There’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of if you’re an adult who enjoys reading children’s books. In fact, if you haven’t read any recently I would encourage you to pick one up as soon as possible. They are imaginative and fast paced. Being shorter than adult books they fit around our busy lives a lot easier, whilst allowing us to escape our stressful world. They encourage us to regress into our inner child and relive a life that we grudgingly abandoned at the door to adulthood. Age should not stop you reading children’s books. In fact, there are some fantastic books out there that were originally aimed at children which have massive appeal to an older audience.
Here are my personal recommendations for modern children’s books that I think every adult should read. They are in no particular order. Please feel free to add your recommendations in the comments and share the list to your friends.
Naughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman (2006)
Callum is a naught, a second-class citizen in a society run by the ruling Crosses. Sephy is a Cross, and daughter of the man slated to become prime minister. In their world, white naughts and black Crosses simply don’t mix – and they certainly don’t fall in love. But that’s exactly what they’ve done. When they were younger, they played together. Now Callum and Sephy meet in secret and make excuses. But excuses no longer cut it when Sephy and her mother are nearly caught in a terrorist bombing planned by the Liberation Militia, with which Callum’s family is linked. Callum’s father is the prime suspect…and Sephy’s father will stop at nothing to see him hanged. The blood hunt that ensues will threaten not only Callum and Sephy’s love for each other, but their very lives.
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne (2006)
Nine-year-old Bruno has a lot of things on his mind. Who is the ‘Fury’? Why did he make them leave their nice home in Berlin to go to ‘Out-With’ ? And who are all the sad people in striped pyjamas on the other side of the fence? The grown-ups won’t explain so Bruno decides there is only one thing for it – he will have to explore this place alone. What he discovers is a new friend. A boy with the very same birthday. A boy in striped pyjamas. But why can’t they ever play together?
The Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins (2008)
Set in a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called The Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed. When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her younger sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.
The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman (2008)
When a baby escapes a murderer intent on killing the entire family, who would have thought it would find safety and security in the local graveyard? Brought up by the resident ghosts, ghouls and spectres, Bod has an eccentric childhood learning about life from the dead. But for Bod there is also the danger of the murderer still looking for him – after all, he is the last remaining member of the family.
Maggot Moon – Sally Gardner (2012)
A starkly original and heartbreaking tale of friendship and rebellion. Narrated against the backdrop of a ruthless regime determined to beat its enemies in the race to the moon. When his best friend Hector is suddenly taken away, Standish Treadwell realises that it is up to him, his grandfather and a small band of rebels to confront and defeat the ever-present oppressive forces of the Motherland.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon (2003)
This is Christopher’s murder mystery story. There are also no lies in this story because Christopher can’t tell lies. Christopher does not like strangers or the colours yellow or brown or being touched. On the other hand, he knows all the countries in the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7507. When Christopher decides to find out who killed the neighbour’s dog, his mystery story becomes more complicated than he could have ever predicted.
Stormbreaker (Alex Rider Series) – Anthony Horowitz (2000)
When his guardian dies in suspicious circumstances, fourteen-year-old Alex Rider finds his world turned upside down. Forcibly recruited into MI6, Alex has to take part in gruelling SAS training exercises. Then, armed with his own special set of secret gadgets, he’s off on his first mission to Cornwall, where Middle-Eastern multi-billionaire Herod Sayle is producing his state-of-the-art Stormbreaker computers. Sayle has offered to give one free to every school in the country – but there’s more to the gift than meets the eye.
SilverFin (Young Bond Series) – Charlie Higson (2005)
James Bond will one day become the world’s most famous spy, but at the moment his challenge is to fit in at his new school – making friends, learning the rules and facing up to bullies. Unknown to James though, there is an even tougher challenge awaiting him– something mysterious and deadly lurking in the water. Something called SilverFin.
The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness (2008)
Imagine you’re the only boy in a town of men. And you can hear everything they think. And they can hear everything you think. Imagine you don’t fit in with their plans… Todd Hewitt is just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man. But his town has been keeping secrets from him. Secrets that are going to force him to run…
The Ruby in the Smoke – Philip Pullman (1985)
A fast-paced, finely crafted thriller set in a rogue- and scalawag-ridden Victorian London. 16-year-old Sally Lockhart has no time for the usual trials of adolescence: her father has been murdered, and she needs to find out how and why. But everywhere she turns, she encounters new scoundrels and secrets. Why do the mere words “seven blessings” cause one man to keel over and die at their utterance? Who has possession of the rare, stolen ruby? And what does the opium trade have to do with it? As our determined and intelligent sleuth sets her mind to unraveling these dark mysteries, she learns how embroiled she is in the whole affair.
Mortal Engines – Philip Reeve (2001)
Welcome to the astounding world of Predator Cities! London is hunting again. Emerging from its hiding place in the hills, the great Traction City is chasing a terrified little town across the wastelands. Soon, London will feed. In the attack, Tom Natsworthy is flung from the speeding city with a murderous scar-faced girl. They must run for their lives through the wreckage–and face a terrifying new weapon that threatens the future of the world.
How I live Now – Meg Rosoff (2004)
Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy. As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.
Skellig – David Almond (1998)
When a move to a new house coincides with his baby sister’s illness, Michael’s world seems suddenly lonely and uncertain. Then, one Sunday afternoon, he stumbles into the old, ramshackle garage of his new home, and finds something magical. A strange creature – part owl, part angel, a being who needs Michael’s help if he is to survive. With his new friend Mina, Michael nourishes Skellig back to health, while his baby sister languishes in the hospital.
Artemis Fowl – Eoin Colfer (2001)
Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius-and, above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn’t know what he’s taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren’t the fairies of bedtime stories; these fairies are armed and dangerous. Artemis thinks he has them right where he wants them but then they stop playing by the rules.
Millions – Frank Cottrell Boyce (2004)
Two bothers, Damian and Anthony, are unwittingly caught up in a train robbery during Britain’s countdown to join the Euro. Suddenly finding themselves with a vast amount of cash, the boys have just one glorious, appalling dilemma – how to spend it in the few days before it becomes worthless. Torn between the vices of buying a million pizzas and the virtues of ending world poverty, the boys soon discover that being rich is a mug’s game. For not only is the clock ticking – the bungling bank robbers are closing in. Pizzas or World Peace, what would you choose?
Truckers – Terry Pratchett (1989)
To the thousands of the tiny nomes who live under the floorboards of a large department store, there is no Outside. Things like Day and Night, Sun and Rain are just daft old legends.
Then a devastating piece of news shatters their existence: the Store – their whole world – is to be demolished. And it’s up to Maskin, one of the last nomes to come into the Store, to mastermind an unbelievable escape plan that will take all the nomes into the dangers of the great Outside …
Harry Potter series – J K Rowling (1997)
Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Jeff Kinney (2007)
Boys don’t keep diaries—or do they? It’s a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you’re ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary. In book one of this debut series, Greg is happy to have Rowley, his sidekick, along for the ride. But when Rowley’s star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend’s newfound popularity to his own advantage, kicking off a chain of events that will test their friendship in hilarious fashion.
If you’re thinking: where’s Watership Down, The Hobbit and others, they will feature on 12 Classic Children’s Books Every Adult Should Read Before They Die – coming soon.
What modern children’s books do you enjoy reading? Share this with others to see if they agree.