Each year, Better Reading asks young Australian readers, their families, librarians and teachers to vote for their favourite book. This year 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.
The 2020 list includes old favourites, newcomers, award winners and some anniversary titles that have stood the test of time. As we did last year we have split the list into two sections: the Top 25 for older readers and Top 25 for early 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.
For younger readers The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle has once again wormed his way to the top, narrowly beating Possum Magic by Mem Fox which came in second place. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson was in third place, a long-term favourite celebrating 21 years on the bookshelves.
A host of Australian authors and illustrators are prominent within the 25 titles for younger readers. Mem Fox, Aaron Blabey and Alison Lester hold three positions each in the list of 25 books. True blue nostalgic dinky-di characters Grug and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie also made an appearance.
Better Reading Director, Cheryl Akle says, ‘It’s clear there is a deep love for picture books. We saw this with the response our readers had to Grug’s 40th birthday and Spot’s 40th anniversary this year. There’s a fondness and respect for characters we know from our own childhood that makes us want to share them with the next generation. We also open our hearts to new characters like Thelma the Unicorn.”
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. 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!
The vote also revealed:
- 21 Australian books made the list
- 22 books have a female author
- 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.
- Australian children enjoy a diverse mix of literary and popular fiction and they particularly love a funny read
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.”
Top 10 titles for Early Readers at a glance. See the full list here
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- Possum Magic by Mem Fox
- The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
- Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox
- Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd
- The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland
- Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey
- We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
- Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
Top 10 titles for Older Readers at a glance. See the full list here
- The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
- Does My Head Look Big in This by Randa Abdel Fattah
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
- Matilda by Roald Dahl
- Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
- BFG by Roald Dahl
- Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
- WeirDo by Anh Do
Thank you to all who voted, and a huge congratulations to our seven Top 50 winners! These lucky winners will receive a copy of each title on the Top 50 list: Julianne Chee, Melanie Mitchell, Veronica Morrell, Bianca Alessi, Kay Hogan, Stacey Lambert, Hannah Walsh. Happy Reading! (All winners have been contacted)