13 Sep 2011

Matilda's Reading List

"Can I help you, Matilda?" she asked.

"I'm wondering what to read next, Matilda said. "I've finished all the children's books."

"You mean you've looked at the pictures?"
"Yes, but I've read the books as well."

Mrs Phelps looked down at Matilda from her great height and Matilda looked right back up at her.

"I thought some were very poor," Matilda said, "but others were lovely. I liked The Secret Garden best of all. It was full of mystery. The mystery of the room behind the closed door and the mystery of the garden behind the big wall."

Mrs Phelps was stunned. "Exactly how old are you Matilda?" she asked.

"Four years and three months," Matilda said.

Mrs Phelps was more stunned than ever, but she had the sense not to show it. "What sort of book would you like to read next?" she asked.

Matilda said, "I would like a really good one that grown-ups read. A famous one. I don't know any names."...

..."Try this," she said at last. "It's very famous and very good. If it's too long for you, just let me know and I'll find something shorter and a bit easier."

"Great Expectations," Matilda read, "by Charles Dickens. I'd love to try it."...

...Within a week, Matilda had finished Great Expectations which in that edition contained four hundred and eleven pages. "I loved it," she said to Mrs Phelps. "Has Mr Dickens written any others?"

"A great number," said the astounded Mrs Phelps. "Shall I chose you another?"
Jemimah is reading Matilda by Roald Dahl. I know lots of parents don't approve, but I do - I think Roald's books are just fantabulous fun. The BFG is Jemimah's and my favourite - mainly for the splendiferous neologisms that come from the giant's mouth, but Matilda's up there as well for its sheer pleasurable naughtiness!!

In honour of Rould Dahl's birthday - which would have been today - I thought we might have a bit of a look at Matilda's Reading List. Which ones have you read? I've read the predictable ones (the orange ones). What about you? Are you, like me, upstaged by a four-year-old, albeit a precocious and fictitious one?
Over the next six months, under Mrs Phelps's watchful and compassionate eye, Matilda read the following books:

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Gone to Earth by Mary Webb
Kim by Rudyard Kipling
The Invisible Man by H G Wells
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Good Companions by J B Priestly
Brighton Rock by Graham Green
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Wanna play?

By the way, if you haven't read The BFG out loud to your kids, you really must - it is such fun! You should probably read Matilda as well.

Happy Birthday, Mr Dahl.


  1. Well, I didn't realise the timing would be such, but we finished our first official (not including picture books or Bible stories) family read-aloud yesterday - Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate factory. We had a great time reading it, I should post about it. :) Not the most literary of choices, but it was fun, and it does have a lexile score of 810!

    I loved Matilda and the BFG as a child :)

  2. One of my son's favorite books is "George's Marvelous Medicine." It is a book I hate because I think it is rather dangerous to mess around with somebody's medicine.

    When I was a kid, my favorite of his was "Danny Champion of the World." It is probably his most toned-down kids' book.

  3. I don't like Dahl~ not on moral grounds; he just doesn't appeal to me in any literary way. I've tried because several of mine have liked him but there you have it.I don't like one of the most popular children's authors. :(

  4. I get so sick of 'we don't allow our kids to read X' IT'S FICTION! Get over it! Kids are way, way too smart to take it as anything but FUN. My list:

    Jane Eyre, Pride & Prejudice [Old Man & See was read to us in 6th grade--never get away with that today!] Grapes of Wrath I did not read but endured in high school English.

    Animal Farm was also read to us in 6th grade by the same fabulous teacher. Probably to hard for today's 6th graders who would be forced to pass the stupid AR test over it or write to prompts about it or other standardized testing junk-uctation.

    Great post! My kids loved Dahl and happily had a brave teacher who let the class read it. Yes she got gripes, sadly only from Christian parents (sigh) Why do some Christians have to be like this--it's a book. That's it. By protesting, etc., you just make kids want to read it!!

  5. Oh, we watched "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" today to celebrate! Roald Dahl wrote the screenplay and we thought of you all as well, since Jemimah is a main character. Should have known you were celebrating as well!

    We tried to watch Matilda last year but it was too intense for M. Roald Dahl is most likely his favorite author.

    I have read Nicholas Nickleby (I'm incredibly fond of Dickens) and The Invisible Man (assigned reading in high school), otherwise my list is exactly the same as yours. Yes, put to shame by a fictitious four-year-old.

  6. I must have missed the memo about Roald Dahl being a no-no to read! We love him in this house and Mr8 has devoured his books over the last few months. At the moment he is reading 'BFG'.

  7. Chortling aloud at your memo comment, Jo!!!

  8. Heh heh! I am picturing you chortling. One day I'll hear you chortle in real life over a glass of wine....I'm sure we'd have lots to talk about......xo

  9. Well Jo, I must have missed that memo too because he is a beloved favorite in our house. Dare I say Logan's favorite author. All of his books are well worn around her with The Fantastic Mr. Fox being the favorite choice by Logan & Matilda , the favorite by Madison.


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