Each year, Better Reading asks young Australian readers, their families, librarians and teachers to vote for their favourite book. In 2020 we’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response! It’s clear that Australian love reading across a broad range of children’s titles in all formats – paperback, hardcovers and board books.
As we did last year we have split the list into two sections: the Top 25 for older readers and Top 25 for younger readers.
Coming in at #1 for older readers is The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. Harry Potter has won this coveted position for the last two years so this was a big surprise. This year Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone by J.K. Rowling was number three for older readers, which demonstrates its continuing popularity. Number two for older readers was Does My Head Look Big In This by Randa Abdel Fattah. This award-winning book was released in 2005 and shows that our community appreciate books that reflect the diversity of our Australian society.
Older readers are completely won over by a good series. There were 12 different series represented in the top 25 books for older readers. Fantasy series dominate the list with the Faraway Tree, Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, Nevermoor and Percy Jackson. The most popular series is The Faraway Tree, closely followed by Harry Potter, and then ( in order) The Chronicles of Narnia, Nevermoor, Weirdo, Alice-Miranda, Kensy and Max, the Treehouse series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the Tomorrow series and Percy Jackson.
Humorous series were well-represented too by WeirDo, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the Treehouse series. Aussie author Jacqui Harvey has two series in the list: Kensy and Max and Alice Miranda. But overall Roald Dahl ruled the older readers category with five titles voted favourites!
Cheryl Akle initiated the annual Top 100 Better Reading poll for adult books in the hope that it would inspire Australians to read and to share ideas with other readers about the books they love. Soon after she realised that the same is true for children’s books. This is the fourth year the poll has run.
“People are always telling me how hard it is to find the right book for a child in their life,” says Akle. “With so many wonderful new books hitting the shelves each month, making a decision can be overwhelming so this list is something you can take with you to the bookshop. When you give a book to a child you want to know it’s a book they’re going to love.”
The 25 titles for older readers in Australia’s Top 50 Kids Books 2020 are: