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Sooty's Annual 1963

My First Book

  12+   To celebrate International Literacy Day 2017, Penguin Books Australia asked on Facebook: What is the first book you remember reading?

While I don't recall reading my first book, it must have been a Sooty or Joe 90 Annual. I still have a worn copy of Sooty (handed down to my son), but sadly the boy spy Joe 90 went AWOL long ago.

I lived with my grandparents as a kid, and they had kept my father's Film Fun Annuals from the 1940s. And I recall reading the comic-book style stories about Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello et al.

Enid Blyton Inspiration

As for "chapter books", I read my father's Biggles' adventure stories ("Chocks away, Algy!"), and I loved reading Enid Blyton's adventure series, the Secret Seven and Famous Five.

And the Famous Five inspired me to write and illustrate a Blyton-esque adventure book as a ten-year-old, Sand Island — I still have the treasured first-and-only edition.

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So while I don't remember the first book I read. I do remember the first book I wrote 45 years ago! 

What about you? What's the first book you remember reading?

© 2017 Robert Fairhead

N.B. Originally published on my blog at You might also be interested in this blog post, The Gorilla Hunters by RM Ballantyne (March 2018). It's about one of my father's first books.


Robert Fairhead

A middle-aged dad and dog owner, Robert is a writer and editor at Tall And True and blogs on his eponymous website, He also writes and narrates episodes for the Tall And True Short Reads podcast, featuring his short stories, blog posts and other writing from Tall And True.

Robert's book reviews and other writing have appeared in print and online media. In 2020, he published his début collection of short stories, Both Sides of the Story, and in 2021 Twelve Furious Months, twelve short stories written for the Australian Writers' Centre's Furious Fiction writing competition.

Outside of writing, Robert's favourite pastimes include reading, watching Aussie Rules football with his son and walking his dog.

He has also enjoyed a one-night stand as a stand-up comic.