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100 best children's books from the past 100 years: the full list

Goodnight Mister Tom

These are the 100 best children's and teens' books from the past 100 years.

To see this list divided into age groups, or to see the nation's top 10 favourite books, visit our 100 best books page.

Looking for new books? Try our other recommended reads

  • Flour Babies

    Author: Anne Fine
    Publisher: Penguin

    As part of a Child Development project, each boy in Class 4C is given a 'flour baby', a sack of flour which must be looked after for three weeks, ensuring it does not get lost or dirty.

  • How I Live Now

    Author: Meg Rosoff
    Publisher: Penguin

    Fifteen-year-old New Yorker Daisy is sent to England to spend a summer with her unconventional cousins

  • Looking for JJ

    Author: Anne Cassidy
    Publisher: Scholastic

    When a 10-year-old girl kills her best friend, she is convicted of manslaughter and locked away. Seven years later she is released on licence with a new identity.

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

    Author: Mark Haddon
    Publisher: Red Fox

    This funny, touching and compelling novel was the winner of the inaugural Booktrust Teenage Prize

  • I Capture the Castle

    Author: Dodie Smith
    Publisher: Penguin

    17-year-old Cassandra lives an eccentric existence with her bohemian family in a crumbling castle in the English countryside, in this delightful classic coming-of-age story.

  • Private Peaceful

    Author: Sir Michael Morpurgo
    Publisher: HarperCollins

    Set during World War I, Private Peaceful charts eight hours in the life of Tommo, a young soldier at the Front.

  • Journey to the River Sea

    Author: Eva Ibbotson
    Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books

    Orphan Maia is thrilled to learn she is to live with relatives in South America and cannot wait to experience the sights, sounds and smells of the Amazon.

  • Mortal Engines

    Author: Philip Reeve
    Publisher: Scholastic

    London is on the move again: the traction city trawls the world on wheels, capturing and eating smaller towns.

  • The Tiger Who Came to Tea

    Author: Judith Kerr
    Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books

    Sophie and her Mummy are having tea in the kitchen when in walks a hungry tiger who asks to stay to tea.

  • Where's Spot?

    Author: Eric Hill
    Publisher: Puffin

    This adorable picture book about Spot the dog is the first in the Spot series

  • Mister Magnolia

    Author: Quentin Blake
    Publisher: Random House

    Mr Magnolia has many things - but only one boot.

  • The Queen's Nose

    Author: Dick KingSmith
    Publisher: Puffin

    Harmony's Uncle Ginger sends her on a treasure trail - which ends in finding a 50p piece.

  • Each Peach Pear Plum

    Author: Allan Ahlberg Illustrator: Janet Ahlberg
    Publisher: Puffin

    This classic book from author and illustrator team Janet and Allan Ahlberg is a real favourite with families

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar

    Author: Eric Carle
    Publisher: Puffin

    Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar deserves its reputation as a much-loved classic.

  • The Elephant and the Bad Baby

    Author: Elfrida Vipont Illustrator: Raymond Briggs
    Publisher: Puffin

    One day, an elephant offers a baby a ride through the town, and the set off on a great adventure.

  • Dogger

    Author: Shirley Hughes
    Publisher: Random House

    When Dave loses his favourite toy, Dogger, he is desolate.

  • Millions

    Author: Frank Cottrell Boyce
    Publisher: Pan Macmillan

    One night, a bag containing £229,370 falls from the sky and flattens the hermitage. Damian is convinced it is a gift from God.

  • Lost and Found

    Author: Oliver Jeffers
    Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books

    Once there was a sad, lonely penguin who appeared at the door of a young boy. The boy decided he must be lost, so he set off to find his home.

  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

    Author: Jon Scieszka Illustrator: Lane Smith
    Publisher: Penguin

    What really happened to the three little pigs and the big bad wolf? Find out the truth in this hilarious picture book.

  • The Sheep-Pig

    Author: Dick King-Smith Illustrator: Mike Terry
    Publisher: Penguin

    When Farmer Hogget wins a piglet at the fair, he is amazed that Fly, his sheep-dog, welcomes him as one of her own pups.

  • Matilda

    Author: Roald Dahl Illustrator: Quentin Blake
    Publisher: Puffin

    This modern fairy-tale with a brilliantly inspiring young heroine is one of Roald Dahl's best loved stories.

  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

    Author: John Boyne
    Publisher: Random House

    Bruno is exploring his new home at 'Out-With' when he meets Shmuel, who lives on the other side of a fence which surrounds a large camp in the grounds.

  • Once

    Author: Morris Gleitzman
    Publisher: Penguin

    Morris Gleitzman brings heart and humour to the difficult subject of the Holocaust in this ground-breaking children's book.

  • The Story of Tracy Beaker

    Author: Jacqueline Wilson Illustrator: Nick Sharratt
    Publisher: Random House

    Tracy lives in a children's home but constantly hopes that her absent, glamorous Mum will come and take her away.

  • Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears

    Author: Emily Gravett
    Publisher: Pan Macmillan

    Little Mouse is scared of most things, from creepy crawlies and loud noises, to getting lost.

  • Skellig

    Author: David Almond
    Publisher: Hodder Children's Books

    Exploring a ramshackle garage with his new-found friend Mina, Michael discovers a strange, magical creature who needs his help. A contemporary classic. 

  • Northern Lights

    Author: Philip Pullman
    Publisher: Scholastic

    This extraordinary fantasy is the first book in Philip Pullman's multi-award-winning His Dark Materials trilogy

  • Coram Boy

    Author: Jamila Gavin
    Publisher: Egmont

    Coram Boy is the story of Toby, saved from an African ship as a child, and Aaron, the illegitimate son of the heir to a great estate.

  • I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato

    Author: Lauren Child
    Publisher: Hachette

    Charlie tricks his younger sister, Lola - an extremely fussy eater - into eating all her least favourite foods.

  • Noughts and Crosses

    Author: Malorie Blackman
    Publisher: Random House

    Callum is a Nought but his best friend Sephy is a Cross - the daughter of one of the most influential politicians in the country.

  • Artemis Fowl

    Author: Eoin Colfer
    Publisher: Penguin

    Twelve-year-old criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl hatches an ingenious plot to steal all the gold in fairy land.

  • Room on the Broom

    Author: Julia Donaldson Illustrator: Axel Scheffler
    Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books

    From former Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson and longtime collaborator Axel Scheffler comes this much-loved tale about a witch and her gang of friends.

  • The Knife of Never Letting Go

    Author: Patrick Ness
    Publisher: Walker Books

    The first in a series, this enthralling sci-fi/fantasy novel grips readers throughout, presenting them with tough questions about identity, ethics and the nature of truth.

  • That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown

    Author: Cressida Cowell Illustrator: Neal Layton
    Publisher: Hachette

    Emily and her toy rabbit, Stanley, love to go on adventures together.

  • The Snowman

    Author: Raymond Briggs
    Publisher: Puffin

    James builds a snowman in the garden, then wakes up in the night to find that it has come to life.

  • Clarice Bean, That's Me

    Author: Lauren Child
    Publisher: Orchard Books

    Clarice Bean gives us a snapshot of her life and family in the book that launched a bestselling series.

  • The Graveyard Book

    Author: Neil Gaiman Illustrator: Chris Riddell
    Publisher: Bloomsbury

    After his family are killed, Bod is brought up in a graveyard by ghosts.

  • Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

    Author: Mem Fox Illustrator: Helen Oxenbury
    Publisher: Walker Books

    This charming first book is perfect for new arrivals.

  • Amazing Grace

    Author: Mary Hoffman Illustrator: Caroline Binch
    Publisher: Frances Lincoln

    This classic story clearly communicates an inspiring message that anything is possible

  • The Hunger Games

    Author: Suzanne Colins
    Publisher: Scholastic

    Welcome to Panem: its Capitol repressively rules twelve satellite Districts, enslaving the populations as workers and controlling them through hunger.

  • Revolver

    Author: Marcus Sedgwick
    Publisher: Orion Children's Books

    'They say dead men tell no tales, but they're wrong. Even the dead tell stories.'

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid

    Author: Jeff Kinney
    Publisher: Puffin

    Greg Heffley is a normal American kid, albeit one with a habit of getting into (and out of) trouble.

  • The BFG

    Author: Roald Dahl Illustrator: Quentin Blake
    Publisher: Puffin

    The BFG stands for Big Friendly Giant, who unexpectedly spirits a little girl named Sophie out of bed, and into the land of the child-eating giants.

  • Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging

    Author: Louise Rennison
    Publisher: HarperCollins

    Welcome to the world of Georgia Nicolson - an angst-ridden teenage girl who keeps a diary to record the rollercoaster of emotions and experiences she faces every day

  • Dear Zoo

    Author: Rod Campbell
    Publisher: Campbell Books

    This appealing story, in lift-the-flap, board-book format has been a favourite with toddlers ever since it was first published in 1982.

  • Gorilla

    Author: Anthony Browne
    Publisher: Walker Books

    Hannah's favourite animals in the whole world are gorillas, but her dad is always too busy to take her to the zoo.

  • The Kite Rider

    Author: Geraldine McCaughrean
    Publisher: Oxford University Press

    Haoyou feels powerless when the man responsible for his father's death demands to marry his mother. Determined to support her himself, the young boy joins a travelling circus.

  • Stormbreaker

    Author: Anthony Horowitz
    Publisher: Walker Books

    Fourteen-year-old Alex Rider finds his life turned upside down on discovering that his late uncle wasn't a mild-mannered banker, but instead a field agent for MI6.

  • A Bear Called Paddington

    Author: Michael Bond Illustrator: Peggy Fortnum
    Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books

    Paddington, the brown bear from darkest Peru, is found by the Brown family on Paddington Station with his hat, duffel coat and marmalade sandwiches.

  • Asterix the Gaul

    Author: Renné Goscinny Illustrator: Albert Uderzo Translator: Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge
    Publisher: Orion

    In a tiny corner of Brittany, one small village of indomitable Gauls hold out against the almighty, all-conquering Romans.

  • Carrie's War

    Author: Nina Bawden
    Publisher: Puffin

    Inspired by Nina Bawden's own experiences of living as an evacuee in a Welsh mining valley as a child, Carrie's War is now considered a modern classic. Funny, sad and thought-provoking. 

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    Author: J K Rowling
    Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books

    After the misery of life with his ghastly aunt and uncle, Harry Potter is delighted to have the chance to embark on an exciting new life at the Hogwart's School of Wizardry and Witchcraft.

  • Goodnight Mister Tom

    Author: Michelle Magorian
    Publisher: Puffin

    Willie Beech, a lonely and deprived child, is evacuated to a tiny English village just before the  Second World War, and finds himself living with reclusive widower Thomas Oakley.

  • Junk

    Author: Melvin Burgess
    Publisher: Andersen Press

    Tar loves Gemma, but Gemma doesn't want to be tied down to anyone or anything. Gemma wants to fly - but she can't fly forever...

  • We're Going on a Bear Hunt

    Author: Michael Rosen Illustrator: Helen Oxenbury
    Publisher: Walker Books

    Follow a father and his family as they go out in search of a bear.

  • Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy

    Author: Lynley Dodd
    Publisher: Puffin

    This hilarious rhyming story follows Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy, as he sets off for a walk in town

  • Not now, Bernard

    Author: David McKee
    Publisher: Andersen

    The classic tale of Bernard, whose distracted parents fail to notice that their son has been eaten and replaced by a monster.

  • Life: An Exploded Diagram

    Author: Mal Peet
    Publisher: Walker Books Ltd

    In this intelligent young adult novel, Clem's coming-of-age story of first love and burgeoning sexuality is woven around a tense account of the mounting Cuban Missile Crisis

  • Finn Family Moomintroll

    Author: Tove Jansson Translator: Elizabeth Portch
    Publisher: Puffin Books

    Moomintroll is cheerful and chubby and lives in the magical Moominvalley with his mother, Moominmamma, his father, Moominpappa and all of their friends.

  • Where the Wild Things Are

    Author: Maurice Sendak
    Publisher: Red Fox

    First published in 1963, this classic picture book will fascinate both children and adults, evoking the fierce intensity of childhood

  • The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters

    Author: Allan Ahlberg Illustrator: Janet Ahlberg
    Publisher: Penguin

    Brilliantly designed with lots of little details to spot, this old favourite will be enjoyed time and time again

  • Pippi Longstocking

    Author: Astrid Lindgren Translator: Tiina Nunnally Illustrator: Lauren Child
    Publisher: Oxford University Press

    Follow Pippi Longstocking on her amazing adventures as she moves into Villa Villekulla with a horse, a monkey, and a big suitcase of gold coins.

  • I Want My Hat Back

    Author: Jon Klassen
    Publisher: Walker Books

    A bear sets out in search of his hat - he loves his hat and he wants it back

  • Horrid Henry

    Author: Francesca Simon Illustrator: Tony Ross
    Publisher: Orion Children's Books

    Stories about naughty characters have been told for centuries, and Horrid Henry is a modern-day rogue in the tradition of Dennis the Menace and Just William.

  • The Borrowers

    Author: Mary Norton
    Publisher: Puffin

    The Borrowers are tiny people who live in the secret places of old houses - behind the mantlepiece, inside the harpsichord, under the kitchen clock.

  • Maggot Moon

    Author: Sally Gardner
    Publisher: Hot Key Books

    Combining conspiracy theory and dystopia, this hugely original novel is set in an alternate 1950s in which Britain is dominated by the ruthlessly oppressive forces of The Motherland.

  • The Hobbit

    Author: JRR Tolkein
    Publisher: HarperCollins Children's

    This well-loved fantasy story has delighed readers ever since its first publication in 1937.

  • Stig of the Dump

    Author: Clive King
    Publisher: Puffin

    Exploring an old chalk pit, Barney meets a strange boy who wears a rabbit skin and speaks in grunts.

  • The Cat in the Hat

    Author: Dr Seuss
    Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books

    When Sally and her brother are left alone on a rainy day, they think they are in for a dull time - but then the Cat in the Hat appears.

  • Meg and Mog

    Author: Helen Nicholl Illustrator: Jan Pienkowski
    Publisher: Puffin

    In this the first story about much-loved characters Meg the witch and Mog her cat, the pair go off to a wild Hallowe'en party with all the other witches

  • Would You Rather…

    Author: John Burningham
    Publisher: Red Fox

    A classic for children, Would You Rather... presents an alternative to a traditional story by imagining a mixture of fantastical and real-life choices. It's great for building confidence with little ones about making their own choices for their own reasons. 

  • Princess Smartypants

    Author: Babette Cole
    Publisher: Penguin

    Princess Smartypants does not want to get married. She enjoys being a Ms. But being a rich and pretty princess means that all the princes want her to become their wife.

  • I Want My Potty!

    Author: Tony Ross
    Publisher: Andersen Press

    The Little Princess hates nappies, and thinks there must be something better. This is classic picture book entertainment, which will be especially appreciated by any children who are learning to love their potty!

  • Winnie-the-Pooh

    Author: A A Milne Illustrator: E H Shepherd
    Publisher: Egmont Books

    No child's library could be complete without A A Milne's stories about Pooh, Christopher Robin and their friends in the Hundred Acre Wood.

  • The Story of Babar

    Author: Jean De Brunhoff Translator: Merle S. Haas
    Publisher: Egmont

    ' In the great forest, a litle elephant was born. His name was Babar...'

  • Little House in the Big Woods

    Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Publisher: Egmont

    Inside the little house live the Ingalls family: Ma, Pa, Mary, Laura and baby Carrie.

  • The Enchanted Wood

    Author: Enid Blyton
    Publisher: Egmont

    When Joe, Beth and Frannie move into a new home, they discover a mysterious wood on their very doorstep.

  • My Naughty Little Sister

    Author: Dorothy Edwards Illustrator: Shirley Hughes
    Publisher: Egmont

    This affectionate portrait of family life is the story of a naughty three-year-old sister who is obstinate, inquisitive and full of mischief.

  • Charlotte's Web

    Author: E B White Illustrator: Garth Williams
    Publisher: Puffin

    This is the tale of how a little girl named Fern - with the help of a friendly talking spider called Charlotte - saved her pig, Wilbur, from the usual fate of nice fat little pigs.

  • Flat Stanley

    Author: Jeff Brown Illustrator: Scott Nash
    Publisher: Egmont

    Stanley Lambchop wakes up one morning to find he is only half an inch thick

  • The Worst Witch

    Author: Jill Murphy
    Publisher: Puffin

    Long before Harry Potter first went to Hogwarts, trainee witch Mildred Hubble embarked on life at Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches...

  • The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook

    Author: Joyce Lankester Brisley
    Publisher: Macmillan

    Milly-Molly-Mandy lives with her mother, father, uncle, aunt, grandmother and grandfather in a 'nice white cottage with a thatched roof'.

  • The Adventures of Tintin

    Author: Hergé Translator: Michael Turner and Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper
    Publisher: Egmont

    Resourceful junior reporter Tintin embarks on a series of exciting international adventures, accompanied by his faithful dog Snowy, in this favourite series.

  • Swallows and Amazons

    Author: Arthur Ransome
    Publisher: Red Fox

    It's the summer holidays, and the Walker children are excited to set sail on their boat Swallow and camp on Wild Cat Island.

  • Ballet Shoes

    Author: Noel Streatfeild
    Publisher: Penguin

    First published in the 1930s, this classic story of three very different girls who work hard to master their talents has captivated children's imaginations for decades

  • The Little Prince

    Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupery Translator: Katherine Woods
    Publisher: Egmont

    An air pilot makes a forced landing deep in the Sahara Desert. There, he makes a mysterious Little Prince, who tells him a series of wise and enchanting stories.

  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

    Author: C S Lewis
    Publisher: HarperCollins Children's

    When Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy - step through a wardrobe door in the strange country house where they are staying, they find themselves in the land of Narnia.

  • The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

    Author: Joan Aiken
    Publisher: Vintage

    There are wolves outside the walls of Willoughby Chase, but for cousins Bonnie and Sylvia, the real danger lies inside.

  • The Witches

    Author: Roald Dahl Illustrator: Quentin Blake
    Publisher: Puffin

    Real witches disguise themselves as lovely ladies, when secretly they want to squish and squelch all the wretched children they despise.

  • Truckers

    Author: Terry Pratchett
    Publisher: Random House

    The first title in the Bromeliad trilogy, this is an enchanting fantasy from favourite author Terry Pratchett.

  • Holes

    Author: Louis Sachar
    Publisher: Bloomsbury

    Stanley Yelnats' family has a history of bad luck, so he is not entirely surprised when a miscarriage of justice sends him to the Camp Green Lake Juvenile Detention Centre

  • The Fellowship of The Ring

    Author: JRR Tolkein
    Publisher: HarperCollins

    The first part of J R R Tolkien's epic masterpiece The Lord of the Rings, this is the story of young hobbit Frodo Baggins, who finds himself faced with an immense and terrible duty.

  • The Owl Service

    Author: Alan Garner
    Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books

    When Alison finds a curious dinner service in the attic, the discovery sets off a strange chain of events that look set to affect everyone's lives. This extraordinary and powerful story is a modern classic, blending together mystery, adventure and history.

  • Watership Down

    Author: Richard Adams
    Publisher: Penguin

    Young rabbit Fiver is convinced that a great evil is about to befall the warren where he lives - but no one will listen to him.

  • Forever

    Author: Judy Blume
    Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books

    Seventeen-year-old Katherine meets Michael at a party. The two of them like each other immediately, and soon fall in love - but are they ready to take their relationship to the next level?

  • The Ruby in the Smoke

    Author: Philip Pullman
    Publisher: Scholastic

    Determined to discover the truth about her father's tragic death, Sally Lockhart is plunged into a dangerous and terrifying adventure that takes her to the dark heart of Victorian London.

  • A Monster Calls

    Author: Patrick Ness From an idea by Siobhan Dowd Illustrator: Jim Kay
    Publisher: Walker Books Ltd

    Connor's mum has cancer and life is changing. There is the nightmare, then there is school, where people avoid him, or persecute him. And then there is the immense, mythic Monster.

  • The Arrival

    Author: Shaun Tan
    Publisher: Hachette

    In this unusual book, we follow a young man as he packs his bags and leaves his family to go and start a new life in another country