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Writers’ Book Club: children’s books

by Jess Retamal

Welcome to Writer’s Book Club, a monthly series where we ask up and coming writers to share their top 5 favourite books within a particular genre. 

In celebration of Children’s Book Week (22 – 28 August) we have asked this month’s writing superstar, Jess Retamal, to talk us through her top 5 Children’s BooksJess is currently studying with Open Colleges.

Reading makes time travellers of us all. Through books we explore places, times and worlds that we may never be able to actually visit, yet our imaginations and the written word can take us there. Great books grow great imaginations, encouraging us to view other perspectives and to see how choices shape futures.

Children’s imaginations can be both wondrous and problematic. They take them to beautiful and fanciful places and equally, to dark and fearful ones. Books provide children with safe ways to confront fears. Reading also encourages empathy – something that is particularly undervalued in our fast-paced culture of selfies and social media. So, that being said, here are five great books to get you started…

Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss (1990)

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

A masterpiece from the wizard of whimsy, this little book captures the heights and depths of life’s journey in Dr Seuss’ wonderfully wordy way.

Memorial by Gary Crew and Shaun Tan (1999)

A WW1 memorial tree is in the path of road expansions for a growing town.

The friction between past and progress is reflected in Tan’s illustrations, making it a book where the more you read it, the more you notice. A wonderful discussion of the value of memory and what we mean when we say ‘Lest We Forget’.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis (1950)

An oldie but a goodie, there’s something timelessly wondrous about stepping through a wardrobe and into another land. Lewis’ depiction of the complex relationship between siblings here is touchingly accurate. Whilst it’s an easy read, different ages can certainly appreciate it with a character for everyone to love.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (2006)

Edward Tulane is a magnificent china rabbit belonging to a young girl named Abilene, who loves Edward almost as much as he loves himself. A truly miraculous journey of new owners begins when Edward is lost, inspiring him to care for others.

A beautiful book with a deeply satisfying ending, it’s one you’ll not easily forget.

Divergent by Veronica Roth (2011)

Choosing just one young adult novel was tricky, but Roth’s debut is a cracking read. With a concept more palatable for most than Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, it’s an absolute page-turner.

Tris Prior is about to partake in the Choosing Ceremony where she must decide which faction to join for life. Tris will soon discover that not fitting into the system might be the least of her problems.

Final thoughts

Of course, children’s books aren’t just for children. They’re for the child still within all of us. They allow us to escape and engage our imagination by travelling to worlds that could, should or might be. And couldn’t we all do with an adventure now and then? Happy Reading!

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3 Responses

  1. Clayton says:

    Woah woah, no mention of The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint Exupery?! The Little Prince is in the top five best selling books of all time, and it’s the most translated french book in history. This, although technically a Children’s book, is my favourite book of all time. While Children read a beautiful fairy tale, adults understand the deeper philosophies of each chapter – it’s brilliant.

  2. Mandy says:

    “Market Blues” by Kristy Murray is one of my faves. Being a fan of time travel fiction, this narration is a wonderful un-put-down-able time-slip story set in Melbourne.

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