The Fifty Pony Books You Must Read

Or maybe not.  Michael Gove has suggested that children should be reading 50 books a year.  Being prescriptive about it is tricky.  I have two children, both of whom were read to every day, both of whom were taken to  libraries and book shops (often these were secondhand bookshops, where I used to park them with a Beano album while I searched the shelves), have a house full of books and bookish parents.   One reads endlessly.  One doesn't.

If your child has an obsession about something, that could be a help.   If your child is a pony obsessive, here is the list that's come out of a recent discussion on my forum.  The brief was that a child should also be able to read complete rubbish, but the list has tended towards the better efforts in the pony book genre, rather than the drivel.  Bearing in mind the age of my forum (ie adult) it's perhaps not a surprise that many of the books were ones from our own childhood.  A good proportion of the books are still in print, and I've highlighted the ones that are (though in the case of series, they're often only partially in print).  Many of the other books are still available cheaply on the secondhand market.

Eventing Trilogy  -  Caroline Akrill
National Velvet  -  Enid Bagnold
The Team From Low Moor - Gillian Baxter
Ribbons and Rings  -  Gillian Baxter
A Little Bush Maid  -  Mary Grant Bruce
A Pony for Jean  -  Joanna Cannan
They Bought Her A Pony  -  Joanna Cannan
Horse in the House  -  William Corbin
The Silver Eagle Riding School- Primrose Cumming
Doney  -  Primrose Cumming
Silver Snaffles  -  Primrose Cumming
Cobbler's Dream and the Follyfoot series  -  Monica Dickens
World's End Series  -  Monica Dickens
The Crumb  -  Jean Slaughter Doty
Punchbowl Farm series -  Monica Edwards
Romney Marsh series  -  Monica Edwards

Khyberie books - Major C M Enriquez
The Black Stallion  -  Walter Farley
Jill series  -  Ruby Ferguson
Horsepower  -  Patsey Gray  
Only One Pony - Elinor Havers
Shank's Pony/Adam books - Eleanor Helme
King of the Wind  -  Marguerite Henry
White Stallion of Lippizza  -  Marguerite Henry
Our First Pony  -  Marguerite Henry
The Dark Horse of Woodfield  -  Florence Hightower
The Secret Horse  -  Marion Holland
My Chincoteague Pony  -  Susan Jeffers
Jinny series  -  Patricia Leitch
Cross Country Pony  -  Patricia Leitch
Dark Sunshine  -  Dorothy Lyons
Clear Round - Pamela Macgregor-Morris
The Silver Brumby  -  Elyne Mitchell
Ponies Plot  -  C Northcote Parkinson
Fly-by-Night  -  K M Peyton
Blind Beauty  -  K M Peyton
A Day to go Hunting  -  Christine Pullein-Thompson
I Wanted a Pony – Diana Pullein-Thompson
Prince Among Ponies  -  Josephine Pullein-Thompson
Woodbury Pony Club Trilogy  -  Josephine Pullein-Thompson
Noel and Henry series  -  Josephine Pullein-Thompson
Drinkers of the Wind  -  Carl Raswan
Tessa and some Ponies  -  Lady Kitty Ritson
Black Beauty  -  Anna Sewell
Nobody's Horse (aka The Georges and the Jewels)  -  Jane Smiley
The Horsemasters  -  Don Stafford
Bright Spurs  -  Armine von Tempski
The Ten Pound Pony - Veronica Westlake
The Far Distant Oxus  -  Katherine Hull and Pamela Whitlock
Taking Flight  -  Sheena Wilkinson

So, what do you think?  What's been missed out?  What splendid dross could be included?


Dare I admit that the Romany March series were amongst my favourites and that my daughter is called Tamzin??
Ali Mal said…
Oh no! Where is Primrose Cumming's "Silver Snaffles"? The best pony book ever !!
Ali Mal said…
Moral of previous post - read the list *properly* - sorry :)
Jane Badger said…
CCC - nothing wrong with that! Tamzin is a lovely name. Do you have a favourite ME?

AM - well, I'm glad it is on there. I'm interested to see if anything else is suggested. One major omission is Helen Griffiths, I think!
How marvelous at last to have a list of must-read pony books that springs out of the UK. You have a far greater legacy of pony books than we do here in the US, especially pony series (I know some of the titles are US ones, but after I'd exhausted those as a child, there wasn't anything to do but reread them.)

Here are a few that have stood the test of time as I've shared them with my horse-mad daughter (interestingly, M. Henry's works she never, ever liked), perhaps a few not available in UK:

"Beyond Rope and Fence" by David Grew
"Last Hurdle" by Frieda Kenyon Brown
"My Friend Flicka" by Mary O'Hara
"War Horse" by Michael Morpugo (I know this is UK :)

My daughter and I also love "The Chestry Oak" by Kate Seredy, which was included in the now-defunct World Famous Horse Story Library as a selection even though the horses were a subplot, but it was a moving, dramatic story and the stallion in the story manages to pervade it even when he's not there, and when he is, the author depicts his rapport with the boy beautifully.
Jane Badger said…
Completely and utterly agree with My Friend Flicka and Warhorse. HOW did they get missed out? I'm interested that you like Chestry Oak so much and must now lob it up to the top of the to be read pile! Do you like her The Good Master?
I haven't read any of her other works even though 2 are sitting on the read-someday stack. Didn't know the "Good Master" was the precursor to "The Singing Tree," I'll try and snag that to read before embarking on the second book.
Barbara said…
Brilliant selection Jane and lots more to add to my must read list.
Jane Badger said…
Thanks Barbara!

Christina - The Good Master has wonderful illustrations as well. It really is a delightful book.
Anonymous said…
I have a picture book sized copy of the White Stallion Of Lipizza that my father bought on Ebay for me when I was maybe 6 or 7. I'm a teenager now, and that book still sits faithfully on my shelf along with all my souvenirs from the two times I saw the World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions, and every other Marguerite Henry book that ever existed. That book is one of my treasures and I have NO Idea what I would do without Borina and Hans to read about on bad days. :)
Jane Badger said…
It is a lovely book isn't it? I have a copy too (sounds like the same one you have - it's too big to fit on a normal shelf and has to sit sideways). Those Wesley Dennis illustrations are amazing.
Molly said…
What about Moyra Charlton's "Tally Ho" & "Three White Stockings" beautifully illustrated by Lionel Edwards & Gilbert Holiday respectively? The "Jills" were my absolute favourite in childhood, have them all, with the Caney illistrations, still re-read them with huge pleasure.
Sheena Wilkinson said…
Delighted to see Taking Flight included on your list!
Jane Badger said…
It's an excellent book! I'm looking forward to reading your latest, which is swimming slowly across the Irish sea as I write. I hope.

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