The Haunted Wood

ebook A History of Childhood Reading

By Sam Leith

cover image of The Haunted Wood

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Do you remember the first time you fell in love with a book?

Maybe you tumbled down a rabbit hole, flew out of your bedroom window, or found the key to a secret garden. And in the silence of that moment, your whole life changed forever.

The stories we read as children are indelible in our memories; reaching far beyond our childhoods, they are a window into our deepest hopes, joys and anxieties. They reveal our past – collective and individual, remembered and imagined – and invite us to dream up different futures.

In a pioneering history of the children's literary canon, The Haunted Wood reveals the magic of childhood reading, from the ancient tales of Aesop, through the Victorian and Edwardian golden age to new classics. Excavating the complex lives of our most beloved writers, Sam Leith offers a humane portrait of a genre and celebrates the power of books to inspire and console entire generations.


'Profoundly erudite and gloriously entertaining, this is the most purely enjoyable literary history I have ever read.' Tom Holland

'Sam Leith has been encyclopedic and forensic in this journey through children's books. It's a joy for anyone who cares or wonders why we have children's literature.' Michael Rosen

'Scholarly but wholly accessible and written with such love, The Haunted Wood is an utter joy.' Lucy Mangan
The Haunted Wood