Many of us have fond memories of reading Roald Dahl. Whether it was marvelling at the magic of Matilda, cheering for the team of Sophie and the BFG, laughing at the evil pranks of The Twits or desperately wanting to try a Willy Wonka treat, Dahl’s stories have captivated generations of young readers.
This August and September, kids all over Australia can take part in the Roald Dahl Read-a-thon, which encourages children to explore and interact with their choice of up to 14 of Dahl’s books.
Families, classrooms, and even whole schools can get involved. And if rediscovering the wonder of Roald Dahl isn’t enough of a prize – if you read (and complete the respective quizzes) at least seven of the books, you can enter the competition to WIN a weekend away to see Matilda The Musical on stage in Brisbane!
Visit the Read-a-thon’s website to register or learn more, and start reading – the read-a-thon finishes on the 13th of September!
Since each Dahl book is its own adventure, it can be hard to know which ones will be the right fit for your young reader – if you’re not planning to just read them all, that is. Many of these are excellent choices for reading aloud or encouraging independent reading for primary schoolers, ages 8-12.
We’ve put together some information on each book, and you can click on the titles or covers below to learn even more.
Which will you choose?
Reread a Classic
These are the Dahl books many of us know by heart, and love coming back to again and again.
Matilda Wormwood is one very bright little girl. All she wants to do is escape into another wonderful book, but her family don’t believe in reading. Or in Matilda. When she starts at Crunchem Hall Primary School, Matilda faces her biggest challenge yet in the evil headmistress Miss Trunchbull. Luckily, Matilda also learns that she can do some very special things…
Since the major prize in the Dahl readathon is an all expenses paid trip to see Matilda the Musical live in Brisbane, be sure to read Matilda just in case you’re the lucky winner!
When orphan Sophie is plucked from her bed in the middle of the night and whisked away to Giant Country, she has no idea what is in store. Afterall, giants are known for being ‘cannybully and murderful!’ All giants, that is, except for the Big Friendly Giant. The BFG much prefers the taste of snozzcumbers, and together with Sophie, they set out to stop the Giants in their human-bean-gobbling tracks by going straight to the top – the Queen of England herself. The BFG features many of the wacky words Dahl invented, and is phizz-whizzingly fun to read aloud.
The charming and clever Mr Fox has been successfully stealing from farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean (‘one fat, one short, one lean’), until one day they decide to strike back. Mr Fox must have his wits about him (but sadly, not his tail) as he adventures underground to escape the evil farmers’ clutches once and for all… The fast pace makes Fantastic Mr Fox a great choice for intermediate readers.
When young Charlie Bucket finds a Golden Ticket in his Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight, he and his Grandpa Joe are catapulted into the miraculous world of mysterious chocolate-maker Willy Wonka. From a chocolate river to lickable wallpaper, a chewing-gum meal to a chocolate bar you can eat right from your television – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has it all.
Discover a New Favourite
Perhaps one of these will become the next well-read classic in your house?
Charlie’s adventures didn’t finish when he left the factory! Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator picks up right where the last book left off, with Willy Wonka, Charlie and the Bucket family a thousand feet up in the wondrous elevator. They may have gone just a little too far up into the air, as they now seem to be in orbit. Adventures ensue, including the Vermicous Knids, more Oompa Loompas, and even the president of the United States!
When a new company opens in a building called The Grubber, Billy hopes it’s a sweet-shop. Instead it turns out to be the Ladderless Window-Cleaning company, and it’s run by a giraffe, a pelican and a monkey. Billy joins the team, and their first client is the esteemed Duke of Hampshire, who needs someone to clean the windows of his house – all six hundred and seventy seven of them. With Pelican’s Patented Beak and the Giraffe’s magically long neck, nothing will stop them getting the job done, until they spot something unusual in the duchess’ bedroom!
Esio Trot: Shy Mr Hoppy is very fond of his neighbour, Mrs Silver, but she only has eyes for her tortoise Alfie. Mr Hoppy comes up with the perfect plan to finally get Mrs Silver to notice him, and all he needs is one hundred and forty tortoises and quite a bit of patience! This is a very sweet little love story about two lonely people and many, many tortoises.
Laugh Out Loud
Keep yourself chuckling in these two short, hilarious stories!
A rather large crocodile (who is particularly ugly and cunning) leaves the river in search of his favourite snack – juicy little children. He has some ‘secret plans and clever tricks’ to make sure they won’t see him coming. Will anyone be able to stop him?
This edition has hilarious illustrations from Quentin Blake in full-colour, and at 60 pages, The Enormous Crocodile is an achievable choice for less confident readers.
When the eight year old heroine of The Magic Finger gets cross, something scarily special happens to her finger. Just ask her old teacher Mrs Winters. The family who live next door, the Greggs, love to go hunting and this makes the little girl very angry. So angry that she starts seeing red, and her right forefinger begins to tingle. It turns out every duck will have their day…
Give Yourself a Fright
From the Grand High Witch to the Dreaded Shrinks, these are the wickedest of Dahl’s worlds!
Mr Twit is many things: hairy faced, unhygienic (he has NEVER washed his beard, not ever), and extremely horrid. Mrs Twit used to be almost lovely to look at, but over the years all her ugly thoughts have transformed her face into something quite unpleasant. And the glass eye doesn’t help matters either. The two Twits are as awful to each-other as they are to everyone else, until one day their evil tricks get the best of them both…
Forget everything you thought you knew about witches. Real witches don’t look like what you think, and even if you know their tricks, a witch is hard to spot. They will appear to be just an ordinary woman, but inside all witches harbour a ‘red-hot sizzling hatred’ for children. They scheme and they plot to rid the world of kids, one at a time. Witches are magical, dangerous, and practically unstoppable. A young boy and his grandmother may be our only hope! This one is best for older, more confident readers.
Cheer for the Underdog
Many of Dahl’s books feature unlikely young heroes standing up to bullies and saving the day. Why not try:
George has had just about enough of his vile grandmother. He may be small, but George is very brave, and he has to do something. He doesn’t have a firework banger, or a long green snake, or six black rats, but George does have a very large saucepan and some interesting ingredients to make Grandma a rather different sort of medicine.
After the loss of both his parents, James Henry Trotter is raised by his two awful aunts, Sponge and Spiker. They treat him terribly, and James is utterly miserable. One day James comes across a strange little man who promises strange magic will come from a white bag of tiny little green things. To be the one to harvest their power, James must follow the man’s instructions perfectly. It is all going well, until he trips and falls and the bag bursts open and the little green things burrow into the earth. The giant peach that grows is only the beginning…
Danny and his widowed father William love each-other very much. One morning Danny wakes and his father is nowhere to found, and when he does return, William tells Danny his secret – he loves to poach pheasants in Hazell’s Wood. The land and birds belong to one Victor Hazell, a generally unpleasant ‘roaring snob’ who tries to hurt Danny and his dad. So Danny hatches a plan, and if it works – he might just become the champion of the world!