I grew up on a diet of fairytales and magic. Our house was a haven for the imagination. My parents were big believers in reading to us, so each night, we were transported to whimsical lands with larger than life characters and we joined them on their adventures - all to the sound of my mother's voice.
Sharing those precious moments gave me more than just the love of a good book. It opened up the opportunity to realise how far you can stretch that imagination of ours.
Now, I love nothing more (that is a lie, I love chocolate more) than reading to my three little bedheads as often as life as an exhausted working mum allows.
So I have brought out the big guns; The Faraway Tree series, Roald Dahl and Beatrix Potter. I will admit that my fingers are ITCHING for the day I can introduce them to the Sweet Valley Twins. (Although, at that stage, me reading it to them would just be weird.)
Sit back and allow yourself to indulge in some serious nostalgia with these sweet books that will remind you of your own childhood bedtime:
1. The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
This series of books by Enid Blyton was EVERYTHING. It's the story about children who find a very special tree in a forest. It is so big that it stretches right up to the clouds. As the children climb it, they find a plethora of magical lands - The Land of Birthdays, The Land of Do-As-You-Please, The Land of Sweets - all inhabited by strange and amusing characters.
Moonface, Dame Washalot and Saucepan Man became some of my favourite childhood characters and anyone who read them fell in love with Silky the fairy. Last year, fans of the series were delighted to hear that The Faraway Tree stories are being adapted for the big screen. My children now adore these stories too, and we spend hours at the park searching for a tree that could possibly be the one from the Enchanted Forest. Anyone else remember Dame Slap?
2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
We didn't care how his name was pronounced - we just couldn't get enough of his books.
From the genius tricks played in the Twits and Matilda's magical powers, these books were rocket fuel for our imagination. Now, I am reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to my children. Spoiler Alert: Charlie gets to keep the factory.
As an adult, I think I appreciate these books a little more. What a wonderful idea for a book - children having adventures in a giant sweet factory! The illustrations by Quentin Blake catapult me immediately back to sitting on my bed as a child with my covers up around my face as my mum read the part where Augustus Gloop falls into the chocolate lake.
3. The Secret Seven by Enid Blyton
Oh, how I wanted to join these super-sleuths.
They were always on the trail of some seriously spooky characters to solve the mystery - all from their back garden shed. Do you remember Peter (the society's leader), Janet (Peter's sister), Jack, Barbara, George, Pam and Colin? Remember the exploits of Jack's sister Susie and her best friend Binkie? They hated the Secret Seven and spend their time playing tricks to humiliate them (although much of this was obviously fuelled by their almost obsessive desire to belong to the society. Because....who wouldn't?)
Then, there was Scamper the dog - who would always manage to help out at the exact moment he was needed most. My children now vow that they are calling our future hypothetical dog, Scamper. They love the adventures of these children, especially with blurbs on the back that read:
"A pearl thief and a strange man in the Little Thicket lead the Secret Seven to a circus field. But what is the Secret of the lions and what did One-Leg William have to do with the burglary?"
4. The Blue Book of Bedtime Stories by Ladybird
There was a yellow book and a red book of bedtime stories in this series. Mine are practically falling apart, but they symbolise a wonderful period in my life. My children's favourite story from this is 'The Mouse who couldn't eat cheese". Does it bring back memories?
One of my favourites is about Nonni the garden gnome.
5. The Garden Gang by Jayne Fisher
This is the reason I actually liked vegetables. The adventures of a bunch of sprouts and pears. Jayne Fisher was only nine years old when she wrote the books. Her stories featured charming, if rather obvious, characters. Oliver Onion has a BO problem, Colin Cucumber was rude, Penelope Strawberry was snooty and vain and Roger Radish was "awfully, awfully, awfully shy".
Needless to say, all her stories ended happily and there wasn't a food processor in sight.
I'm proud of my vintage collection of childhood books and I hope my children get as much from them as I did.