Albert Einstein was once asked how we could make our children intelligent. 'If you want your children to be intelligent', he said, 'Read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.'

Einstein isn’t the only person to invent this thought. Neil Gaiman, the prolific English author of short fiction, novels and comic books resonates this as he continues to inspire countless readers to read more.

Since childhood, books have had a massive influence on our lives. We at the British Council continue to promote reading among kids and adults and have even come up with a digital reading challenge, Reading for Life, for 7 to 12-year-olds.

As we celebrate the joys of reading, we asked our Instagram friends about their first memorable book as a child, and guess what? We were floored with an amazing bucket of responses and recommendations! 

So, here’s a sneak peek into the most popular first-reads shared by our Instagram community of book lovers:

1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J K Rowling: Weaved into witchcraft and wizardry, this is the first novel in the Harry Potter series and loved by adults and kids alike.

2. Matilda by Roald Dahl: Many of us discovered our love for books with this heartwarming story of a girl named Matilda who taught herself to read at a tender age of three. Full of humour, adventure and mystery, this book provides a strong message to kids – you can do it!

3. Malory Towers by Enid Blyton: We bet you would want your parents to ship you off to a boarding school after reading this classic. Adored for nearly seven decades, this story about a group of girls is the first love of many.

4. Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton: The first book in the series of Famous Five is a fun story from start till the end. Join the four cousins and a dog on their first spectacular adventure together with a map, lonely island, old shipwreck and secret treasure.

5. Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter: One of the best-selling children books of all time, this story is about the mischievous Peter Rabbit whose disobedience leads him into trouble. Full of humour and adventure, this story also comes with a moral lesson for kids. 

6. The Room on the Roof by Ruskin Bond: A master storyteller, Ruskin bond has written this book from a teenager’s perspective. A moving story of love and friendship, this one is a quick page-turner and a must-read.

7. Kabuliwala by Rabindranath Tagore: Set in the backdrop of Calcutta, this is a heart-wrenching story of a five-year-old girl Mini and a Kabul-based dry-fruit seller, Kabuliwala.

8. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift: As one of the most enduring satirical works in English, it is still being read almost 300 years since it was first published.

If you're looking to gift your child the habit of reading, check out our fun-filled three-week Reading for Life programme.

Find out about Reading for Life