Biff, Chip and Kipper from Oxford Reading Tree – If you learned to read in the 80s it was most likely with the help of Biff, Chip and Kipper. The trio of Robinson kids first burst onto the reading scene in 1985 with a set of 30 stories aimed at pupils aged four to nine. The magic key, kept in a box, was the children’s passport to adventure – everything from troll-fights in an underground cavern to finding the ‘Fountain of Youth’.
What we know now: There’s now over 300 titles in the series, which is used by four in every five schools in the UK. In 2000 it was made into a television series produced by the BBC.
‘The Garden Gang’ by Jayne Fisher vs ‘The Munch Bunch’ by Denis Bond – Who knew the torrid life of Lizzy Leek or the trials and tribulations of being Pam Parsnip could ignite a generation of schoolkids? In the late 70s and early 80s The Garden Gang and The Munch Bunch, with their humanoid qualities, were the rock ‘n’ roll stars of the fresh produce reading sector – inspiring almost 40 individual stories and even a yoghurt tie-in series in the mid-90s.
What we know now: The Munch Bunch yoghurt brand name continues to this day under the Nestlé umbrella. However, the ‘fruit and veg’ characters have been superseded by a cow mascot named Munch.
‘Little Miss’ Series by Roger Hargreaves – Well before the Spice Girls had trail-blazed through the 90s in their buffalo trainers, our first taste of ‘Girl Power’ came from the ‘Little Misses’: Hargreaves’ series of feisty technicoloured one-dimensional role models. From ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ to ‘Little Miss Brainy’, there’s 42 ‘Little Misses’ in the series – all with a single personality trait and a morality lesson to impart.
What we know now: Who knew ‘Little Miss Bossy’ would be a social pariah in 2015? Several high-profile women including Beyoncé are calling for a ban on the word “bossy”. Time for a rebrand to ‘Little Miss Boss’!
‘Flat Stanley’ by Jeff Brown – Today it would be an open-and-shut case (after all, ‘where there’s blame, there’s a claim’), but in the pre-compensation era, Stanley Lambchop adapts remarkably well to life after being squashed completely flat in his sleep by a giant pin-board. And who wouldn’t with larks to be had such as mailing yourself to your mates or slipping beneath doors? But once the fun and japes come to an end and Stanley realises (shock, horror!) he is different to other people, his existential crisis begins…
What we know now: So enduring is this 1964 classic, which inspired five decades’ worth of spin-offs, there’s now an online Flat Stanley community. Log on here to see ‘Where in the world is Stanley?’ Download your Flat Stanley app; and even follow him on Twitter.
‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret’ by Judy Blume – One you’d sneak from the library and read under the covers due to its heady mix of boobs and boys. Praised for its realistic look at what it really means to be a ‘tween’ girl – desperate to grow up – and to grapple with all kinds of ‘firsts’, from your first bra to your first kiss.
What we know now: Between stolen copies of ‘Playboy’ and the ‘Two Minutes in the Closet’ kissing game, Blume sensitively explores what it’s like to grow up with parents who have different religious identities while searching for your own.
What was your favourite bed-time read as a child? Comment below to let us know!