The ten greatest kids' books ever!

Need to get your kids away from the TV screen or looking for a great story to tell them at bedtime? Here are ten works of literary art that we think are perfect for the job

The ten greatest kids’ books ever!

1 The Cat in the Hat
By Dr Seuss
There are unwanted guests and then there are top-hatted, fast-talking cats who turn your house upside down while your mum’s out. Two children find themselves at the centre of a magical, tongue-twisting mess when a boisterous moggy turns up at the door. Can he help undo the cartoon chaos he causes before mum returns? This is a masterpiece that should inspire a lifetime love of books.
Best for: Ages three to seven.
In a nutshell: Feline frolics for a rainy day.

2 Northern Lights
By Philip Pullman
Pullman writes for teenagers with intelligence, something the poor old so-and-sos are rarely offered by the constant stream of dreadful young adult material most often pitched at them. As a result, the celebrated His Dark Materials trilogy has proved a worldwide success with young and old alike. Northern Lights is the opener – set in a parallel universe to ours, where science, magic and theology co-exist. Lyra is an orphan who goes in search of her missing friend and finds herself in a world of ice bears and talking animals. It’s a dazzling thriller that continues with a new trilogy,
The Book of Dust.
Best for: Ages 12+.
In a nutshell: Brave and actually smart modern fantasy.

3 The Hobbit
By J. R. R. Tolkien
Tolkien never expected his story about Bilbo Baggins to be such a huge hit, but its instant success inspired the epic sequel The Lord of the Rings. For younger fans of fantasy writing, this is a great place to start: a quiet, stay-at-home Hobbit reluctantly finds himself on a daring expedition to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Dragon. It’s a dense read, but it crackles with wit, imagination and adventure, and is way better – shock horror! – than the trilogy of movies stretched to breaking point out of it.
Best for: Ages 11 to 15.
In a nutshell: Heroics in the Middle-earth mountains.

4 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
By Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl’s delicious fantasy, like the earliest fairy stories, has a cautionary tale contained inside. One by one, the children who have won the chance to meet the reclusive chocolate magnate Willy Wonka are punished for their brattishness. Dahl revels in the rich descriptions of each scene, every character and even the sad, squalid home life of the book’s anti-hero, the unassuming little Charlie Bucket.
Best for: Ages seven to ten.
In a nutshell: Thinking candy.

5 Emil and the Detectives
By Erich Kästner
Small-town boy Emil is taking his first trip alone to visit family in Berlin. When he loses the money his mother gave him, he is sure the suspicious man on the train has stolen it, but can he go to the police without proof? When he meets a gang of streetwise kids in the city, Emil finds his own way to get justice in a funny, fast-paced adventure as fresh now as it was when it was published in 1929.
Best for: Ages eight to 11.
In a nutshell: Pint-sized private eye caper.

6 Where the Wild Things Are
By Maurice Sendak
Dressed in his wolf costume, naughty little Max behaves like a wild animal around the house and is sent to his room in disgrace. There he suddenly finds his surroundings magically transformed into a strange new world. He sails to an island and becomes the king of the beastly Wild Things. But eventually, after lots of untamed fun, Max decides there’s no place like home and returns to his family. An American classic that salutes creativity and individuality. Terrific stuff.
Best for: Ages three to six.
In a nutshell: Escapism for free spirits.

7 The Gruffalo
By Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler
Donaldson’s genius for inventive stories and deft rhymes is matched perfectly by Scheffler’s playful drawings in this award-winning modern classic. A little mouse outsmarts the hungry forest’s predators, but can he talk his way out of being eaten by the knobbliest monster of them all? Didn’t you know? There’s no such thing as a… oh!
Best for: Ages three to seven.
In a nutshell: Beastly fun.

8 Peepo!
By Janet and Allan Ahlberg
As young parents, author Allan and (the late) illustrator Janet Ahlberg created a beautiful evocation of the small world surrounding a baby – the view from the cot of mum and dad’s bedroom, the washing in front of a fireside and a loving family home. Each scene is first glimpsed through a little hole as we see this world through the child’s eyes. Nostalgic yet timelessly lovely.
Best for: Up to aged three.
In a nutshell: Soothing quiet-time poetics. Perfect.

9 You’re a Bad Man, Mr Gum!
By Andy Stanton
Fans of the sillier excesses of Roald Dahl and Roddy Doyle? Then they’ll love the smart, colourful, conversational genius of London author Andy Stanton. Greedy, miserable Mr Gum wants to poison a boisterous dog. Can his plan be stopped by a young girl, a hippy and the unruly woofer?
Best for: Ages seven to ten.
In a nutshell: Adventures in sublime nonsense.

10 Noughts & Crosses
By Malorie Blackman
Blackman created a thought-provoking modern classic with her Noughts & Crosses series. This first novel is a story that explores power and prejudice, and generations of two families torn apart by the racial and social division between the dark-skinned Cross class and the colourless Nought underclass.
Best for: Ages 12 to 15.
In a nutshell: Love battles power and racial division.

Be the first to get all the latest Doha news, reviews and deals into your inbox by signing up to our free newsletter, click here to sign up.

More from Kids, Family

It is inspired by pearl trader Erahma Bin Jaber

Films that have won an academy award to watch with the kids

A family-friendly movie to watch with the kids


Follow us