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Children’s laureates choose their favourite books

For a Waterstones “Laureates table” promotion, all of our Children’s Laureates to date have chosen seven of their favourite children’s books. A really interesting read, it has resulted in a list comprising of mostly classics and some absolutely excellent books are on there.

I’ve been trying to work out whose list feels most like my own if I were to have to do this and it is impossible. So, I have chosen my favourite seven out of all of the laureates’ choice. Here they are:

1. Five Children and It by E. Nesbit (1902) – chosen by Quentin Blake
2. Just William by Richmal Crompton (1922) – chosen by Anne Fine
3. Five Go to Smuggler’s Top by Enid Blyton (1945) – chosen by Michael Morpurgo
4. The Family From One End Street by Eve Garnett (1937) – chosen by Jacqueline Wilson
5. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers (1934) – chosen by Jacqueline Wilson
6. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (1947) – chosen by Michael Rosen
7. Not Now, Bernard by David McKee (1980) – chosen by Michael Rosen

Now, if I were asked to choose my own list of seven, I would need to add Lauren Child’s I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato (because I won’t), and a Moomin book – I can’t decide which one. And of course a Lemony Snicket title as I wrote my MA thesis on A Series of Unfortunate Events, and a Robert Cormier title, but which one… probably We All Fall Down. Or should it be The Chocolate War just because it is brilliant?

We All Fall Down - Robert Cormier

Then I would have to have a Judy Blume title as she pretty much single handedly got me through my early teens. I imagine I would have to go for Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret (thank you to Random House Kids in NY today for the excerpt on Twitter and also for this link to Judy Blume on YouTube).

Are You There God? It's Me Margaret.

Argh – it is just too hard. How did they manage to choose only seven? Why isn’t Lord of the Flies on there or any Roald Dahl? Seriously, because of these favourite lists there is now a whole lot of re-reading I’m now desperate to do!

You can find all the books mentioned here on my amazon store here. Or better still, head out to your local children’s book shop.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sorrowfully out of touch and inapproprate to exclude Harry Potter.

    Mr Rosen’s appointment and his oft expressed anti Rowling bias proves a rather baffeliing disconnect with what childredn want and read.

    A better system must be found to appoint a successor who is more in touch with today’s Kids and what they enjoy.

    This list is a poor reflection on Waterstones.

    April 30, 2009
  2. natashaworswick #

    Hi there,

    Thanks for stopping by – it is always interesting to hear other people’s thoughts on these matters. I can’t say that I completely agree with you though, especially on Michael Rosen as a choice of Laureate.

    I can understand why so many people have noticed that Harry Potter is not on the laureates list. It has been a much publicised and hugely adored text for the last 10 years, however it is not the only children’s book to have ever been written and I think the wonderful thing about the laureate’s choices is that they reflect that. The lists are also a personal choice and hopefully not ones steered by Waterstones in anyway to sell more of any particular title.

    Harry Potter is not in my list of favourites even though I have read all of the books in the series and enjoyed them and there would be several “modern” children’s books on my list – does this mean that I am out of touch and inappropriate too? Again, it is personal choice.

    The promotion for Waterstones is a fantastic idea for the anniversary (and in marketing terms, great for attracting parents to books they may not have thought of for their child, if a laureate likes them, then they must be good etc…). Harry Potter already sells extremely well – this is a good chance to add some new (old) favourites to that list.

    As for Michael Rosen, I don’t believe for one second that he is actually anti-Rowling – I think certain comments were actually taken out of context in the press and if you take a look an article entitled “What I really said about Harry Potter” in The Guardian (link below) where Michael explains what he actually said, then I think you would have to agree that he never intended for the press to take his comments in the way that they were taken.

    Here’s a quote if you don’t have the time to read it all:

    “I have on many occasions defended the Potter books from people who claimed that they weren’t literary enough, or that they were derivative and so on. I have made the argument ad nauseam that there must be something intrinsically special (ie independent of the extrinsic hype) that has made them so ‘hooky’ for children and indeed some adults. I’ve speculated that this was in part that HP himself is a messianic trope.”

    I also think he was a more than appropriate choice for children’s laureate. He has carried out hundreds of events since the start of his laureateship and reached many children, made guest appearances on television shows to help parents and carers encourage their kids to read, written reading tips for loads of campaigns and has brought poetry to the forefront of children’s reading habits.

    But I don’t need to write a lengthy list like this really. I’ve been to several of Michael’s events over the past few years and I think 300 children reciting “Boogy Woogy Buggy” and laughing with delight at the end of it is reason enough for me to know he is doing an excellent job.

    I’d be interested to know what your top seven children’s titles are? Feel free to comment back with them.

    Guardian article:
    Children’s Laureate site:
    Michael Rosen’s website with tips for a poetry friendly classroom:

    April 30, 2009
  3. Anthony Brown is the new childrens Laureate for 2009-2011!

    Him and a few of the past laureates have made DVDs showing what they all get up to in thir every day lives.

    There is even teachers notes so you can run lessons from them!

    June 22, 2009

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