I've been trying to remember my ten favourite childhood books. In particular, those which I read between the ages of five and eleven, which for me at least were pretty formative years as far as my moral framework went. Here they are, in no special order of importance:
1 The Fighting Formula by Peter Burgoyne. Can't remember the plot exactly but I think it involved a secret potion which made you invisible whenever trouble loomed. And I always wanted to be invisible in those circumstances.
2 Just William by Richmal Crompton. Any of the early William books would have fitted here - I read them all and loved them too. I so wanted to be like William but in reality I was far too buttoned-up. Actually, I still want to be like William...
3 Children of the New Forrest by Captain Marryat. I loved this book. I so wanted to be a Cavalier, which is to say a rather more civilised version of William.
4 Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. I received two copies of this book one Christmas which was a bit of a bummer. Read it a few times but didn't like it that much. I guess it was a girls book?
5 The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle. In real life Hoyle was an eminent scientist who pioneered the steady state theory. Loved this book too but strangely never read any more science fiction.
6 Mr Midshipman Easy, also by Captain Marryat. Life on the ocean waves. Loved it.
7 Don Quixote & Gulliver's Travels. Must have been children's editions of some sort but I loved them both.
8 The Coral Island by R M Ballantyne. Seaside adventure. Exotic. A great escape.
9 Biggles Works It Out by Captain W. E. Johns. I blush at the memory. As, no doubt, did Ginger, his co-pilot. They were awfully good friends.
10 The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. A tale that reinforced Christian and moral values. I remember enjoying it at the time, even as I was being indoctrinated.
I read bits of the bible too of course but didn't enjoy that much. My main non-fiction reading was The Children's Book of Knowledge, a wonderful ten-volume encyclopedia which my father bought on the never-never. I still have them and treasure them because they remind me of him. When you open them, even after all these years, the smell is still the same, and you are instantly transported back to your childhood. Aren't books wonderful.