Hayao Miyazaki’s 50 Favorite Children’s Books

Video screen capture. YouTube

Born in 1941, Hayao Miyazaki grew up in post-World War II Japan as a self-described “physically weak” child. He would go on to steer the helm of some of the world's most endearing animated masterpieces; Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), Castle in the Sky (1986), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Princess Mononoke (1997), and the magical Spirited Away (2001) which holds the honor of being the first Japanese film to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

As co-founder of the film and animation studio, Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki has not only brought anime to the rest of the world, but he has become a masterful storyteller and arguably the best anime director on the planet. His work is imbued with such cinematic magic; it's endlessly imaginative and singularly wonderful. One can only marvel at how his innate creative vision was nurtured; one place to look would be his favorite childhood books. And thankfully, we can!

For a 2010 exhibition honoring publisher Iwanami Shoten's "Boy's Books” series, Miyazaki selected his top 50 favorite books from childhood; and from them, we get glimpses into some of the themes familiar in his work. Lone children and their vibrant imaginations, talking animals, the ever wonderful mysteries of nature; there is drama and adventure and even a very famous smiling cat – and most of all, perhaps, the pure bliss of childhood magic.

1. The Borrowers by Mary Norton
2. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
3. Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren
4. When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson
5. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
6. The Flying Classroom by Erich Kästner
7. There Were Five of Us by Karel Poláček
8. What the Neighbours Did, and Other Stories by Ann Philippa Pearce
9. Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge
10. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
11. Eagle of The Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff
12. The Treasure of the Nibelungs by Gustav Schalk
13. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, père
14. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
15. Les Princes du Vent by Michel-Aime Baudouy
16. The Flambards Series by K. M. Peyton
17. Souvenirs entomologiques by Jean Henri Fabre
18. The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
19. A Norwegian Farm by Marie Hamsun
20. Heidi by Johanna Spyri
21. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
22. Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett
23. Tistou of the Green Thumbs by Maurice Druon
24. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
25. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
26. The Otterbury Incident by Cecil Day-Lewis
27. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
28. The Little Bookroom by Eleanor Farjeon
29. The Forest is Alive or Twelve Months by Samuil Yakovlevich Marshak
30. The Restaurant of Many Orders by Kenji Miyazawa
31. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
32. Nihon Ryōiki by Kyokai
33. Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling
34. Nine Fairy Tales: And One More Thrown in For Good Measure by Karel Čapek
35. The Man Who Has Planted Welsh Onions by Kim So-un
36. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
37. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
38. Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en
39. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
40. The Adventures of the Little Onion by Gianni Rodari
41. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
42. The Ship that Flew by Hilda Winifred Lewis
43. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
44. The Little Humpbacked Horse by Pyotr Pavlovich Yershov (Ershoff)
45. The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
46. The Rose and the Ring by William Makepeace Thackeray
47. The Radium Woman by Eleanor Doorly
48. City Neighbor, The Story of Jane Addams by Clara Ingram Judson
49. Ivan the Fool by Leo Tolstoy
50. The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

Although a number of my favorite books are on this list, I clearly see I have some catching up to do. How about you?

Via Open Culture