asked me to name a children's book that every child should read.

I chose 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' but, frankly, it could have been any book by Roald Dahl.

The explanation is simple. Dahl has a way of bypassing adult memes and writing directly, and honestly, at the child's level. This is no mean feat – so much children's fiction introduces adult morality and constraint, attempting to turn kids into little adults. Not so, Roald Dahl.

Having said that, there is much for adults to enjoy in Dahl's work. His larger-than-life characters, whose often extreme reaction to events are so vivid, despite significant descriptive text – in 'Charlie', the insane delight of Willy Wonka at his inventions is… well… delightful!

[it should also be noted that these characters make for great play-acting by a parent reading to their kid(s)]

Dahl's work, written largely before political correctness denuded so much art of meaning, contains some content that comes close to crossing modern lines, particularly in terms of violence (physical and verbal) – but this is no greater than seen in many cartoons, and written at the child's level. I'm happy to read 'Charlie' to my 5 year-old, who laughs like a barrel as events unfold.


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