To celebrate World Book Day I decided to share books I loved as a child, where possible with the (now vintage) covers!
These are the stories that I have carried with me all my life, vividly remembered and still entice pure love when I think about them.
Stories have always carried my world.
I haven’t included links so the search can be part activity.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar was the first book I remember loving and playing with, those perfect holes. It is a book I have shared with hundreds of children since and is my top present choice for new borns, as well as something squidgy and soft of course.
I used to love flip flap books, pop up books and this wonderful one with a finger puppet that turned into a butterfly.
My father is a bibliophile too and I was brought up on Book Fairs, not like the modern ones that come to schools with perfect displays, these were dusty, ancient, preloved, rare… an antique fair for book lovers. He also used to stuff his study cupboards with 10p -£1 library resales, books we would grow into, books written so far in the past even the library had no use for them. He’d read me books with very male themes, possibly because I was more receptive to stories than my brothers at the time. He showed me the wonders of a 2nd hand bookshop.
No amount of search engine can track down two books from my first fair.
One about a cow who made jelly not milk with black and white line illustrations and then swirly muted inky rainbow colour doodles (like you used to do as a child when you held several crayons together at the same time to draw). This was a picture book horizontal layout.
The other book had a vertical layout, a bright red cover and a dot, in fact I think have been called Dot and the whole book was dots and sticks and incredible things happened.
I also loved the Spot books, the little flaps to lift.
I had Annuals every year for Christmas (those were the days), I remember one of my early favourites was my Andy Pandy‘s annual. A favourite TV programme of my mum’s. I also love spots (not just Spot the dog), so I loved my early books by the covers too. In searching, I discovered the one I had was published in my birth year.
Obviously it isn’t as original as I thought to buy books for new-borns that aren’t age appropriate soft ones!
I discovered Beatrix Potter and loved how small the books were. I discovered a 70s staple (it wasn’t the 70s) in Shirley Hughes and Dogger, I think I mainly liked it because my little brother was called David and also had blonde hair like the boy in the illustrations.
Shortly afterwards I found Victoria Plum and later the Flower Fairies. I believe it may have been my Great Aunty who first introduced me to the pictures and when I discovered there were books my world exploded with stars! They had a deep impact on the 5-6 year old me.
Just as my baby book was not a book for babies around this time when I was still fairy tale bound, I was bought my first grown up book, my first novel. My copy is well thumbed was read by me for years of my childhood and is one of the few books I still have from back then. The Railway Children.
Enid Blyton became a favourite too and I read all the various series of books, some have stayed with me and some of my childhood copies (kept until I left for Uni and then donated to charity or sent to orphans) are so old I couldn’t find pictures of them.
I loved the Moomins books and the Worst Witch trilogy, I carried the, everywhere. There are now 8 in the set.
© Jill Murphy
I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books. I found Ballet Shoes and other dance school books.
I loved The Water Babies and remember having that read to me over and over. My Great Aunty was in the Reader’s Digest Club, so I demolished all the classics. Then we all discovered Judy Blume, Super Fudge was my first, I remember Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing taught me about the American school system, we were still in classes and soon to be Year 1. I remember Tiger Eyes.
A few more favourite pre-11 book choices are The Size Spies which is the first book I bought from a School Book Fair – independently and without adult approval, I loved it – the first bump with Crime Fiction at the tender age of 9. And I remember having The House that Sailed Away read to us in the last class of First School before we all moved up to Middle School and went to Book Fairs and started spreading our book cover wings!
Of course there are 100s of other books I could mention but these are the ones which immediately sprung to mind when I asked myself the question… what was I reading when…?
A note on Copyright:
The cover and merchandise images have been collected from Marketplace websites
and photos shared on social media platforms unless otherwise cited.