On today’s takeover, Rebecca Tudor looks back at the favourite books from her childhood. Will they be as good as she remembers, and will her adult eyes reveal nuances she didn’t see as a child?
If like me you were an avid reader when you were younger you’re bound to have a list of books that you loved and recommended to everyone.
It got me thinking, if I read the same books now would I feel the same way?
At the ripe old age of 23 I decided to take a look back at some of my favourite children’s and teenage reads to see if my thoughts would still be the same.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
For those who amazingly may not know the plot of this book, Harry’s parents die when he is a baby and he is brought up by his aunt and uncle who treat him horribly. Then on his 11th birthday he is told that he is a wizard like his parents had been and that they had been murdered by he who must not be named. He is whisked off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he has to deal with magic lessons, friends and the rumours surrounding you know who.
I grew up reading these books, I was obsessed with this series, I had all of the books, the cards, toys, watched all of the films. If it was Harry Potter-related I probably had it.
Reading it now I still feel the same way: the magic of this book translates no matter what age you are. I still love everything about this book. I’m still sat here eagerly awaiting my Hogwarts letter….I’m sure it’s just on its way.
The Babysitter – R.L. Stine
Jenny accepts a babysitting job at the Hagen household, the house is already dark and gloomy and then the crank phone calls start. She finds a creepy neighbour prowling in the backyard and then a threatening note appears in her bag. Who would want to hurt her?
This book is part of the Point Horror Series and I read it while in primary school and I was hooked. I was definitely a child that was a fan of scary stories and I remember reading this one over and over again.
Looking back on it now it definitely reminds me of a tamer version of a 90s slasher film, but one question sticks in my mind, why did she not just quit? I’m sure there are plenty of babysitting jobs out there the moment those creepy calls started she should have been out of there like a shot. While this book is definitely not as creepy as I remember I have to admit I do still love it!
The Illustrated Mum – Jacqueline Wilson
This follows the story of Dolphin, whose mother Marigold is covered head to foot with glorious tattoos. Dolphin thinks Marigold is the brightest and most beautiful mother in the world (she just wishes she wouldn’t stay out partying all night or go weird occasionally.) She has an older sister Star who isn’t so sure she loves Marigold too but she wishes that she were more normal.
Jacqueline Wilson was my favourite author in primary school. The Illustrated Mum was my favourite book of hers; I remember really liking this book and all the tattoo descriptions throughout the story.
Looking at this story now, I realise I didn’t quite grasp the depth and context of it – the fact that the mother was ill by-passed me completely when I was younger. I just saw the character as crazy and fun, which is how the protagonist Dolphin saw her. You don’t realise that the things she is doing would class her as ill and unfit, rather that she’s trying and she’s just a bit eccentric. I definitely understand this story a lot more now and I still think it’s a good read, even if it’s a lot darker than I remember.
The Bad Beginning – Lemony Snicket
Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire’s parents die in a fire that destroys their entire mansion. After this awful tragedy they are taken to live with their distant relative Count Olaf in his run-down home. He makes them do endless chores and will stop at nothing to get his hands on their fortune.
I was a huge fan of this book series when I was younger, and I still own them all to this day. Each Baudelaire child has a special talent: Violet is an inventor, Klaus is extremely well-read and Sunny likes to bite things. These things combined help them outwit Count Olaf time and time again as he plots to steal their fortune.
Looking at it from an older perspective, realism changes how I view this book. Do they not do house checks before they put children into the custody of a distant relative? Did they not do any background checks on Count Olaf? Surely, this wouldn’t happen in real life? Aside from these practicalities, the story is still as good as I remember.
Twilight – Stephenie Meyer
Twilight is the love story between Bella and Edward. Only one issue: Edward is a vampire.
When I was younger, I thought this story was romantic, their love can defy all odds and all that jazz. I was even Team Edward when that was a thing and the hype was real.
Looking at it now, I just think, wow, what a toxic relationship that is! Also, how is Bella completely unfazed with finding out that the whole Cullen family are vampires. It’s almost as if someone has just told her they like films, or something else equally as irrelevant.
This book is definitely not romantic and portrays very unhealthy relationship ideas.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
Charlie wins one of five golden tickets to visit Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory.
Who didn’t have a dream that they could go visit Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory, with its chocolate river, everlasting gobstoppers and flavoured wallpaper? It’s a child with a sweet tooth’s dream!
I still love this story. The idea of a factory filled with chocolates and sweets is definitely my kind of thing. However, the other children besides Charlie really irritate me. Maybe that comes with age because I don’t remember being that bothered by them when I was younger. Now I just think they are really annoying and they bring the misfortune on themselves.
Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman
Sephy is a cross, a member of the ruling class with dark skin. Callum is a nought, born to the lower class with colourless skin. They’ve been friends since both were children but it can never go any further than that. This book shows the trials and tribulations of the two growing up with a building romance in a world of prejudice based on skin colour.
I remember reading this in English when I was about 11 or 12. We only read certain chapters but the story basically captivated my interest. I remember hoping that Sephy and Callum would somehow end up together.
Clearly, looking at it now this book deals with some very important themes like racism and slavery. I think it’s insanely clever how Blackman has turned everyone’s preconceived ideas about racism upside down and created a story that keeps the reader hooked. This book is definitely more aimed towards the older teenager. As at 11 or 12 I would never have fully understood the enormity of what the story was about and certain parts of the book should not be read by pre-teens.
Overall even with an older perspective I still think the majority of the books I have mentioned are worth a read whatever age you are.