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The 50 best children's books

Published

Enid Blyton's The Famous Five has just been voted the nation's favourite children's book according to research from charity Plan UK - in a move that has reignited the debate over childhood literature in the Stylist office. The books we remember reading as a child stay with us for life and every reader has their own strong allegiances to a particular childhood classic. The Famous Five may be genius, but there are plenty of other works of fiction, from picture books to pre-teen classics, that we hold dear. Read on to find out about our selection of the top 50 children's books (decided on after hours of debate and sulking)...

Which of our 50 is your favourite? Or did we miss your ultimate childhood read off our list? Either way, share your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments section below.

  • The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson (1999)

    The most modern of our featured books, The Gruffalo tells the story of a plucky young mouse who evades death in a woodland through his use of cunning and charisma.

  • Carrie's War by Nina Bawden (1973)

    Set during the second world war, the novel follows evacuees Carrie and Nick Willow as they wrestle with homesickness, a bullying Mr Evans and a supposed family curse.

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  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900)

    This timeless tale follows the fate of Dorothy, whom after being caught in a cyclone in Kansas, finds herself in the mysterious Land of Oz.

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  • Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene (1930)

    Living in the fictional town of River Heights, 18 year-old Nancy Drew is an amateur girl detective, trying to solve cases that she stumbles upon.

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  • A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

    Spoiled and snobbish, Sara Crewe finds herself unexpectedly orphaned at the age of seven, seemingly destined for a future of drudgery.

    See the beautiful artworks from the Cannes Film Festival’s 5-year history here

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

    The charming story of the March family’s hardships and adventures in Civil War New England created four of the most iconic sisters in American literature. Whether you admire kind Beth, spirited writer Jo or adventurous Amy, each reader has a favourite ‘little woman’ by the end of the book.

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  • The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley

    The plucky heroine in a pink and white candy striped dress (and a favourite of our columnist Lucy Mangan), Milly Molly Mandy’s stories of everyday village life – from her “nice white cottage with the thatched roof”, to fishing and picnics with Little-Friend-Susan and Billy Blunt - have enchanted young readers since 1925.

    Read all of Lucy Mangan's columns here

  • The Borrowers by Mary Norton

    Borrowers are tiny people who secretly live in the houses of “human beans”, and “borrow” things to survive. The first novel in the series (which was awarded the prestigious Carnegie Medal) tells the tale of the Clock Borrower family and their spirited teenager daughter Arrietty, frustrated with life under the floorboards.

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