Children get lost in books, their imaginations able to run wild and create worlds that combine fantasy with reality along a spectrum which ranges from the most beautiful to horrifying.
Arguably, the power of literature is most effective on children, as it provides them with introductory experiences that not only serve to increase their literacy skills, but that gently (and sometimes subtly or secretly) educate our little ones, preparing them for the realities of life and inspiring beliefs, values and morality - the difference between right and wrong is often a key literary theme for children’s books.
With Children’s Book Week 2016 being celebrated as I write, from 31st October to 4th November, I thought a celebration of some of the best known children’s authors would be a fitting tribute to the influence of children’s literature on our society, so here are seven iconic authors to celebrate seven days of Children’s books!
7. Dr. Seuss
A multi-talented man, Dr. Seuss provided entertainment to generations of children with his wacky rhyming stories that transported readers into an alternative reality! His books and poetry have taken legendary status in the Western world, supported by his cartoon illustrations.
The works of Theodor Seuss Geisel have been converted into box office films, theatre productions and theme park features and a cult-like following outlives his work to this day.
Most Iconic Work: The Cat in the Hat (1957)
My Favourite Quote: “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”
6. E. B. White
Another American writer, E B White, produced several children’s classics – most notably Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little – although his early career was focused entirely away from children’s literature.
Both Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little have been made into iconic family feature films and his works continue to attract critical acclaim, with Charlotte’s Web voted as the top children’s novel in a 2012 survey of School Library Journal readers.
Most Iconic Work: Charlotte’s Web (1952)
My Favourite Quote: “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
5. C. S. Lewis
Irish writer Clive Staples Lewis, more famously known as C S Lewis, produced many fantasy novels which have become beloved works amongst children and adults alike.
His most famous works come in the form of The Chronicles of Narnia, a collection of seven fantasy tales which have achieved enormous critical acclaim throughout their published lifetime. Aside from his literary work, Lewis was also a notable Christian apologist and theologian.
Most Iconic Work: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (from The Chronicles of Narnia) (1950)
My Favourite Quote: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
4. David Walliams
Likely to be a surprise inclusion on this list, David Walliams is perhaps better known for his writing of and starring role in BBC comedy series Little Britain or even his talent-judging on ITV show Britain’s Got Talent.
It is clearly not his work on TV entertainment that has earned him a place on this list, however; instead it is how production of nine extremely well-received, illustrated children’s books since 2008 that have placed him here.
Illustrated by Tony Ross and Quentin Blake, Walliams’ books have proven to be a fabulous take on life that have entertained children and families across the UK leading some to describe him as “the new Roald Dahl”.
Most Iconic Work: Gangsta Granny (2011)
My Favourite Quote: “In Britain, a cup of tea is the answer to every problem.”
3. Julia Donaldson
Donaldson’s most notable work was hailed as “a modern classic” by the Observer in 1999 and since then, The Gruffalo has almost become a rite of passage as our little ones transform from toddlers to children.
Its publication heralded the start of a series of Julia Donaldson books, with the stunning illustrations of Max Scheffler accompanying her works. Her work has been adapted for stage and screen and continues to entertain families across the UK.
Most Iconic Work: The Gruffalo (1999)
My Favourite Quote: “"I opened a book and in I strode. Now nobody can find me."
2. J. K. Rowling
Her name has become synonymous with literary success and she is hailed as one of the most accomplished authors of the 21st Century. Rowling’s creation of Harry Potter, with a somewhat stirring backstory of her own life giving an interesting ‘overcoming adversity’ context to her work, has arguably led to one of the most successful franchises in literary history (with some commentators joking that her books have outsold the Bible!).
Films, toys, gifts, merchandise, clothing and many more Harry Potter-branded items have been spun off from the franchise, making it worth a staggering $24.8 billion!
Most Iconic Work: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)
My Favourite Quote: “We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better.”
1. Roald Dahl
Sometimes referred to as the World’s No.1 storyteller, Dahl’s works are arguably one of the greatest collections of children’s stories ever created. The fantasy worlds he created have become a staple of British literature, enjoyed by children and adults alike.
Many of his stories have been written into screenplays – some of which have been reproduced a number of times – and stage shows. His works were always supported by the imaginative cartoons of Quentin Blake and the pair created a legendary image for Dahl’s collection.
Most Iconic Work: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1964)
My Favourite Quote: “A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.”
What’s your favourite children’s book, or which children’s author do you admire? Let me know in the comments section below!