Forty years of bedtime stories

My son Tom, born in 1977, was part of an early generation of children to be brought up on top-notch picture books. Puffin Picture Books, at £1.25 each, were an affordable treat for all of us. We didn’t tire of reading him ‘The elephant and the bad baby’, or ‘Not now, Bernard’, or anything illustrated by Quentin Blake or Allan Ahlberg.

The books we all loved were passed on to Elinor, then ten years later, to Emily.

Then they were carefully packed away for years. Elinor (aka Fanny the Champion of the World) married and had twins. Out came the boxes of books for Alex and Ben to enjoy.

Then these books, some almost as old as Tom himself, came full circle. His son William is enjoying them as much as his dad ever did.

Last night, this is what William picked to have read to him. Though there’s no need really. He knows everything off by heart.

24 thoughts on “Forty years of bedtime stories”

  1. Oh yes fabulous books. One of my daughter’s favourites was ‘Not now Bernard’ which through some strange contortion is known in our family as ‘Not now Bo Bo’!! So lovely to keep the originals and reuse with future generations. 😊

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  2. It’s wonderful isn’t it watching your grandchildren enjoy the same books and toys your children had? Our son loved The Berenstain Bears’ Goodilocks and the Three Bears, The Little Red Hen and The Gingerbread Man. All of our grandchildren have had it read to them bar the youngest, who is two. Sadly the book is so dog-eared and worn it resembles some ancient medieval text, the pages so worn and thin they almost resemble tissue paper. And so, sadly, I have had to retire it. But his other favourites, The Mister Men, are still going strong, and our daughter’s favourites, The Famous Five and The Secret Seven, have all been read by her sons. It is heartening to see that there are still book readers coming through the generations.

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  3. I don’t know these books at all! But they look really cool. I can’t imagine an American children’s book, right now, featuring a bear that eats small children, though . . . I love that these books have lasted so long in your family.

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    1. So do I. The book that features Algy and the Bear also features Tiny Tim, who ‘died last night with a bubble in his throat’, so we expect our children to be made of stern stuff!

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      1. I’m afraid I can’t quite stomach Tiny Tim as it is and I always slightly amend the words. In fact, a lot of nurseries etc now do an alternative version with “I have a little turtle, his name was Tiny Tim”.

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      2. I do agree about Tiny Tim, but my squeamishness doesn’t extend to Algy, which I have no problem at all with. So …. nurseries think that drowning turtles is OK, eh?

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  4. Oh this is a wonderful post! My children loved those books too and although there are still many beautiful picture books being published for young children, those from this era will always be the best in my view! My Tom (two of our children share names it seems!) adored The Very Hungry Caterpillar and at the age of 2 could correct me if I had not only a word wrong but the emphasis. Everything had to be just right. I kept a selection of their best-loved Christmas books which my grandsons now enjoy.

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    1. Oh, yes, despite many new entries on the block – Jon Klassen and Emily Gravett are particular favourites – the old ones are the best for me. And we chose all the best names for our children too, it seems 😉

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  5. Burglar Bill, the Jolly Postman and the ghastly (my judgement, Jonathan loved it endlessly) Mike Mulligan’s Steam Shovel + many more. Delighted to hear & read that “Fanny…” is doing so well.

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      1. “MM’s Steam Shovel” was an essential for Saturday breakfast with Daddy for many months. At 37 he still speaks of it with fondness; the rest of us loathed it!

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  6. I just love all these children’s books and have kept all the best ones – because I can! My elder daughter loved all the scary stories like Algy and the Bear best but my younger one loved the Very Hungry Caterpillar which we had to act out every week when I changed the bedclothes. The duvet was the cocoon from which the butterfly emerged.
    I love to think of your books being used again and again by all your family.

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