1. ‘Anne of Green Gables’ by L. M. Montgomery
I loved this lyrical story of a quirky red-headed orphan who is unwanted at first but soon wins everyone round with her adventurous nature and vivid imagination. I liked the fact that the story followed Anne’s life over several years; I got to see her develop as a person and became very attached to all the characters.
2. ‘Good Wives’ by Louisa May Alcott
Although this book’s predecessor, ‘Little Women’, is more famous, I actually preferred ‘Good Wives’. It was more dramatic, with the March girls all grown up, developing love lives and learning more about themselves. There were some very moving passages and the ending seemed more final and satisfying than that of ‘Little Women’.
3. ‘Just William’ by Richmal Crompton
I loved all the stories in the ‘Just William’ series. They are just as witty and pertinent now as the day they were written and they still make me laugh out loud, which is rare in a book. The audiobooks narrated by Martin Jarvis are also excellent – he captures the vibrant cast of characters perfectly.
4. ‘Ballet Shoes’ by Noel Streatfeild
I adored this story of three very different sisters trying to make their way through stage school whilst learning some important life lessons. The characters are quirky and lovable, and the BBC adaptation was my favourite film when I was younger.
5. ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This story is both a haunting mystery and a testament to the power to change. I loved the fact that, unusually, the heroine was rude and spoiled – as was her cousin, Colin – but visiting the secret garden made them both see the error of their ways. Again, the BBC adaptation of this is very good.
6. ‘The BFG’ by Roald Dahl
Of all Roald Dahl’s books, ‘The BFG’ has the most charm. I loved Roald Dahl’s funny, inventive wordplay and I thought the concept of capturing and delivering dreams was brilliant.
7. ‘First Term at Malory Towers’ by Enid Blyton
I enjoyed all the ‘Malory Towers’ and ‘St Clare’s’ stories but I chose this one because you can’t beat the first book, as the characters get to know the school, the teachers and each other. I liked Darrell because she was an imperfect heroine who didn’t always get things right but gradually learned to control herself as the book progressed.
So those are my favourite children’s classics – which are yours?