50 Books Every Child Should Read

British Education Secretary Michael Grove says that children aged 11 should be reading 50 books a year to improve literacy.  So The Independent asked five people to offer up their top ten picks, my comments are in the parentheses behind:

Philip Pullman’s Picks

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. (Lovely, childhood memories here.  I used to open the books to look at the illustrations and dream a bit.)

Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi.

Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner.

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. (This is one with lots of memories for me.  Read aloud to me and my brothers at the breakfast table.)

Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken. (Love that an Aiken is included.  My favorite of hers is The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.)

The Owl Service by Alan Garner.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. (The wordplay here is tremendous.  One of my favorites that I must have a copy of at all times.)

Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson. (My brother was Moomin mad as a kid, and he wasn’t a huge reader so that was big.  As the book hoarder in the family, I have his well-loved copies of the series.)

A Hundred Million Francs by Paul Berna.

The Castafiore Emerald by Hergé.

Michael Morpurgo’s Picks

The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Just William books by Richmal Crompton.

The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde.

The Elephant’s Child From The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.  (The language here is so lovely as it always is with Kipling.)

Treasure Island by R.L. Stevenson. (Another breakfast favorite for us growing up.)

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.

The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono.

The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson-Burnett. (Tasha Tudor’s illustrations really made this book sing.  I love the transformation of a girl through a garden.)

Katy Guest’s Picks, literary editor for The Independent on Sunday

Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah.

Finn Family Moomintroll (and the other Moomin books) by Tove Jansson. (Moomin again!)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein. (Oh yes, so glad to see this included.  Children should read the books before they see the films.)

The Tygrine Cat (and The Tygrine Cat on the Run) by Inbali Iserles.

Carry On, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr.

Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett.

The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson.

John Walsh’s Picks, author and Independent columnist

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

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

Mistress Masham’s Repose by TH White.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. (There was a time when I was captivated by this book.  I read it often.)

How to be Topp by Geoffrey Willams and Ronald Searle.

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz.

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer.

The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier.

Animal Farm by George Orwell.

Michael Rosen’s Picks

Skellig by David Almond.

Red Cherry Red by Jackie Kay.

Talkin Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah.

Greek myths by Geraldine McCaughrean.

People Might Hear You by Robin Klein.

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman.

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

After the First Death by Robert Cormier.  (My favorite Cormier book by far.  This is a haunting, powerful read.)

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd. (Loved the lightness of this book that had great depth as well.)

Beano Annual.

And for those of you wondering why adults can’t be held to a similar standard, you will enjoy Philip Hensher’s article.  For librarians, it also has a great take on the importance of libraries on reading habits.

Review–In Like a Lion Out Like a Lamb by Marion Dane Bauer


In Like a Lion Out Like a Lamb by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

Bauer has created a poetic picture book that explores the concept of March coming in like a lion and going  out like a lamb.  A lion enters a boy’s home and tromps mud across the floor.  But when the air turns warmer, the lion sneezes mightily.  On that breeze, a lamb comes in and the grass turns green.  But what will happen to the snowy lion now that spring has arrived?  Will he disappear?  Not him!  Meanwhile, the lamb is frolicking and bringing in new babies to greet the spring.

The verse is light and free, creating a poetic, friendly picture book for young children.  The idea of the lion not leaving, but instead lingering in a warm patch of sun and purring is a lovely one.  While the lamb is breezy and light, the lion asleep happily is what lingers with me afterwards, waiting for winter to return.

McCully’s art echoes the freedom of the verse and the lightness of the subject.  She uses a light touch on her lines, a freedom in her colors, and a lushness as spring returns. 

Welcome spring and the end of March with this book and hope along with all of us in Wisconsin that the snow will finally come to an end!  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Holiday House.

Also reviewed by BooksForKidsBlog.