Harry Potter Books Make List of Top 50 Children’s Books

115

Feb 24, 2008

Posted by EdwardTLC
Uncategorized

The Telegraph has a new article online which notes the Harry Potter series and its inclusion on a list of the Top 50 Children’s Books. The paper reports on a recent poll conducted by Booktrust, a charity promoting literacy for people of all ages, which asked 4,000 parents to choose the best children’s books of all time. The sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, came in at number six, and was the only book by author J. K. Rowling to make the list. The article goes on to suggest that while the Harry Potter books were the fastest selling in history, parents seemed to ‘believe in the superiority of the books they enjoyed as children over modern stories.’ The top ten books on this list were:

  • 1. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis
  • 2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
  • 3. Famous Five series, Enid Blyton
  • 4. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
  • 5. The BFG, Roald Dahl
  • 6. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, J. K. Rowling
  • 7. The Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
  • 8. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
  • 9. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
  • 10. The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson
  • The poll also found that four out of five parents spend an average of 22 minutes reading to their children each night and half began the bedtime reading when their child was six months old.





    72 Responses to Harry Potter Books Make List of Top 50 Children’s Books

    Avatar Image says:

    congrats jo!

    Avatar Image says:

    great news!

    Avatar Image says:

    Congratulations to you, Jo!!

    It’s funny that the book with the most ‘relationship’ stuff, stuff that might not be appropriate for very young children, was the only one that made the list. ;P

    Avatar Image says:

    awesome !!!! though it shouldve been # 1

    Avatar Image says:

    The other six books are great too..but CONGRATS JO!! You know Leggers, you have a pretty good point there..

    Avatar Image says:

    Am I the only one who finds it interesting that HBP-one of the weaker books in the series, imo-makes the list the same year the HBP movie is coming out?

    Avatar Image says:

    ??? What’s with the strike through? Dangit, I didn’t to that on purpose!

    Avatar Image says:

    I feel that book is really random one, but congratulations anyway, Jo!

    I agree with Leggers. The sixth book is one book of the series in which I consider it to be very “adult” in content. The seventh book is my favorite, but that is very definitely adult. I would have picked Prisoner of Azkaban as her best “children” content book of the series. I always consider the first three “children books”, the fourth as the transitional, and the last three as the “adult books.”

    And regarding the other choices, BFG should have been higher!

    Avatar Image says:

    Wow, I’m so happy with the choice of the readers. It seems to me that Book 6 is often underestimated, although it is a brilliant book, very dramatic and very true from the psychological point of view. Still, I wouldn’t call it a purely children’s book, as it is rather dark and there are many subtleties that younger children may not get right. Anyway, the choice is great!!!

    As for the rest of the books, I think that the poll cannot be applied to the international audience. I mean, “The very hungry caterpillar”? I’ve never heard about this book before…

    Avatar Image says:

    Well -the first thing to say is that the voters were aged 16-60.

    The Potter series is slowly getting the critical aclaim it richly deserves although here in Britain, it still gives journalists a thrill to be able to report a story from the angle that “Potter did not come first” -rather than simply on the merits.

    Writing and publishing is -I KNOW -a very, very bitchy world.

    Avatar Image says:

    I don’t understand why they let adults pick their favorite children’s book, it doesn’t make sence!

    Avatar Image says:

    I don’t know, I think it’s quite nice to see other traditional children’s authors represented who seem to have widely been abandoned in favour of Rowling and Pullman and whatnot - particularly in polls. Before reading HP, my childhood books were authors like Blyton and Carroll, and the problem with these polls is they tend to only ask kids - who simply don’t have as much a variety in reading as they did in a pre-HP world.

    in short, appreciates the results. Rowling usually comes in the top three. This makes a nice change.

    Avatar Image says:

    (unintentional strikethrough!)

    Avatar Image says:

    M Jones you are completely right. The British press just love it when HP fails to reach top spot. I read that in one of the British papers, and it couldn’t wait to let the reader know how Jo only had one of her books in the top 50. I thought get a grip. I wish I could point out to them, that Jo’s books prob outsold all the top 10 put together (not including hers of course :p)

    Avatar Image says:

    How odd, HBP was my least favourite of the seven.

    My feeling also is that HP is a series of books (even more so than the Blyton’s Famous Five, Malory Towers and St Clares series) so I find it odd that it isn’t treated as a series like those. They should be included on the list as a group or not at all. It doesn’t do the series justice to include just one as though it is standalone.

    Also, I have to say re Enid Blytin that the Famous Five is quite bland compared to her Barney Mysteries or Mysteries series. I have been re-reading her books recently, because I grew up with them too, and they really aren’t a patch on Rowling.

    Most of those authors I completely agree should be on the list (of the ones I know) and JK deserves to be among them. As far as rank is concerned, though, I always find that very arbitrary and meaningless in these kinds of polls.

    BUT MAJOR PLUS for me is that Phillip Pullman, who I LOATHE, isn’t on the list at all!!

    Avatar Image says:

    It’s interesting that the adults voted for the books they read as “kids”. Just wait for the “kids” who grew up with Harry Potter to start making their decisions known. We know what books will be at the top of the list then.

    Avatar Image says:

    I thinks book six was the best out of the entire series.

    However, all seven books are much, much better than ‘The Witch, the Lion and the Warderobe’, objectively speaking. So I won’t care much about this poll.

    Avatar Image says:

    Reading the comments on the Telegraph website is interesting. So many people disagree with this poll, and the fact that they asked parents not children is not going down well and is discrediting it. Nice to see many comments sticking up for Rowling.

    Avatar Image says:

    Loved the very hungry caterpillar, can’t say the same about 1st place but each to their own. But if you’re going to ask adults they wouldn’t want to admit they’ve read a book that was published when they were adults,and kids I’m sure would be much more interested in giving you their favourite tv shows, 22 minutes each night, what a fib haha. Just a publicity magnet anyway, have to include some ‘shock’ otherwise no one would report it.

    Avatar Image says:

    I really don’t think the British press ‘love it’! That makes it all sound quite vicious! I think simply it just gets a bit boring when a major modern classic consistently tops polls at the expense of older classics.

    fwiw, I think Blyton is every bit as good as Rowling, and the latter owes many of her influences to the former. After all, in the first few HP books especially, it’s pretty much the mystery adventures combined with the school series, plus a little faraway tree to match.

    Avatar Image says:

    Half-Blood Prince was my favourite, but I think it’s weird that it made the top 50 over the other ones. I would have thought Philosopher’s Stone or Chamber of Secrets would have. Half-Blood Prince is all pent up teenage emotion. Haha. Oh well, number six got number six. Pretty cool.

    Avatar Image says:

    Half-blood prince was my favourite book, too!

    Anyway, I wouldn´t say there is less varity in childrens`literature than there used to be twenty years ago

    Avatar Image says:

    Half Blood Prince on the same list as Winnie the Pooh? Ahhh, no, sorry. One of the teen books, yeah, it’s definitely a book for twelve year olds, but six year olds?

    Avatar Image says:

    Congrats to JK! I think all her books should be in the top 10.

    Avatar Image says:

    If Blyton’s works, and Narnia, get rated on this list as a whole series then so should Harry Potter. Harry Potter is an interdependent series of stories. It makes me wonder how this poll was conducted, whether there was any prompting or leading questions. Or could parents not actually remember the older books enough to specify a single title? Which makes me wonder if they were looking at them from too many years’ distance. I wouldn’t question Narnia’s place on list but I might question many of Blyton’s series being there. (Faraway Tree, aimed at much younger children, I think deserves its place).

    fishscale I loved the Blyton school and mystery series when I was a child but I have reread my favourite of them (Barney/R mysteries) and my least favourite (Secret Seven) very recently just to compare to HP. Though aimed at the same age group they approach nowhere near Rowling’s level. Even the Barney mysteries, whilst I still found them funny and fairly decent stories, are inconsistent in quality and full of irritating continuity errors. I’m not sure I would put them on this list, let alone the bland Famous Five and the school stories.

    I also disagree about ‘influence’. Blyton’s were basic school stories and basic mystery stories, nothing to the complexity of JK’s world. Faraway was very imaginative but nothing like HP.

    Avatar Image says:

    While I agree that Harry Potter isn’t suitable for a “children’s book” list - it’s totally transcended everything, adult/contemporary/classics/modern/action/thriller/romance everything - I HIGHLY disagree on The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

    Seriously. Maybe it’s because I hate C.S. Lewis. All those Christian themes that he corrupts children with drives me mad. I’d rather Harry Potter, a religion-free book, be in the top.

    Apart from that, yay on all the rest. I LOVED Roald Dahl as a child. I can’t decide between any of them because I loved them all: BFG, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The Witches, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory… and the short stories.

    Eric Carle – love him. The Very Hungry Caterpillar was the first book I remember I read.

    I hate Alice in Wonderland, but no doubt, it’s a good story. I’m surprised Green Eggs and Ham, or the Cat in the Hat didn’t get on this list. But I suppose this is Children’s books, not Toddler books :)

    Avatar Image says:

    Cat in the Hat is on the list I think.

    just to add to my previous post about influences; school stories are a very common formula for children’s books from Tom Brown’s school days so JK doesn’t necessarily owe a debt and it doesn’t make JKs work less original. Ditto with adventure, fantasy, or books that draw on mythologies and fables for subject matter.

    Others not put on this list that I enjoyed as a child; Richmal Crompton’s Just William stories or Watership Down on the list though, both which my mother read to me as a child and which I remember enjoying.

    Avatar Image says:

    mind you, my mother also read Animal Farm and 1984 to me as a child, so maybe Just William and Watership Down aren’t count as children’s books, I wouldn’t know!!

    Avatar Image says:

    Congratulations to Jo and HBP, book- but as others have said I think this is an unfair credit, they are picking on her because she has the fastest selling series in the world. I agree that all seven should be up there, it does make it interesting to know that parents picked these for there kids, I am sure it would have been real different if they picked there own, thats why I think this is some kind of thing to discredit Jo. I dont really care to much about this poll because we obviously know why they all arnt up there, but we know which ones will be when we all have kids. THEY ARE the best books in the world to me JO!

    Avatar Image says:

    HPs should have been the first seven, not sixth, and only one on the list! Still, Congrats

    Avatar Image says:

    by the way HBP rocks it is a great book one of my favorites as I am sure you figured out why looking at my name.

    Avatar Image says:

    Well, hmm. Half-Blood Prince is probably my favorite, but I, too, am surprised to see it listed over, say, Philospher’s Stone.

    Congratulations, Jo! You’re in undeniably good company.

    Avatar Image says:

    @burningpumpkins

    Harry Potter- “religious free?” You’ve got to be kidding me. Harry is just as much a Christ figure as Aslan, Voldemort is a devil representation like the White Witch, and Snape is the redeemed traitor/Judus like Edmund.

    On another topic, no matter howmuch I like Philip Pullman, I’m glad his books aren’t on the list, as they aren’t exactly “family friendly.” After all, within the first chapter you see a severed and sculped head…

    Avatar Image says:

    The Chronicles of Narnia is not listed as a series by the way, it was just LWW, which is either the 1st or 2nd book in the septilogy, depending on if you’re reading them based on the publishing dates or chronologically. I think it’s because most people don’t seem to realize that it is a series and have only read LWW. lol.

    Avatar Image says:

    The very hungry caterpillar is just the coolest book ever! Anyways, I hate all these polls because HP is not a kids book – it’s for everyone!!!

    Avatar Image says:

    That`s great, although HP should have gotten first. :) haha.

    Avatar Image says:

    Well, I agree, journalists do love to try and knock the HP series down whenever they get a chance. It’s the whole build-you-up-to-tear-you-down mentality. But I hardly think anyone should be too upset over this one, it seems a strange survey.

    Avatar Image says:

    Oh and, “Harry Potter, a religion-free book”? I believe that the religious themes are there for anyone who wants to see them, just as they are with Narnia.

    Avatar Image says:

    “Seriously. Maybe it’s because I hate C.S. Lewis. All those Christian themes that he corrupts children with drives me mad. I’d rather Harry Potter, a religion-free book, be in the top.”

    Wow, what a lovely display of tolerance…

    If HP is so religion-free, why does Harry have a godfather, and why are his parents buried in a church graveyard, and why is one of the ghosts a friar, and why are there ghostly nuns at Nearly Headless Nick’s Deathday party, and why do they celebrate Christmas and Easter?

    If I’d been able to pick one HP book to be on this list, I would have picked PoA.

    Avatar Image says:

    As much as I like Narnia, it really is a very, very religious book. If you don’t see it, it’s probably because you have never heard of Jesus. And how likely is that, if you are part of the demographic the Narnia-novels were originally intended for.

    Harry Potter, on the other hand, tells a story that have some similarities with the myths of Christianity, which in turn has many similarities with story telling as it has been known since we started telling stories in the first place.

    Saying the religious themes in Narnia lie in the eye of the beholder is like saying there is no religion in His Dark Materials. Total bull. But if that’s what you need to believe in order to be able to enjoy the stories, I suppose it does no harm.

    Avatar Image says:

    Also, I am pleasently surprised that it’s HBP that is on the list. I’m glad so many people find it the best one, it’s probably my favourite too.

    Avatar Image says:

    I agree, the books are sprinkled with religious references, as Marauder pointed out. But instead of casting Harry as Christ, Voldemort as the Devil, and Snape as Judas, as Rachel did, I prefer to think of them as archetypes that both stories are following. Not being Christian, I look at elements of Christianity as elements of a great story, and great stories are found throughout the world. There are many instances throughout the world of heroes having been born of virgins, for example.

    I’m happy to see some really old classics on the list, like Wind in the Willows. I think it’s a challenging but charming children’s book. It’s pretty tough to get a workable list of 50 books that covers the span of infancy to adolescence. But Captain Underpants???

    And I, too, think that HP should have been counted as a series. The books aren’t intended to stand alone!

    Avatar Image says:

    im happy that one of the books at least got on the list and made it into the top 10. Good Job JK Rowling!!!!!!

    Avatar Image says:

    Strange poll really, covering such a wide variety of age groups and reading abilities. I have a 3 yr old and yes, the Very Hungry Caterpillar is wonderful, but in a totally different way. Personally, and like many others here, I’m quite surprised that only HBP made it into the top 50. It’s a good book and I really enjoyed it, but not as much as I enjoyed Order of the Phoenix, which I thought was just an absolute triumph (though I think Jo said that those who favoured OotP formed a “strange minority”, oh well!!!). But for getting reluctant readers into the wonders of the written word, I’d say Philosopher’s Stone was pretty important too, and all of them are total page-turners. Anyway, it’s great that she made it on to the list but I think the series is important for more than just fast sales.

    Avatar Image says:

    Congratulations to J.K. Rowling for securing recognition in the midst of others such talented authors! This must truly be a tremendous honor.

    Avatar Image says:

    I do have most of the books on that list here at home and I have in fact read some of them to my kids (I am 32 and have two kids, aged 5 and 2years), but I do not agree with what the Telegraph wrote, I love the Potter books much more than those other books on the list, but I also think that HBP is NOT really a children’s book…. my lil son (5) has read both PS and CS with me, but I don’t want him to start with PA yet, I rather he waits a bit before reading that . And I would definately not want him to read HBP yet… though he would love to, he keeps asking me questions about the books all the time… I find it hard not to tell him too much or to read the books with him, as I love them so much myself. I think they would upset him too much. I mean even I cried a lot reading them, so what would he do?

    Avatar Image says:

    I just really don’t see Harry Potter books being called “children’s books”. I don’t. To me, they’re for teens and up. I remember reading them when I was around 10 – 11, now that I’ve reread all of them at least 2 – 3 times (as an 18 year old), I feel I understand everything so much better and see that this stuff isn’t that suitable for kids.

    Avatar Image says:

    What gives the adults the right to choose what’s best? Just because they were good when they read them doesn’t mean they are now. Oh well, no use complaining. Congratulations Jo! Funny that book 6 got place 6.

    Avatar Image says:

    that’s great! an average of 22 minutes per night, that’s really wonderful. some of the best times i remember from when i was really little was when my mom or dad would read to me. congrats jo!

    Avatar Image says:

    @Elvine

    If someone hasn’t seen the religious allegory in Narnia, it’s not really that they haven’t heard of Jesus, it’s that they aren’t reading the books at a more in-depth level. I remember reading LWW when I was 9 or so, and I didn’t pick up the Christian allegory, but when I read it when I was 15 I did see the Christ-figure in Aslan and Judas in Edmund. So, the only people who read the books on a higher level and are a bit familiar with the Bible who will see the religious themes, so in that sense, the religious themes are in the eye of the beholder.

    On another note, if looking at HP as an allegory, I don’t think my applications of Harry as a Christ FIGURE, Voldemort as pure evil/the devil, and Snape as a redeemed traitor/Judas are a far cry from the truth. Saying that is like looking at HP as a historical allegory, with Voldemort and the Death Eaters as Hitler and he Nazis and Fudge as Chaimberlain (the latter of which has been confirmed by Jo).

    Avatar Image says:

    I too find it a bit suspicious that only HBP made it onto that list. Surely you’d expect to see at least one of the others within the next 44 below it?

    Avatar Image says:

    I think HBP is really good! I’m happy it got on the list! This one made me cry at the end though… _ Chero

    Avatar Image says:

    What, no “Babbity Rabbity and the cackling stump”?

    Avatar Image says:

    “As much as I like Narnia, it really is a very, very religious book. If you don’t see it, it’s probably because you have never heard of Jesus. And how likely is that, if you are part of the demographic the Narnia-novels were originally intended for.”

    Who said they didn’t see religious stuff in Narnia? Maybe I missed it, but I don’t think anyone said that.

    Avatar Image says:

    I agree with Rachels theory that Narnia and Potter are very similar in there charaters Harry/Aslan, Voldy/white witch and Snape/Edmond. I also like how Jo realates history to the series like Adolf Hitler is compared to Voldemort and the KKK is like the Death Eaters- very much represented in the GOF movie. And of course other historical connections. Whoever said they think they are alone in liking OOTP book your not its one of my favorites!

    Avatar Image says:

    Well I thikn the main problem with this poll is that they had people rank the HP books seperately, thus dividing the HP vote 7 ways. I’d be willing to bet a lot of money that the HP series would have been on the top of the list had it been counted as one story.

    Avatar Image says:

    What I mean is, Harry Potter can be read as a Christian allegory, as can basically any traditional adventure story. Narnia, on the other hand, is supposed to be read as a Christian allegory. Of course, depending how developed your reading skills are. Usually a little more developed at 15 than at 9. Even so, Lewis’ view of Christianity should be able to reach even very small children’s minds, since he makes many points about obeying your elders (otherwise things go very bad), and believing without proof. Heck, I had trouble with that at 7, without realizing the allegory bit.

    Avatar Image says:

    D’oh!

    Above post is by me, and is a reply to Rachel’s post a bit further up. Sorry.

    Avatar Image says:

    I wouldn’t consider HBP a kid’s book so much as the first three.

    Odd that ‘The Hobbit’ isn’t on the list, though.

    Avatar Image says:

    congrats jo i am happy for ya but and i can’t argue with most of the books an this list but captain underpants beating out any of the other 6 hp books and The Hobbit not making the list, it was originally was released asa children’s book but that is most often forgotten

    Avatar Image says:

    I am also surprised that HBP was the HP book selected, as it doesn’t fall into the “children’s” realm. I agree with a lot of people here that JKR belongs on this list, but I would have thought a true story (say SS/PS or CoS) would have made a better choice.

    Avatar Image says:

    To everyone who replied to my comment:

    First of all, Narnia is VERY religious. It makes direct references and allusions, say like “son of Adam, daughter of Eve”. It’s meant to be looked at as a Christian Allegory, UNLIKE Harry Potter (where slight parallels can be drawn).

    I’m not trying to be intolerant. I just don’t think children should be exposed to religion. It’s very influencing, affecting. Children don’t KNOW what to believe and what not to believe. Since religion is such an ambiguous subject, I just don’t find it safe for them. I don’t mind older people who have sense and reason to support Christianity, but these children are so malleable, they’ll believe anything. It isn’t even in their control. It’s cruel, that’s all.

    Just as I don’t believe His Dark Materials is a suitable subject for children. They’re not smart enough to understand this kind of sophisticated writing.

    Avatar Image says:

    i really would have expected ‘his dark materials’ to be included… but, oh well, it’s on my personal list, anyhow.

    Avatar Image says:

    @burningpumpkins, i think you terribly underestimate children…

    Avatar Image says:

    @billy

    In which way?

    Don’t just say that because you’re offended I think religion isn’t suitable for children. Heck, I believed Harry Potter was real when I was a kid. Statistics have proven that many people are religious or go to church because their parents FORCED them to, and its become so embedded into their minds they can’t think any way else.

    I wouldn’t let my own children near anything that suggests “Adam” or “Eve” or “God” until they are old enough to decide to believe it or not.

    Avatar Image says:

    @burningpumpkins,

    oh, no, i’m not offended about the religious thing. i just think you’re not giving children enough credit for their ability to come to individual thoughts or decisions. children won’t just “believe anything,” as you said; they are inherently curious and will actively seek knowledge… children ask “why” all the time; and once you’ve explained the answer to their first “why,” you are met with a second “why.”

    and also, to say children aren’t smart enough to understand sophisticated writing, such as ‘his dark materials’... that’s terribly off base. i think a lot of children understand things much better than adults. they’re not clouded with an embittered, jaded world view that might allow certain adults to outwardly declaim children as “not smart enough” to understand the big grown-up concepts that you, apparently, do.

    if your way of thought permeated culture, then technically, should we teach children anything? should we really “force” any moral consciousness or awareness down their throats?

    i don’t mean to sound offensive, and i hope you’re not taking this as a personal affront.

    Avatar Image says:

    Wow congrats Jo thats great I loved the HBP, although I would have picked picked the 1st Harry Potter book for a childrens book then the sixth but still great work!

    Avatar Image says:

    Just for a comment to Billy and Burningpumpkins- I learned in psychology class that we should not underestimate the mind of a child. that is where alot of parents go wrong in being overbearing, and too protective- they think “my child will see that as influential and too real, so they cant watch it or read it ” when really kids know the difference between reality and make believe. That is where fundamentalists get their wacky accusations they think children or tweens or whatever age reads HP will get the wrong idea and think it is real and go out there and join a cult. If they really had open minds and an imagination they would know that it is for pure entertainment and to expand a childs or individuals reading capacity. this is just extra info for anyone who cares. BYE

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    @bellasnape:

    cheers! you made a point i was trying to, except i got extra-wordy! again!

    Avatar Image says:

    Hmm, I don’t like many of these books! Oh well, I guess I’m just weird. xP

    The Very Hungry Caterpillar should be #1 T_T

    Avatar Image says:

    glad I could be of assistance. cheers to you!

    Avatar Image says:

    i like all of the books expecialy the seventh book

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