23 April 2011

50 books every child should read

Whenever I post lists like this, I feel obliged to anticipate commens by offering the disclaimer that these lists are totally matters of opinion.  Still, I find it interesting to see what other people's opinions are.  The Independent asked three children's authors and two staff critics to provide lists of 10 books each that they thought an 11-year-old child should read.  Here's the list they came up with (details and comments at the link):

* Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.
* Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi.
* Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner.
* Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome.
* Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken.
* The Owl Service by Alan Garner.
* The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.
* Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson.
* A Hundred Million Francs by Paul Berna.
* The Castafiore Emerald by Hergé.
* The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson.
* A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
* Just William books by Richmal Crompton.
* The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde.
* The Elephant's Child From The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.
* Treasure Island by R.L. Stevenson.
* The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.
* The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono.
* The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy.
* The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson-Burnett.
* Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah.
* Finn Family Moomintroll (and the other Moomin books) by Tove Jansson.
* Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney.
* I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.
* The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein.
* The Tygrine Cat (and The Tygrine Cat on the Run) by Inbali Iserles.
* Carry On, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse.
* When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr.
* Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett.
* The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson.
* The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
* The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.
* Mistress Masham's Repose by TH White.
* Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
* How to be Topp by Geoffrey Willams and Ronald Searle.
* Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz.
* Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo.
* Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer.
* The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier.
* Animal Farm by George Orwell.
* Skellig by David Almond.
* Red Cherry Red by Jackie Kay.
* Talkin Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah.
* Greek myths by Geraldine McCaughrean.
* People Might Hear You by Robin Klein.
* Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman.
* Einstein's Underpants and How They Saved the World by Anthony McGowan.
* After the First Death by Robert Cormier.
* The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd.
* Beano Annual. 

Your comments re other books that should be on the list?


  1. Science fiction seems lacking from the list (although I don't know all of the titles):

    20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
    Ender's Game
    The Time Machine
    Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    War of the Worlds

    Then generally:
    Gulliver's Travels
    Around the World in Eighty Days
    The Wizard of Oz books
    Farenheit 451
    Peter Pan

  2. Diappointing list

    No George Orwell, Roald Dahl, Douglas Adams

    so many important writers not drawn upon, how sad

  3. My Family And Other Animals by Gerald Durrell (and other books by him). And how could they leave out the Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis?

    John Wyndham's sic fi thrillers.

    Collette for girls.

  4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is on here but not a single Judy Blume book?

  5. Le Petit Prince!! Best book...children or adults!

  6. SuperFudge! My favourite!

  7. 6 more...

    Tales of Joshua

    Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quartet; A wrinkle In Time, A Wind In The Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, & Many Waters.

    Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic, & Where the Sidewalk Ends.

  8. "A Wonder Book" and "Tanglewood Tales" by Nathaniel Hawthorn. The Greek myths dressed up as children's stories.

  9. some of these books seem pretty advanced for the average 11 -yr old (that's usually 5th or 6th grade)

    I definitely concur with the Chronicles of Narnia, a Judy Blume book, a good Jules Verne like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or Around the World in 80 Days, and The Wizard of Oz books (in fact the second and third are better than the first, in my opinion).

    Some of the others are great books, but I'd hold off until High School.

  10. I read only about a dozen of these. Granted, many weren't published until after I was an adult.

    Two series that brightened my childhood--neither especially deep, just great fun--were the Freddy the Pig books by Walter Brooks and the Melendy books by Elizabeth Enright.

    (After I'd finished the Freddy the Pig books, I was looking around for something similar and picked up Animal Farm, expecting another tale of lovable talking animals. Boy, was that traumatic!)

    My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara and Misty of Chincoteague and the other horse books by Marguerite Henry were also great favorites.

    Oh, gee, and how could they possibly leave out Esther Forbes's Johnny Tremain? I reread that just recently, and it was as spectacularly good as I'd remembered.

    I'd also recommend T.H. White's Sword in the Stone, but the original version, before it was revised to be part of the Once and Future King tetralogy.

    And just as a side comment, maybe I'm an old fogey, but I don't think kids as young as 11 need to be exposed to cynicism and the dark side of life quite yet. Give them at least another couple of years, then ease them into it gradually.

  11. (Sorry, forgot to sign my Anonymous "old fogey" post.)

    --Swift Loris

  12. Any and all of Edith Nesbit's children's books, but particularly Five Children and It, The Railway Children and The Magic Castle. And where is the Roald Dahl?

    I'm with everyone else who suggested the Hitchhiker's Guide books and Ender's Game - why does genre fiction so frequently get left off these lists? And speaking of genre fiction, there can be few of us of a certain age who didn't read Carrie at an impressionable stage in our lives and come away shaken but thrilled.

  13. Wish I hadn't hit the submit button when I did, because another ten seconds' thought reminds me that Brighton Rock, Bruce Chatwin's On the Black Hill and Susan Hill's I'm the King of the Castle were of particular importance to me when I was about 12. I had a wonderful English teacher back then who noticed I liked reading but was sick of all the CS Lewis and similar froth we were doing in class, and used to point me at specific library books.

  14. Podkayne of Mars, by R. A Heinlein? How could they leave out Poddy?

  15. You know, I jut thought about Tom Sawyer, or Huckleberry Finn. I know the list is probably slanted towards British authors, but still..

    (and then again, maybe not. No C.S. Lewis)

  16. Thank you all for the comments and suggestions. Lots of ideas there for future reading for me.


  17. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende.
    THe movies are shitty as hell, but it's a wonderful book.

  18. As a high school English teacher, I have to agree with Mike--many of these titles are too difficult even for advanced 4th/5th-grade readers. Tolkien? Doyle? Hadon? Granted, upper elementary readers may be able to "read" them--but there is a huge difference between reading and actually understanding, especially the nuances of a book like Animal Farm (which is by Orwell, which Anonymous seems to have missed). Huckleberry Finn is difficult even for many high school readers.

  19. I'd only heard of about a third of these, and read most of that third. I can't really support "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," though- it's cute, but not exactly high literature.
    Glad to see Skellig is on the list, though. I read it in... 5th grade? 4th? It was fantastic. I remember just going "Whooaaaaaa."
    Like most of the other commenters, I can't believe Roald Dahl has no place there.

  20. Laura Ingalls Wilder-The Little House books.

  21. Heavily British but that's understandable given the source. I don't think kids have to read solely haute literature - I'd rather see a kid enjoy a book of his/her own choosing than force-feed them something that other people think is A Good Thing to Read.

    With that said... Roald Dahl, where is he! Phantom Tollbooth. The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books (okay, maybe meant for below age 11, but I prefer to consider this as a list to be read by age 11, not in that year). One of the most formative, comforting books I read as a kid was Memoirs of a Bookbat. Definitely some Shel Silverstein - his books are what got me started reading poetry.

    I know I'm going to be thinking about this all night now!

  22. The Green Knowe series by LM Boston, "The Perilous Gard" by Elizabeth Marie Pope, "The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha" by Roald Dahl, "The House with a Clock in its Walls" by John Bellairs, and "The Westing Game" by Ellen Raskin are books I always recommend to young readers (or those who like to read young). I second The Little House series, "The Phantom Tollbooth" and "My Family and Other Animals" and suggest "The Mockery Bird" and "The Talking Parcel" for those who enjoy Gerald Durrell.

    So many good books out there...

  23. I have to agree with the levels on some of these being pretty elevated for an 11-year old. I read HHGTTG in 7th grade (~12), and wouldn't really recommend it for lower than that (to appreciate it, anyway).

    Other glaring omissions (only, I presume, bc this is a UK list)- Beverly Cleary, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Pinballs, The Great Gilly Hopkins and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler.

  24. How could I forget Tintin? And perhaps Asterix & Obelix? I was very taken with the Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper and The Tripod Trilogy by John Christopher. Gosh. I need to reread some of these...

  25. Secret World of Og (by Pierre Berton)

  26. I'm missing Astrid Lindgren. (Pippi Longstocking et al.)

    I remember reading Enid Blyton in 5th grade. Sure, she's considered rascist by some, but I can't say I ever noticed that when I read the books...

  27. I read a lot of Blyton, as well... I would have loved Stephenie Meyer's vampire books, too. And I'd recommend Sue Townsend's The secret diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾, Ivanhoe, of course (Scott), and some Dutch books I enjoyed that have been translated: Afke's Ten, by Ni(e)nke van Hichtum, Crusade in Jeans by Thea Beckman, and Eep! by Joke (that's a perfectly ordinary name in The Dutch) van Leeuwen. All women authors. Hm.

  28. A Wrinkle In Time. The Eyes of The Dragon. The BFG.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...