1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
Julia Eccleshare, Ed.
Universe, 2009

Chances are that you’ve already heard of the voluminous list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. (I’ve spent even more time starting at this list, thanks to the 1% Well-Read Challenge, which requires that you read 13 of these between Aprils, ending April 30, 2011.)

Imagine my delight/horror to discover that there is a version of this for children’s books. Yes, indeed. I’ll pause here so you can deal with your hyperventilating. I understand. Completely.

Although books of booklists are inevitably best bought and pawed over, my first exposure to this one was thanks to the public library. So this will be a rather cursory treatment, just to give a hint of the content therein.

It is divided into five sections, organized by the ages for which the editors believe the book would make ideal reading.

First, ages 0-3. This section consists of the fewest number of pages, beginning with The Little Engine that Could, by Watty Piper and Lois Lenski (1930), and ending with Julian the Rabbit by Nicoletta Costa (2001). Yes, they are arranged chronologically, by publication date.

Next, ages 3+, beginning with The Quangle Wangle’s Hat by Edward Lear (1876) and ending with Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers (2005). And, third, the section for ages 5+, beginning with Traditional Chinese Folktales (221-206 BCE) and ending with The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon by Mini Grey (2006).

I didn’t make notes from these sections because basically the descriptions made me want to park myself in the largest children’s library that I could find and methodically read through each selection. But when it came to the fourth section, that for ages 8+, I did make some notes.

This is the section with far-and-away the greatest number of pages devoted to it, so I jotted down a few titles, mentally adding series of stars to indicate urgency for these, even though I still wanted to read every single one of the books discussed.

Here’s my list from this section; are there any here which you would especially recommend?

Emilio Salgari’s The Black Corsair (1898)
Juan Ramon Jimenez’s Platero and I (1914)
Eve Garnett’s The Family From One End Street (1937)
William Pene DuBois’ The Twenty-one Balloons (1947)
Elizabeth Goudge’s The Little White Horse (1946)
Ronald Searle’s Hurrah for St. Trinian’s (1948)
Paul Berna’s A Hundred Million Francs (1955)
Gillian Avery’s The Warden’s Niece (1957)
Michael Ende’s Jim Bulton and Luke the Engine Driver (1960)
Clive King’s Stig of the Dump (1963)
Alan Garner’s Elidor (1965)
Istvan Fekete’s The Little Fox (1966)
Maurice Gee’s Under the Mountain (1979)
Qin Wenjun’s Schoolboy Jia Li (1982)
Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse (1982)
Philip Pullman’s Clockwork (1995)
Luis Sepulveda’s The Story of a Seagull (1996)
Neil Gaiman’s The Wolves in the Walls (2003)

PS Tomorrow, my list from the section which is considered ideal for ages 12+.