50 books to read before you’re 15…

Inspired by the Education Secretary’s recent suggestion, Sarah Hayes-Porter of Glebe House School presents a recommended reading list…

Education Secretary Michael Gove recently suggested that every eleven year old child should be reading 50 books a year in order to improve literacy standards, which roughly equates to a book a week and approximately 500 books in an average childhood. An admirable proposal I’m sure most of you would agree, but one that raises a number of questions. The most pressing of these (for parents) would be: ‘what should my child be reading?’

In putting together this list I had to consider different perspectives – firstly, what I’d consider ‘good’ children’s literature compared to what children would consider to be ‘good’. Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves what’s the key to getting children reading? For me, the answer is very simple – enjoyment! I’m an ardent believer there’s a book suitable for every child and one that will ignite the flame of a love of reading, but all too often that spark is put out by the wrong book.

Therefore, in this list I’ve combined a selection of classic and modern children’s books, some of which will be considered ‘literature’ and others just ‘good fun’ – but surely that is what reading is all about?

A book should be an adventure, an opportunity to explore different worlds, situations and experiences, but in safety. Consequently, not all the books here are a safe, comfortable read, particularly for the older age range, as they challenge assumptions and explore moral issues.

Not every book will suit every child, but explore the world of books and soon your child will discover their own tastes and once they do, 50 books a year will seem insignificant compared to the number they are reading!
Sadly, a list of 50 books couldn’t contain all those that I’d wish to see there. It’s just a taster, and will hopefully lead your children on to discover new books for themselves.

Lastly, I’d rstrongly recommend you read the books your child is reading too – you may be surprised just how enjoyable they are! KL

7–9 years

1 The Twits – Roald Dahl

2 Charlotte’s Web – E. B. White

3 Hugo Pepper – Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

4 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis

5 The Sheep-Pig – Dick King-Smith

6 The Butterfly Lion – Michael Morpurgo

9–12 years

7 Stormbreaker – Anthony Horowitz

8 The Dark is Rising – Susan Cooper

9 The Little White Horse – Elizabeth Goudge

10 Beyond the Deepwoods – Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

11 Wolf Brother – Michelle Paver

12 Mister Monday – Garth Nix

13 I am David – Ann Holm

14 Witch Child – Celia Rees

15 The Wind Singer – William Nicholson

16 Carrie’s War – Nina Baldwin

17 The Demon Headmaster – Gillian Cross

18 Goodnight Mr Tom – Michelle Magorian

19 The Wee Free Men – Terry Pratchett

20 The Silver Sword – Ian Serraillier

21 The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien

22 The Diamond of Drury Lane – Julia Golding

23 The Worlds of Chrestomanci – Dianne Wynne-Jones

24 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling

25 Artemis Fowl – Eoin Colfer

26 Silver Fin – Charlie Higson

27 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

28 War Horse – Michael Morpurgo

29 The Mozart Question – Michael Morpurgo

30 Once – Morris Gleitzman

31 The Weirdstone of Brisingammen – Alan Garner

32 The Star of Kazan – Eva Ibbotson

33 The Sword in the Stone – T. H. White

34 Skellig – David Almond

35 River Boy – Tim Bowler

36 Midnight for Charlie Bone – Jenny Nimmo

37 The London Eye Mystery – Siobhan Dowd

38 Millions – Frank Cotterell Boyce

12–15 years

39 Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman

40 The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness

41 Northern Lights – Philip Pullman

42 How I Live Now – Meg Rosoff

43 Private Peaceful – Michael Morpurgo

44 You Don’t Know Me – David Klass

45 Mortal Engines – Philip Reeve

46 Finding Violet Park – Jenny Valentine

47 The Tricksters – Margaret Mahy

48 The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

49 Sabriel – Garth Nix

50 Before I Die – Jenny Downham

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