About this list
Nothing beats the joy of getting lost in a good book. So this year, the National Literacy Trust is delighted to be partnering with Good Housekeeping to help young readers discover books that they will love. Together, with our panel of judges, we’ve drawn up a list of 50 books we feel all children need in their lives.
- Jonathan Douglas CBE is chief executive of the National Literacy Trust
- Fiona Evans is director of school programmes at the National Literacy Trust
- Angellica Bell is a presenter and began her career on children’s channel CBBC
- Gaby Huddart is Good Housekeeping’s editor-in-chief
- Joanne Finney has been books editor of Good Housekeeping since 2011
Top ten reads for 5 to 7-year-olds
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The Missing Piece by Jordan Stephens, illustrated by Beth Suzanna
Sunny is a little girl who loves doing puzzles. Then one day she finds there’s a missing piece in the jigsaw she’s doing and she sets off to visit the children in her neighbourhood to find it, making new friends as she goes.
“Such a gorgeous colourful story with a strong message about empathy.” Joanne Finney, books editor of Good Housekeeping.
Read and Explore The Missing Piece
Take your child's enjoyment of The Missing Piece further. Listen to author Jordan Stephens and illustrator Beth Suzanna tell the story. Then try a range of fun activities based on the book. Find out more.
The Greatest Show On Earth by Mini Grey
A troop of insects run us through the last 4.6 billion years of the earth’s history in this clever, engaging encyclopaedia.
“This is such a fun yet informative book - double whammy! I mean if you want to read about the history of the planet, throw in a bit of humour and then recruit a friendly troop of ants to tell the tale, you’ll be wanting to keep this book forever! I think Grey does a magnificent job of taking a complex topic and delivering it in an accessible way.” Angellica Bell, TV presenter and guest judge.
What Happened To You? by James Catchpole, illustrated by Karen George
Inspired by the author’s own experience of being an amputee, this is a thoughtful look at what it’s like to be a disabled child.
“Joe loves to play pirates, whilst escaping crocodiles. But the other children just want to focus on what’s happened to his leg. The joy of Joe’s imaginative play proves irresistible, but this wonderfully enjoyable book poses a serious challenge – what does it feel like when people see you as disability rather than a person.” Jonathan Douglas, chief executive of the National Literacy Trust.
Winne-the-Pooh by AA Milne, illustrated by EH Shepard
The adventures of Pooh and his friends at Hundred Acre Woods are as magical now as they were when the book was first published in 1926.
“It’s hard to believe that this book was published nearly 100 years ago, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone disagreeing of its timeless qualities. It’s charming and really makes you cherish those wonderful years of childhood.” Angellica Bell, TV presenter and guest judge.
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
Generations of children have enjoyed reading about the misadventures of the little brown bear from Peru and his new life with the Brown family.
“This is one of those rare children’s books that has succeeded in enduring across generations of young readers and rightfully so. The lovable Peruvian bear and the equally lovable Browns who adopt him deserve an adoring audience. Our late Queen Elizabeth II would, I’m sure, be thrilled to know Paddington has made this list!” Gaby Huddart, editor-in-chief Good Housekeeping
Dogger by Shirley Hughes
The story of Dave and his beloved soft toy Dogger is told through charming illustrations and simple sentences.
“Such a lovely story about loss and sibling love – like a warm hug in book form!” Joanne Finney, books editor of Good Housekeeping.
Julian Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love
A joyously inclusive story about a little boy who loves bright colours and dressing up.
“Gracefully illustrated and bursting with the warmth and joy of black and Latino culture, this is an exceptional book. Having glimpsed a troupe of mermaids on the subway, Julian’s imagination is fired. At home Julian dresses as a mermaid. His wonderful grandmother has a surprise in store to help his dream come true.” Jonathan Douglas, chief executive of the National Literacy Trust.
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
Grab your broomsticks and whizz away to a boarding school like no other, where loveable but disaster-prone Mildred is learning to be a witch.
“This beloved series is the perfect introduction to small chapter books for newly independent readers and is also great for bedtime stories. It has never grown old. Loveable Mildred Hubble gets into lots of trouble at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. Relatable characters, lovely illustrations and plenty of fun and mayhem.” Fiona Evans, director of school programmes at the National Literacy Trust.
The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane, illustrated by Jackie Morris
A stunning collection of poems and illustrations about the British countryside and its seasons.
“The most beautiful, large format book that everyone should own – child or adult! Through Jackie Morris' stunning wildlife illustrations and Robert Macfarlane’s poetry, the lost words that children used to use to name the natural world around them are conjured back up again. This sumptuous and iconic book deserves a place in every home and will bring lasting pleasure across the generations, inspiring us to notice and cherish nature around us. Truly magical.” Fiona Evans, director of school programmes at the National Literacy Trust
James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake
We could have chosen any of the many books written by Roald Dahl but this tale of a young, orphaned boy who goes on a magical adventure is a favourite.
“I’m so pleased James has made it onto our list! I still remember this being one of the first books I ever read to myself and there is so much fantastical magic bursting from every page it’s sure to continue to delight young readers. Horrible aunts, bizarre talking insects and an epic journey – what’s not to love?” Gaby Huddart, editor-in-chief Good Housekeeping.
Buy one of the books on this list for your child
If you liked the sound of any of the books on this list you can purchase them from the link below.