As Any Fule Kno: 50 Books Children ?Should Read

The Independent (god bless its little prescriptive heart) has listed the 50 books every child should have read. As we know, the Education Secretary has said every child should read a book a week (with two weeks off for good behaviour, apparently). So this is only a year’s list.

But is it? Some of the books I don’t know — blame a North American childhood for my lack of Michael Morpurgo and Moomins; other books are after my time. But some just seem odd — two books by Benjamin Zephaniah? Is he really that good? And at the expense of, say, Madeleine L’Engle’s masterpiece, A Wrinkle in Time? Or the Little House on the Prairie series? Or one of my childhood read-it-to-deaths, E. L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler? No Noel Streatfeild (I’d go for White Boots over Ballet Shoes, though), no What Katy Did, no Pippi Longstocking, or Rumer Godden? My own favourite for months and months one year was William Pene du Bois’ The 21 Balloons (I was astonished as an adult to learn that Krakatoa was a real place, and had truly gone up in a volcanic explosion). And, as a good Canadian, I must put in a plea for Susannah of the Mounties (although you can keep that twerp Anne of Green Gables).

Well, here is the list, but I defy anyone to read it and not miss their own favourites. Because there is nothing as evocative as childhood reading recollected in tranquillity. Or even middle age…

1.      Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

2.      Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

3.      Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner

4.      Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

5.      Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken

6.      The Owl Service by Alan Garner

7.      The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

8.      Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson

9.      A Hundred Million Francs by Paul Berna

10.  The Castafiore Emerald by Hergé

11.  The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson

12.  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

13.  Just William books by Richmal Crompton

14.  The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde

15.  ‘The Elephant’s Child’ from The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

16.  Treasure Island by R.L. Stevenson

17.  The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

18.  The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono

19.  The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy

20.  The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson-Burnett

21.  Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah

22.  Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson

23.  Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

24.  I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

25.  The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein

26.  The Tygrine Cat and The Tygrine Cat on the Run by Inbali Iserles

27.  Carry On, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse.

28.  When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

29.  Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

30.  The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson

31.  The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

32.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

33.  Mistress Masham’s Repose by T.H. White

34.  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

35.  How to be Topp by Geoffrey Willams and Ronald Searle

36.  Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

37.  Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

38.  Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

39.  The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier

40.  Animal Farm by George Orwell

41.  Skellig by David Almond

42.  Red Cherry Red by Jackie Kay

43.  Talkin Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah

44.  Greek myths by Geraldine McCaughrean

45.  People Might Hear You by Robin Klein

46.  Noughts and Crosses by Malory Blackman

47.  Einstein’s Underpants and How They Saved the World by Anthony McGowan

48.  After the First Death by Robert Cormier

49.  The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

50.  Beano Annual. A cornucopia of nutty, bad, silly ideas, tricks, situations and plots.

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