Good Reading : May 2006
We live in an age where there is much ado about contemporary children’s writers … JK Rowling, Anthony Horowitz, Lemony Snicket, Morris Gleitzman. It is fantastic to see children’s authors like Rowling rising to the status of pop celebrity, to become cult figures adored by juvenile herds. What, then, is the place of classic novels for children? Are children’s classics outdated and unable to compete with the growing number of contemporary children’s titles? Are children’s classics dead? Definitely not! Books such as The Secret Garden and The Wind in the Willows are significant not only because they have great plot lines. Classic children’s novels offer so much more. They can, as in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, afford a glimpse into worlds past, and in doing so expand our horizons in the present. They can also, as in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, expose children to advanced vocabulary and complex grammar, which can only be a positive influence. Seven Little Australians introduces an ar ray of great characters who have captured the imagination of generations. The recent success of the film of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has reignited interest in CS Lewis’s classic series. Its worth has been tested by the tides of time, and it is still standing up well. The ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ series underscores values that we recognise and admire. While the children within the classic tale may wear the gar ments of another era, their faces, their reactions and their humanity still hold true, again emphasising the fact that the children’s classic does have trove treasure categorical PAUL MACDONALD of The Children’s Bookshop, Beecroft, NSW takes a look at some of the enduring children’s classics, books that have stood the test of time and are read and treasured by generations of children — and adults.