Top 10 children's books for summer were published before grandparents of today's kids were born, finds survey

Forget Harry Potter, Hunger Games or The Gruffalo - the best children's books were written long before today's generation's grandparents were even born.

Wednesday, 1st August 2018, 2:28 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st August 2018, 3:03 pm

New research to find the best children’s book of all time has revealed that it’s classics from the 1940s and beyond that are still the most picked up and fondest remembered stories.

The survey of 2,000 people, of all ages, by saw Enid Blyton’s classic Famous Five take top spot - the first of which was published in 1942.

CS Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe took second spot, despite being written in 1950, while third was the even older Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which dates from 1911.

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More recent fare from acclaimed children’s author Roald Dahl makes it on to the top 10 list three times with The BFG (1982) at number four, Matilda (1988) at number seven and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (1964) at number eight.

Making up the rest of the top 10 are The Faraway Tree (1943) at number five, The Hobbit (1937) at number six, The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1962) at number nine and Charlotte’s Web (1952) at number 10.

As well as old books, it seems that old habits are also highly valued.

Three quarters of those surveyed (74%) believe reading is the most important life skill a child can learn.

However, although learning to read is deemed the most important thing we’ll ever do, thousands of children still do not have any books at home. Recent figures from the National Literacy Trust reveal that one in 11 children in the UK have never owned a book.

This has led online cartridge retailer, to launch a Gift of Books campaign. The aim of the campaign is to reduce book poverty amongs 40,000 schoolchildren in Manchester with the help of local residents.’s research also suggests that learning how to read the printed word has a major impact on developing other abilities which are pivotal to success in later life with 83 per cent saying it had a positive impact on communication and writing skills.

The research also indicates that reading with the family is time to cherish as a little one with one in five stating that reading a bedtime story was their favourite childhood memory.

Ian Cowley, managing director of, added: “Developing reading skills as early as possible is vital. Even in this age of emojis and Alexa, mastering the written word gives you a foundation to ensure you are equipped to tackle life.

“That is why it’s just wrong that there are still so many children living without books. We wanted to do something to change that in an area where book poverty is seriously impacting on people’s lives.

“The campaign has already seen thousands of books donated by schoolchildren from their own shelves, they are then encouraged to print out a note slip to say why they enjoyed the book so much. These are then redistributed by the National Literacy Trust to the areas of greatest need.”