The world of books already shaped us in our childhood. The magic of those children’s books that still exists can be found in our Top five selection of all time book classics.
Books are treasures and invaluable portals to other worlds, knowledge and education. For children, they are oftentimes one of their very first objects of playful learning: be it by simply looking at the images within and rejoicing at the satisfyingly rustling sound of the turning of the pages, or by the sheer bliss of listening to their parents read from them. Fascinating tales that captivate a child‘s imagination become a constant companion throughout childhood and a beloved memory lovingly carried way into adulthood, where these books find themselves reread again and again.
But what constitutes a really good children’s book? Well, first and foremost, of course, a good story, and a relatable hero or heroine. Children’s imaginations are boundless and thrive on any worthy clue they are given – they do not just accompany their protagonist on their quest through the plot line, they become the protagonist. They live and breathe the story, waiting in anticipation for the very next move, and will not go to sleep without knowing what’s yet to come, prolonging their story time before going to bed and not surrendering without begging for at least another chapter to be read. An ideal children’s book is imaginative, captivating, relatable and teaches a lesson or more – all without being patronizing or aloof, but by putting things into a perspective that children care about. Ideally accompanied by masterful and imaginative illustrations, children’s books probably, arguably, are the most important literary discipline of all…
Definitely, children’s books are a discipline worthy of their own regard, so novum publishing would like to shed some well-deserved spotlight onto five of the most inspiring children’s reads of all time!
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
Written over 70 years ago, „The Hundred Dresses“ by Eleanor Estes is dealing with the topics of immigration, integration, being different, bullying and late remorse – all topics that could hardly be more acute in our times. The book tells the story of Wanda Petronski, a young polish girl going to school in Connecticut. Day after day, she is seen wearing the same old blue dress to school and hence quickly becomes the object of cruel mockery by the hands of her peers. Questioned about her closet at home, Wanda would confidently state that she has a hundred dresses at home, which leads to even more ridicule thrown her way. It is not until a fashion design contest in her class is announced that her claim gets to be proven right: She had a hundred dresses all along, beautiful designs of her own making – in the form of stunning and imaginative drawings. But at this point, when her peers and even her teacher feel remorseful and would like to apologize, Wanda and her father have already moved out of town, fleeing the discrimination they had to face.
A beloved classic of American literature, this oeuvre was recently voted among the lofty ranks of the world‘s best children‘s books. Novum publishing is especially proud to announce that we are able to do our part in spreading the word about this wonderful and valuable piece of literature by bringing it to the German-speaking audience: believe it or not, but despite of all the praise that „The Hundred Dresses“ received in the U.S.,it has gone relatively unnoticed overseas. Alas, it was high time to put this timeless classic on the radar of German readers, as well – if you know any German-speakers and are looking for the perfect gift, you can find it here.
The Adventures of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
A much beloved and highly praised masterpiece of children‘s literature that only recently made it to the big screen is the „Peter Rabbit“-series by English pioneer author and illustrator Beatrix Potter.
The witty stories about the cheeky little rodent and his friends and family were eyed with disdain by publishers back in the day, but met with both immediate and striking success when first published and is still going strong today. The farm animal characters are adorably and funnily illustrated, and each have their own unique and distinguished personalities while acting relatably human. Young Peter is living with his family near a farmer‘s cottage on the English countryside, frequently getting himself in trouble for stealing carrots and the like, and trying to escape the evil and revenge-seeking clutches of the farmer.
First published in the 19th century, even 200 years later no children‘s bookshelf should miss out on these classics that will bring joy to readers of any age.
Anne of Green Gables Lucy Maud Montgomery
The 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables by Canadian author L.M. Montgomery is a highly popular children’s novel that has entered the ranks of classics somewhen around the middle of the 20th century. The plotline centers around 11-year old Anne Shirley, an 11-year old orphan girl with a pair of signature carroty tresses, who gets “mistakenly” adopted by Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert – a pair of siblings of middling age, whose intention it had been to adopt an able-bodied young boy to help them on their farm. In the book, the reader learns of Anne’s subsequent life, her adventures and struggles on the farm, with her new parents, the Cuthberts, at school and in the fictional town of Avonlea.
The book has met with smashing success and was translated in many languages, resulting in several sequels. It is taught at many schools and been made into several screen adaptations as well as plays and musicals.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Another equally timeless as well as famed classic in this list, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by British cult author Roald Dahl certainly is known to many. First published in 1964, and less than 10 years later, the book had already been adapted into a major motion picture in 1971. Another one followed in 2005, giving the classic novel another push to fame by casting Johnny Depp for the role of the ever-iconic character of wacky chocolatier Willy Wonka. The storyline of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory centers around Charlie, a young boy who finds a golden ticket in his chocolate bar, hereby gaining exclusive entry to the elusive chocolate factory of eccentric Willy Wonka. Inspired by events of his youth in the 1920ies, when chocolate factories were highly protective of their production processes and “secrets”, Roald Dahl created this enchanting story that keeps fascinating generations of children.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Making its debut on the literary scene as an American magazine serial beginning in 1910, “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett was published as a book in 1911. To this day, it is considered as one of the most influential children’s novels of all time, and has been adapted for both screen and stage. The story of “The Secret Garden” depicts the life of Mary Lennox, a frail and sickly 10-year old girl living in India with her wealthy British parents who choose to ignore her as best they can. Unloved and ignored by her mother and father, she is cared for by her parents’ staff, but in their effort to make up for the lack of parental love and care, the servants spoil her endlessly and thus allow her to become a self-centered child with aggressive tendencies. Then disaster strikes in form of the cholera, killing off everyone in the house except for young Mary. She is discovered alive, yet all alone in the empty house after the ravaging epidemic subsided, and gets to live with an English clergyman and his family before she is ultimately sent to Yorkshire, England. There she is to live with a wealthy uncle of hers whom she has never met, Archibald Craven, in his isolated manor.
At first, Mary is disgruntled and of sourly demeanor to everyone she meets as she is bewildered by her new surroundings which seem bleak to her. But eventually she makes a friend in the good-natured maid Martha, who tells her about the late Mrs. Craven and her secret garden, locked away by a key that was buried somewhere in the moors. Mary embarks on a journey to discover the key, improving both her manner as well as her health as a result, and even making new friends in the process. She eventually finds the key, the garden and is surprised to find that she has a cousin, Colin. With the themes of neglect, care and rejuvenation, the novel covers considerable ground in teaching young readers how even the bleakest of situations can turn out more beautifully than ever imagined if worked on, and how something that seemed ruined – be it a relationship, a person or a house – can come to new life if it is properly taken care of.
We hope that you enjoyed our little venture into the world of children’s books as much as we did – how many of the featured books did you read as a child? Would you argue with our pick, and which children’s books do you consider invaluable and timeless classics that deserve their rightful place on any bookshelf? We’d love to read your comments below!
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