I am writer, and pretty much have been since I could hold a crayon. But before that I was (and always will be) a reader. I think it’s such a shame that as adults, we forget about the books we loved as kids. And I know there’s an argument for the fact that there are so many books out there to stimulate our adult brains, and that we should focus on that. But I say that’s just a bit boring, really. Sometimes you need magic and swordfights and general delight just for the hell of it.

So, here are some recommendations to get you started on your own great Childhood Rediscovery and Reinvigoration Project.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

It’s a delight. It was in childhood, and it is in adulthood. The difference in reading this book as an adult is that you appreciate the intricate political and social commentaries that play out as Alice romps through Wonderland. So, you can either delve into it as an intellectual exercise, or just sit back and let the joy and wonder soothe your cynical adult brain.

Peter Pan by JM Barrie

We all think we’ve read Peter Pan, and we’re often wrong. Not only did Disney lie to us, but so did Julia Roberts, Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams in Hook. Pirates, fairies, lost boys and a ticking crocodile come to mind when we think of Peter Pan, but really it’s all about mortality, innocence and facing reality. It’s heartbreaking and gorgeous and something that is entirely different to an adult as it is to a child.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making by Catherynne M Valente

Read it if only for the title. This book is possibly the most delightful thing I have read. It follows a human girl, September, who is taken to Fairyland by a wind (who wears a lovely velvet smoking jacket) and who gets up to all sorts of mischief. Favourite things in this one include her best friend the Wyverary (half Wyvern, half Library), who is intent on becoming a librarian of sections A-through-L, and a scene in a bathhouse that made me weep, involving being washed in courage.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Look. I don’t generally do pictures. Never have. Even as a little kid I would get so cross at pictures in books for implanting things into my imagination. But this cross-artform book is forgiven for its gorgeous drawings, which makes up half of the story. It’s one of those books that makes you glow just to hold it – I’m also not usually into hardcovers, but this beautiful thing demands it. And no. Seeing the film Hugo doesn’t count.

The Wee Free Men (series) by Terry Pratchett

It’s part of his famous Discworld series, but it is often billed as a kids/young adult book because it follows the journey of a girl witch as she comes of age in Discworld (which, for those unacquainted, is a parallel universe consisting of a flat disc balanced atop four giant elephants who sit on a giant turtle who is floating through space. Don’t ask.). Tiffany attracts the “help” of the Nac Mac Feegles, a clan of blue Scottish fairies who have been kicked out of Fairyland for being drunk and disorderly, and whose version of diplomacy involves a kick to the groin. Think Smurfs crossed with Billy Connolly – why wouldn’t you want to hang out with them? The Wee Free Men series is full of Pratchett’s trademark philosophy and warm-hearted narrative, but it’s also the most hilarious thing I’ve ever read.

Laura Hartnell is the MWF Administrator. She has written for ABC News Online, Birdee and The Hoopla. She has also written and produced several plays and has directed theatre and community arts projects. When she’s not reading or writing (or festival administrating), Laura can usually be found baking, singing or dancing (often at the same time).

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