J K Rowling’s Harry Potter is the UK’s most popular hero in children’s literature, closely followed by Roald Dahl’s Matilda, according to a poll from National Book Tokens.
For the survey, carried out to mark the upcoming 2016 World Book Day (3rd March), National Book Tokens polled more than 7,000 readers, 10.32% of whom said Harry Potter was their favourite hero in children’s books. More than 8% (8.62%) voted for Matilda.
Another Harry Potter character, Hermione Granger, was the third most popular hero, followed by Bilbo Baggins from J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Lyra Belacqua from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, Jo March from Little Women by Louise May Alcott, Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games series, Winnie-the-Pooh, Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear.
National Book Tokens also asked respondents about their favourite villains in children’s literature, and Voldemort from the Harry Potter series came top with a massive 20.3% of the vote.
Other Harry Potter characters that made the “best villains” list were Dolores Umbridge, who came in second place, and Bellatrix Lestrange (sixth).
Two Roald Dahl villains were in the top 10 – Miss Trunchball (fifth place) and the Grand High With (eighth), along with Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, the White Witch from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis, Bill Sikes from Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and Mrs Coulter from Pullman's His Dark Materials series.
Kirsten Grant, director of World Book Day, said: “These polls show that classic characters and stories stay with us, no matter how long ago we read them. They also show that readers are refreshingly open to reading about characters of the opposite sex.”
Voters were also asked which books from recent times could become future classics. John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (Penguin Random House Children’s) was the most popular choice, followed by The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (Vintage) and then two J K Rowling titles: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Bloomsbury Children's).
Mike Burt, marketing manager at National Book Tokens, said: “In just a few books this selection demonstrates what a golden age of books we are living in. These titles showcase all that is wonderful about today’s children’s books: these are novels that challenge, inform and inspire as well as entertain and enthrall. I have no doubt that in the decades to come these books’ reputations will only increase: modern classics indeed.”