Updated: Mar 11, 2021
Selecting some of my favourite children’s books was a great challenge as there are so many wonderful stories out there. I did however manage to narrow my long list down to ten. Whilst some of the books on there are less visible these days, their brilliance shouldn’t be forgotten.
Here’s to helping wonderful books live on!
Anne of Green Gables – L. M. Montgomery
Anne of Green Gables is one of those series that will remain with you for a lifetime. Set on Prince Edward Island, Canada, in the late 19th Century, the story follows the adventures of Anne Shirley, an eleven-year-old orphan girl mistakenly sent to middle-aged siblings Mathew and Marilla Cuthbert.
The eight novel series follows Anne as she grows up and becomes a much-loved figure of her community and beyond. The red-haired school-girl soon becomes a college student, and then a mother with children of her own.
Chronicles of Narnia, The – C. S. Lewis
Written by C. S. Lewis, this series tells of four children and their adventures in the magical realm of Narnia. The seven books span its entire history, from its creation and discovery in The Magicians Nephew to its powerful end in The Last Battle.
The realm of Narnia is filled with bravery and companionship, but also fear and darkness. Although not present in the first book, the four children (Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy) soon become enchanted by the world they find hidden beyond the doors of a magical wardrobe.
Chronicles of Prydain, The – Lloyd Alexander
The Chronicles of Prydain comprise five high fantasy novels. Author Lloyd Alexander draws magic and myth into his writing, using Welsh myths in particular to influence his stories.
The series follows protagonist Taran as he grows up and transforms from an assistant pig keeper into a heroic young man. Accompanied by a princess, a bard, a wild man and a dwarf, Taran faces many trials and is drawn into the heart of a dangerous war.
Dark is Rising, The – Susan Cooper
What fantasy would be complete without an epic struggle between light and dark?
Based on Arthurian legend and various mythologies, The Dark is Rising series combines the magical and mythical with the ordinary. The seven novels follow the adventures of eleven-year-old Will Stanton and various other children as they become caught in the age-old battle between light and dark.
Dragonkeeper – Carole Wilkinson
Set in ancient China, this series tells of dragons, magic, love, and greed. The first few novels follow a slave girl named Ping as she ventures beyond the walls of her captive home, accompanied first by the old dragon Danzi, and then by a young dragon named Kai.
Comprising two trilogies and a prequel, the Dragonkeeper series explores the age of the last dragons and their keepers. Although human and animal characters change, the links between their lives and adventures bind the series together as a whole.
Harry Potter – J. K. Rowling
Most people have heard of Harry Potter and will likely have seen the films. However, relatively few people have read all the books from start to finish. The books contain important details that the films miss out on, so you can’t call yourself a true Harry Potter fan unless you’ve read them!
Lionboy – Zizou Corder
Lionboy is a brilliant fantasy trilogy, perfect for children and young adults. Written by Zizou Corder, the shared pen name of Louisa Young and daughter Isabel Adomakoh Young, the novels are filled with friendship, adventure, and of course danger.
The first novel follows protagonist Charlie Ashranti, a young boy who can speak to cats. On a mission to rescue his abducted parents, Charlie comes across six lions travelling with a floating circus. He the lions form a bond and the story follows Charlie and the lions as they embark on a dangerous journey together.
The adventures of Charlie and his lion friends continue throughout the trilogy.
Lord of the Rings, The – J. R. R. Tolkien
As with Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and its prequel The Hobbit, are stories that more people have watched than read.
Following the adventures of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings introduces Frodo Baggins as its protagonist. The books are filled with wonderful adventures, magic, evil, companionship, and loss and a simple summary couldn’t do it justice.
Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
Set in the Lake District in 1929, Swallows and Amazons follows siblings John, Susan, Titty, and Roger and their adventures on and around Wild Cat Island. The children, who sail a borrowed dingy named Swallow, meet Nancy and Peggy Blackett who sail a boat named Amazon. Together the children go on many adventures and these continue for thirteen more books.
New characters are introduced throughout the series, but the sense of adventure and the wonder of the great outdoors never changes.
Swish of the Curtain, The – Pamela Brown
The Swish of the Curtain was written in 1938 when Pamela Brown was just 14. It wasn’t published until 1941 however, and the manuscript amazingly survived the Blitz.
In the first book, a group of children discover an abandoned chapel and decide to set up their own theatre. The story tells of their dramatic creations and ambitions, and the wonderful friendship they share.
The following sequels continue these adventures as the children grow into young men and women still intent upon a life on the stage.