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

Skellig

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

Read about how we went about compiling this list

  • Flour Babies

    Author: Anne Fine

    Interest level: 9+

    Reading age: 9+

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  • Flour Babies

    Author: Anne Fine

    Interest level: 9+

    Reading age: 9+

    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 f…

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  • How I Live Now

    Author: Meg Rosoff

    Interest level: 13+

    Reading age: 13+

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  • How I Live Now

    Author: Meg Rosoff

    Interest level: 13+

    Reading age: 13+

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

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  • Looking for JJ

    Author: Anne Cassidy

    Interest level: 13+

    Reading age: 13+

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  • Looking for JJ

    Author: Anne Cassidy

    Interest level: 13+

    Reading age: 13+

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

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  • I Capture the Castle

    Author: Dodie Smith

    Interest level: 12+

    Reading age: 12+

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  • I Capture the Castle

    Author: Dodie Smith

    Interest level: 12+

    Reading age: 12+

    17-year-old Cassandra lives an eccentric existence with her bohemian family in a crumbling castle in the English countryside, in t…

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  • Private Peaceful

    Author: Sir Michael Morpurgo

    Interest level: 9+

    Reading age: 10+

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  • Private Peaceful

    Author: Sir Michael Morpurgo

    Interest level: 9+

    Reading age: 10+

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

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  • Mortal Engines

    Author: Philip Reeve

    Interest level: 11+

    Reading age: 11+

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  • Mortal Engines

    Author: Philip Reeve

    Interest level: 11+

    Reading age: 11+

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

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  • The Queen's Nose

    Author: Dick KingSmith

    Interest level: 7+

    Reading age: 8+

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  • The Queen's Nose

    Author: Dick KingSmith

    Interest level: 7+

    Reading age: 8+

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

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  • Each Peach Pear Plum

    Author: Allan Ahlberg Illustrator: Janet Ahlberg

    Interest level: 0-4

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  • Each Peach Pear Plum

    Author: Allan Ahlberg Illustrator: Janet Ahlberg

    Interest level: 0-4

    Reading age:

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

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  • Dogger

    Author: Shirley Hughes

    Interest level: 0+

    Reading age: 5+

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  • Dogger

    Author: Shirley Hughes

    Interest level: 0+

    Reading age: 5+

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

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  • Millions

    Author: Frank Cottrell Boyce Illustrator: Steven Lenton

    Interest level: 9+

    Reading age: 9+

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  • Millions

    Author: Frank Cottrell Boyce Illustrator: Steven Lenton

    Interest level: 9+

    Reading age: 9+

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

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  • Lost and Found

    Author: Oliver Jeffers

    Interest level: 3-5

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  • Lost and Found

    Author: Oliver Jeffers

    Interest level: 3-5

    Reading age:

    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 fi…

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  • The Sheep-Pig

    Author: Dick King-Smith Illustrator: Mike Terry

    Interest level: 6+

    Reading age: 7+

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  • The Sheep-Pig

    Author: Dick King-Smith Illustrator: Mike Terry

    Interest level: 6+

    Reading age: 7+

    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.

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  • Matilda

    Author: Roald Dahl Illustrator: Quentin Blake

    Interest level: 7+

    Reading age: 8+

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  • Matilda

    Author: Roald Dahl Illustrator: Quentin Blake

    Interest level: 7+

    Reading age: 8+

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

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  • Once

    Author: Morris Gleitzman

    Interest level: 10+

    Reading age: 9+

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  • Once

    Author: Morris Gleitzman

    Interest level: 10+

    Reading age: 9+

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

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  • The Story of Tracy Beaker

    Author: Jacqueline Wilson Illustrator: Nick Sharratt

    Interest level: 8+

    Reading age: 8+

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  • The Story of Tracy Beaker

    Author: Jacqueline Wilson Illustrator: Nick Sharratt

    Interest level: 8+

    Reading age: 8+

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

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  • Skellig

    Author: David Almond

    Interest level: 10+

    Reading age: 11+

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  • Skellig

    Author: David Almond

    Interest level: 10+

    Reading age: 11+

    Exploring a ramshackle garage with his new-found friend Mina, Michael discovers a strange, magical creature who needs his help.&nb…

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  • Northern Lights

    Author: Philip Pullman

    Interest level: 10+

    Reading age: 10+

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  • Northern Lights

    Author: Philip Pullman

    Interest level: 10+

    Reading age: 10+

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

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  • Coram Boy

    Author: Jamila Gavin

    Interest level: 12+

    Reading age: 12+

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  • Coram Boy

    Author: Jamila Gavin

    Interest level: 12+

    Reading age: 12+

    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 esta…

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  • Noughts and Crosses

    Author: Malorie Blackman

    Interest level: 12+

    Reading age: 12+

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  • Noughts and Crosses

    Author: Malorie Blackman

    Interest level: 12+

    Reading age: 12+

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

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  • Artemis Fowl

    Author: Eoin Colfer

    Interest level: 8-12

    Reading age: 10+

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  • Artemis Fowl

    Author: Eoin Colfer

    Interest level: 8-12

    Reading age: 10+

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

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  • Room on the Broom

    Author: Julia Donaldson Illustrator: Axel Scheffler

    Interest level: 3+

    Reading age: 6+

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  • Room on the Broom

    Author: Julia Donaldson Illustrator: Axel Scheffler

    Interest level: 3+

    Reading age: 6+

    From former Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson and longtime collaborator Axel Scheffler comes this much-loved tale about a witch …

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  • The Snowman

    Author: Raymond Briggs

    Interest level: 3+

    Reading age: 3+

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  • The Snowman

    Author: Raymond Briggs

    Interest level: 3+

    Reading age: 3+

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

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  • The Graveyard Book

    Author: Neil Gaiman Illustrator: Chris Riddell

    Interest level: 11+

    Reading age: 11+

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  • The Graveyard Book

    Author: Neil Gaiman Illustrator: Chris Riddell

    Interest level: 11+

    Reading age: 11+

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

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  • Amazing Grace

    Author: Mary Hoffman Illustrator: Caroline Binch

    Interest level: 5+

    Reading age: 5+

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  • Amazing Grace

    Author: Mary Hoffman Illustrator: Caroline Binch

    Interest level: 5+

    Reading age: 5+

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

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  • The Hunger Games

    Author: Suzanne Colins

    Interest level: 13+

    Reading age: 13+

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  • The Hunger Games

    Author: Suzanne Colins

    Interest level: 13+

    Reading age: 13+

    Welcome to Panem: its Capitol repressively rules twelve satellite Districts, enslaving the populations as workers and controlling …

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  • Revolver

    Author: Marcus Sedgwick

    Interest level: 12+

    Reading age: 11+

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  • Revolver

    Author: Marcus Sedgwick

    Interest level: 12+

    Reading age: 11+

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

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  • The BFG

    Author: Roald Dahl Illustrator: Quentin Blake

    Interest level: 6+

    Reading age: 7+

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  • The BFG

    Author: Roald Dahl Illustrator: Quentin Blake

    Interest level: 6+

    Reading age: 7+

    The BFG stands for Big Friendly Giant, who unexpectedly spirits a little girl named Sophie out of bed, and into the land of the ch…

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  • Dear Zoo

    Author: Rod Campbell

    Interest level: 2+

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  • Dear Zoo

    Author: Rod Campbell

    Interest level: 2+

    Reading age:

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

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  • Gorilla

    Author: Anthony Browne

    Interest level: 4+

    Reading age: 6+

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  • Gorilla

    Author: Anthony Browne

    Interest level: 4+

    Reading age: 6+

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

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  • The Kite Rider

    Author: Geraldine McCaughrean

    Interest level: 11+

    Reading age: 11+

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  • The Kite Rider

    Author: Geraldine McCaughrean

    Interest level: 11+

    Reading age: 11+

    Haoyou feels powerless when the man responsible for his father's death demands to marry his mother. Determined to support her hims…

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  • Stormbreaker

    Author: Anthony Horowitz

    Interest level: 13+

    Reading age: 12+

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  • Stormbreaker

    Author: Anthony Horowitz

    Interest level: 13+

    Reading age: 12+

    Fourteen-year-old Alex Rider finds his life turned upside down on discovering that his late uncle wasn't a mild-mannered banker, b…

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  • A Bear Called Paddington

    Author: Michael Bond Illustrator: Peggy Fortnum

    Interest level: 6+

    Reading age: 8+

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  • A Bear Called Paddington

    Author: Michael Bond Illustrator: Peggy Fortnum

    Interest level: 6+

    Reading age: 8+

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

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  • Asterix the Gaul

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

    Interest level: 7+

    Reading age: 7+

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  • Asterix the Gaul

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

    Interest level: 7+

    Reading age: 7+

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

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  • Carrie's War

    Author: Nina Bawden

    Interest level: 9+

    Reading age: 10+

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  • Carrie's War

    Author: Nina Bawden

    Interest level: 9+

    Reading age: 10+

    Inspired by Nina Bawden's own experiences of living as an evacuee in a Welsh mining valley as a child, Carrie's War is n…

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  • Goodnight Mister Tom

    Author: Michelle Magorian

    Interest level: 9+

    Reading age: 10+

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  • Goodnight Mister Tom

    Author: Michelle Magorian

    Interest level: 9+

    Reading age: 10+

    Willie Beech, a lonely and deprived child, is evacuated to a tiny English village just before the  Second World War, and find…

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  • Junk

    Author: Melvin Burgess

    Interest level: 14+

    Reading age: 14+

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  • Junk

    Author: Melvin Burgess

    Interest level: 14+

    Reading age: 14+

    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...

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  • Not Now, Bernard

    Author: David McKee

    Interest level: 4-5

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  • Not Now, Bernard

    Author: David McKee

    Interest level: 4-5

    Reading age:

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

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  • Finn Family Moomintroll

    Author: Tove Jansson Translator: Elizabeth Portch

    Interest level: 5-8

    Reading age: 6+

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  • Finn Family Moomintroll

    Author: Tove Jansson Translator: Elizabeth Portch

    Interest level: 5-8

    Reading age: 6+

    Moomintroll is cheerful and chubby and lives in the magical Moominvalley with his mother, Moominmamma, his father, Moominpappa and…

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  • Pippi Longstocking

    Author: Astrid Lindgren Translator: Tiina Nunnally Illustrator: Lauren Child

    Interest level: 6+

    Reading age: 8+

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  • Pippi Longstocking

    Author: Astrid Lindgren Translator: Tiina Nunnally Illustrator: Lauren Child

    Interest level: 6+

    Reading age: 8+

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

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  • Horrid Henry

    Author: Francesca Simon Illustrator: Tony Ross

    Interest level: 4+

    Reading age: 6+

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  • Horrid Henry

    Author: Francesca Simon Illustrator: Tony Ross

    Interest level: 4+

    Reading age: 6+

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

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  • The Borrowers

    Author: Mary Norton

    Interest level: 9+

    Reading age: 9+

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  • The Borrowers

    Author: Mary Norton

    Interest level: 9+

    Reading age: 9+

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

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  • Maggot Moon

    Author: Sally Gardner

    Interest level: 13+

    Reading age: 11+

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  • Maggot Moon

    Author: Sally Gardner

    Interest level: 13+

    Reading age: 11+

    Combining conspiracy theory and dystopia, this hugely original novel is set in an alternate 1950s in which Britain is dominated by…

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  • The Hobbit

    Author: JRR Tolkein

    Interest level: 8+

    Reading age: 10+

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  • The Hobbit

    Author: JRR Tolkein

    Interest level: 8+

    Reading age: 10+

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

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  • Stig of the Dump

    Author: Clive King

    Interest level: 8+

    Reading age: 8+

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  • Stig of the Dump

    Author: Clive King

    Interest level: 8+

    Reading age: 8+

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

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  • Meg and Mog

    Author: Helen Nicholl Illustrator: Jan Pienkowski

    Interest level: 2+

    Reading age: 5+

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  • Meg and Mog

    Author: Helen Nicholl Illustrator: Jan Pienkowski

    Interest level: 2+

    Reading age: 5+

    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…

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  • Would You Rather…

    Author: John Burningham

    Interest level: 3-6

    Reading age: 5-7

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  • Would You Rather…

    Author: John Burningham

    Interest level: 3-6

    Reading age: 5-7

    A classic for children, Would You Rather... presents an alternative to a traditional story by imagining a mixture of fan…

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  • Princess Smartypants

    Author: Babette Cole

    Interest level: 3+

    Reading age: 6+

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  • Princess Smartypants

    Author: Babette Cole

    Interest level: 3+

    Reading age: 6+

    Princess Smartypants does not want to get married. She enjoys being a Ms. But being a rich and pretty princess means that all the …

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  • I Want My Potty!

    Author: Tony Ross

    Interest level: 2+

    Reading age: 5+

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  • I Want My Potty!

    Author: Tony Ross

    Interest level: 2+

    Reading age: 5+

    The Little Princess hates nappies, and thinks there must be something better. This is classic picture book entertainment, which wi…

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  • Winnie-the-Pooh

    Author: A A Milne Illustrator: E H Shepherd

    Interest level: 4+

    Reading age: 7+

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  • Winnie-the-Pooh

    Author: A A Milne Illustrator: E H Shepherd

    Interest level: 4+

    Reading age: 7+

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

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  • The Story of Babar

    Author: Jean De Brunhoff Translator: Merle S. Haas

    Interest level: 4+

    Reading age: 7+

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  • The Story of Babar

    Author: Jean De Brunhoff Translator: Merle S. Haas

    Interest level: 4+

    Reading age: 7+

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

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  • My Naughty Little Sister

    Author: Dorothy Edwards Illustrator: Shirley Hughes

    Interest level: 5+

    Reading age: 7+

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  • My Naughty Little Sister

    Author: Dorothy Edwards Illustrator: Shirley Hughes

    Interest level: 5+

    Reading age: 7+

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

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  • Charlotte's Web

    Author: E B White Illustrator: Garth Williams

    Interest level: 6+

    Reading age: 7+

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  • Charlotte's Web

    Author: E B White Illustrator: Garth Williams

    Interest level: 6+

    Reading age: 7+

    This is the tale of how a little girl named Fern - with the help of a friendly talking spider called Charlotte - saved her pig, Wi…

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  • Flat Stanley

    Author: Jeff Brown Illustrator: Scott Nash

    Interest level: 5+

    Reading age: 7+

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  • Flat Stanley

    Author: Jeff Brown Illustrator: Scott Nash

    Interest level: 5+

    Reading age: 7+

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

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  • The Worst Witch

    Author: Jill Murphy

    Interest level: 6+

    Reading age: 7+

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  • The Worst Witch

    Author: Jill Murphy

    Interest level: 6+

    Reading age: 7+

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

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  • The Adventures of Tintin

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

    Interest level: 7+

    Reading age: 9+

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  • The Adventures of Tintin

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

    Interest level: 7+

    Reading age: 9+

    Resourceful junior reporter Tintin embarks on a series of exciting international adventures, accompanied by his faithful dog Snowy…

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  • Swallows and Amazons

    Author: Arthur Ransome

    Interest level: 8+

    Reading age: 9+

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  • Swallows and Amazons

    Author: Arthur Ransome

    Interest level: 8+

    Reading age: 9+

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

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  • Ballet Shoes

    Author: Noel Streatfeild

    Interest level: 8+

    Reading age: 9+

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  • Ballet Shoes

    Author: Noel Streatfeild

    Interest level: 8+

    Reading age: 9+

    First published in the 1930s, this classic story of three very different girls who work hard to master their talents has captivate…

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  • The Little Prince

    Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupery Translator: Katherine Woods

    Interest level: 8+

    Reading age: 8+

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  • The Little Prince

    Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupery Translator: Katherine Woods

    Interest level: 8+

    Reading age: 8+

    An air pilot makes a forced landing deep in the Sahara Desert. There, he makes a mysterious Little Prince, who tells him a series …

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  • The Witches

    Author: Roald Dahl Illustrator: Quentin Blake

    Interest level: 9+

    Reading age: 9+

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  • The Witches

    Author: Roald Dahl Illustrator: Quentin Blake

    Interest level: 9+

    Reading age: 9+

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

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  • Truckers

    Author: Terry Pratchett

    Interest level: 9+

    Reading age: 10+

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  • Truckers

    Author: Terry Pratchett

    Interest level: 9+

    Reading age: 10+

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

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  • Holes

    Author: Louis Sachar

    Interest level: 10+

    Reading age: 10+

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  • Holes

    Author: Louis Sachar

    Interest level: 10+

    Reading age: 10+

    Stanley Yelnats' family has a history of bad luck, so he is not entirely surprised when a miscarriage of justice sends him to the …

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  • The Owl Service

    Author: Alan Garner

    Interest level: 12+

    Reading age: 12+

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  • The Owl Service

    Author: Alan Garner

    Interest level: 12+

    Reading age: 12+

    When Alison finds a curious dinner service in the attic, the discovery sets off a strange chain of events that look set to affect …

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  • Watership Down

    Author: Richard Adams

    Interest level: 12+

    Reading age: 11+

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  • Watership Down

    Author: Richard Adams

    Interest level: 12+

    Reading age: 11+

    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.

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  • Forever

    Author: Judy Blume

    Interest level: 13+

    Reading age: 13+

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  • Forever

    Author: Judy Blume

    Interest level: 13+

    Reading age: 13+

    Seventeen-year-old Katherine meets Michael at a party. The two of them like each other immediately, and soon fall in love - but ar…

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  • The Ruby in the Smoke

    Author: Philip Pullman

    Interest level: 12+

    Reading age: 12+

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  • The Ruby in the Smoke

    Author: Philip Pullman

    Interest level: 12+

    Reading age: 12+

    Determined to discover the truth about her father's tragic death, Sally Lockhart is plunged into a dangerous and terrifying advent…

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  • A Monster Calls

    Author: Patrick Ness From an idea by Siobhan Dowd Illustrator: Jim Kay

    Interest level: 11+

    Reading age: 10+

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  • A Monster Calls

    Author: Patrick Ness From an idea by Siobhan Dowd Illustrator: Jim Kay

    Interest level: 11+

    Reading age: 10+

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

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  • The Arrival

    Author: Shaun Tan

    Interest level: 8+

    Reading age: 8+

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  • The Arrival

    Author: Shaun Tan

    Interest level: 8+

    Reading age: 8+

    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 count…

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