The15 best children’s books
FROM PETER RABBIT TO NOUGHTS AND CROSSES, WE BRING YOU THE 15 BEST CHILDREN’S BOOKS
We all have cherished memories of the books we read and shared as children. Big friendly giants, honey-loving bears, hungry caterpillars, iron men: these figures populate the vivid imaginary landscapes of our childhoods. Everybody will remember the book that made them laugh and cry, the one that they turn to again and again. Like totems, we pass them on to our own children, each book a spell in itself.
But there isn’t room in this list for everything. I’m sure that every single reader will gasp at omissions and query the order. There are many personal favourites that I’ve left out, and many more 20th- and 21st-century writers whom I would have liked to include.
This isn’t intended as a definitive ranking; but as an overview, and a guide. You’ll recognise many; a few perhaps will be not so well known, but deserve more attention. I’ve considered influence as well as originality; but crucially, all of the books here have stood the tests of time, taste and, most importantly, readers. Each one, whenever it was published, can be read and enjoyed by a child today as much as it was by the children of the past.
I hope too that this will encourage many adult readers to turn back to their childhood shelves, take up that long-forgotten gem, and find wonder and magic once more.
So — are you sitting comfortably? Then let us begin.
1. The Alice books by Lewis Carroll (19th century)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There, are an