I don’t read as much as I would like to. When we lived at our apartment I would often read while riding the elliptical. It was a great way to exercise both my body and mind, even if I was only reading A Song of Ice and Fire or The Dark Tower. All throughout my life I’ve gone through phases of being a voracious reader. I might spend six months reading incessantly and then go a year without picking up a book. I enjoy reading, but these days I feel like I’d fall asleep if I even tried cracking open a book at night.
One author who always got me into the mood to read was Roald Dahl. We read a lot of his books in elementary school and junior high. His creations like Willy Wonka and the Big Friendly Giant filled my imagination as I escaped to the whimsical worlds he created. Today would have been Dahl’s 100th birthday and, in honor of the man who has brought so much joy to the young and the young at heart, here are some of my favorite works of his.
I’ve never liked scary movies, shows or books. Just like I pushed through to finish Stranger Things, I pushed through The Witches. I remember my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Zollman, reading us The Witches in class. I was captivated by the story and would always leave school wary of the women around me. Some argued that the book was misogynistic, but it didn’t make me hate women, just people who wanted to kill children. That year I got my own copy of the book at the book fair so I could read it whenever I wanted. I don’t know how many times I read it, but I know I enjoyed it every time.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Along with The Witches, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is my favorite Roald Dahl book. It’s difficult to separate the book from the movies because I’ve seen the movies so much, especially Gene Wilder’s version. The most impressive thing about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the characters that Dahl created. Charlie is fine, but Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde, Veruca Salt and Mike Teavee are some of the most memorable literary creations of all time. Dahl perfectly captured their vices and offered a cautionary tale for all his young readers. Willy Wonka is great, but those four naughty children stand out even more than that crazy confectioner.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
In all honesty I don’t really remember the book Fantastic Mr. Fox. I remember a little about Boggis, Bunce and Bean, but that’s it. Fantastic Mr. Fox made my list, though, because I absolutely love the movie. Wes Anderson is probably my favorite director and I was astounded that he brought all of his quirks, sensibilities and talent to a Claymation children’s movie. I have had people tell me that they don’t like Fantastic Mr. Fox and I look at them like they just told me they thought the earth was flat. Anderson not only created a great movie, but also captured all of the joy, whimsy and heart that made me fall in love with Roald Dahl’s books to begin with.
I can’t wait to read Roald Dahl’s books to Clara. These are some of my favorites, but I love the sweetness of James and the Giant Peach and the happy ending in Matilda. Alycia is a much more avid reader than I am, so I certainly hope Clara gets that trait from her mom.
Which of Roald Dahl’s books were your favorites?