We all know the books that ‘made’ us. Do you remember the first books that were read to you and the sense of achievement when you read your first alone?

Children’s books befriend: The feeling of familiarity from a well-thumbed copy never goes away. Solidarity with characters create a sort of friendship.

They stimulate: Books are tailored to age groups. In general the higher the year count the more description displaces illustration. With books, as opposed to television and film, the mind must do its own animating.

They educate: Books fascinate even the youngest of babies; they give children their first idea of how the world is or should be. Take out the magic in Harry Potter and you’ve got a relatable representation of growing up, school and family life.

They empower: Many of our favourite children’s books are written in a world where the child is no longer powerless; their capacity to act and think is not limited by age or hierarchy. The dichotomy between Wonderland, Hogwarts, Middle Earth and our world is widened with the young hero and heroine’s capacity to be just that – the hero. So much more than providing mere escapism, they empower.

To put it simply: picture those times spent in childhood with books again. If you could go back to your armchair, windowsill or under-the-covers den, would you?


Scroll down to see our ultimate reading list for growing up with books. .

3-5 Years

Very Hungry Caterpillar

By Eric Carle

This simple story is a timeless recreation, awash with incredible colour, of one of nature’s most implausible miracles.

3-5 Years

The Day the Crayons Quit

By Drew Daywalt

A colourful and creative solution to a crayon-based crisis.



5-7 Years

The Cat in the Hat

By Dr Seuss

Using Rhymes, riddles and silliness, Dr Seuss ignites imagination with this classic mischievous tale.

5-7 Years

Fantastic Mr Fox

by Roald Dahl

With his usual flourish, Dahl evokes a magical animal world that, as children, we always knew existed, had we only known where or how to look for it.



7-9 Years

Charlotte’s Web

E.B. White

The unforgettable story of an unbelievable camaraderie between pig, Wilbur, and spider, Charlotte. Tear-jerking – it’s the perfect blend of fantasy and complete realism.

7-9 Years

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

By J K Rowling

The book that defines the current generation in children’s writing, this is the first in the epic saga of Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts.



9-11 Years

The Little Prince

By Antoine Saint-Exupery

A story written for children, or a meditation intended for adults – either way, this book is an unforgettable voyage.

9-11 Years

The Hobbit

By J R R Tolkien

Seldom has any book been so widely read and loved as The Hobbit. This is the one adventure story every child should have.



11-14 Years

Northern Lights

By Phillip Pullman

A masterclass in combining impeccable characterizations and seamless plotting, maintaining a crackling pace to create scene upon scene of almost unbearable tension.

11-14 Years

Noughts and Crosses

By Malorie Blackman

A beautiful portrayal of a very real and very ugly racial tension, told through the cleanest deployment of allegory, imagination and commitment.