Authors Choose Their Favourite Children’s Books of the Past 225 Years #WHS225KidsBooks

Authors Choose Their Favourite Children’s Books of the Past 225 Years #WHS225KidsBooks

Four adventurers step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.

B.A. Paris picks ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ by C.S. Lewis

‘I was always reading when I was young, and then again to my daughters, so I must have read thousands of children’s books. I would have to choose The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I remember sitting on the floor of our travelling library with the book in my hands and being transported to a different world.’

B. A. Paris is from a Franco/Irish background. She was brought up in England and moved to France where she spent some years working as a trader in an international bank before re-training as a teacher and setting up a language school with her husband. They still live in France and have five daughters. Behind Closed Doors is her first novel.

Join the children and their friends Moonface, Saucepan Man and Silky the fairy as they discover which new land is at the top of the Faraway Tree.

Nick Knowles picks ‘The Folk of the Faraway Tree’ by Enid Blyton

‘I think I’d go back to very early memories of being a read a quite obscure Enid Blyton book that people won’t necessarily know; Folk of the Faraway Tree. Which I was absolutely entranced and enchanted by, my dad used to read that to me when I was a child. I knew all the characters in that tree, I loved that tree and the different lands on the clouds that came to the top of the tree every year.’

Nick Knowles is the presenter of the hit BBC show DIY SOS. He also regularly presents various Saturday night quiz shows such as Judgemental, Who Dares Wins and 5 Star Family Reunion. His first cookbook Proper Healthy Food came out in 2017.

The doorbell rings just as Sophie and her mummy are sitting down to tea. Who could it possibly be? What they certainly don’t expect to see at the door is a big furry, stripy tiger! 

Rosamund Lupton picks ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ by Judith Kerr

‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea #WHS225Books #WHS225KidsBooks’

Rosamund Lupton is the author of Sister, a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller and a bestseller in Europe. Published in the UK by Little, Brown Book Group, Sister has been translated into over thirty languages and has international sales of over 1.5 million copies. It was the fastest-selling debut of 2010 by a British author, a BBC Radio 4, Book at Bedtime and was winner of the Richard and Judy Best Debut Novel of 2011 award and the Strand Magazine Critics First Novel Award.

A camping trip for the Berenstain Bears means that Dad attempts to show his scouting skills while the little bears wisely follow the guidebook instead. As always the children know best.

Bear Grylls picks ‘Bear Scouts’ by Jan Berenstain

‘@WHSmith want to know your favourite book? Such a tough choice but I’ll go with Bear Scouts… what’s yours? #WHS225KidsBooks’

Bear Grylls has become known around the world as one of the most recognized faces of survival and outdoor adventure. He has gone on to host more extreme-adventure TV shows across more global networks than anyone else in the world. He is also a family man and a number-one bestselling author, with twenty-two books to his name, including his autobiography, Mud, Sweat and Tears, and the popular Mission Survival series for children. He also writes and performs the live-action stadium show Endeavour. Bear is an honorary Colonel to the Royal Marines Commandos, and the youngest-ever Chief Scout, an inspiration to forty million Scouts worldwide.

The four March sisters–Meg, Amy, Beth, and feisty Jo–share the joys and sorrows of growing up while their father is away at war. The family is poor in worldly goods, but rich in love and character.  

Sophie McKenzie picks ‘Little Women’ by Louise May Alcott

‘My favourite childrens book is Little Women by Louisa Alcott. What’s yours? #WHS225KidsBooks’

Sophie is the award-winning author of a range of teen thrillers, including the Missing series (Girl, Missing, Sister, Missing and Missing Me), Blood Ties and Blood Ransom and the Medusa Project series. She has also written two romance series: the Luke and Eve books and the Flynn series, which starts with the novel Falling Fast. Split Second is her first teen stand-alone novel in seven years. Sophie’s first novel for adults is the psychological thriller Close My Eyes.

One Saturday morning, George is in charge of giving Grandma her medicine. So-ho! Ah-ha! Ho-hum! George knows exactly what to do. A magic medicine it will be. One that will either cure her completely …or blow off the top of her head. 

Chris Hoy picks ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’ by Roald Dahl

‘Has to be George’s Marvellous Medicine. #WHS225KidsBooks’

Sir Chris Hoy Sir Chris Hoy MBE was born and raised in Edinburgh. He raced BMX until he was 14. Chris won his first world medal in 1999 – a silver in the Team Sprint – and has won 11 world and two Commonwealth titles to date. Chris won his first Olympic gold medal in Athens in 2004 and went on to win three gold medals at the Beijing Olympics. In 2012 at his home Olympic Games in London, Chris won his fifth and sixth gold medals- in the Keirin and Team Sprint- becoming Great Britain’s most successful Olympic athlete of all time with six gold medals and one silver. His series of Flying Fergus children’s books have been a huge success.

Without her beloved father and miles from home, it is very hard for Sara Crewe to like her new life at boarding school. Luckily Sara is always dreaming up wonderful things and her power of telling stories wins her lots of friends.

Tracy Rees picks ‘A Little Princess’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett

‘My favourite kids books include The Lion the Witch &the Wardrobe, Little Women, The Neverending Story, For Love of a Horse…But seeing as we have to pick just ONE!!! A Little Princess #WHS225KidsBooks’

Tracy Rees was born in South Wales. A Cambridge graduate, she had a successful eight-year career in nonfiction publishing and a second career practising and teaching humanistic counselling. She was the winner of the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller Competition and the 2015 LoveStories ‘Best Historical Read’ award.

Ratty, Mole, Badger and Toad become the firmest of friends, but after Toad’s latest escapade, can they join together and beat the wretched weasels once and for all?

Jilly Cooper picks ‘The Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame

‘My favourite children’s book is The Wind in the Willows because it’s a most beautiful book, lyrically it creates that river and all the characters – Ratty and Mole and Portly the Otter – and it’s full of heartbreaking sweet stories. And Toad must be the greatest comic character ever ever! He was such a brilliant writer and children love it. I’ve just given an original copy with all the pictures to my granddaughter and she is beside herself. That’s my favourite children’s book.’

Jilly Cooper is a journalist, author and media superstar. The author of many number one bestselling novels, she lives in Gloucestershire with her rescue greyhound. She was appointed OBE in 2004 for services to literature, and in 2009 was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Gloucestershire for her contribution to literature and services to the County.

Four adventurous siblings-Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie- step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. 

Alison Weir picks ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ by C.S. Lewis

‘My favourite children’s book has to be The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. It’s a magical concept – a child walks through a wardrobe and finds another world beyond, a world peopled by an evil witch, wolves, talking animals, Father Christmas and one of the greatest heroes in children’s literature.’

Alison Weir is the top-selling female historian (and the fifth bestselling historian overall) in the United Kingdom, and has sold over 2.7 million books worldwide. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences and an Honorary Life Patron of Historic Royal Palaces. Anne Boleyn is the second in the Six Tudor Queens series of novels about the wives of Henry VIII, which began with Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen – a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller.

Mr Twit is a foul and smelly man with bits of cornflake and sardine in his beard. Mrs Twit is a horrible old hag with a glass eye. Together they make the nastiest couple you could ever hope not to meet. 

Chris Bradford picks ‘The Twits’ by Roald Dahl

‘The Twits by Roald Dahl. Love the spaghetti worms! #WHS225KidsBooks’

Chris Bradford is a bestselling author of books such as the Young Samurai series, with a great track record across library, trade and specials markets. He uses his incredible in-depth research to offer action-packed events across the country.

The beautiful valley of Moonacre is shadowed by the memory of the Moon Princess and the mysterious little white horse. When orphaned Maria Merryweather comes there to stay, she finds herself involved with an ancient feud. She is determined to restore peace and happiness to the whole of Moonacre Valley. And Maria usually gets her own way…

Sam Blake picks ‘The Little White Horse’ by Elizabeth Goudge

‘Easy one for me, my utterly favourite kids book ever #WHS225kidsbook: Elizabeth Goudge’s Little White Horse.’

Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, the founder of The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the hugely popular national writing resources website She is Ireland’s leading literary scout and has assisted many award winning and bestselling authors to publication. Vanessa has been writing fiction since her husband set sail across the Atlantic for eight weeks and she had an idea for a book. Her debut crime novel Little Bones is out now.

In this epic story, a young rabbit called Fiver senses that something terrible is about to happen to the warren – he is sure of it. Fiver’s sixth sense is never wrong according to his brother, Hazel. They had to leave immediately, and they had to persuade the other rabbits to join them.

Tony Parsons picks ‘Watership Down’ by Richard Adams

‘I think Watership Down by the late Richard Adams, who we lost quite recently, his great rabbit epic. It’s a fantastic book and I began reading it again after Richard Adams died. I think he was a great man, he experienced a lot in his life; he was in the Second World War, he was a great animal’s rights activist. He was a great man and I think that shines through this story about rabbits, which you think how could something as inconsequential as that touch the human heart, but it really does.’

Tony Parsons is an award-winning journalist and bestselling novelist whose books have been translated into more than forty languages. The Murder Bag, the first novel in the DC Max Wolfe series, went to number one on first publication in the UK. The Slaughter Man was also a Sunday Times top ten bestseller.

Ratty, Mole, Badger and Toad become the firmest of friends, but after Toad’s latest escapade, can they join together and beat the wretched weasels once and for all?

Rick Stein picks ‘The Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame

‘My favourite children’s book is The Wind in the Willows, and particularly the character in The Wind in the Willows that I love is Toad and his love of motorcars. And his love of the open road! The way he loves getting in his car and going off places! And I just find his enthusiasm for travel very similar to my own, I suppose in some senses I’m not such a show-off as Toad, but I still have that excitement about travelling. And the riverbank, and the fact that it was actually written about Oxford and I know the part of the cherwell river where it all sort of happened. So that’s my forever best children’s book.’

Rick Stein’s passion for using good-quality local produce and his talent for creating delicious flavour combinations in his books and restaurants have won him a host of awards, accolades and fans.

On Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

Charles Cumming picks ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ by J.K. Rowling

‘My favourite children’s books would probably be the books that have given my own children the most pleasure. And I remember lots of nights of reading the Harry Potter series to my son when he was smaller, and I was a little bit tired. I was a little bit too old to have read those books as a child myself, but I admire them hugely as a writer. J.K. Rowling had done an amazing job, just as a leap of imagination and the characterisation, she’s very good on names and conjuring atmosphere and place. I took my hat off to her night after night after night.’

Charles Cumming’s debut – A Spy by Nature – was based on his experiences with MI6, and published in the UK in 2001. In 2012, Charles won the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for Best Thriller and the Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year for A Foreign Country. A Divided Spy is his eighth novel.

The doorbell rings just as Sophie and her mummy are sitting down to tea. Who could it possibly be? What they certainly don’t expect to see at the door is a big furry, stripy tiger!

Lucy Clarke picks ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ by Judith Kerr

‘Favourite children’s books… I’ve got loads, and they’re all tied into a nostalgia for your own childhood. Probably The Tiger Who Came to Tea. I loved reading that, it was my brother and mine’s favourite book and we’d always for it. And I now have a copy which I read to my children and so it’s really nice to have the continuity I suppose. It’s been re-launched, I don’t think it’s ever gone out of print, it’s just such a lovely, treasured book.’

Lucy Clarke has a first class degree in English Literature and is a passionate traveller and diarist. She has worked as a presenter of social enterprise events, a creative writing workshop leader, and she is now a full-time novelist.

This story of two spoilt and lonely children, whose happiness is regained as they bring to life a neglected garden, has become the best-loved of all Mrs. Burnett’s books, but it did not acquire universal popularity until long after its first publication in 1911 

Sabine Durrant picks ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett

‘My favourite children’s book of all time is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It’s, I think, the first psychological thriller that I ever read. It has this amazing setting, this wonderful house in the Yorkshire Moors, and a brilliant anti-heroine who is not actually very likeable to begin with. A brilliant mystery and a brilliant denouement at the end. So yes, that’s probably my favourite book, I remember reading it as a child, and it’s the one book that I’ve read to all my children and all three of them have loved it.’

Sabine Durrant is the author of two psychological thrillers, Under Your Skin and Remember Me This Way. Her previous novels are Having It and Eating It and The Great Indoors, and two books for teenage girls, Cross Your Heart, Connie Pickles and Ooh La La! Connie Pickles.

One night Max puts on his wolf suit and makes mischief of one kind and another, so his mother calls him ‘Wild Thing’ and sends him to bed without his supper. That night a forest begins to grow in Max’s room and an ocean rushes by with a boat to take Max to the place where the wild things are.

Judy Finnigan picks ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak

‘Looking back to my own children’s childhood, the one that they loved the most, and the book that I loved reading to them the most at bedtime; Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. It’s partly the illustrations – they are fantastic – but it’s such a wonderful story. He goes to sleep and he goes off in this boat and he ends up in this amazing country where the wild things are, and they look really frightening and horrible but actually they’re really, really nice. That’s the one I remember the most.’

Judy Finnigan is a bestselling author, television presenter and columnist. In 2004, Judy’s name became synonymous with discovering and sharing great fiction, through the Richard and Judy Book Club, where authors including Kate Mosse, Rosamund Lupton and Victoria Hislop were championed and brought to the attention of millions of readers.

In this epic story, a young rabbit called Fiver senses that something terrible is about to happen to the warren – he is sure of it. Fiver’s sixth sense is never wrong according to his brother, Hazel. They had to leave immediately, and they had to persuade the other rabbits to join them.

Amanda Brooke picks ‘Watership Down’ by Richard Adams

‘My favourite children’s book would be Watership Down. I was a child of the 70’s and that was when the film came out and I bought the book, it’s the first book that I remember just staying in my room and reading from start to finish and devouring it in one sitting. It was one of those books that kick-started my reading habit.’

Amanda Brooke lives in Liverpool with her daughter, Jessica, two cats and a laptop within easy reach. Her debut novel, Yesterday’s Sun, was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick.

Following the demise of bloodthirsty buccaneer Captain Flint, young Jim Hawkins finds himself with the key to a fortune. For he has discovered a map that will lead him to the fabled Treasure Island. But a host of villains, wild beasts and deadly savages stand between him and the stash of gold.

Keith Stuart picks ‘Treasure Island’ by Robert Louis Stevenson

‘I’m going to go for – and you might not think it’s a children’s book, but I definitely do – it’s Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. It’s a book about pirates, and treasure, and adventure; all the things that kids love, but it’s so beautifully written. And it has a really interesting moral message because Long John Silver starts as a baddy but becomes different. And throughout our lives sometimes we’re heroes and sometimes we’re villains, and I think Long John Silver is a really interesting example of that. It can make you think about people and what motivates us – and it also has an incredible adventure and excitement – but it’s really a book about what makes good people bad and bad people good. It’s just a wonderful book.’

Keith Stuart is the author behind A Boy Made of Blocks: a story about a dad who wants to communicate with his autistic son; a dad who has forgotten how to play.

Click here to find out more about joining in with our favourite books of the last 225 years discussions, and check out our 20 Best-Loved Novels of the Last 225 Years.

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