AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh has come atop a poll of favourite children’s book characters, commissioned by the Reading Agency.
Altogether 1,200 adults aged 16 and over who read once a week said Winnie the Pooh was their most popular children’s book character in the poll, coming ahead of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter, the second most popular choice, and George from Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five series, who was third.
Pooh came top because he is popular with all ages, said the Reading Agency, whilst Harry Potter is the favourite amongst 48% of 16-24 year-olds but only 3% of those over 55.
Other popular choices for favourite character included Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein (fourth place), Roald Dahl’s Matilda (fifth), Lucy from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (sixth) and Dr Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat (seventh).
The Reading Agency also asked participants why they chose the characters did and the most common reason was ‘they were adventurous’, cited by 46% of respondents. The next most popular reason was ‘they’d be a good friend’ (31%) and ‘they were cheeky and funny’ (30%).
When asked what lessons they learnt from these characters, 38% of respondents said they learnt that it was ok to be different, and 27% said the characters had helped them through a difficult time.
Sue Wilkinson, chief executive of the Reading Agency, said: “We know the power of picking up a book you love and discovering a favourite character amongst the pages. The Summer Reading Challenge gives children the chance to be transported and inspired by the adventures of their favourite characters, and read books that can go on to play a fundamental role in their lives.
“For this reason, we were curious about which characters would stand the test of time and stay with us into adulthood, and the ones that would remain firm favourites across the generations."
This year’s Summer Reading Challenge, which launches tomorrow (16th July), is called the ‘Big Friendly Read’ in honour of Roald Dahl, who was born 100 years ago.
The Reading Agency has put together a list of 72 recommended children’s books that will be promoted at libraries during the challenge. The list includes Dahl’s The BFG as well as books by Michael Rosen, David O’Doherty and Kes Grey.
The top 20 most popular children’s book characters:
Winnie the Pooh
George, The Famous Five
Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit
Lucy, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Cat in the Hat
Spot the Dog
Charlotte, Charlotte’s Web
Mog, Meg and Mog
Barbar the Elephant
The Little Prince
Arietty, The Borrowers
Willie, Goodnight Mister Tom
Stanley, Flat Stanley
Babe, The Sheep Pig
Lyra, Northern Lights
Grace, Amazing Grace