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.

Louise Dobson, teacher

The Tunnel

by Anthony Browne (Walker)

The Tunnel is my ‘go to’ book for exploring relationships. It is such a simple story, in a way, and yet can bring out the most complex of discussions.

Ice Palace

by Robert Swindells (Puffin)

Ivan’s younger brother has been stolen by the evil Starjik. The winter is cold and unrelenting, yet brave Ivan sets off on a terrible journey to find his dear brother. A tale of great courage and perseverance in the face of danger.

There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom

by Louis Sachar (Bloomsbury)

Heart-breaking, heart-warming and incredibly funny. This story helps children to accept and celebrate the differences in people that we experience every day.


by Philip Ridley (Puffin)

Ruskin Splinter is determined to be the hero of his school play and believes in himself, when all family and friends think very little of him.

The Minpins

by Roald Dahl (Puffin)

Into The Forest

by Anthony Browne (Walker)

A book that really gets children talking. They love spotting the well-known characters from fairy tales and are naturally encouraged to predict events.

Way Home

by Libby Hathorn, illustrated by Gregory Rogers (Andersen Press)

Dark, scary and thought-provoking. A beautifully illustrated text for older readers. The ending is more-or-less left to the reader’s imagination and I have had many a discussion with children over the young boy’s plight.

Mudpuddle Farm

by Michael Morpurgo (HarperCollins)

An absolute delight for younger readers. After reading several of the ‘Animal Adventures’ with a Year 2 class, lots of children went on to choose to read the stories independently.

Find the White Horse

by Dick King-Smith (Puffin)

A brilliant adventure with a loveable cast of quirky animals. Many of my classes over the years have adored this lovely tale in which the large and hairy mongrel, Lubber, and his misfit group of friends, try to find his owners.

Giddy Goat

by Jamie Rix and Lynne Chapman (Orchard)

Meet Giddy, a mountain goat who is scared of heights! A beautifully illustrated tale of finding courage, and great friendship. A lovely (and very funny) story to share with younger children.

To Be A Cat

by Matt Haig (Corgi)

I asked my 11-year-old daughter to add the last book to my list and this is the book she chose. (‘It’s the best book I’ve ever read!’) It won the Blue Peter Book of the Year award and the Nestle Children’s Book Prize Gold Award so my daughter is in good company with her choice.

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