Ten books that are essential reading for children

Ngurang Meena wants children to love reading the way she did as a child.

So, with a goal to develop the reading habits of children and improve the literacy rate in Arunachal Pradesh, Meena started the movement of setting up self-help roadside libraries in rural areas. Supported by a modest donation of books from the British Council library, Meena is on a mission to outnumber the wine shops with free books and libraries in various districts of the state.

On any weekday, children could be found standing in a small group near wooden shelves set up on the street, reading books. Glenda Millard’s The Stars at Oktober Bend shares space with I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father. Books have often been collected by Meena through donations or bought out of her own pocket.

14 November is not only a day to celebrate Children’s Day, but also to commemorate and recognise the contribution of people like Meena who’ve started fabulous initiatives to promote reading among young leaners.

In celebration of Children’s Day, we’ve rounded up ten enthralling books by some incredible authors. These books can be found in the British Council library collection for kids to add to their reading list this month.

  1. Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford - Ross Welford, an English author, pens his debut science fiction story that unfolds the story of a 12-year old boy who travels back in time with his father's invented time machine to meet his father along with his pet hamster, but things do not go well when he goes back in time. 
  2.  Billy and the Minpins by Roald Dahl - Billy's mum says he must never go out of the garden gate and explore the dark forest beyond. So, one day, that's exactly what he does! He meets the Minpins, tiny tree-dwelling people whose children are the size of matchsticks. They live in fear of the terrible Gruncher. Will it gobble Billy too - or can he find a way to defeat the hungry beast?

  3. Armadillo and Hare by Jeremy Strong - Armadillo and Hare have all the warmth and charm of the frog and toad adventures. Two friends spending time together, enjoying and learning meaningful lessons about life. Written as ten light-hearted and funny short stories, Armadillo and Hare enjoy days out together, deal with problems and ponder things about the world. 

  4. The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi - Yet another magnificent read, this book is the tale of a wooden puppet Pinocchio carved out of wood by Gepetto. This book teaches young minds the difference between good and bad in a very impactful manner. 

  5. The Secret Garden by Frances Hogdson Burnett - This book makes a worthy read for kids because it delves into the deep emotions of a ten-year-old girl who was not wanted by her parents. Then what changes suddenly in Mary’s life, her roller coaster ride is definitely worth a read. 

  6. A Twist of Tales by Julia Donaldson - In this fantastical collection of stories, a king hides a terrible secret under his crown, a marvellous dream inspires an epic journey and a clever girl outwits the king! This collection of three lovely tales from Julia Donaldson are an ideal first step for children embarking on a lifelong journey through the wonders of stories. 

  7. My Parents Cancelled My Birthday by Jo Simmons - Every child waits for his or her birthday and cherishes the day. What if the birthday gets cancelled? A side-splitting tale of Tom's birthday wish not being fulfilled. What could have possibly gone wrong? Read to know the twists and turns in the story. 

  8. Pea’s Book of Big Dreams - 11-year-old Pea is contemplating her future and what exactly she should be when she grows up. Should she be a writer (like Mum)? An artist? A footballer? A pet therapist? Join Pea as she attempts to find out the answers—with hilarious results! 

  9. The Last Bear by Hannah Gold – During a scientific research to the Arctic, April's father tells her that there no Polar Bears left on the Bear Island. But one summer night, April meets one. He’s starving, lonely and a long way from home. Determined to save him, April begins the most important journey of her life. This moving story will win the hearts of children and show them that no one is too young or insignificant to make a difference. 

  10. Roald Dahl reads Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and four more stories – Read by Roald Dahl himself, this is the audiobook edition of popular stories by Roald Dahl - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Enormous Crocodile, and The Magic Finger.