Favourite Childrens’ Books from Our Childhoods
If you’ve ever met any member of The Swaddle Team, you’ll know reading is a favourite topic of conversation. We love our books, both high and low brow. And we all grew up with children’s books stacked precariously on bedside tables and bookshelves.
So, whether you’re looking for kids’ books you can read as a family, or for a birthday gift more stimulating (and cheaper) than a tablet, you’ll find a stories for kids that spoke to us, and will still speak to the next generation (toddler through teen), on the list below.
SB’s favourite children’s books
Anansi the Trickster Spider folk tales
I love these values-based stories for children of the wise and crafty spider outsmarting other bigger, stronger, meaner animals of the animal kingdom by problem-solving. Or as I saw it then, fun stories about animals. This one was a staple in my home, and I plan to pass on these stories to my kids, too.
The Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series
These super sleuths had me hooked in my preteens. I read any of these kids’ books I could get my hands on! I love Nancy’s tenacity and gumption; she and Frank and Joe are great models for asking questions and thinking critically.
The Golden Compass trilogy
This one is a matter of opinion, but I loved it as a kid; it was full of magic and adventure. As a parent, I think it’s important to introduce adult concepts to kids in age-appropriate ways, and this novel really does that. It warns of the perils of corruption and following anything without questioning. And what an advanced idea, to have the things that make you unique represented in an animal alter ego!
The Harry Potter series
That lovable little wizard is also a favourite. I couldn’t put down these children’ books by J.K. Rowling; they were the perfect combination of teen/school life and the fantastic adventures you daydream about at this age.
LG’s favourite children’s books
Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
I’m so obsessed with this story that it may or may not be my go-to baby gift. I took away from it that naughtiness is a lonely (if fun) place — but it’s also not the worst thing in the world. And bad or good, you can always go home — where there will be people who love you and keep a hot meal waiting. Plus, the illustrations are gorgeous.
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
Blew my motherf%&^*$# little 10-year-old mind. I didn’t watch the 2014 movie version of it, because to be honest, it looked terrible despite the presence of Meryl the Great. But as I recall, this story for kids is a high-quality exploration of repression (in the name of the greater good) and introduction to the philosophy of perception. Heady stuff. The book fundamentally changed the way I look at colours (and prepared me 2015’s Dressgate — #blackandbluetruther).
The Redwall series, by Brian Jacques
I grew out of this series of 20-some kids’ books long before it finished. But for a few years in late childhood/early preteens, I couldn’t get enough of this rich world that spanned generations and involved epic quests in almost every book. There are sword-wielding, underdog heroes of both genders, and it introduced the ideas of peace, violence and tolerance in a way made age-appropriate by the fact that the characters are all anthropomorphic animals.
The Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyers
Not, technically, from my youth. But I came across this 4-book series a few years ago, wished it had been around to read in my teen years. I’ve since gifted it to every preteeen/teen I know (yes, I’m That Auntie). It’s a futuristic retelling of classic fairy tales bound by one plot, with some major twists: Cinderella is a cyborg mechanic. Rapunzel can code. And the princes charming are just as diverse. Smart and hilarious.
RT’s favourite children’s books
If You Could See Me Now, by Cecilia Ahern
Behold the book that made me believe in love, magic and imaginary friends. This novel-turned-musical is a story for older kids about letting loose and letting go. It’ll make any preteen laugh, cry and expand their imagination about what love and friendship can be. But caution: When you purchase this book for you child, do also purchase a pack of Kleenex. #forthetears #friendshipgoals
Clifford the Big Red Dog
This book is awesome because: dogs. Also, Clifford does all the same things a normal dog does but on a much larger scale. The illustrations are cool, colourful and detailed, making this a perfect book to kick off your toddler’s reading skills. Oh, and did I say that this is about a big, red dog? We have a winner!
The Carrie Diaries
The prequel to Sex In The City is what every teenage girl needs in their life. From ‘finding yourself’ to exploring teenage relationships — this is a cautionary (and often fun) tale that will help your little Carrie navigate high school with great style and a strong sense of self. Also, in the end, the lead character gets to go out into the world and be a writer with her own merit. So, yes to following your dreams, finding your creative voice in school and leaving toxic relationships behind.
MM’s favourite children’s books
The Boy Next Door, by Enid Blyton
This was a favourite of Enid Blyton books, and I read and re-read it as an excitable 10-year-old. A bunch of kids get up to all kinds of mischief, digging underground tunnels, spying on neighbours and turning an abandoned houseboat into their hideout spot. Pre-Harry-Potter, this is the stuff that captured my imagination. The idea of an adventure waiting to be discovered in your own backyard was thrilling, even if there was no scope for underground tunnels near home.
Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter
A classic story for kids from when I was little, my dad probably knows this one by heart from all the times he read it to me with animated voices. The misadventures of a naughty, gluttonous rabbit who destroys a garden, returns home to a vexed mother and is sent off to bed with a cup of chamomile tea — what’s not to love? An innocent tale for a young mind.
The Sly Fox and the Little Red Hen
As you can tell, animal stories for kids were my thing, and this one went everywhere with me when I was a kid. There’s not much to it: A fox wants to capture and devour an unsuspecting red hen — but she catches on. (I don’t want to ruin the ending, but I’m sure you can figure it out.) There weren’t many plot twists in this one, but everyone’s rooting for the good-hearted hen to outdo the mean fox. The story manages to weave in some lessons without being too preachy, with some beautiful illustrations to go with it.
The Hercule Poirot mysteries, by Agatha Christie
These mystery tales aren’t children’s books, but they are the perfect blend of drama and suspense that gave my young teen mind an insight into the complexities of adult lives and relationships. Plus, the elaborately woven murder plots that took all my mental energy to unravel. Hercule Poirot was definitely my favourite, and Five Little Pigs was the most memorable of the lot.
KB’s favourite children’s books
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
Honestly, I remember very little about this book, except that magic was real. And that it was exhilirating. Enough said?
Ferdinand the Bull
This old story for kids about the shy bull who shunned the spotlight was a multi-generational favorite in my house. It’s outdated, sure, with all the politically incorrect bullfighting, but really the book isn’t about that. It’s an ode to the shy ones.
I usually hate the kids’ books where someone dies in the end, but this one was a classic! Such good character development. And a great primer for reading 1984 in high school….