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Buying Books for Children

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

I recently received a brief review of Heidi, kindly sent in by one of my visitors, and although I don’t usually feature reviews of children’s books, it got me thinking about some of the great classic children’s titles and how well they would be received by today’s youngsters. I never actually read Heidi myself, but can well remember my older sisters enjoying the book; at that age I had my own personal favourites by writers such as Alan Garner and Roald Dahl to keep me enthralled.

So how do these old classic children’s books stand the test of time? Are they still able to deliver the joy we all remember them for? First let’s start with Aakanksha Singh’s review and discuss it further from there.

-- Heidi by Johanna Spyri a short review by Aakanksha Singh --

The protagonist is a young girl called Heidi who is an orphan. Her aunt Dete takes care of her. She however, sends Heidi to stay with her rough grandfather who¬† lives in the remote Alps. The grandfather’s heart softens with Heidi’s innocence. Heidi later on is taken away by her aunt to Frankfurt to be a companion to a crippled child, Clara. However, Heidi becomes homesick and has to be sent back to the mountains. Clara visits Heidi once in the Alps. Over there, with the nature’s miracle and Heidi’s grandfather’s insistence, Clara learns to overcome her disability step by step.

Thanks again to Aakanksha for submitting this. You can find the full version of this review at Aakanksha’s own book blog Book Cafe here.

Strong stories with an undertone of morality and a happy outcome are always going to remain a hit with children no matter when they were written, and this is probably one of the secrets of Heidi’s longevity. It may better suit a slightly younger audience than it did in the past, but it would also make a great book for parents who read it when they were young, to read aloud to their own offspring.

Other ingredients that go into the mixture for a great children’s book are a certain depth, humour, and of course characters that can be empathised with. By depth, I mean that the story needs to be well written enough for a child who read it aged 8 to get a different reward when re-reading it aged 10, and for a parent reading it as a bedtime story to also enjoy it. The humour doesn’t have to be sophisticated; the slapstick and the slightly naughty will always go down a storm (this approach certainly never did Roald Dahl any harm). Finally the characters, if the young reader can identify with the aspirations, situations and even misfortunes of the characters, those are the stories they will most warm to and remember.

With Christmas fast approaching as I write this, it is hard to think of a better, longer lasting or truly valuable stocking filler for a child than a really good book. So with this in mind, digging back into my own and my family’s favourites of the past, I’ve put together the ten children’s book suggestions listed below. Link Link
Johanna Spyri Heidi Heidi
Michael Ende The Neverending Story
The Neverending Story
E. B. White Charlotte’s Web
Charlotte’s Web
Roald Dahl James and the Giant Peach
James and the Giant Peach
Alan Garner The Weirdstone of Brisingamen
The Weirdstone of Brisingamen
Clive King Stig of the Dump
Stig of the Dump
Selma Lagerlof The Wonderful Adventures of Nils
The Wonderful Adventures of Nils
A. A. Milne Winnie the Pooh
Winnie the Pooh
Astrid Lindgren Pippi Longstocking Pippi Longstocking
Dr. Seuss The Cat in the Hat The Cat in the Hat

I think there is a real mix in there, from serious to seriously funny; books for the very young to the young adult and beyond. I hope you enjoyed exploring my children’s book suggestions, but which ones from your own childhood would you add to the list? Please leave your comment on Buying Books for Children below to let us know!

#Edit: How could I have possibly posted this and forgotten to include the absolutely wonderful Moomintroll books by Tove Jansson? I loved these as a child, check them out here USA and here UK.

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