When I was in third grade, I read them for the first time. I was also in my very first school play, which happened to be Alice in Wonderland as well. (I was the Cheshire Cat). Valerie Dippery was Alice. I was jealous beyond words (she really did look the part with her long, blonde, wavy hair. I didn't, with my long, straight, brown hair.) but it was still a magical experience for me that encouraged me to continue acting throughout grade school, high school, and college.
The books themselves are still my very favorites, almost thirty years later. I have countless versions of them, illustrated in classical and luscious and bizarre ways, annotated, note-filled, dog-eared. I have a copy of the original work, Alice's Adventures Underground, handwritten by Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll - the pages are photocopies of the original in his handwriting with his own sketches). I have books about the book. I have one that postulates that Charles Dodgson was actually Jack the Ripper. Strange, indeed. If you walked into my house, you wouldn't notice any Alice things, but if you looked on shelves and in nooks and crannies, you would find many figurines, packs of cards, small treasures of Alice and the other characters.
One of the reasons that I love the books so much is that the entire things are satires of the English ruling class, court system, etc. Dodgson brilliantly wrote scathing critiques of real people into his seemingly harmless, odd, bumbling characters. There is so much underlying meaning in them that I find something new every time I read them. One of the pieces that has remained a mystery to many is the Mad Hatter's question to Alice, "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" Most people brush off the nonsensical question even though it is naggingly unanswered, as we shrug off many of the other absurdities. As readers, we are now far enough removed from Dodgson's England that we don't recognize most of the satire anyway. I'm including myself here, I know about it because I have done extensive research for papers and a writing project that may one day find its way back into working order.
So why is a raven like a writing desk? Originally, it is thought that Dodgson had no answer in mind. However, in an 1896 version of Alice, he offered this solution: "Because it can produce very few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is nevar (sic: it's raven backwards) put with the wrong end in front."
Aldous Huxley wrote "because there's a 'b' in 'both' and an 'n' in 'neither' in response to the riddle. James Michie wrote "because 'each' begins with an 'e'". David B. Jodrey, Jr., suggested, "both have quills dipped in ink". Cyril Pearson wrote "because it slopes with a flap". Another answer is "Poe wrote on both". In chapter 39 of The Shining, Stephen King wrote, "The higher the fewer, of course!"
I have also read:
They both have 2 eyes (i's)
"A dark wing site" is an anagram for "A writing desk"
They both have legs.
A writing desk is used to correspond. A raven responds with a caw, a caw-response.
Because the raven has a secret aerie and the writing desk is a secretary. (aerie = lofty nest of a large bird)
They are used to carry on work and work carrion.
There are several other good answers out there, and many that are a stretch. Several of these are from research I did at www.lewiscarroll.org/bull.html a zillion years ago. Just food for thought... I wish I could be so cryptic and satirical in an otherwise silly story that people would still be researching it over 100 years later. Literary genius. One of my biggest inspirations!