World Book Day: Top 50 Books You Must Read As a Child

According to The Telegraph (so of course it must be true … er … right?) and Sainsburys, a survey has picked out fifty books that you apparently ought to have read by sixteen.  This sounds similar to the urban legend BBC Book Challenge (never actually circulated by the BBC) which stated that the average person read no more than six out of a possible hundred ‘great books’ – lists like these do the rounds every so often and I rarely agree with everything that is on them.  Anyway, now that I am no longer a teacher, one of the very few things that I miss is getting to dress up for World Book Day so this is my Instead Of post.  Anyway, I managed to score 41 here out of fifty, the books which I read are in bold and I have noted down the approximate age I was when I read them.  I do think that there are some classics that have been missed out here, I did my Top Ten Children’s Books last year and very few of those made the list  … I can feel another Top Ten Tuesday brewing … still, let me know how you did on this challenge in the comments below.

1. Charlie and The Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl (aged eight)

2. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll  (aged eleven)

3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis (aged seven)

4. Winnie The Pooh – AA Milne (aged four)

5. Black Beauty – Anna Sewell  (aged eight)

6. James and The Giant Peach – Roald Dahl (aged nine)

7. The BFG – Roald Dahl (aged seven)

8. A Bear Called Paddington – Michael Bond (about two, I remember I used to pretend to be him when I had a blue duffle coat which I grew out of aged three)

9. Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

10. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

11. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling (aged eleven when it came out)

12. Matilda – Roald Dahl (aged six)

13. The Railway Children – E Nesbit (aged five)

14. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens (aged twenty-two when I had to study it.  It wasn’t good)

15. Five on a Treasure Island – Enid Blyton (my mother banned Enid Blyton when I was little, I’ve never dared go against her edict)

16. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame (aged seven)

17. The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle (pre-memory, probably about two)

18. The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

21. Watership Down – Richard Adams (started with my Mum, we both got bored)

19. Charlotte’s Web – EB White (aged four)

20. The Tale of Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter (pre-memory again, about three) 

22. The Hobbit – JRR Tolken (aged eight)

23. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – JK Rowling (aged twenty, the day it came out)

24. Lord of the Flies – William Golding (got half way through, it’s just grim)

25. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 ¾ – Sue Townsend (aged twelve)

26. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens (aged eighteen, while studying at university, but I don’t think I would have enjoyed it much younger – I saw the 1940s film when I was about five)

27. The Cat in the Hat – Dr Seuss (aged eight, I was underwhelmed)

28. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson–Burnett (aged five)

29. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank (aged nine)

30. The Twits – Roald Dahl (aged six)

31. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L Frank Baum (utterly obsessed with the film but oddly enough never managed to get through the book – for me Dorothy is just Judy Garland)

32. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne (aged eighteen and frankly I think this book is just offensive and has no place on this list)

33. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery (aged seven)

34. The Tiger Who Came to Tea – Judith Kerr (aged four – also, Judith Kerr’s When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit was far, far better than The Boy in Striped Pyjamas)

35. Green Eggs and Ham – Dr Seuss (aged twelve and I made up my own verses for weeks afterwards)

36. The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham (aged ten)

37. Bambi – Felix Selten (aged ten, far less traumatic than the film)

38. Tom’s Midnight Garden – Phillipa Pearce (aged seven)

39. Little House on the Prairie – Laura Ingalls Wilder (aged four)

40. Funny Bones – Janet and Allan Ahlberg (aged seven)

41. Where The Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak (pre-memory, about four)

42. Carrie’s War – Nina Bawden (aged eight)

43. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon (aged sixteen, just under the wire)

44. The Magician’s Nephew – CS Lewis (aged seven)

45. Northern Lights – Philip Pullman (aged eleven)

46. The Story of Doctor Dolittle – Hugh Lofting (started, found it a bit twee so switched to Professor Branestawm

47. The Story of Tracy Beaker – Jacqueline Wilson X (aged eight and I liked it then … no longer)

48. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins X (aged twenty-five and I don’t necessarily approve of it being read by younger children, it discusses sexual abuse and waxing off bodily hair)

49. Curious George – HA Ray

50. Each Peach Pear Plum – Janet and Allan Ahlberg (aged nine to the little boys who I used to look after who are now all grown up!)

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2 thoughts on “World Book Day: Top 50 Books You Must Read As a Child

  1. An interesting list! I've only read 16 of them (and 28 of the 100 in the BBC list.)
    You will not be surprised I agree with you about the inclusion of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas (your review of it led me to this blog by chance.) You will also not be surprised I'm disappointed that Swallows and Amazons is not included!
    I agree with you about Dr Seuss too, I think his use of language and drawings are awful!
    It is a strange list, it seems to be about the books people should buy for children rather than what they read.
    There are many authors on the list (and the BBC 100) who I have read books by but not ones that are on the lists.

  2. I managed about sixty of the BBC list as I recall … yes, the Boy in Striped Pyjamas has had a baffling amount of acclaim and I just don't understand why. And you're right, Swallows and Amazons are a sad omission, as are The Little Grey Men, The Jolly Postman, The Velveteen Rabbit, To Kill A Mockingbird and so many others. I think The Hunger Games could take a leap – actual Greek Myths are far more interesting. I do like Dr Seuss actually, but I think that the Cat in the Hat was not his best. The Green Eggs and Ham is pure gold. No list of books is ever going to b e perfect I suppose …

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