The best children's books of all time

Booktrust, the British reading charity, conducted a survey of 4000 in Great Britain, to determine the best children’s books of all time. Leading the list is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Princeby J.K. Rowling, placed sixth.

Here are the top ten:

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
Famous Five, Enid Blyton
Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne
The BFG, Roald Dahl
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling
The Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson

The Booktrust press release makes the following observations:

“At Booktrust we want everyone to enjoy reading, whether it be returning to old favourites or encouraging people to try something new. The final 50 are a fascinating mix of classic and contemporary titles which offers something for everyone. ”


The best loved author in the poll is Roald Dahl – who has an astonishing SIX books listed in the top 50 best.

Enid Blyton has five books in the top 50, whilst Julia Donaldson has four.

The poll cited that four out of five parents read their children a bedtime story every night, for an average of 22 minutes a time.

And just over half of parents questioned said they started reading books to their children when they were six months old – whilst 18 per cent read stories to their baby bump before the child was born.

Read the entire list of 50 books here.

The Guardian blog "Comment is Free" is having an interesting discussion of the list here.

Would the list be different in the United States? What do you think belongs onthe list?

Comments (6)

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein gets my vote.

The list looks skewed toward older children and very young adults.

What a veddy British list. Katherine Paterson anyone? Bridge to Terabithia. Jacob Have I Loved. Much better than some of this twee fare. Check her out at http://www.terabithia.com/

And considering the list is so dominated by Brits, how did they manage to leave Philip Pullman off?

It doesn't strike me as a list that reflects the best children's books written in English..and why would it? The survey was done in the UK.

Where is?

Charlotte's Web, E.B. White (US)

Because of Winn Dixie, Kate Di Camillo (US)

Journey to the River Sea, Eva Ibbotson (UK)

Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O'Dell (US)

Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome (UK) and the other books in the series: Swallowdale, Winter Holiday, We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea, Peter Duck, Pigeon Post. The Ransome books, written in the 30s and set in the Lake District, follow the mostly summer holiday activities of children set free to sail, camp, have adventures and misadventures. The plausibility of the stories is a great break from the fantasy genre. (Real children doing real things without magic in a real world.) My sons loved them as readalouds when they were in 1st and 2nd grade.

And, as Jim has mentioned, His Dark Materials trilogy, Philip Pullman (UK).

I recommend The Dark Is Rising Series by Susan Cooper.

I myself found the second and third Pullman books too vicious and cruel for me and therefore for young readers. And some of our parish's young readers, who have gobbled up the Harry Potter series, agreed.

--Laura Howell

Wizard of Oz and other Oz books by L Frank Baum - first book I read with a girl hero.

I forgot to mention Brave Irene by Willian Steig.

Add your comments

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Reminder: At Episcopal Café, we hope to establish an ethic of transparency by requiring all contributors and commentators to make submissions under their real names. For more details see our Feedback Policy.

Advertising Space