Stories are where magic begins. Anyone who loved books as a child knows how powerful a well-told tale can be. While everyone has their own favourite story, there are few special children’s book that seem to pop up again and again.
The books every child should read (or have read to them)
In 2015, Roald Dahl was offcially crowned king of the children’s authors as five of his books made it on to a list of the top 50 book every child should read by the age of 16.
The list, complied by Sainsbury’s, revealed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to be his most popular novel, with James and the Giant Peach, The BFG, Matilda and The Twits all being placed in the top 30.
Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland was the spellbinding runner-up, closely followed by The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Winnie the Pooh. Galloping into fifth place was Anne Sewell’s Black Beauty.
The study of 2,000 reading enthusiasts was created to encourage more British families to make the most of bedtime reading.
Other hit books include Robert Louis Stevenson’s nineteenth-century classic, Treasure Island, which came in eight places ahead of Eric Carle’s masterpiece, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Here is the full book list. How many have you read?
THE 50 BOOKS EVERY CHILD SHOULD READ BY AGE 16
- Charlie and The Chocolate Factory- Roald Dahl
- Alice in Wonderland- Lewis Carroll
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe- C.S. Lewis
- Winnie The Pooh- A.A.Milne
- Black Beauty- Anna Sewell
- James and The Giant Peach- Roald Dahl
- The BFG-Roald Dahl
- A Bear Called Paddington- Michael Bond
- Treasure Island- Robert Louis Stevenson
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn- Mark Twain
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
- Matilda- Roald Dahl
- The Railway Children- E. Nesbit
- Oliver Twist- Charles Dickens
- Five on a Treasure Island- Enid Blyton
- The Wind in the Willows- Kenneth Grahame
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar- Eric Carle
- The Jungle Book- Rudyard Kipling
- Charlotte’s Web- EB White
- The Tale of Peter Rabbit- Beatrix Potter
- Watership Down- Richard Adams
- The Hobbit -J.R.Tolken
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- J.K. Rowling
- Lord of the Flies- William Golding
- The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 ¾ – Sue Townsend
- Great Expectations- Charles Dickens
- The Cat in the Hat- Dr Seuss
- The Secret Garden- Frances Hodgson-Burnett
- The Diary of a Young Girl- Anne Frank
- The Twits – Roald Dahl
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz- L. Frank Baum
- The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne
- Anne of Green Gables- L.M.Montgomery
- The Tiger Who Came to Tea- Judith Kerr
- Green Eggs and Ham-Dr Seuss
- The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
- Bambi- Felix Selten
- Tom’s Midnight Garden- Phillipa Pearce
- Little House on the Prairie- Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Funny Bones- Janet and Allan Ahlberg
- Where The Wild Things Are- Maurice Sendak
- Carrie’s War- Nina Bawden
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
- The Magician’s Nephew- C.S. Lewis
- The Golden Compass – Philip Pullman
- The Story of Doctor Dolittle- Hugh Lofting
- The Story of Tracy Beaker – Jacqueline Wilson
- The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
- Curious George- H.A.Ray
- Each Peach Pear Plum – Janet and Allan Ahlberg
A handful of more recent tales managed to battle off old favourites to make it into the top 50 – Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and two parts of the Harry Potter series all featured.
Mavis Sarfo, from Sainsbury’s Book Team, said: “The 50 books show a much-cherished collection of some of the finest children’s writing that has delighted readers and transported them to other worlds for generations.
“It’s fantastic to see that so many parents get involved in reading bedtime stories by putting on character voices and wearing costumes to bring characters to life.
“Encouraging children to role play through dress up and becoming ‘The Gruffalo’ or ‘Elsa from Frozen’ is crucial in developing imaginations from an early age and a love of reading.
When researchers surveyed parents of children under 16, they found that 60% like to read stories to their children that their own parents once read to them.
Most popular book characters
In a list of the most popular children’s book characters, timeless additions include Peter Rabbit, Postman Pat and Mr Toad from Wind in the Willows. Paddington Bear took the top spot, perhaps influenced by the recent release of his new live-action movie.
TOP 20 BEST-LOVED CHILDREN’S BOOK CHARACTERS
- Paddington Bear
- Winnie the Pooh
- The Hungry Caterpillar
- Postman Pat
- Thomas the Tank Engine
- The Gruffalo
- Harry Potter
- Mr Men
- Peter Rabbit
- Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Peter Pan
- The BFG
- Alice in Wonderland
- Willy Wonka
- Mog the Cat
- Toad from Wind in the Willows
Tony Robinson, actor, comedian and author, who worked with Sainsbury’s on the campaign, added: “The response from parents and the lengths they go to in bringing these stories to their children as vividly as possible is amazing.
“It shows that the power of make believe is so important in the development of a child and a key role in parents bonding with their young ones.”