Top 10 books I enjoyed as a child

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Chronicles of Narnia by TaekwondoNJ
"Chronicles of Narnia" Fan-Art by TaekwondoNJ
A very good friend of mine recently made her foray into the world of children’s literature, and published her first children’s fiction - The Adventuresof Ife and Hope.

(There will absolutely be a review of this book here, soon)

But this got me thinking about my childhood and pre/early teen years, where there was a myriad of age appropriate reading literature for children and young adults. Books were all we had (and relished) at the time.

With the advent of Social Media – which is supposed to be a good thing(ish) – I sometimes worry, that what are kids these days reading?

Our lunchtime catching-up with friend would be about those books, and how eager we were to blackmail our parents to get us sequels.

What do kids catch up on these days… do you know?

I worry that it is not far from what pose Ariana Grande struck during her last show, or the latest filter introduced on snapchat. Which are not in themselves bad things to catch up on. I am just worried about the seeming dearth of the reading (and deep learning) culture, hastened by the very visual world of social media platforms.

Anyway, I had good memories of books I read as a child/pre-teen, which I thought to share, for ideas on building you kiddies library.

Here goes my top ten child-books from my past (in no particular order):

1. Ralia the Sugar Girl

I know, I know… with the benefit of adulthood, this book smacks of a lot of eye-rolling unrealities and naivety.

But there was something about the portrayal of the happy-go-lucky, central character that sowed in me the “Never lose hope” seed. Despite the (scary) adventures she passed through, she never lost faith that she would find her way home again to her family, and never lost that spark that filled her with so much sweetness.

The book also taught me the common-sense of not wandering away from home randomly. While I admired her perseverance, I had no interest in getting lost as a child.

2. Famous Five/Secret Seven series

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Ahhhhhh! Enid Blyton did a huge number on a lot of us with these books, and kept us coming back for more.

These books opened my mind to the world of child-sleuthing, and I would see every daily occurrence through the lens of a mystery waiting to be solved (Even when it was clear that it was the cat that ate the crayfish, and not some mysterious man living in a hidden cellar)

I particularly loved the portrayal of George in Famous Five and I identified with her, since I was a tomboy myself. It made me more comfortable in my tomboy-skin.

3. The Drummer Boy

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If there ever was a story I read as a child of one rising above one’s natural circumstances, it was this one.

While not exactly a “child’s” book per se, Cyprian Ekwensi opened my eyes to the struggles of people living with disabilities among us and the need for the provision of better facilities for them.

4. The Three Golliwogs

I had a love/hate relationship with these series, and the central characters. I liked the back stories, but had questions regarding where the characters came from, how they ate, and what they did for a living. For starters, WHAT THE HECK ARE GOLLIWOGS?

While their stories made me laugh a lot at the time, I do not know that I will be recommending the books, due to the portrayal of the “Golliwogs”. As I typed this post, it hit me that the “Golliwogs” is a ‘soft’ portrayal of Blackface, which is a caricature of Black Africans.

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I guess that is one of the side-effects of growing up; you suddenly realise that some of those things that made you ‘laugh’ as a child, were not appropriate. Especially when it caricaturizes a you. The reader.

5. Without a Silver Spoon

The first time I saw this book in my father’s library, I asked “Daddy… what is a Silver Spoon?” He smiled a deep, long smile.

I would later understand from the book the various strata society deems one naturally “born into”, and how easy it is for you to be judged based on the boxes society has placed you in. More importantly, I would understand that you are not defined by these lines and boxes already pre-determined for you.

You make your own path.

6. My book of Bible Stories
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I agree with you, that the pictures used to sometimes potray the characters or a particular event were a little over the top. Like showing the ‘evilness’ of Delilah, through her red nails and red lipstick??

Lol… that’s like 98% of us women in this day.

But this book helped in making my learning of the tenets of my faith a fun thing (rather than a draaaaaaaaagggg).

The stories were actual stories from the Bible, and in my mind, I was often transported to the particular happening. The stories, the visuals and the writing all fuelled my imagination, and in my mind’s eye, I could see myself in places like the whale’s belly; chilling with brother Jonah.

Weird, right?

7. Chike and The River

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There is a reason Chinua Achebe remains Africa’s best writer (argue with your other novelists). While a children’s book, this book would be enjoyed by persons of any every age, even in this day, and Chinua (as always) seizes the opportunity to share the beauty of the various Nigerian cultures. 

The story balances the desire for a brighter future, with the un-climatic reality that the grass on the other side might just be far from green.

And while my family was not the wealthiest at the time, this book made me appreciate things I took for granted which other people prayed to have, or experience. Things as seemingly ‘mundane’ as going and living across the River Niger.  

8. Basket of Flowers

Lol. This book shaaaa.

Daddy made me read this book at least twenty times. Whenever I was caught in a lie, the Basket of Flowers was my punishment. When I wanted to “keep up with the joneses”, he referred me to keep up with Basket of Flowers instead. And even when it was time to have “the talk” on crossing from childhood into young-adult, he insisted I read the Basket of Flowers yet again, to soften the ground.

It maddened me at the time that he WANTED me to read the book over and over again, and fall in love with it. But I did fall in love with it eventually. I remember this now and smile, with a mental note to tease him about it when next we sit together.

This book is beautiful a coming of age book for young girls and boys, with lessons and principles on building character.

9. Chronicles of Narnia
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Oh my!

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Prince Caspian. The Horse and His Boy. 

Aslan. Narnia.

These Chronicles perhaps form part of the happiest/sweetest/fondest memories of my childhood. I loved the books so much, that when I graduated from my Bachelors in Law, my third sibling gifted me with a beautifully illustrate hardcover of all the books in one.

(Someone stole it from meeeee!!!) 😭😭

When I read the Chronicles of Narnia as a child, I had no idea that there were some faith-based undertones (C.S. Lewis writes with Christian undertones). But there was a beauty in the hope that the stories potrayed. The fun of the adventures. The (pun-ish) idea that you had to be as child to experience Narnia, and the beautiful closure the Last Battle brought.

Even if no other book features, this is one book that would definitely be in my children’s library.

10. One Week, One Trouble (And Double Trouble)

Haha! This book was all about the adventures of Tagbo (that was his name, right?) as a boarding school student in colonial Nigeria. He always found himself in one trouble or the other with his peers, Seniors at school or school authorities. 

But he warmed your heart with the ways he wriggled himself out of each situation, and deep down, he was just a good-natured young boy, with a nack for the (slightly) dangerous.


There were other books I enjoyed, like an African Night’s Entertainment, Koku Baboni, Bottled Leopard, and King Solomon’s Mines.

I look forward to building a library full with most of them… even as you are welcome to borrow ideas for stocking your kiddies’ library.



4. Drummer Boy (by Cyprian Ekwensi)
5. The Three Golliwogs (by Enid Blyton)

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  1. ohhhhhhh myyyyyyy. You read Koku Baboni?for as long as i can remember i thought i had imagined that book. i kept telling people i had read it. kai! i can also relate with George (team tom boy here). Read all the above books, graduated to Malory Towers and St Claire towards my teen years. we even borrowed some tricks from malory towers and played on our teachers.
    Great read as always.... thanks for taking me wayyyyyy back