This is the first article in my month of reading aloud (a lot) to children. I have been remembering novels I particularly loved as a child and wondering whether my children, and especially my daughter who is now learning to read, would like them too. Here is my list of childhood books I would like my daughter to read too.
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Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)
Well, I was actually already a teenager when I first read Harry Potter. But as a big Harry Potter fan, I would love my children to read and love Harry’s adventures too. The books are fantastic and Harry, Ron and Hermione are great role models.
Another advantage of the books is they are becoming more complex as Harry grows up, which makes the story perfect to develop a child’s reading skills. This was great for me when I was learning English as a teenager. I read all the Harry Potter books in English and my English improved a lot thanks to Harry, Ron and Hermione.
Sophie’s misfortunes (Comtesse de Segur)
Sophie’s misfortunes is a classic of French children literature. This is the first book of a trilogy that follows the childhood of Sophie, a little girl who is mischievous but still has a good heart. The first book is focused on the relationship of Sophie with her mother, the strict but loving Mme de Rean. Sophie keeps getting into mischief and gets every time punished by her mother. Sophie’s friends include her cousin Paul and her neighbors Camille and Madeleine de Fleurville.
The second book of the trilogy, Good Little Girls focuses on Camille and Madeleine, the two good little girls of the books. Their mother, the kind and generous Mme de Fleurville, has been educating her daughters alone since her husband died. She helps the other characters of the book, such as Mme de Rosbourg, who has been living alone with her daughter Marguerite after the sinking of her husband’s ship. She also helps poor Sophie whose parents both died and who lives with her violent and abusive mother-in-law. The third book, Holiday, is the most cheerful of the three, as Sophie is growing up and gets always closer to Mme de Fleurville and her daughter.
The books are actually a bit old-fashioned. They were written in the 19th century and are very influenced by catholicism. The author’s son, a Catholic priest, is said to have checked all the books by her mother to check whether they were suitable for young Catholic children. However, they were pretty modern in a way. After all, Mme de Fleurville is a single mother who invites an other single mother to live with her in her home and who condemns all forms of violence against children.
My grandmother had read the books as a little girl, my mother too. I really liked them too because I found it interesting to see how children lived in the 19th century.
Little Women (Louisa M. Alcott)
Little Women is also a book I read again and again. I also loved the sequels. I loved Dr March’s four daughters. Of course, my favorite character was Jo (everyone prefers Jo, it seems). I loved Beth too and was sad as she died. Amy was funny. I could not identify so much with Meg and her love story though. That was a little boring to me. Maybe I was a little young when I read the books. I loved Laurie too.
I am always a little confused with the English titles of the books though. Little Women’s French title is indeed Les Quatre Filles du Docteur March (the four daughters of Dr March) which is quite different from the original title. The title change was not a bad thing though because a literal translation would have sounded rather strange in French.
Matilda (Roald Dahl)
I love all the books by Roald Dahl and Matilda is one of my favorite ones. This is a lovely and funny book about a particularly gifted little girl living with stupid and selfish parents who do not care about her. They do not understand her passion for reading either. At school, she finds support by the lovely school teacher Miss Honey but has to face the mean and violent headmistress Miss Trunchbull.
The Mallory Towers series (Enid Blyton)
Enid Blyton is known all over the world for her Famous Five series. My parents read them a lot before my sister and I did. I also loved her Mallory Towers series. The stories took place in a very British boarding school for young girls and it was very fun to read.
The Hobbit (J.R.R Tolkien)
The Hobbit is the first book by Tolkien I ever read. I was then ten years old and I was so obsessed with Tolkien’s universe that I read then the all Lord of the Rings trilogy. I have already read with my daughter Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas but I really would like her to read Tolkien’s novels too.