Friend Shimon got me thinking about what books and stories each family favours, so that they are not only a part of childhood, but also part of each family’s identity.

With our lot, it’s Winnie the Pooh. It all started one dark and stormy night when the rain came down in torrents …:yes:

No, really. We were living in Nigeria at the time. One of the ways I got the children asleep was to let them play cassettes (remember those??) of stories. However, they were not sold locally and we had to rely on Christmas and birthday presents for our supply. What with the heat, the harmattan dust and the fact that they were played to death our little library was soon sounding wow-y and weird.

At the time I was Nigeria editor for our mission mag, and I had a rather nice tape recorder which I was using for interviews with church leaders etc. One night, when the children were asleep, I took the machine into my bedroom where I could improve the acoustic by recording in the middle of the bed – it absorbed the sound. As I started, a rainy season storm blew up with the mother and father of thunder and lightning – you can still hear it on the tape, faintly in the background!

I’d decided that I would record some extra stories for the children, and I’d settled on Pooh. I waded my way through as many as would fit on a cassette, giving each character a silly voice – squeaky for Piglet, bossy for Rabbit, twit-twoooooo-ey for Owl, etc. I then proffered this to my assembled throng the next day, and it went down a treat.

So I did some more.


Scroll forward 15 years or so. The kids are now teenagers and we’re living in England. We had all been out somewhere and were driving home again. Somebody was getting stroppy – can’t remember who, or why.

Second daughter suddenly said ‘”Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it is a good morning, which I doubt,” said he.’

Immediately, somebody else took it up with “Why, what’s the matter?”

SD: “Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.”

And so they went on, remembering it word for word, even using my silly voices… :))

SD is still a huge fan of Pooh, and so am I. The entire family is agreed, that it’s got to be the PROPER Pooh with the E H Shepard drawings … although I’ve noticed a few stuffed Disney versions have crept into the grandchildren’s beds these days … 😉


      1. So far so good gillyk, it’s brilliant, no pain, amazing, a long time since i have been this pain free so making the most of it 🙂


    1. Oh yes! That was just coming out when my kids were young … it’s a favourite of the grandkids and I once used it as an illustration in a service, when my group of young people acted it out …. 😉


      1. I think you wouldn’t know most of the books that caught the hearts and the imagination of the children in our family, but among the favorites were a book by Nachum Gutman on Africa, and the short stories of Shalom Aleichem, which were written in Yiddish, and then translated to Hebrew.


      2. How very interesting, Shimon! I think that children’s stories in other cultures give us a window into a ‘national soul’ which is both fascinating and instructive. I haven’t managed to track down any details on Nachum Gutman’s children’s books on the internet, but I have discovered that Sholom Aleichem is the creator of Tevye, the much-loved dairyman of the story which became the huge hit musical ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ (which we still love, for its humour and its faith in the midst of great adversity).


  1. How wonderful :yes: My eldest daughter remembers her grandfather reading her Downy Duckling and to this day she can still quote it word for word. Sadly the book must have been thrown out over time and we have never been able to get a copy, it was one of those small ladybird books of stories all in ryhme. . .sooo if anyone ever finds a copy let me know :))


  2. That s such a lovely story! Esoecially the sound effects still being on the tape, a lovely memory of your time abraod!

    We all grew up with the Narnian stories and still love them to this day. I read them to my daughter when she was too little to read them and they are still a firm favourite now. Im sure your children will pass on POOH to their kids.
    Books have a magic all of their own.xxx


      1. Yes, I know what you mean … even now when we go round second-hand furniture stores we categorise by ‘that’s a Narnia wardrobe’ … :yes:


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