“I love reading another reader’s list of favourites. Even when I find I do not share their tastes or predilections, I am provoked to compare, contrast, and contradict. It is a most healthy exercise, and one altogether fruitful.”
– T. S. Eliot
I’ve been contemplating the list of the 1001 Children’s Books I must read before I grow up. Not the books themselves, but the list. It must be been astonishingly difficult to come up with that list. But how did the creators of the list know that they were right to include books on the list? Did they pick their childhood favourites, and see how many other people on the panel of 1001 Children’s Books agreed with them? Did they do some sort of survey of children? Did they look at book sales? Did they think about which books were ground-breaking when they were first published, or which ones had been around for a certain amount of time, or were still selling after being published five, ten, one hundred years ago? How do you choose, out of the zillions of books that have ever been, one thousand?
I don’t know if I could have done it.
There are books left off the list that I feel dismay over their absence – one that I simply can’t understand is Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree, another is Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals. But I suppose, it’s all a matter of opinion, isn’t it? I mean, to me, those two books are books that deserve to be on the list, but I don’t know the list of criteria. Maybe they had something missing, some key element that the creators of the 1001 Children’s Book book were looking for. And who knows? Once I read all one thousand and one of them (which, I realise, may take quite a while…) perhaps those books will be bumped down my list of books that you should read because of all the fabulous books on the list.
What would be on your list of books to read before you grow up? What books have I read so far that you agree with, or hated, or is there a book missing from the list (which can be read in full here) which you think should, obviously, be on the list and the fact that it has been overlooked is a crime?