taken from the wonderful Oxford World’s Classics anthology, Victorian Fairy Tales (Oxford World’s Classics), edited by Michael Newton.
Robert Southey, ‘The Story of the Three Bears’. Southey is remembered more for his poetry now, or rather for being Poet Laureate from 1813 until 1843 (titles of few of his poems spring readily to readers’ lips). But he was also an important figure in the history of fairy tales, and was the first to put the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears into print. Except that ‘Goldilocks’ doesn’t appear – instead, the female trespasser into the ursine property is an old woman rather than a blonde-haired girl. Read the rest of this entry
A short introduction to the children’s classic, Charlotte’s Web, in the form of five interesting facts
1. Charlotte’s Web was a huge bestseller. It was the last children’s book to appear on the New York Times bestseller list until the Harry Potter series nearly half a century later. It has gone on to sell an estimated 45 million copies worldwide, making it one of the biggest-selling children’s novels ever. Indeed, Publishers Weekly have called it the biggest-selling children’s paperback ever published. Read the rest of this entry