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 7 to 11-year-olds
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Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell
Found floating in a cello case on the English Channel on her first birthday, Sophie is convinced that her mother also survived the shipwreck and sets about finding her.
“Katherine Rundell is an exceptional literary talent. In her wonderful first children’s novel, she tells the story of Sophie who survives the shipwreck which orphaned her. Adopted by the eccentric Charles, Sophie’s childhood becomes a Parisian rooftop adventure, her education gleaned from Shakespeare.” Jonathan Douglas, chief executive of the National Literacy Trust.
Boy, Everywhere by AM Dassu
This eye-opening novel chronicles the journey taken by Sami and his family as they are forced to leave behind their comfortable life in Syria and travel across land and sea to start a new life in the UK.
“If you want a book that really makes you think, this book does that, tackling issues of family survival and also bravery in times of adversity. In a world where the topic of refugees is emotive, it allows the reader to have a perspective of the other side of the story.” Angellica Bell, TV presenter and guest judge.
How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
Follow the adventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, the ten-year-old son of a Viking chief who, like all young people of the Holligan tribe, must capture and train a dragon as a rite of passage – or he will be exiled from the tribe.
“The first book in a truly epic cycle. These novels brilliantly combine the joyful naughtiness and magic of great children’s storytelling with a profound understanding of what it means to be a real hero. To use an authentic Dragonese expression – these stories are scrumlush!” Jonathan Douglas, chief executive of the National Literacy Trust.
The Brilliant World Of Tom Gates by Liz Pichon
Tom Gates loves pranks but they often land him in trouble as do his attempts to get away with the bare minimum at school. This relatable character and humour in this comic book makes it perfect for engaging reluctant readers.
“This is a mix of story, comic and diary and tells the extraordinary tales of a boy called Tom as he navigates his way through school and home. He is drawn to trouble but somehow manages to sort out the mess. What makes the series stand out are the illustrations which are vibrant and the funny writing.” Angellica Bell, TV presenter and guest judge.
High-Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson
After finding their community art teacher murdered, sisters Nik and Norva are determined to solve this terrible crime.
“I’ve not come across a 10-year-old who hasn’t been drawn into this story. Contemporary, smart and a real page-turner.” Fiona Evans, director of schools programmes at the National Literacy Trust.
The Breakfast Club Adventures by Marcus Rashford and Alex Falase-Koya, illustrated by Marta Kissi
The England International footballer’s first book is the story of 12-year-old Marcus and the adventures he gets involved in after a note invites him to join the Breakfast Club Investigators.
“It’s a well-researched fact that more boys than girls are reluctant readers – if there’s ever a book likely to encourage football fans to pick up a book, this is it!” Joanne Finney, books editor of Good Housekeeping.
The Wreck Of The Zanzibar by Michael Morpurgo
It’s 1907 and life on the island of Bryher is tough for Laura and her family until a ship called the Zanzibar is wrecked on the beach there and changes their lives.
“All of Michael Morpurgo’s books are wonderful but there is something very special about this historical adventure set in the Isles of Scilly in the early 20th century. It’s got drama, mystery, emotion – a gripping page-turner for youngsters.” Gaby Huddart, editor-in-chief Good Housekeeping.
The Story Of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson, illustrated by Nick Sharratt
Tracy is 10 and lives in a children’s home in this heart-warming story that gives children real insight into what it’s like to be a child in care.
“Jacqueline Wilson is adored for bringing us the brilliant Tracy Beaker. Nick Sharrat’s illustrations and doodles make the books instantly recognisable and accessible. Tracy is smart and funny but her difficult situation makes this book very emotionally engaging. The Story of Tracy Beaker is the perfect entry into the world of Jacqueline Wilson books.” Fiona Evans, director of schools programmes at the National Literacy Trust.
The Railway Children by E Nesbit
When Roberta, Peter and Phyillis’ father is arrested their life is turned upside down. They move to the countryside with their mother and plot how they can prove their father’s innocence and bring him home safely.
“As wonderful and enduring as the film is, this book is even better! A story that children can really lose themselves in and wonderful characters they can connect with.” Gaby Huddart, editor-in-chief Good Housekeeping.
Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling
This is where the magical journey begins for Harry Potter as he discovers he isn't an ordinary boy but a wizard of great talent and has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
“The first book in the series that got thousands of boys (and girls) reading - and with good reason! Rowling has created an imaginative, fully realised world where magic leaps off the page.” Joanne Finney, books editor of 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.