Top 20 children's books
From The Times
February 22, 2008
Narnia sums up the magic of childhood for readers too old for Harry Potter
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was the only appearance for J K Rowling in
the top 50 while Roald Dahl got four slots in the top 20
Dalya Alberge, Arts Correspondent
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis has been voted the best
children’s book of all time.
The Harry Potter stories may top the bestsellers’ lists worldwide, but he and other
modern fictional characters could not compete against Lewis’s classic. His story of
four siblings who go through a magic wardrobe and enter the once-peaceful world of
Narnia has bewitched generations of readers since it was written in 1950.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince comes sixth in the list. It is the only one of J.
K. Rowling’s seven novels to make the top 50 all-time favourites.
The poll of 4,000 people aged 16 to 65 was conducted by the charity Booktrust to
support its government-backed initiative Bookstart, which provides children with free
• The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is voted favourite children's book
Rosemary Clarke, of Bookstart, said that people tended to recall their earliest,
fondest reading experiences. “The 65-year-olds may not be as familiar with Harry
Potter, but The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is also reaching a new generation
of people through television and film.”
Colin Duriez, the author of several books on Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, said that as
a medieval scholar Lewis was able to draw on the vast history of storytelling.
Elizabeth Hammill, co-founder of the charity Seven Stories, was surprised that
Jacqueline Wilson, who headed library lending lists for years, does not make the top
50 and that Rowling did not do better. She said: “Maybe [people] don’t go back and
reread them in the same way.”
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle took second place in the poll. The picture
book is said to have sold a copy a minute since it was first published in 1969. Among
other enduring classics is Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series. It may have been written
as long ago as 1942, but its popularity has not waned.
Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne came fourth. The Bear of Very Little Brain was
created in 1926 and become one of the world’s best-known characters after it was
adapted by Walt Dis-ney.Six Roald Dahl works were in the top 50.
The survey found that four in five parents read their children bedtime stories every
night and that 18 per cent of expectant parents read stories to their unborn child.
Ireland has the best bedtime readers, with more than 60 per cent of parents reading
their children a story.
Viv Bird, the director of Booktrust, said: “It’s wonderful to see the enduring popularity
of these books which are loved by generation after generation.
“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.”
Top 20 children’s books
1. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe C. S. Lewis
2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle
3. Famous Five series Enid Blyton
4. Winnie-the-Pooh A. A. Milne
5. The BFG Roald Dahl
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince J. K. Rowling
7. The Faraway Tree Enid Blyton
8. The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
9. Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll
10. The Gruffalo Julia Donaldson
11. The Tales of Peter Rabbit Beatrix Potter
12. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl
13. Matilda Roald Dahl
14. The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett
15. The Cat in the Hat Dr Suess
16. The Twits Roald Dahl
17. Mr Men Roger Hargreaves
18. A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens
19. Malory Towers series Enid Blyton
20. Peter Pan J. M. Barrie