Stephen Michael King’s Baker’s Dozen – Classics you’ve read to your kids

Every now and then it’s nice to reflect and remember the golden moments of yesterday. And nothing conjures up warm, snugly memories better than a magic word or two, shared and cherished with those you love.

Stephen Michael KingWhen I asked children’s illustrator author, Stephen Michael King, what his reading list looked like, he trumped the idea with a list of classics reads, dredged up from his recollection of days spent reading them with his children.

Have a look. Do you recognise any of your favourites? Perhaps you’ve shared one or two of them yourself…

One dozen classic stories I’ve (Stephen Michael King) read with my children.

It was going to be ten but I had to add two more. Whoops three more . . . the title should read thirteen classic books I’ve read with my children. Here’s his baker’s dozen.

The Terrible underpants The Terrible Underpants – (with voices) You can’t say the name Wanda Linda without doing a silly voice. Kaz Cooke – Penguin Books

Green Eggs and Ham – I had to read every page in one breath. It’s lots of fun as the text grows and my face turns blue. Dr Seuss – HarperCollins

 Mr Magnolia – I love it, so my children had to love it too. Simple problem/perfect solution! I’ve read it easily three hundred times. It didn’t worry me if my children were already asleep. Quentin Blake – Random House UK

My Uncle is a Hunkle – My daughter asked me to read this at her preschool. I used my best ever cowboy voice. We must have read this book together about a hundred times. I feel like crying when I imagine her laughing in my arms. Lauren Child – Hachett Children’s Books

Where the Wild Things Are – I read this hundreds of times too. Its story and art are timeless but its design is what hypnotises me every time. Maurice Sendak – Harper Collins Inc.

The Hobbit – I read this to my son when he was in primary school and we were both so proud we read it together before the movie was released. My daughter read it to herself a few months before the movie’s release. She’s equally satisfied. JRR Tolkien – HarperCollins

Peter Pan – I read this with my daughter and we both loved how Peter killed pirates and yelled “Cock a Doodle Doo”. We love the movies but the book is an earthy adventure not to be missed. J M Barrie – Vintage

hover-car-racerHover Car Racer – My brilliant wife suggested I read this. If you want to introduce your son to books and you need to twist his dad’s arm to read . . . then this is the book. I had a lot of work on at the time but this book kept me connected. I read it once to my son, then to my daughter, and then my son asked me to read it again. Matthew Reilly – Pan Macmillan Australia

The Importance of Being Ernest – (with voices) Who would have guessed! What an experience! Father and daughter magic! I had a different voice for every character. Occasionally I would use the wrong voice or say a random stupid word. It was so much fun. Oscar Wilde – Penguin Group

Danny the Champion of the World – What can I say? I own an autographed copy. When I first read this book I wished I lived like Danny in a caravan with my dad. A Message to Children Who Have Read This Book – When you grow up and have children of your own, do please remember something important: a stodgy parent is no fun at all. What a child wants and deserves is a parent who is SPARKY. Roald Dahl. Roald Dahl– Random House UK

Midnite Midnite – (with illustration by Ralph Steadman). My Mum gave me this book. I read it when I was eight, nine or ten. Can’t remember exactly when! It was a joy to dust off the old copy and read it again. Over forty years after it was written, father and son had a rollicking good time! Randolph Stow – Penguin Books

Nicabobinus – I read this in a dusty corner when I worked in a children’s library and had to contain my laughter. Both my children read this book on their own steam. I heard waves of freeform laughter coming from their rooms. Terry Jones– Penguin Books

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase – I first read this because I admired the old ink illustration. I then chose to read it to my daughter because it has a great girl character and wolves. Joan Aiken – Vintage Children’s Classics

Thanks to SMK for this beautiful list, and Roald Dahl for his sage advice as always.

In future Classic Reads with your Kids posts, we’ll try to feature even more ‘classic Aussie reads’ too! Keep on reading.


Featured Author/Illustrator – Quentin Blake

Quentin Saxby Blake was born in Sidcup, Kent, in 1932. His first published drawing was for the satirical magazine Punch, at the tender age of 16. Studying English Literature, he went on to complete a post graduate teaching diploma before studying at the Chelsea School of Art, and eventually taught at the Royal College of Art for over twenty years.

Blake has illustrated more than 300 children’s books, some his own, and some for other authors like Roald Dahl, Russell Hoban, Elizabeth Bowen, Jane Aiken, Michael Rose, John Yeoman and Dr Seuss. His very first picture book was A Drink of Water by John Yeoman in 1960.

Making his living as an illustrator, lifelong, he has also been a BBC presenter on a children’s story telling programme – Jackanory – where he told stories and illustrated them live.

In 1993, Blake was commissioned to illustrate five Christmas stamps for Royal Mail, featuring scenes from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. In recent years, he has worked as Curator for such esteemed organisations as the National Gallery, the British Library and the Musée du Petit Palais in Paris.

Illustrating David Walliam’s debut book – The Boy in the Dress – in 2009, as well as Walliam’s most recent book is Mr Stink.

Books both written and illustrated by Quentin Blake include:

Quentin Blake’s Ten Frogs

Quentin Blake’s Nursery Rhyme Book

Mister Magnolia – winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal

The Green Ship


Fantastic Daisy Artichoke

Mrs Armitage, Queen of the Road

Quentin Blake’s work has won numerous awards including the Kate Greenaway Medal, the Whitbread Award, the Emil/Kurt Maschler Award, the international Bologna Ragazzi Prize and the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration in 2002. In 1999, he was appointed the first ever Children’s Laureate, and his book Laureate’s Progress recorded his many activities during this two-year tenure.

This formidable talent loves drawing things that move, although he says cars can be difficult unless they are a bit ‘broken down’. He loves to interpret emotion in his characters by imagining the very same things happening to him, though this does cause him to pull faces as he draws. He never married and has no kids.