Saturday, 12 July 2008

101 - Dalmatians? No, books, of course...

From Vassilisa the Beautiful, a Russian folktale, illustrated by Ivan Bilibin

This week sees a big event, well, for me at any rate. It has taken me some weeks to research and compile a list of 101 children's books that I consider necessary reading for the well-rounded adult. I will be posting it during the week, with a permanent link from the sidebar.

Having compiled the list, I thought it looked quite short – until it occurred to me that the next stage would be to review them all! That will really take some time since, while I have quite a few of the books on the list, I don't have all by any means. There is one book that I know is one there which is very hard to find, but only one, and it is to be hoped that the library will be able to supply some of the missing titles. As I review I'll link from the original list.

I greatly enjoyed putting the list together, checking publication dates, thinking of authors I might have missed and canvassing family opinion. It covers the period 1840-1975, though I have also listed the two great collections of fairytales by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. They are really required reading because they underpin so much that comes later, along with the fairytales of Charles Perrault. In the list is my favourite children's collection of classical myths, but my other major source for myths and legends, fairy and folktales as a child was the wonderful Arthur Mee's Children's Encyclopaedia. I don't suppose they would look very tempting to the modern child, but they had superb collections of stories and I used to spend hours in total absorption. The web now offers excellent equivalents, especially at sites such as Project Gutenberg and SurlaLune Fairy Tales, and any reasonably-sized library should have something to offer. For an introduction to Greek myths for older readers, I don't think Robert Graves can be bettered.

My decision to stop at 1975 was made because there have been so many excellent books published for children in recent years that their inclusion would have made the list unmanageable; however, I probably shan't be able to resist starting one in due course.


  1. I'm looking forward to reading the list - it sounds fascinating and I'm wondering how many I'll know and how many I've read!

  2. I'm looking forward to this list as well! I cannot wait to see what you've included and I'm sure there will be lots that I am unfamiliar with.

  3. I can't wait to see the list and to having serious discussions about what is and isn't there. Sorry I haven't been around for a it. You wouldn't believe the problems Apple had with their new software and what it did to our ability to blog. The Bears took to hiding every time I came down from the study just in case I was in the mood to throw things!