We invited a panel of teachers, literacy and reading experts, book reviewers and editors – see right – to choose their top 11 best books for under 11s. From picture books to older fiction, together they make an exciting and varied list of recommended reads for children from three to 11.

Phil May and Charlotte (@Readitdaddy)

(Charlotte’s top six followed by Phil’s top five)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

by CS Lewis (HarperCollins)

Charlotte is currently reading through C.S Lewis’ entire Chronicles of Narnia but The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is still her favourite. She loves Lucy and Lucy is the brave mighty girl star of this one, long before mighty girl books were even dreamed of.

Black Dog

by Levi Pinfold (Templar)

Again a slightly dark tale, and a story of bravery. The big gigantic menacing dog grows smaller as the tiniest member of the family bravely leads it on a merry chase. Pinfold’s art in this is just utterly glorious.

The Giant Under the Snow

by John Gordon (Orion)

I think most adults have a ‘me’ book, the one that they’d say got them firmly into reading and this was mine. It’s dark, mysterious and quite menacing in places and I read it when I probably was far too young for it but it got me totally hooked on fantasy stuff.

My Big Shouting Day

by Rebecca Patterson (Jonathan Cape)

A laugh-out-loud book and I have to admit that we have read this many, many times after Charlotte has had a big shouting day of her own. Fabulous to read aloud (we loved reading this to a group of children at a bookstore reading once).

The ‘Claude’ series

by Alex T. Smith (Hodder)

Claude is funny, cheeky, always impeccably dressed and always has a nose for trouble (whether he’s causing it, or solving crimes along with his awesome sidekick Sir Bobblysock!). Alex T. Smith is a national children’s literary treasure!

Pants (and More Pants)

by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Nick Sharratt (David Fickling)

This was one of the first books we bought for Charlotte, and we couldn’t resist More Pants either. Brilliant rhyming sing-along read-aloud fun with more than a bit of cheek! We love it!

Troll and the Oliver

by Adam Stower (Templar)

I love children’s books that throw the rulebook away. There’s a fabulous twist to this tale that pops up three quarters of the way through that made Charlotte gasp. I can still picture her expression and we still love reading this, even now she’s older and loves chapter book stuff more than picture books.

The Queen’s Knickers

by Nicholas Allan (Red Fox)

Fun, irreverent and cheeky – this and Cinderella’s Bum still make us laugh out loud (we only have to hear the name Dilys and we’re in fits of laughter). Books that make you guffaw and grin are always winners.

The Bear Under the Stairs

by Helen Cooper (Corgi)

My daughter Charlotte loves the darker stuff and when I first read this to her, she actually didn’t like it at all as she found it too scary and disturbing. But of course the more we read it, the more she loved it and now it’s a firm favourite. The Bear isn’t really a horrid chap, he’s awesome!

The Owl Service

by Alan Garner (HarperCollins)

Another glorious book from junior school years, I read Alan Garner’s mysterious story again and again. The sort of book that has so many layers of mystery and suspense to it, that it still holds up when read as an adult.

The Runaway Dinner

by Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman (Walker)

The Runaway Dinner has the most wonderful lyrical written style to it. Coupled with Bruce’s artwork which is quite child-like but utterly perfectly suited to the story, it’s a bit of an overlooked classic but so brilliant.

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