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Ling Tang / © Culture Trip
Ling Tang / © Culture Trip

Culture Trip's Editors Share Their First Childhood Reads for World Book Day

Picture of Matthew Janney
UK Books Editor
Updated: 2 March 2018

Culture Trip staff remember their most important, memorable and formative childhood reads, in celebration of World Book Day 2018.

In Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s renowned work The Little Prince, he writes: “All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.” As adults, it is true that we rarely venture back into the depths of our childhood memories, caught up in the everyday flotsam and jetsam of adult life. But when we do, it offers each of us a moment of perspective, a chance to see the world from a different angle, and admire the ways in which we’ve simultaneously transformed so drastically and remained so stubbornly the same. To mark this year’s World Book Day, now celebrated in over 100 countries around the world, here are the books that nurtured the imagination of our editors, from Roald Dahl and Oscar Wilde, to adventures in the Met in New York City and a football pitch on a WWI battlefield.



Cover courtesy of Macmillan

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

‘I first read this book when I was eight years old and I still can’t get it out of my head. It’s an introspective, existential journey of a girl named Sal on a road trip with her grandparents after her mother’s death, who encounters a strange new friend named Phoebe.’ —Amber Snider, US Home & Design Editor 

Monster Goes to the Museum by Ellen Blance and Ann Cook

‘I vividly remember this series being read to us at nursery. The particular instalment about going to the museum stood out, and was the first one I borrowed from the library and read to myself. I think reading this, combined with watching Ghostbusters when I was far too young and impressionable, explains my interest in all things unexplained. It probably also explains my previous career as a paranormal investigator… but that’s a different story…’ —Cassam Looch, UK Film & TV Editor

How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired

How Tom Beat Captain Norjak

Cover courtesy of Walker Books

Sportsmen by Russell Hoban

Captain Najork: I’d be lying if I said Quentin Blake’s illustrations weren’t the initial attraction, but the thing that sticks in mind is that it was a story about playing games. They were extremely creative, completely original and felt like games that you would invent rather than being told about. Alfie Gets In First: My brother and I used to get locked out of our house a few times when our granny looked after us, so there was definitely some excitement that the same thing had happened to us in a book that we were reading.’ —Luke Bradshaw, UK Sports Editor

The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde

‘I read it line by line with my mother, sitting on the carpet by her bedroom. It’s a gruesome tale, poetically. The imagery stayed with me over the years as it was very powerful moment to discover storytelling.’ —Jill Di Donato, US Fashion Editor

Cover courtesy of Puffin Books

Matilda by Roald Dahl

‘I couldn’t wait to get home after school and curl up with one of the Roald Dahl books – I devoured each and every one of them, loving everything from Willy Wonka’s magical chocolate factory to the adventures of my ultimate heroine at the time, Matilda. His books really captured my imagination – aided by the beautiful and often-hilarious illustrations of Quentin Blake, of course.’ —Charlotte Luxford, UK Home & Design Editor

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

‘The first book I read myself was Stellaluna by Janell Cannon. I remember being captivated by the sweet story and beautiful images.’ —Claire Lancaster, Tech & Entrepreneurship Editor 

Cover courtesy of OUP

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

‘It’s the most atmospheric and stirring adventure story I’ve ever read (though Treasure Island runs it close) and it bequeathed me an everlasting love of the Scottish Highlands and Islands.’ —Graham Fuller, US Film & TV Editor

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was one of the first long books that I read myself, and was the first book that I wanted to wish myself into. I was desperate to be a Pevensie. The idea of being able to stroll into a magical world by pushing your way past a rack of fur coats is so seductive that I used to check the back of every wardrobe, just in case Narnia was lurking there. While I now find the allegory of the story mildly problematic, the characters and world that C. S. Lewis created are dramatic and timeless. The book helped to introduce me to concepts like death, kindness and doing what’s right, but what really sold me both then and now is the amazing story and satisfying ending.’ —Alice Johnston, UK Food Editor

Crusade in Jeans cover image

Cover courtesy of Baker & Taylor

Crusade in Jeans by Thea Beckman

‘With hindsight, my first trip to Jerusalem.’ —Kris Naudts, CEO & Founder

 Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

‘My parents gave me a big hardback copy of it, illustrated with these surrealist Magritte-style pictures that fit perfectly with the dream-like, psychedelic quality of the story. I must have read it a hundred times. It made such an impression on me that it’s still one of my faves to this day.’ – Esme Benjamin, US Wellness Editor

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince is one of those books you never forget. It’s written for children but it also has these profound philosophical lessons about love and loss – the most important being don’t ever become a dull grown-up. It’s only when you re-read it as an adult that you fully appreciate its many hidden and beautiful layers.’ —Ann Lee, UK Music Editor

War Game by Michael Foreman


Cover courtesy of Pavilion Children’s Books

‘As a young boy I adored football. Naturally I was drawn to books about that subject, and though I read many, War Game was the first that really grabbed me by the heart. One Christmas day, set in the bleak trenches of WWI, British and German soldiers peacefully put down their weapons, and emerged onto No Man’s Land for a spirited game of football. I am equally moved by the story now as I was when I first encountered it years ago.’ —Matthew Janney, UK Books Editor

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

‘It’s such an engaging mix of adventure and mystery in New York City where I grew up, and The Met, where the story unfolds, has always been my haven of choice. Who knows – maybe that’s what sparked my fascination with art!’ —Rachel Gould, US Art & Design Editor


Click here to find out more about World Book Day 2018.