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.)
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.