They’re Classics for a reason . . .

Classics, classics and even more classics- they were the only kind of books my school teachers and parents told me to read, not that Sweet Valley High nonsense or those wretched Point Horrors, which I relished reading from the local library every single week. I remember English lessons, where I sat at the front of my class whilst my then school teacher read an extract from Kidnapped. I yawned helplessly as I tried to concentrate and escape boredom but my eyes would not stay open. I mean, why do we have to go to school so early in the morning? Funnily enough, I sometimes wonder the same thing as I wake up at 6 in the morning to get to work but I’ll get over it!

I vividly remember one day after school when I got in and rushed straight for the kitchen, where I found a box set of Puffin Classics all wrapped up in a see through, cling-film type paper on the dining table. On the side were some ham sandwiches cut into squares, some orange squash and a fairy cake with chocolate sprinkles on. For a few seconds my eyes were stuck on the books. Why on earth were there were so many classics, of all the books in the world, on my dining table? That was when my mum came in and told me how she’d popped into WHSmith and thought of me when she saw these books. I shrugged my shoulders feeling bad for not being able to appreciate my Mum’s thoughtfulness as much as I would have liked, and so went upstairs and popped the set of books on my bookshelf, which by the way looked amazing – like my own little library.

A Little Princess   Just So Stories   PeterP   Tom Sawyer

A few weeks passed and it was half term. Finally I could have lie-ins in the mornings and watch TV all day long. But after a few days, I grew bored and my eyes started to itch to read a good new book. I’d exhausted reading Matilda over ten times, and I had read every other book we had in the house, not to mention my overdue library books which I don’t recommend anyone should have as fines can pretty hefty these days! So what could I do next? Well I could try reading a book from the box set, a voice in my head told me. But they were classics and I assumed they were boring. 

A few hours passed again and I was now fed up of watching repeated episodes on the TV. So I rushed up the stairs, jumped onto my chair and reached up to my bookshelf trying not to fall down in the process. I took down the box set and eyed the books all shiny and brand new. Which one should I start with?

Katy   Oliver Twist  Heidi

The first title, which took my fancy immediately because of its lilac spine, was Pride and Prejudice. I read it from word to word and then page to page after which I found myself whizzing through the all books in my box set, including What Katy Did, Black Beauty, Frankenstein, Just so Stories and a personal favourite, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I actually cannot wait for the new Alice movie!

Alice   Anne   Treasure Island   Willows

How I’d managed to miss so many great reads back then I don’t know, but I immediately went down to my library and bookshop to ask for the best collection of classics that I hadn’t read already. My friendship with the classics has thus far continued with me doing a degree in English Literature and now sharing my experiences with all of you.  

Classics are timeless – they were super for me and now, with great and colourful new covers and introductions, it’s time for you to discover them – our new generation of readers!    

Geeta Kumar
Classics Researcher

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