September 18, 2018

July 27, 2018

Please reload

Recent Posts

Tourist sexually assaulted, by monkeys?

July 6, 2015

Please reload

Featured Posts

Holiday reading for kids: are classics worth the bother?

August 7, 2014

(Published by The Malay Mail 7 August 2014)


I found sorting this list of classic books for kids trickier than anticipated: what is a “classic”? Are we only talking 19th century authors? What’s so special about them anyway?


I like what the French literary critic Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve had to say back in 1850:


“A true classic, as I should like to hear it defined, is an author who has enriched the human mind, increased its treasure, and caused it to advance a step…”


But does anyone, let alone kids, bother with these dusty tomes in an age when so many are brought to life on the big screen? I for one am looking forward to the release of the last Hobbit movie…


A classic? Kids these days want easy, instant entertainment. They opt for the flashy covers of The Adventures of Tintin, the Harry Potter series, David Walliams (admittedly, I do love Mr. Stink) or the Septimus Heap series; the stuff kids talk about in school. Illustrations, large type and plenty of blank space between lines — they all pave the way for happy, effortless reading.


But, as your parents or grandparents or your kid’s English teacher might harp on about, classics are definitely worth the effort. Reading them to your child is a great way of tickling young book-tastebuds. The classics we have read to the kids are rich in language and thoughtful in their storytelling — invariably requiring all of us to concentrate and ask questions about the words and the events unfolding; no spoon-feeding of the plot within the couple of chapters.


The holidays are a great, relaxed time for this. A chapter a night (when I’m in full swing).


My own list started off at 10, and grew to 20. And in no particular order:


The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome


The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett


The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame



Classic books make demands on children and the rewards are commensurate with these demands; they are of perennial interest and do not patronise kids.’


Little Women by Louisa May Alcott


The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde


The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers


King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard


The Carey novels by Ronald Welch


Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson


Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe


Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Arthur Rackham


Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales


Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll


Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe


The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain


Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis


It’s tricky to be specific about age-appropriateness particularly if you are going to read them to your child, but a good time to start this is 8 years and upwards.


Check online, libraries and bookstores to see which editions might appeal to your child. There are some brilliant new all-singing-and-dancing-to-be-read editions of the old classics. Just dig a little.


And, for those times when you are wondering why you are bothering at all:


“Ancient works are classical not because they are old, but because they are powerful, fresh, and healthy.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)


SUGGESTED WEBSITES does free world wide postage or .com to see what editions are available


Please reload

Follow Us
Please reload

Search By Tags
Please reload

  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square