With so many great children’s books to choose from, narrowing down just a few of our favourites for World Book Day seemed like an impossible task. Instead, we’ve had a go at compiling our top ten children’s authors of all time – and what a challenge it was!
Do you think we got it right? Let us know in the comments box below.
The great man himself once wrote: ‘Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’ It’s impossible to doubt the author’s own belief once you’ve read even one of his spell-binding stories. With 20 best-selling books for children under his belt – beginning with James and the Giant Peach – Dahl’s popularity is unmatched in the world of children’s literature. If that isn’t magic, we don’t know what is.
Perhaps America’s biggest literary export for children, Dr. Seuss is known for his ‘chanting’ rhymes that could challenge even the most confident reader. His classic stories, which include The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, use rhyme to help children to understand the building blocks of language. A few critics may disapprove of his nonsense words, but we admire the way he manages to combine education with playfulness and fun.
The author of 140 books (and counting!), Michael Rosen acted as Children’s Laureate from June 2007 to June 2009. His most famous book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, was a Nestlé Smarties Book Prize winner. A passionate advocate for children’s literature, Rosen wrote in the Guardian in 2009: “Sometimes when I sit with children when they have the space to talk and write about [their memories], I have the feeling that I am privileged to be the kind of person who is asked to be part of it.”
Arguably the most charming children’s author on our list, Beatrix Potter knew a thing or two about bringing nature to life. Her sharp observations and love of the natural world helped her to create some of literature’s sweetest characters, including Peter Rabbit and Miss Tiggy-Winkles. If you haven’t got at least one of her books on your shelf, you’re missing out on a right Victorian treat.
A. A. Milne
While his hit count may not be as high as some of the other authors on our list, what A. A. Milne lacks in book numbers he make up for with impact. Milne is best known as the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood (which is based on the real-life Ashdown Forest in East Sussex). The lovable Bear with Very Little Brain is now 90 years old and yet still remains a firm nursery favourite. Nice work, Mr Milne.
Frequently appearing in ‘top children’s books’ lists, Allan Ahlberg is the creator of more than 150 world-class kid’s tales, including Each Peach Pear Plum, The Jolly Postman, and Funnybones. Having previously worked as a teacher before becoming a prize winning author, Ahlberg clearly picked up the knack for writing timeless picture books from his experiences with children.
Jacqueline Wilson’s books have attracted a huge readership over the past couple of decades. Her most successful series about the troubled Tracy Beaker is one of many examples of Wilson’s defining ability to tackle subjects that other authors shy away from. A Children’s Laureate from 2005 to 2007, she has more than earned her title as one of the UK’s best ever writers for children.
Although many of her tales are now at odds with today’s politically correct Britain, Enid Blyton has remained one of the nation’s favourite authors since the 1930’s. Best remembered for The Famous Five and her pre-school hero Noddy, other notable works include The Enchanted Wood and the Naughtiest Girl series. Despite the latent sexism and xenophobia in many of her tales, the underlying magic and memorable character have managed to win her a place as one of our top ten children’s authors of all time.
A childhood staple for those growing up in the UK, Dick King-Smith is best known as the writer of The Sheep-Pig (or Babe, as it is called in the USA). Another of his most popular creations, The Queen’s Nose, was turned into a hit children’s TV series in the 1990’s. King-Smith didn’t start writing until late in his life, but his earlier careers as a farmer and a teacher had a wonderful impact on the stories he produced.
Another Children’s Laureate (2011-2013), Julia Donaldson is one of those authors whose books seem to become more popular as time goes on. The winner of several major book prizes, Donaldson’s hit pictures books have made an equally big impression as TV short films (Stick Man, Room on the Room, The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child). We can’t wait to see what she produces next.
Disagree with our pick of the top ten children’s authors? Tell us who your favourite is in the box below.