Stars of Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival reveal their favourite children’s books

Books Cardiff
Cardiff Children's Literature Festival

Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival opens this weekend, celebrating the best in English and Welsh language children’s writing and illustration.

Taking place over the weekends of Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th March and Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd April, the festival, now in its fifth year, will see events in locations across the city, including City Hall, National Museum Cardiff, Cardiff Story, Cardiff Castle Undercroft, The Old Library and Central Library.

We’re proud to be blogger ambassadors for the festival, and will be reporting live from different events both this weekend and next both here on the Cardiff Mummy Says blog and on my different social media channels.

I love reading to my children and bedtime stories are a big part of our family life – not to mention stories at other times of the day too. I think reading to your children is one of the most important things you can do with your child, sharing quality, focussed time together, exploring fantastical worlds together, and learning so much.

We’ve read to our children since they were newborns. Little Miss E is now 7 and a very confident independent reader, both in Welsh and English. She loves the Rainbow Magic fairy books, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, some of the younger Jacqueline Wilson books, and Horrid Henry among others. I’ve also introduced her to a number of my old childhood favourites such as Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five and The Naughtiest Girl series, The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy, and Charlotte’s Web by EB White – and I’m so pleased she loves them all.

Little Man O, my five-year-old middle child, is now bringing Welsh language books home from school and starting to read by himself. I’ve recently read Ted Hughes’ The Iron Man to him and we are about to start Stig of the Dump – another two I loved as a child. He also loves the Star Wars early readers series and is working really hard at sounding out the words by himself. We’ve read most of the Roald Dahl books as a family, and I can’t wait to introduce them to CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, Malory Towers and the Twins at St Clare’s by Enid Blyton, the Harry Potter series.

Toddler Boy I, who has just turned three, is at the stage where he loves to hear the same book over and over. His current favourites are Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the Captain Flynn and The Pirate Dinosaur series by Giles Andreae and anything by Julia Donaldson.

We all love Julia Donaldson in this house – she’s been a constant presence over the last seven years. There are so many precious memories wrapped up in so many books, and so many I don’t think I could ever part with. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell, Oliver Jeffers’ The Way Back Home, Peace at Last by Jill Murphy, Angelina Ballerina by Katharine Holabird…. . And so many more books I couldn’t list them all here, but books that I have read so many times I know them off by heart. I hope those books will stay with my children their whole lives… and maybe one day, if they have children of their own, they will return to those books, greeting them like the warm embrace of an old friend.

To celebrate the start of the fifth Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival, some of the key authors taking part have shared their childhood favourites, as well as books their own children love. Some really inspiring suggestions here and it’s lovely to hear have those childhood favourites have stayed with these authors.

I’d love to know what your favourite books as a child were, and which ones your little ones enjoy. Do let me know in the comments below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page or by tweeting me on @cardiffmummy

There are still tickets (priced £4 per person) available for the Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival. Call 029 2023 0130 to book or see the website.


Rufus Mufasa 

Bilingual Street Art Party with Rufus Mufasa and Phil Morgan, City Hall Ferrier Hall, 3pm, Saturday April 1st, age 8+

“When I was very small I loved GloBugs story books and anything about fairy worlds. I still remember the illustrations from some so vividly. I have a GloBug book that I read to my toddler Molly and I put on my best hypnotic voice and it sends her to sleep – she isn’t one to sleep but my reading is one thing that (sometimes) works.

One of my favourite books as a child was Matilda because I identified with her as I too was a book worm and I also had a really mean step mother who I’d fantasise that I could put spells on. I read the book several times and once read it in a day when I was bed bound with tonsillitis.

I also remember a book called Room 13… A children’s horror book about a school trip to Whitby. I still have it… I still have lots of my children’s books.

Molly is a book worm just like me and especially loves anything that rhymes. Strong favourites are 10 Little Pirates and 10 Little Dinosaurs (bilingual). We also love Dr Seuss with favourites being Cat in the Hat, and Hop on Pop. She is reading at two because of her love for language and literature. She stacks bundles of her books next to bundles of my books by the side of my bed (although I don’t think it is truly my bed anymore) and loves nothing more than jumping in next to me, with her reading list and I read a book at a time. I finish one, she passes me the next, until she is fast asleep or has had enough and wants to cuddle me or play with my ponytail. One of her favourite places to be is the library and she struts around like she owns the place and builds a fort with bundles of books.”


Siôn Tomos Owen

Cardiff Children's Literature Festival

Sion is a cartoonist who will be presenting Bilingual Street Art Party with rapper Rufus Mufasa and illustrator Phil Morgan, at City Hall Ferrier Hall, 3pm, Saturday April 1st, age 8+

“The book that first got me enjoying reading was Roald Dahl’s Matilda when I was nine. I then got into all the Dahl books. By 13, I was reading Stephen King then Russian short stories like Gogol and Chekhov when I was 16 and by the sixth form, I was onto lots of Gabriel García Márquez magical realism. The books I read at 17 and 18 are still my favourite books – Love in the Time of Cholera by Marquez and The Master & Margarita by Bulgakov.

I now enjoy a variety of books like poetry books by several Welsh poets like Natalie Ann Holborrow, M.A.Oliver-Seminov and Nigel Jenkins or short stories by Thomas Mortis and Tyler Keevil (Burrard Inlet is incredible.) I like graphic novels too like those by Walt Eisner, Frank Miller and  Parker. At the moment I’m enjoying John Pierce Jones’ autobiography in Welsh and Red: A Natural History of the Redhead, which is really interesting.



Huw Aaron

Cardiff Children's Literature Festival

Illustrator and comic writer Huw Aaron will run a ‘bonkers’ bilingual workshop at 10am on Saturday April 1 at the Old Library Galley, age 6+

“As a child, I always used to read and some of the books which fired my imagination were the Redwall fantasy series by Brian Jacques and Asterix or anything by the Ahlbergs. When I’m reading with Eos, my three year old, we both really enjoy Sgleinio’r Lleuad by Caryl Lewis, Yng Ngwlad y Pethau Gwyllt by or Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and the entire Rwdlan series. Olwen is nearly one and loves colourful books, but she tends to try and eat them at the moment!”


Dr Sarah Beynon

Entomologist Dr Sarah Beynon from Pembrokeshire, has teamed up with Beetle Boy author MG Leonard to appear at the festival on Sunday March 26th to educate children on the wonders of beetles with live creepy crawlies as special guests. The event takes place at 12pm at City Hall’s Ferrier Hall, age 8+

“I loved Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five. I loved the sense of adventure and I would even stage my own Famous Five adventures on the farm I grew up on. I’ve recently been reading The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth, the Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman, A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas and the Atlantis Grail series by Vera Nazarian. I loved them all, especially A COurt of Thorns and Roses. I get through books pretty quickly as I read to switch-off at the end of the day and take myself to a different world! I can’t sleep without reading first. I prefer children’s and young adult books because they tend to have a deeper story with their character development.

At the festival, I’m really looking forward to working with Maya. Her enthusiasm for beetles and for educating and entertaining is incredible and it’s a real honour to work with her. I’m also looking forward to educating children on the important of beetles and if one child comes up and says, ‘If I see a beetle, I won’t step on it, and I’ll tell my friend not to step on it too’, then that’s a big win. I’m also hoping to take home a big stack of books to keep me entertained for the next couple of months!”



Shoo Rayner

Shoo Rayner

Shoo will speak about his Dragons trilogy at the festival at 11am on Saturday, April 1st at Cardiff Story, age 6+

“I really loved Enid Blyton’s Adventure series. Those children went on amazing adventures! When my children were young we went to Cornwall. It was like going on an Enid Blyton Adventure – the beaches and cliffs were just as she described in those books. Maybe, as a bit of a young naturalist, I responded to her sense of landscape and nature… I never thought of that before.

I was also mad about Narnia. I wanted to be Prince Caspian and wear his cool clothes! I think my enjoyment of the stories was heightened by Pauline Baynes’ fabulous and evocative illustrations. What ten-year-old wouldn’t want to walk side by side with Aslan?

I also loved a couple of books about a brother and sister who went rock climbing in North Wales in the holidays. I don’t know who wrote them. They were always getting lost in mists and having to blow three blasts on the whistle while munching Kendal Mint Cake. So exciting! If anyone recognises them, I’d love to read them again.


MG Leonard

Cardiff Children's Literature Festival

The author of Beetle Boy will be at City Hall’s Ferrier Hall at 12pm on Sunday 26th March, 8+

“My youngest son is three and loves anything by Julia Donaldson, but other personal favourites are Oliver Jeffers’ books and Rob Biddulph. My oldest son is 11, and we read Wonder by RJ Palacio together, and I think it is incredible.

At the moment I’m reading the final book in the Geek Girl series by Holly Smale*.”

(*Holly will be at the festival at 3pm on Sunday 2nd April,  at the Reardon Smith Theatre, National Museum Cardiff, age 10+)


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