Children's Day: Indian writers on the books they grew up with

Nov 14, 2015, 10:20 IST | Dipanjan Sinha

These Indian writers have taken children on wonderful journeys with their stories. On Children’s Day, we invite them to return to childhood and recollect the gems they read and loved.

Anita Nair is the author of Living Next Door To Alise and Adventures of Nonu, the Skating Squirrel among other works

Books by Enid Blyton, Richmal Compton, Louisa M Alcott, Susan Coolidge, Hans Christian Andersen, Brothers Grimm, Mali, Madhavan Nair, Premchand, Vishnu Sharma, RK Narayan among many others remain my favourites.
Fables of Fun and Fancy by Mali Madhavan Nair is another favourite. It is a book I must have read every few. I would never tire of it.

My earliest memories of reading are of me as an eight-year-old girl in pigtails and soda bottle glasses holding a book so close to her nose that she could sniff the old, sweet smell of pages. A spell is cast by words and pictures of the book, The Coral Island. Somewhere beyond the suburb she lived in, a little military township, the fantastic world of the island was waiting for her.

Khyrunnisa A, created the popular comic character, Butterfingers for the children’s magazine Tinkle. She has written two children’s novels Howzzat Butterfingers! and Goal, Butterfingers!

Enid Blyton is a favourite, because her books were all over the place, and of course, because they were exciting and interesting. Richmal Crompton and her fun-filled William series, Jerome K Jerome, Gerald Durrell, PG Wodehouse and Angela Brazil’s school books also rate high. Abridged classics were also much loved. There were others too like Louisa M Alcott, Susan Coolidge, Edith Nesbit — the list is long. I enjoyed Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat and read it repeatedly. PG Wodehouse’s A Prefect’s Uncle was another favourite as was E Nesbit’s The Railway Children.

I come from a large family; I am the youngest of eight children, seven of them girls. Having so many older sisters, all of whom loved reading, meant I would get a book only after the others had finished it. But that didn’t stop us from fighting to keep possession of a book, with books tearing in the process — very helpful, for then we could share the parts.

Jane De Suza is the author of Super Zero and The Spy Who Lost Her Head

Any animal book and, of course, the William series by Richmal Crompton, which became a favourite. I also enjoyed The Call of the Wild by Jack London.

I loved wildlife books and enacted the stories out to my dog. So there I was, a kid, and there he was — a dragon, a wolf or a stallion. Most oftesn, he just fell asleep in the middle of my drama.

Ranjit Lal is the author of Caterpillar Who Went on a Diet and Other Stories, When Banshee Kissed Bimbo and Other Bird Stories among other works.

Some of my memorable books (not in order of preference) include, The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling, The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emma Orczy, The William series by Richmal Crompton, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, The Malgudi (Swamy) stories by RK Narayan and Gerald Durrell’s books.

I enjoyed Enid Blyton’s adventure and mystery series too but couldn’t stop wondering why she went on and on about sunny days and potted meat sandwiches.

Samit Basu is the author of the series, The Adventures Of Stoob and Turbulence among other works.

Alice in Wonderland, Sukumar Ray’s work and The Lord of the Rings. Each of these books made me want to read more, and write myself, and were a fundamental part of the lifelong ambition of being a writer.

The ability of books to get inside your brain and make it fizz is unparalleled.

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