Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Recommendations: 7 Children’s Books That Are Worthwhile (Even If You're Not a Child)

I’m sure that by now you’ve all heard of Ruth Graham’s article that sparked a huge debate about YA literature. If not, it basically states that adults should be ashamed of reading young adult novels.

I don’t want to say too much on that subject, because it’s already been discussed well enough. But I think that the value and profoundness of a novel have nothing to do with its genre or age range. As to that, one may quote Hemingway: “Does he [William Faulkner] really think big emotions come from big words?” There are some true gems in YA lit.
I wouldn’t want to restrict myself to solely reading classics for the rest of my life, even though I love them dearly. That would be monotonous and dull. In the same way, I don’t think that there are many adults who only read YA novels. And even if that was the case, I wouldn’t presume to judge other people’s reading tastes.  If someone merely reads for entertainment, and YA literature is the only genre that accomplishes that, then that’s fine by me.


Proceeding to the actual topic of this post: I want to start a series of book recommendations on this blog, and, in the light of recent events, I’d like to kick it off with some books that I loved as a child, and that I believe adults might enjoy as well. [To get it out if the way; I’m not going to mention Harry Potter, duh.]

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder 
A great quality of children is their innate childish curiosity and their tendency to question everything. Sophie’s World is a book that really made me wonder how the universe works. 
One day, Sophie Amundsen finds notes from an anonymous philosopher in her mailbox. The two of them start communicating through letters, talking about philosophical questions. At the same time, Sophie tries to find out why she keeps receiving letters adressed to a girl called Hilde, and how the girls might be connected to each other. The novel is very interesting and thought-provoking.
This was also turned into a movie in the late 90’s.

The Centre of My World by Andreas Steinhöfel
The Centre of My World is the novel that replaced Sophie’s World as my favourite book as a child. It is a coming-of-age story that centers around the 17-year-old Phil, who moves from America to Europe together with his sister and his young, chaotic single mother. The novel tackles a lot of important issues, including problems arising with puberty, abuse, coming to terms with one’s sexuality in a narrow-minded environment, and finding oneself. The narrative style is very distinctive, as it includes a lot of flashbacks that gradually help the main character to unveil details about his past and his absent father.
 
The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt
Tonke Dragt is a Dutch author, who, apparently, is well-known for her adventure and fantasy novels in her home country. My favourite novel of hers is De zevensprong, which unfortunately hasn’t been translated into English (yet).
As the title implies, The Letter for the King is about a 16-year-old boy who is assigned to deliver a crucial letter to the king. I can still remember how this author was warmly recommended to me by a librarian when I was little. And I assume that Tonke Dragt could be considered a children’s version of Rothfuss or Sanderson, even though I haven’t read any of their books yet, so don’t quote me on that.
The lovely Sanne from booksandquills recently posted a review of this book on her YouTube channel.
 
The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
This fantasy trilogy is about a smug magician named Nathaniel, who decides to summon an ancient djinni in order to take revenge on his master. But the djinni doesn’t turn out to be as submissive as the young boy had hoped. It’s quite possible that these books were my first literary encounter with sarcasm, because they contain a lot of ironic footnotes that made Bartimaeus very amusing and exciting to read
 
The Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl as a spoiled, calculating, privileged kid. But he is also a genius criminal mastermind. In order to save his family from financial ruin, he stages a coup to steal a massive gold treasure that the elven folk hid many miles underground.  
I have to admit that I only read about three books in this eight-book fantasy/adventure series, but I really enjoyed them.

The His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman
When I was younger, this was my favourite series (again, apart from Harry Potter). It’s an emotional and imaginative story with wonderful characters, and I particularly enjoyed the friendship between the protagonist Lyra and an intimidating polar bear named Iorek Byrnison. There are some nasty villains in these books, and I suffered vicariously with the main characters in view of the cruelties they had to endure. I still remember feeling heartbroken when I had finished the series.
The movie version with Nicole Kidman doesn’t do it justice at all, by the way.

The Molly Moon Series by Georgia Byng  
The life of an English orphan named Molly Moon changes overnight, when she discovers a book about hypnotism that teaches her how to make people be at her beck and call.


I hope that this article was helpful to you, and I’d love to know which books have influenced your childhood! Have you read any of the books that I mentioned? 
 

15 comments:

  1. I LOVE BOOKS FOR CHILDREN! I guess I have more children books than YA, haha. YA isn't really my preferred genre. I was too often disappointed because of the way they deal with young love in these books. It's too kitschy for me most of the time. But now or then I really like to read it. There are such great authors out there. (Can't they just sometimes skip the love-part?)

    But nevertheless, I love children books more :) especially fairytale re-tellings.

    Have you read "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making"? Such a beautiful book for young AND old! Or the Wildwood Chronicles or The Peculiar! They are mostly the same as YA, just with less lovey-dovey :D

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    1. I also sometimes wish that YA authors would just drop the whole love aspect, as that’s probably my most common reason for disliking a book. It can be so annoying when it’s done wrong, especially if authors think it’s okay for non-romance books to solely revolve around romance. That’s not a plot. Friendship > Love.

      I received the first book in the Fairyland trilogy for my birthday (EXCITING!), and I really want to get my hands on the Wildwood Chronicles. The covers for both of these series are a piece of art!
      I’ve seen The Peculiar on Goodreads, however, I have no idea what it’s about. But I’ll look it up, thank you!

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  2. YAY CHILDREN!

    I'm kind of sad I never picked up Artemis Fowl as a child. Wait, I did read the first book. But then I stopped. On the other hand MOLLY MOON. I was obsessed with the first book, because hypnotism is just so fascinating. And then she could stop time! And then....travel through time....And apparently fly as well? I stopped at the third book because I outgrew them, and she just kept getting new powers.

    But still, loved the first book.

    Some other books that influenced me were INKHEART (my fave), Harry Potter (obviously), Meg Cabot's Mediator series (even though it's more YA), and a bunch more I can't remember at the moment.

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    1. Yeah, Molly had quite an impressive repertoire of skills ... But I also stopped at the third book, because that was around the time when I started exploring (young) adult literature.

      Inkheart is great, I loved that one as well! Can’t say no to books about books. :)

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  3. His Dark Materials is still my favorite series ♥

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    1. Now that I wrote this blog post, I really want to re-read the series … it’s been forever since the last time I picked it up, so it might even feel as if reading it for the first time.

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  4. I hadn't heard of all of these - and I haven't read any of them except for the Bartimaeus trilogy, which I loved! (Though I've been meaning to read Artemis Fowl). I'll definitely have to check the others out!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. I’d be really happy if you did! Molly Moon might be a bit on the childish side, but I think the other books mentioned are definitely fit for all ages.

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  5. Hello.
    The books I do not even know all of them.
    But most seem to be interesting.
    I do love books. But I'm currently very little time to read what is really a shame. The Molly Moon I have ever seen and read a piece of it. All thing but in German. Read in English I do not tuh. I then look prefer English movies.

    Greetings

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  6. I've only read the Artemis Fowl series and that was years ago when I was younger. The others seems really interesting though, especially The His Dark Materials Trilogy. :)

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  7. Da sind richtig, richtig gute Bücher dabei! Den Dschinn Bartimäus habe ich geliebt, er war aber auch einfach immer zu witzig xDD "Artemis Fowl" habe ich auch sehr gerne gelesen, aber mit den vielen Fortsetzungen habe cih die Reihe leider aus den Augen verloren, weil ich dachte, dass sie mir nicht mehr gefallen würden. Vielleicht hol ich mir die restlichen Bände noch irgendwann mal :) Von "His Dark Materials" hab ich fast überhaupt nichts mehr im Kopf o.O Da ich jedoch den hübschen englischen Schuber will, werde ich die Bücher noch einmal lesen. Tolle Zusammenstellung! :)

    Liebe Grüße,
    Bramble

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    1. Ich habe glaub ich fünf „Artemis Fowl“ Bücher im Regal stehen ... wenn ich irgendwann mal mehr Zeit haben sollte, schau ich vielleicht mal, ob mir die Bücher immer noch gefallen und dann wird die Reihe beendet.

      Mit „His Dark Materials“ geht es mir genauso. Die Reihe hatte ich vor rund zehn Jahren gelesen [ohje!?] und kann mich nur noch grob an den Anfang des ersten Teils erinnern. Ich möchte die Bücher unbedingt nochmal auf Englisch lesen!

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  8. Incredible feature! I was so happy when I saw the title of your post and just really excited to see what books you featured and recommended! I've read Artemis Fowl (well, audio book-ed it, and the narration is incredible!) and His Dark Materials, both of which I found to be amazing, particularly the latter, which is an all time favourite series for me now.

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  9. Whoops never even heard any of this book except for Artemis Fowl. Haha :D

    I didn't really read children stories anymore nowadays, but when I was little, I really prefer classic fairy tales over anything else :D
    Especially love the story 'The Wild Swans' and 'Kisa the Cat'.

    Neysa @ Papier Revue

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  10. I'd have to check them out. I've never heard of most of them. Thanks for sharing

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