Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Top Ten Best Ever Children’s Books!

The Top Ten Best Ever Children’s Books!

Which are your favourite stories? Do you agree with any of this list?

(Click on the covers image captions below to visit each book's page on Goodreads)
1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
I was so hooked by ‘The Goblet of Fire’ that I simply had to finish it the day I first opened it. Addictive characters, plot twists and pure, well crafted escapism, I raced through it. My advice to children (and adults for that matter) who haven’t yet read the books is to do it now, before watching the movies. As good as the excellent films are, they rob the reader of their imagination, something that JK Rowling really opens up with her writing style. 'Goblet of Fire' isn't just my favourite ever kids' book - it's my favourite ever book!

hobbit tolkein
No.2: The Hobbit
 2. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein
My second best ever Children’s book is another classic fantasy. I don’t usually go in for fantasy so much, as it’s so hard to do well – but Tolkein manages to create an entire world (literally) in the reader’s mind. Goblins, wizards, trolls, evil spirits, elves, dwarves, dragons, he is truly the father of fantasy. From the Shire all the way to the battle of the five armies, Bilbo takes us on a truly amazing adventure. Another one where you must read the book before watching the movies!

lion witch wardrobe cover
No.3: Lion, Witch & the Wardrobe
3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
My favourite thing about The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the idea of accidentally using a portal to suddenly appear in a fantastical world, where you can even grow old and then still return as a child. Such a concept was still rather new at the time C S Lewis wrote his timeless classic. Some excellent creatures and characters in a setting where you feel anything can happen, this battle of good against evil kept me busy throughout an entire school holiday.

dahl bfg cover
No.4: The BFG
 4. The BFG by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl accounted for about half of my memorable childhood reading and my sisters and I loved the humour and crazy language found throughout the BFG. I usually never liked being spoon fed images in books but Quentin Blake’s illustrations actually added to an already brilliant story. The giants helped make the book especially re-readable.

5. Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo
Kensuke’s Kingdom is a great escapist’s tale with a nice mixture of making the reader wish they were in the story too while at the same time being grateful that they are not! Following how Kensuke slowly reveals more positive aspects of his personality whilst enticing you to wonder more about his background, my class loved putting themselves in the footsteps of the main character. In fact, reading this book a little bit at the end of each day (initially as a calming exercise) helped me turn around a real ‘problem’ Year 6 class into a group of avid readers at a very inclusive London Primary School (we also had the audio book as some children still struggled with the words).

rowling azkaban cover
No.6: Prisoner of Azkaban
6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
As good as the first two books in the Harry Potter series were, I feel The Prisoner of Azkaban was really the one that made me realise I was reading an incredible series as I became more engrossed in the wizarding world. The introduction of more complex characters, the further development of relationships, visiting new places such as Hogsmeade and with more twists and turns than a snake’s obstacle course, the quality of Azkaban means JK Rowling is the only author to feature in this Top Ten more than once.

7. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
With its brilliant, varied characters and a plot that leads the reader to develop an affinity with – and grow alongside – Jim Hawkins, Treasure Island is truly a classic. So many things from the book can now be seen in themes across popular culture (such as my favourite one, ‘the black spot’!). Jim learns plenty of lessons in life along the way as he meets all kinds of characters like the captain, the doctor, the squire, buccaneers, the scary Blind Pew and the enigmatic Long John Silver. A special mention must also go to another great pirate story, ‘Moonfleet’, which I also loved reading and helped get me through a wee spell in a children’s hospital.

8. Artemis Fowl by Eion Colfer
When I started reading Artemis Fowl with my Year 6 class, I was starting to wonder if it was all a bit too ridiculous or whether the blurred lines between humour and having such a dark protagonist might have been a bit much for the kids (never mind the complex new vocabulary which my class full of international school students in fact lapped up no problem). However, the kids soon started to clearly love the story and so did I. A really good example of how to convey a highly unusual setting in such a way that the reader ends up finding it rather plausible.

gruffalo cover
No.9: The Gruffalo
9. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
The Gruffalo is perhaps my favourite book for younger readers. Never mind the pictures, the story itself is great, with a little lesson hidden inside it too. How can anyone not love a creature as improbable as the Gruffalo? I remember when a school I was working at put on a ‘Gruffalo the Musical’ for a big assembly before the holidays, and it was genuinely terrifying until the end!

stig king cover
No.10: Stig of the Dump
10. Stig of the Dump by Clive King
Stig of the Dump is another favourite that spoke to me as a child. How many of us would have loved to meet a character like the stone-age Stig while wandering about the countryside feeling a bit bored and lonely. As an adult it is certainly something I wouldn’t fancy but as a kid I loved the idea! Being able to teach each other different things and putting ‘modern life’ in perspective, Clive King’s story still has plenty to offer.

Honourable mentions must also to go:

box delights cover borrowers norton cover  machine gunners westall cover boyce millions cover 

diary wimpy kid kinney

The Box of Delights by John Masefield
Scary, gripping, brilliant. A highly original and unforgettable tale.

The Borrowers by Mary Norton
Which child doesn’t want to shrink into a miniature world at least once?

The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall
An involving story of living through a terrible war on the ‘home front’, told through the experiences of a child.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
The trials and tribulations of a suburban adolescent made me laugh a few times and I like the way the illustrations don't influence the imagination too much.

Millions by Frank Cotrell Boyce – I intend to read this next!

Which are your favorite children's stories? What is your number one? Leave a comment...

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