What are your favourite childhood books?

At dinner at a friend’s place last night, conversation flowed from one subject to another, and often back again. We discussed the changing position of Cerberus, a ship in the bay (which was put there as a breakwater), the various merits of boarding schools, early Melbourne township, town planning consultants, schools vs education and myriad other things. We also discussed favourite childhood books. Not strange conversation for me, but less usual for others of our company.

There were discussions about how rereading of a favourite childhood book had shown just much books for children have changed. (The consensus was that quality is generally much better now). We also talked about titles that went in and out of favour (Little Black Sambo, Noddy and Big Ears). I hadn’t known that the song ‘Alexander Beetle’, sung by Melanie, was actually commissioned to bring one of A A Milne’s poems to music. A 20 year old male talked about ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ as a favourite. We talked about overt moral lessons in books and whether that was a good thing. Views on that ranged widely.

I’ve recently sorted through my children’s bookshelves. Some books went to the op shop, some into my bookshelves. Each of my children had different favourites, even though they don’t remember all of them. I wonder if the ones I kept are the ones they remember, or the ones that I remember they liked, or the ones I liked.

I came home determined to reread novels of my childhood and see how they stand the test of time.