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GALLERY: The books we love - sharing our favourites and looking back at past World Book Day celebrations

PUBLISHED: 17:45 04 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:04 05 March 2020

Pupils Stuart Gallagler, James Knights and  Josh Porter from Crowfoot Primary School in Beccles marking World Book Day in 2004. Picture: ARCHANT

Pupils Stuart Gallagler, James Knights and Josh Porter from Crowfoot Primary School in Beccles marking World Book Day in 2004. Picture: ARCHANT

Which book is your all-time favourite? On the eve of World Book Day, our readers and staff have been sharing thoughts about the books which mean the most to them.

Alex Langhan at Gooderstone  Primary School, near Swaffham, dressed up as Harry Potter in 2004, to celebrate World Book Day Picture: ARCHANTAlex Langhan at Gooderstone Primary School, near Swaffham, dressed up as Harry Potter in 2004, to celebrate World Book Day Picture: ARCHANT

Fantasy titles are hugely popular with readers, as you can see from the number of children choosing to dress up as Harry Potter at World Book Day events.

But Harry isn't the only fantasy to have captured young imaginations over the years.

Rowan Mantell chose another magical favourite, writing: "I first read The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge when I was six. I still love it, and still want to live most of it, almost half a century later.

"It opens with orphaned Maria Merryweather (obviously I'm not asking for the orphaned bit, but it did allow her to relocate, by horse and carriage, to the manor house home of her new guardian, deep in a Devon valley.) I grew up in Devon, but not with a room at the top of a circular tower, with a door too small for adults to access, and sugary biscuits and exquisite new clothes mysteriously provided every day.

Mad Hatter day as pupils and staff at Beacon Hill Primary School in Martlesham celebrated World Book day in 2006.

 Picture ARCHANTMad Hatter day as pupils and staff at Beacon Hill Primary School in Martlesham celebrated World Book day in 2006. Picture ARCHANT

"Maria rides a pony through the rolling parkland and the village beyond and finds the real-life boy who appeared in her dreams in London. There is peril and adventure too. This girl can - helped by true friends and noble animals - defeat the band of baddies who live in a castle in the woods and block the villagers' access to the sea.

"I have longed to live in this beautiful valley from childhood, where fantasy and realism merge imperceptibly, the village church is the children's playground, Loveday Minette has a silvery mirror which always shows the best of you, Maria and the old Parson put right an ancient wrong, good triumphs over evil and everyone eventually finds the love of their life."

Kahn Johnson opted for a different fantasy choice, writing: "Good Omens is one of the few books I have read more than once. Poignant, laugh-out-loud-funny, and with a message that still resonates today. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett created a modern classic."

Billy Smith, 18, from Walberswick is a student at One Sixth Form College in Ipswich. He said, "My favourite book growing up was The Witches by Roald Dahl. My mum used to read it to me. It's an amazing piece of work. The words were fun and I loved it. More recently, I loved 1984 by George Orwell. It was mind-blowing."

Children at Hethersett Woodside First and Nursery School in 2002. Pictured are Joseph Lincoln, Michael Reeve and James Miller as Peter Pan.  Picture: ARCHANTChildren at Hethersett Woodside First and Nursery School in 2002. Pictured are Joseph Lincoln, Michael Reeve and James Miller as Peter Pan. Picture: ARCHANT

Anna Austin, 16, from Ipswich, also studies at One Sixth Form College. She said, "As a kid I really liked Warriors of Alavna by N M Browne. It's a fantasy book where children were transported into a different world and they had powers to save the people they had met - it was violent and magical. I've still got it and I read it occasionally."

Reading Point Horror under the duvet

Horror, rather than fantasy, is one of the reading passions of Charlotte Smith-Jarvis. She writes:" I was reading quite weighty books from a young age - I finished The Color Purple when I was nine or 10.

"But I've always loved a bit of trash and am addicted to thrillers. When I was younger and well into my teens I frantically collected the Point Horror series - many of them penned by the delightfully gothic-sounding R L Stein.

Pupils at Crowfoot Primary School in Beccles, marking World Book Day in 2004 by dressing up on the theme of books and different countries. 
Picture: ARCHANTPupils at Crowfoot Primary School in Beccles, marking World Book Day in 2004 by dressing up on the theme of books and different countries. Picture: ARCHANT

"They were piled up in a corner of my room on a shelf - The Lifeguard, The Babysitter, Trick or Treat - and I remember devouring the plotlines under my duvet late into the night with a torch. They ignited a strong passion for genre and led me to go on and discover Stephen King, Jeffrey Deaver, John Grisham and others.

"To this day, one of my greatest pleasures is switching off from the daily grind, snuggling under a duvet and reading by lamplight."

Classics continue to be read with passion by many people. Alan Pease, the deputy principal at Suffolk New College, said, "My favourite book growing up was Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I had a brilliant English teacher at school who introduced me to it.

"It was the first time I really started to understand how great authors can use text graphically to help the reader really visualise the scene. It was also the first book I can remember reading that is fully narrated in the first person by the main protagonist (Pip)."

Mad Hatter day as pupils and staff at Beacon Hill Primary School celebrated World Book Day in 2006. 

Picture ARCHANTMad Hatter day as pupils and staff at Beacon Hill Primary School celebrated World Book Day in 2006. Picture ARCHANT

Judy Rimmer is another Dickens fan, and writes: "I am a huge bookworm and tend to have several books on the go at once. I have always loved Victorian novels by authors including Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, Thomas Hardy, and the list goes on.

"But I've also always been a fan of classic detective stories (preferably the ones with a puzzle element, rather than blood and gore). As a teenager, I remember devouring my parents' old green-backed Penguins by authors like Margery Allingham (the East Anglian settings are a bonus in her books), Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh.

"I still enjoy those now, and a lot of other detective authors have also been brought back into print over recent years, giving me a huge amount of choice. I haven't got any better at working out whodunit, though."

The perfect book for a child needing an escape world

Elmer the Elephant visits children at Felixstowe library as part of World Book Day in 2008. 




Picture: ARCHANTElmer the Elephant visits children at Felixstowe library as part of World Book Day in 2008. Picture: ARCHANT

Kirsty Logan, founder of Suffolk community choir the Rabble Chorus, chose a favourite children's book which helped her at a difficult time.

She wrote: "The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren is an exciting and sometimes heartbreaking adventure based around death and Norse mythology-influenced afterlives. An actually perfect book to be given when you've just lost a little brother and been left an only child needing an escape world!"

Picture books are much loved by many children and adults alike. Retired teacher Zoe Rimmer writes: "My favourite children's book is The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. I must have read it to loads of children when I was teaching." First published in the 1930s, this classic picture book is the endearing tale of a bull who likes to sit and smell the flowers rather than fighting, and has been loved by generations.

Julie Begum, marketing co-ordinator at Suffolk New College, said: "Growing up I really enjoyed reading Elmer and The Very Hungry Caterpillar and I'm really enjoying reading these at the moment with my son. It's great to be able to relive your childhood in this way. As an adult, my favourite book of all time is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. It's so powerful and moving."

Children at Hadleigh County Primary School dress up for World Book Day, 2008. 

Picture: ARCHANTChildren at Hadleigh County Primary School dress up for World Book Day, 2008. Picture: ARCHANT

Further education consultant Christina Sadler said: "My favourite childhood book just has to be A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson - just beautiful, with delightful illustrations and always a relevant verse."

Christopher McEwen tweeted: "I grew up with GA Henty's historical novels, but they are probably not very PC now. A pity. A great way to develop a love of world history and the positives of the British Empire."

Watership Down - 'It is not Peter Rabbit'

Several Ipswich councillors have been discussing their favourite books. Sarah Barber said: "I have always loved Watership Down by Richard Adams." Fellow-councillor Neil MacDonald admires the same book, writing: "I read Watership Down many times in my final year of primary school. It's not just fluffy bunnies. It covers gassing of a warren by men, managed culling by a farmer, a fascist regime, fear and death. It is not Peter Rabbit."

Children at Hadleigh County Primary School dress up for World Book Day, 2008. Pictured are 

Jeanie Ebbs, 10 and Holly May Ray, five. 

Picture: ARCHANTChildren at Hadleigh County Primary School dress up for World Book Day, 2008. Pictured are Jeanie Ebbs, 10 and Holly May Ray, five. Picture: ARCHANT

Bryony Rudkin chose another poignant chldren's favourite. "When Hitler Sold Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr. The lessons of history perfectly presented for children."

Looking at adult books, Colin Kreidewolf opted for two very different titles. He commented: "The book I have bought on four occasions, because I keep passing it on, is Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, but i really enjoy rereading it. But my favourite is Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain, it helped shape my thoughts."


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