Ranting Dragon’s Favorite Children’s Novel

Did you grow up reading books? Are there any particular books you read as a child that you have fond memories of? Our staff members definitely have such books. Here are our favorite children’s novels:


Watership Down by Richard Adams
By Michelle
I remember reading it when I was very young, and then I read it again more recently. Both times I absolutely loved it. It’s one of those rare children’s books that you can revisit repeatedly and still get something new out of the experience. It’s not merely a children’s tale about talking rabbits; it’s a work of heroic fantasy that draws on classical texts such as Homer’s Odyssey and explores darker themes such as war, tyranny, reason vs. blind emotion, and the repression of the individual by the state. The animated movie wasn’t bad either, but I think I horrified my peers with it as a child. It was a little more violent than the stuff Disney put out.
There’s a Witch Under the Stairs by Maggie Smith
By Rebecca
While it isn’t actually a novel, this children’s picture book was beautifully written and illustrated. One of the first fantasies I’ve ever read, this book was definitely responsible for sparking my imagination to expand beyond the text of the story and to imagine more details. I wouldn’t be the fantasy-loving aspiring author I am today if it wasn’t for that book. And unlike many sources of fond childhood memories, this one is still great to revisit as an adult.
The Lost Years of Merlin by T.A. Barron
By Garrett
There are many children’s novels I enjoyed, like the Jedi Apprentice series by Jude Watson and the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. But if I have to choose just one, I’ll go with T.A. Barron’s The Lost Years of Merlin series. While not my introduction to Arthurian literature, the series filled in that gap of Merlin’s childhood and teenage years that is missing in most every other tale. I also blame these books for jump-starting my fantasy addiction. These books mean so much to me even after all these years—every couple of years or so, I go back and reread them.  Merlin and the Isle of Fincayra will always be there to help me escape back to my childhood for a short time.
Redwall by Brian Jacques, illustrated by Gary Chalk
By Michael
I haven’t read, touched or even seen a copy of Brian Jacques’ Redwall since I read it in primary school, but I remember being absolutely enchanted.
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
By Stephan
Confession: I absolutely hated reading as a kid. As a result, I didn’t read many books until I was a teenager. I went back and read some of them recently, though, including How to Train Your Dragon—because that animated film was absolutely amazing. The book isn’t as good as the film, if you ask me, but it’s still good enough to get my vote.


What’s your favorite children’s novel? Let us know in the comments below!

About Stephan van Velzen

Stephan van Velzen
A 31 year-old Communications student, Stephan loves publicity and design, particularly web design. When he’s not designing websites, he can be found in a comfy chair reading a fantasy book. In The Ranting Dragon, he has found a way to combine these passions and discover a new love for writing to boot. Stephan lives in a small town in The Netherlands with his wife Rebecca, an editor for The Ranting Dragon, and their two cats.

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  1. Which Witch by Eva Ibbotson was one of my favorite books as a kid. 😀 I was so happy when I found it in the used bookstore a few months back, and it was just as entertaining reading it as an adult.

  2. “Watership Down” is hardly a children’s novel. Note the violence you mention in the adaptation. It’s there in the original.

    • Oh yes, the violence is definitely there in the book. But I didn’t read it aloud to my friends. I’d argue that a lot of the older children’s books contain parts that we would probably be considered too dark for children, and that “Watership Down” was written with children in mind even if not every parent may consider it appropriate. The copies I’ve seen lately are almost always printed as children’s classics (not that the classification itself means much). I’ll admit that I read some books that wouldn’t have been considered appropriate for my age group when I was young, I’m just not sure this was one of them. Also, none of them traumatised me quite as much as Narnia which few would argue was not for children (but that’s another story). 

      • I first read Watership Down when I was about seven
        or eight and I’d agree that it is a children’s book. You are severely removed
        from the violence by the fact that these are animals not people who are experiencing
        it and as someone who has read it numerous times through the course of their
        life I can assure you that when you are young and reading it your mind does not
        conjure up the same graphicness as it does when you read when you are older.

  3. The Hobbit. End of story :D.

  4. The Wind in the Willows

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