12 November, 2016

The Best Children's Books of All Time

I recently came across this list of the 15 best children's books of all time, published in the Telegraph. I thought that title was a surprisingly definite one! Who decided these were the best of all time? That aside, the ones in their list are:

  1. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
  2. The Hobbit (JRR Tolkein)
  3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (CS Lewis)
  4. Charlotte's Webb (EB White)
  5. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
  6. Pippi Longstocking (Astrid Lindgren)
  7. Emil and the Detectives (Erich Kastner)
  8. James and the Giant Peach (Roald Dahl)
  9. Winnie the Pooh (AA Milne)
  10. A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
  11. The Just So Stories (Rudyard Kipling)
  12. Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Jules Verne)
  13. The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Graham)
  14. The Doll People (Ann M Martin and Laura Godwin)
  15. The Child That Books Built (Francis Spufford)

I have read all of these except Emil and the Detectives, The Doll People and The Child That Books Built ( which apparently isn't actually a children's book but "a guide on how to grow into reading; and it’s a wonderfully eloquent take on how growing up happens unexpectedly"). I also didn't realise Journey to the Centre of the Earth was a children's book when I read it as a teenager, but there you are!

Would you add anything to this list? I was surprised Harry Potter wasn't on there (although it was in their list of contenders at the end of the article). I couldn't pick a favourite from the list (could you?) but all the ones I've read fill me with a sense of nostalgia, that I also get from certain other titles. So if I was to cut out the three I haven't read, plus Jules Verne, I think I would replace them with:

  1. Tom's Midnight Garden (Philippa Pearce)
  2. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
  3. Anne of Green Gables (LM Montgomery)
  4. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

What are your top children's books of all time? Are there any children's classics you couldn't get on with?


  1. The list feels a bit high brow but then I was a always more of an Arthur Ransom (swallows and amazons) over Jules Verne sort of child.
    I think the list should have some Dr Zeuss and the very hungry caterpillar. Perhaps add northern lights?
    Terry Pratchett was another of my teenage favourites.
    I think several of that list would have been my favourite at various ages but several would also be in my dislike list!

  2. I read Watership Down as an adult and I'm still not sure that it's a great children's book - and DEFINITELY not No1!

    You won't be surprised to know that I agree with you on Tom's Midnight Garden, and I would put her other great novel - Minnow on the Say - up there with it.

    But I have only fairly recently read one that gives Tom a run for his money - A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley. And now there is a new one which will definitely be going on my own list, and near the top of it - Skellig by David Almond. To me the latter two rise beyond any children/adult categorisation, especially as the writing is superior to that of many adult novels. They are two of the best books I've ever read.

    1. I don't think the list was in any particular order. I haven't heard of Minnow on the Say.

      I know my mum loves A Traveller in Time and many people hold up Skellig as a great children's book. You obviously have great taste!

  3. I think the problem is that "children" is too broad. Dr Seuss and The VeryHungry Caterpillar are for younger kids than this list implies. And Terry Pratchett older. But I agree with Arthur Ransome - like a good version I Enid Blyton!


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