The Malta Independent 24 June 2018, Sunday

FIRST: 10 of our favourite children’s books of all time...

First Magazine Monday, 17 April 2017, 10:01 Last update: about 2 years ago encourage your baby, child and/or teenager to delve into the magical world of literature


by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

This is a glimpse into the world of a baby surrounded by love, the warmth of home and washing drying in front of the fire. The late Janet Ahlberg's illustrations are designed with holes in each page so you can peek through to the next scene. 'Here's a little baby. One, two, three...'. Enduringly and simply charming. In a nutshell: childhood memories. (Ages 0-3)

The Gruffalo

by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

This duo has produced many of the greats in children's literature, but The Gruffalo stands out, thanks to a winning combination of characters: a wily mouse who tricks the forest predators who want to eat him and a scary, knobbly, slightly loveable eponymous beast. Donaldson's lilting, smart rhymes are whipped into magic by Scheffler's playful drawings. In a nutshell: hairy rhymes. (Ages 3-7)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

by Roald Dahl

Fantasy and cautionary tale are entwined as Dahl delights in descriptions of Charlie Bucket's squalid home, the vile children who, along with him, win golden tickets to see Willy Wonka's chocolate factory and the fantastical sweets they get to try on their trip. In a nutshell: sugar-coated flight of imagination. (Ages 7-10)

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾

by Sue Townsend

Townsend's brilliant account of the pimply life of one hapless teenager continues to entertain readers today. Through Mole's cynical and tormented eyes we see his world - a miserable home life, teenage longing and a firm belief that modern life really is rubbish. In a nutshell: teen angst satire. (Ages 12+)

The Hobbit

by JRR Tolkien

For many, the ultimate fantasy epic, Tolkien's works span volumes, but this is a good place to start. Bilbo Baggins is a quiet, stay-at-home hobbit who reluctantly finds himself on a daring expedition to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Dragon. Densely written but brimming with humour, magic and adventure. In a nutshell: adventures in Middle-earth. (Ages 11-15)

Winnie the Pooh

by AA Milne

The simplicity of life in and around the Hundred Acre Wood is evocatively expressed in Milne's poetic style, as if these were a child's toys acting out imaginary adventures in the nursery. The silly scrapes that Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet and friends get into continue to charm, thanks to the dry humour in the telling. In a nutshell: wise, practical and sweet. (Ages 4-7)

Watership Down

by Richard Adams

This tale about young rabbits is anything but cuddly. Fiver, Hazel and their companions must leave their warren, but in order to reach the safety of Watership Down, they face immediate dangers - angry former friends, humans and predators - in their quest. A fabulous, poetic and at times heart-breaking read. In a nutshell: friendship in nature. (Ages 9-13)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

by Eric Carle

A baby caterpillar eats his way through lots of different foods and gives himself a tummy ache. Then he spins a cocoon and rests, eventually emerging as a stunning butterfly. Brilliant for first counting and learning the days of the week, this 30-million-selling classic started life as a doodle when Carle was playing with his hole-punch. In a nutshell: colourful first-book fun. (Ages 2-5)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

by CS Lewis

Four children evacuated during the Blitz discover a magical land called Narnia, entered through an old wardrobe. They become entangled in a conflict between good and evil and must overcome their fears to save this enchanted world. Despite its specifically Christian undertones, this is a universally loved classic. In a nutshell: it is allegorical fantasy. (Ages 7-10)

The Cat in the Hat

by Dr Seuss

When a flamboyant, over-confident, talking cat arrives at their home while their mother is out, two children find themselves in the madcap chaos of a magical, tongue-twisting mess. A rollercoaster to read and a joy to listen to, this book fires the imagination and a lifelong love of language - like all the very best books should. In a nutshell, it is prejudice under the spotlight. (Ages 3-7)

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