By Mitchell Shaun Parker
Having spent a large portion of my childhood climbing trees pretending they were the decks of pirate ships or that I was setting off in my own rocket into the depths of space, I had an imagination that consumed most of my free time. A major contributor to this was how ferociously I would read anything and everything that came under my nose.
Sometimes this was to my detriment – like the time I was reading a body language book and proceeded to act out all of the vulgarities without knowing what they meant. However, on the whole, reading has been, in a word, life-changing. So much so, that I’m now studying writing – essentially the act of creating things to read.
In the spirit of the upcoming national Library Week, what follows is a list of the books that had the biggest impact on my life and the way I see the world organised by recommended age in the hopes that other might have a similar eye-opening experience (click on the images for a larger view):
Ages 6 – 9:
The Magic Faraway Tree
One of Enid Blyton’s most noted works, The Magic Faraway Tree is a magical adventure featuring Joe, Beth and Frannie who go adventuring in all sorts of mysterious lands with their curious friends Silky, Moonface, Saucepan Man and a few others.
Roald Dahl is one of the most prolific writers for kids, having written some of the most cherished books of my generation. Turned into popular movies too, the books take you on wild journeys with witches, oompa-loompas, a magical tortoise (named Esiotrot), a big and friendly giant and James with his Giant Peach.
If you are feeling a little blue, here is what to do: Dr. Seuss. Using rhyme and a wicked sense of humour to tell his stories, Dr. Seuss is – alongside Dahl – one of the popular children’s writers of all time. If you want to know what exciting things The Cat in the Hat gets up to, or How the Grinch Stole Christmas then Dr. Seuss is for you.
Another beloved tale about how a spider named Charlotte uses her talent to spin incredible webs to save the life of her best friend, a pig named Wilbur. A story of friendship at all costs, this book will make you laugh and cry and is a great read for anyone who thinks talking animals are cool.
Ages 10 – 13:
The series of books that made a generation fall in love with reading, the Harry Potter series written by JK Rowling follow the life and times of boy wizard Harry Potter as he battles the Dark Lord, Voldemort, makes friends at his wizarding school and plays a fantastic sport called Quidditch on his flying broomstick. Possibly my favourite books of all time, they are a brilliant way to get into reading and are filled with life lessons but also charming humour.
Can you imagine what it must be like to be a genius? Well, Artemis Fowl is a boy genius and he has used his smarts to not only build a family fortune through crime, but also to catch a Fairy whom he holds ransom from her family in order to get access to their great wealth. Things no doubt get a little hairy as the series continues and is well-worth a read.
The Chronicles of Narnia are CS Lewis’ most famous work that tell the story of the Peverell children who find their way into Narnia through an old wardrobe and get up to all sorts of mischief. Featuring an icy and evil witch, a majestic lion named Aslan and some stunning imagery, the books are great fun.
Lord of the Rings
One of the most important pieces of British fantasy, The Lord of the Rings are the 1000+ page work of a man who spent some of his life in and around the Eastern Cape. Frodo, the protagonist of the story, is faced with the seemingly impossible task of leaving his comfortable home in the Shire and travelling all the way to Mount Doom in sinister Mordor to destroy a ring of power and save his world from terror. On his way, he meets elves, orcs, men and wizards who all play their role in seeing the ring either fall to good or evil.
If you have any books that you really enjoyed, why not leave them in the comments so that others can enjoy them too?