“This is a very personal list and, for me, evocative. It consists of stories that my children – Lauren, Charlie and Tom – repeatedly demanded and that I loved reading to them. Unilaterally and high-handedly, I’ve omitted those books that delighted them but bored me comatose. It pretty much defeats the purpose of bedtime reading if you fall asleep before the kids do. And you tend to wake up with a matchbox stuck on the end of your nose and/or a potty on your head.
“I was taking my first uncertain steps towards writing for children when my own were young. Reading aloud to them taught me a great deal when I had a great deal to learn. It taught me elementary things about rhythm and pace, the necessary musicality of text. It taught me that books, not just their characters, have voices, and that some are more trustworthy than others. Although I now spend most of my time writing novels for teenagers and adults, “readaloudability” is still a criterion I try to adhere to. A sentence that clots in your mouth is unlikely to flow in your mind.
“Anyway, here’s the list. Most of it will be familiar, no doubt. There’s nothing recent here; my youngest child is now 25 and far too big to sit on my lap.”