8 amazing books I’d love every child to read.

As an English teacher you get very used to answering the question, ‘what’s your favourite book?’ I’ve always struggled to come up with a consistent or definitive answer.

Predictably, I don’t have favourites.

Not when it comes to chocolate bars, holidays, students. I’m just too indecisive and heavily influenced by my mood.

However, when it comes to children’s books, I do have a few.

These books feel like putting on that terribly old jumper that should’ve been recycled ages ago but holds to many memories to part with. They harbour so many amazing morals and life lessons that just can’t be replaced.

This is not an exclusive list and it was incredibly hard narrowing it down to just 8.


  1. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

Suitable for readers age 6+
Suitable for listeners 2+ (although I think the sooner the better)

There shouldn’t be a child alive that can’t recite the chant-like rhyme in this book. It’s repetitive which is fantastic for early readers. Full of fun phonics that peek your child’s interest. And has an ending that none of you will see coming.

  1. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Suitable for readers age 3+
Suitable for listeners age 2+

It was hard to choose just one of Klassen’s books as the simple story and bold illustrations make it excellent for early readers. This is a sweet and funny story of a bear who’s being duped by other creatures on a search for his hat. I genuinely giggle every time I read this. And my students love it too.

  1. The BFG by Roald Dahl

Listening age: 6+
Reading age: 8+

One of my favourites of Dahls, this story is truly heart-warming and magical. Children and adults alike will fall in love with the BFG because he lives up to his name in every sense. The plot and characters perfectly fuel vivid imaginations but also teach children about compassion, kindness and bravery.

  1. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

Listening age: 6+
Reading age: 8+

The oldest of my choices (the stories are over 90 years old!) doesn’t make this delightful little bear any more special. These stories have so much on offer for children. The characters are simple but impactful and show the importance of friendship, enjoying the little things and loving yourself just the way you are.

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Listening age: 8+
Reading age: 10+

The Harry Potter series is a testament to friendship and taking pride in not quite fitting in. The wonderful world of Hogwarts will excite every child. I used to teach this to my year 7 students and there wasn’t a single child that wasn’t in love of Hagrid and despised Malfoy. I challenge any parent to read it with their child and not find themselves wanting more.

  1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Listening age: 10+
Reading age: 10+

Centred around a young boy’s grief over his mother, this book opens children’s minds to so much more than death. The beautiful illustrations make for a truly emotive read. I read this in an afternoon and instantly passed it on to my dad. This is a special book that helps children understand empathy and difficult emotions. Read with caution but definitely one not to miss.

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

Listening age: 12+
Reading age: 13+

Christopher John Francis Boone is a character unlike any other you’ve encountered. He’s superbly gifted at maths and has trouble understanding social norms and finds himself trying to find out who killed his neighbour’s dog. Although it’s never explicitly mentioned in the novel, Christopher displays behaviours associated with Autism. When I’ve shared this book with my students, they’ve loved the matter-of-fact style of writing (with some swear words thrown in) and it’s taught them a greater understanding of what it’s like inside the mind of a child with an SEN.

  1. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

Listening age: 12+
Reading age: 11+

Whilst this is a book set during WWII, it’s not a book about war. It’s an emotional tale of friendship, loyalty and childhood innocence. Both adults and children would love this as it’s told from the point of view of Bruno, a young boy who’s the son of a Nazi. Bruno lives at Auschwitz. He soon makes friends with a boy who lives on the other side of the fence (literally and metaphorically speaking) called Shmuel. Filled with important but harrowing lessons about the holocaust. It’s the truths told through a child’s eyes which makes for an incredible read for both children and adults.

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