HERE AT DAILYEDGE.IE, we were the children who spent most of our childhood with our noses buried in books while other children were outside, playing and having friends. So we have a lot of opinions on the best children’s books.
Here’s a ranking of the most popular kid’s tomes, which were probably lingering in the school library.
The ranking is final and definitive.
18. Goodnight Mister Tom
Starting in a similar fashion to C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (which appears further down this list) this novel tells the story of a boy evacuated to the English countryside during World War II, where he befriends an elderly recluse.
However featuring precisely zero lions, no witches, and barely any mention of wardrobes, for some children it was more like Goodnight Mister YAWN.
17. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
A school library staple, Mildred D. Taylor’s grim novel takes a look at a grim period of history – the Deep South after the US Civil War.
But having it constantly shoved at you in primary school means it’s on the lower end of this ranking.
16. Little Women
Louisa-May Alcott’s tale of the four March sisters as they journeyed into womanhood was essential reading for every young girl.
We all wanted to be Jo, the feisty middle daughter.
15. Under the Hawthorn Tree
Set in 1840s Ireland, Marita Conlon-McKenna’s Under the Hawthorn Tree is a devastating story of three children forced to fend for themselves after the potato blight hits the country.
A very worthy subject matter altogether, but the fact that the book was on the English syllabus in some primary schools means it harbours bad memories for some.
14. The Story of Tracy Beaker
Why were so many of our children’s books SO grim?
Here’s another one – Jacqueline Wilson’s The Story of Tracy Beaker, set in a care home for neglected and orphaned children.
Fortunately Wilson’s humour and knack for creating realistic child characters cut through the gloom, meaning we weren’t left totally emotionally bereft after reading.
13. The Princess Diaries
The risqué nature of these books (the characters mentioned KISSING and SEX) meant you often had to hide them from parents and teachers.
This only added to their allure.
12. The Goosebumps books
Goosebumps author R.L. Stine spurred on the children’s horror revolution, thrilling kids around the world with gruesome tales of ghouls and monsters.
However, children with over-active imaginations were more likely to be left cowering in fear under the bedcovers.
11. The Lord of the Rings trilogy
Before you shout us down for putting Lord of the Rings at number 11, think – how many of you successfully read these books as children?
Sure, you can find them in the children’s section of the library, but their length and difficulty made them seem a lot like homework.
All those characters, languages and locations…phew. We’re tired just thinking about it.
10. A Series of Unfortunate Events
If you loved The Series of Unfortunate Events books you were probably something of a “precocious” child, with notions of being quite clever.
If you hated the series, you had good reason – as the title suggests it was an almighty downer, with misfortune after misfortune befalling the newly-orphaned Baudelaire children.
9. Charlotte’s Web
A sweet and powerful tale of a pig saved from slaughter by the work of a crafty spider, Charlotte’s Web was the cause of many a weepy child.
Even if you couldn’t (and still can’t) stand creepy-crawlies, Charlotte’s Web compelled you to mourn a dead spider. Think about that.
8. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Looking back, this book was probably not as suitable for children as it first seemed. Indeed, we have to wonder what old Lewis Carroll was on while he was writing it.
But for the sheer mind-boggling madness of the story, it’s at number eight.
7. The Artemis Fowl series
A teenage criminal mastermind, anti-hero Artemis Fowl was a refreshing change from the good-guy protagonists of so many other children’s books.
We may have long outgrown him by the time the last Artemis Fowl book was released in 2012, but the first book is still very dear to our hearts.
6. His Dark Materials trilogy
For people who found the Lord of the Rings just a tad too difficult, the His Dark Materials trilogy filled the gap very nicely.
With parallel universes, spirit animal companions and a lot of science talk it’s still not a walk in the park, but you can’t help being sucked in to the detailed universe created by author Philip Pullman.
5. The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank’s true account of her time spent in hiding during World War II bags a well-deserved spot in the top five.
Like other historical books on the list, it was pushed at us constantly at school, but the Diary of Anne Frank leaves a much more lasting impression.
4. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
The allusions to Christianity went right over our heads as kids, which was probably for the best.
If you’re a fan of the book, you probably still search for passages to secret worlds in wardrobes today. Go on, admit it.
3. The Famous Five books
Enid Blyton, queen of good-and-proper English children’s books, has found herself at number three with the Famous Five series.
Julian, Dick, Anne, George and of course, Timmy were always having cool adventures and never seemed to get told off by their parents, a situation you could only dream of.
If you read the entire series of 21 books, we salute you.
2. The Harry Potter series
There is no question about Harry Potter’s place on the list – the epic tale of the boy wizard is one of the most successful book series of all time.
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, you’ll know how the books have enriched your life. If not…we pity you.
1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Roald Dahl penned many, many excellent children’s books, but for the sake of this ranking we must pick only one, the fantastic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The magical Chocolate Room so deliciously described you could almost taste it yourself, the slightly sinister Oompa Loompas, the naughty children (much naughtier than you) – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is stuffed full of wonders from the first page to the last.