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?


  1. Charlie and The Chocolate Factory- Roald Dahl
  2. Alice in Wonderland- Lewis Carroll
  3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe- C.S. Lewis
  4. Winnie The Pooh- A.A.Milne
  5. Black Beauty- Anna Sewell
  6. James and The Giant Peach- Roald Dahl
  7. The BFG-Roald Dahl
  8. A Bear Called Paddington- Michael Bond
  9. Treasure Island- Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn- Mark Twain
  11. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
  12. Matilda- Roald Dahl
  13. The Railway Children- E. Nesbit
  14. Oliver Twist- Charles Dickens
  15. Five on a Treasure Island- Enid Blyton
  16. The Wind in the Willows- Kenneth Grahame
  17. The Very Hungry Caterpillar- Eric Carle
  18. The Jungle Book- Rudyard Kipling
  19. Charlotte’s Web- EB White
  20. The Tale of Peter Rabbit- Beatrix Potter
  21. Watership Down- Richard Adams
  22. The Hobbit -J.R.Tolken
  23. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- J.K. Rowling
  24. Lord of the Flies- William Golding
  25. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 ¾ – Sue Townsend
  26. Great Expectations- Charles Dickens
  27. The Cat in the Hat- Dr Seuss
  28. The Secret Garden- Frances Hodgson-Burnett
  29. The Diary of a Young Girl- Anne Frank
  30. The Twits – Roald Dahl
  31. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz- L. Frank Baum
  32. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne
  33. Anne of Green Gables- L.M.Montgomery
  34. The Tiger Who Came to Tea- Judith Kerr
  35. Green Eggs and Ham-Dr Seuss
  36. The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
  37. Bambi- Felix Selten
  38. Tom’s Midnight Garden- Phillipa Pearce
  39. Little House on the Prairie- Laura Ingalls Wilder
  40. Funny Bones- Janet and Allan Ahlberg
  41. Where The Wild Things Are- Maurice Sendak
  42. Carrie’s War- Nina Bawden
  43. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
  44. The Magician’s Nephew- C.S. Lewis
  45. The Golden Compass – Philip Pullman
  46. The Story of Doctor Dolittle- Hugh Lofting
  47. The Story of Tracy Beaker – Jacqueline Wilson
  48. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
  49. Curious George- H.A.Ray
  50. Each Peach Pear Plum – Janet and Allan Ahlberg

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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.


  1. Paddington Bear
  2. Winnie the Pooh
  3. The Hungry Caterpillar
  4. Postman Pat
  5. Thomas the Tank Engine
  6. The Gruffalo
  7. Harry Potter
  8. Cinderella
  9. Mr Men
  10. Peter Rabbit
  11. Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  12. Peter Pan
  13. The BFG
  14. Alice in Wonderland
  15. Noddy
  16. Willy Wonka
  17. Matilda
  18. Mog the Cat
  19. Toad from Wind in the Willows
  20. Pinocchio

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.”