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20 great reads for children

Philip Pullman, Author

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. Indispensable. The great classic beginning of children's literature.

Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi: What effortless invention looks like.

Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner: A great political story: democracy in action.

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome: As clear and pure as Mozart.

Michael Morpurgo, Author

The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson:

The heroine is blessed with such wonderful friends who help her through the twists and turns of this incredible journey.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: The first few pages were so engaging, Marley's ghostly face on the knocker of Scrooge's door still gives me the shivers.

Just William books by Richmal Crompton: These are a must for every child.

The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde: This was the first story, I think, that ever made me cry and it still has the power to make me cry.

Katy Guest, Critic

Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah. Story of a young Ethiopian boy, whose parents abandon him in London to save his life.

Finn Family Moomintroll (and the other Moomin books) by Tove Jansson: A fantasy series for small children that introduces bigger ones to ideas of adventure, dealing with fear, understanding character and tolerating difference.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney: It's rude, it's funny and it will chime with every 11-year-old who's ever started a new school.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith: Written for a teenage audience but fun at any age.

John Walsh, Author

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Irresistible puzzle-solving tales of the chilly Victorian master-sleuth and his dim medical sidekick.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon: Age-transcending tale, both funny and sad.

Mistress Masham's Repose by TH White: Magical story of 10-year-old Maria, living in a derelict stately home, shy, lonely and under threat from both her governess and her rascally guardian.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: Inexplicably evergreen, trend and taste-defying 1868 classic.

Michael Rosen, Author

Skellig by David Almond: Brings magical realism to working-class north-east England.

Red Cherry Red by Jackie Kay: A book of poems that reaches deep into our hidden thoughts but also talks in a joyous voice exploring the everyday.

Talkin Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah: A book of poems that demands to be read aloud, performed and thought about.

Greek Myths by Geraldine McCaughrean: Superheroes battle with demons, gods intervene in our pleasures and fears -- a bit like the spectres in our minds going through daily life, really -- beautifully retold here.


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