Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tops the poll of favourite children's books

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tops the poll of favourite children's books

Roald Dahl has scooped the top three places in a list of the UK’s favourite children's reads from the past 80 years.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, first published in 1964 and illustrated by Quentin Blake, tops the poll of 2,000 people commissioned by CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals which celebrate their 80th anniversary this year. The BFG (1982) and Matilda (1988), both also illustrated by Blake, followed in second and third place respectively (full list below).

The Top 15 were selected from a list of books that were at least 20-years-old and published after 1936, the year the medals began. The oldest book on the list, at number 10, is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, first published in 1937. Carnegie Medal winner The Borrowers by Mary Norton makes it onto the list alongside Kate Greenaway winner Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs. Books published in the 1950s take the highest number of spots on the list.

The majority of parents questioned (80%), agreed that distinctive covers and illustrations made a book stick in the mind, with picture books (32%) and fantasy (27%) thought to make the most impact on kids, a fact reinforced by the choices selected in the poll. The poll also revealed that the majority of parents read to their kids for an average of two hours per week, but overwhelmingly (over 80%) prefer print books to e-books.

Chris Riddell, former children’s laureate and three times CILP Kate Greenaway winner, said: “These results show that parents enjoy sharing books they love with their children and connect with these books through their engaging covers and illustrations. There is a special alchemy by which illustrators bring characters to life for the reader. They turn words  and pictures into gold in our imaginations. That is why I believe all books should have pictures.”

Nick Poole, chief executive of CILIP, said: “Over the past 80 years, the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals have played a crucial role in highlighting excellence in children’s books. The findings show the strength of illustration and fantasy in reading choices, as well as the nostalgia and affection that parents have for books from their own childhood."

He added: "Whilst parents are unanimous about the appeal of reading physical books to their children, the findings also highlight the importance of schools and libraries in encouraging reading, with an average of  only two hours a week spent on reading at home."

CILIP worked with agency OnePoll to survey 2,000 parents of one to 12 year olds in the UK in May. Books were selected from titles published in English from 20 to 80 years ago. 

The Top 15 are:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (now published by Puffin) by Roald Dahl (1964)

The BFG (Puffin)  by Roald Dahl (1982)

Matilda (Puffin) by Roald Dahl (1988)

A Bear called Paddington (HarperCollins Children's Books) by Michael Bond (1958)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Puffin) (1969)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling (Bloomsbury) (1997)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (HarperCollins Children's Books) by C.S. Lewis (1950)

Charlotte's Web (Puffin) by E.B. White (1952)

The Cat in the Hat (HarperCollins Children's Books) by Dr. Seuss (1957)

The Hobbit (HarperCollins Children's Books) by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937)

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell (Macmillan Children's Books) (1982)

The Tiger Who Came to Tea (HarperCollins Children's Books) by Judith Kerr (1968)

The Snowman (Puffin) by Raymond Briggs (1978)

The Borrowers (Puffin) by Mary Norton (1952)

Father Christmas (Puffin) by Raymond Briggs (1973)

The winners of this year’s CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals will be announced at a lunchtime ceremony in London on 19th June. For more information, visit