- Richard Adams
Richard Adams wrote Watership Down—unquestionably, inarguably, and without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest children’s book ever written. In fact, even the word children’s is superfluous here. I must have read this book at least a dozen times, and each time it rouses the same string of emotions in me. Forget about the film; Watership Down is just phenomenal on every level.
- Colin Dann
Colin Dann’s The Animals of Farthing Wood, and the whole White Deer Park series that followed… these books were my life between the ages of about eight and 12. The Fox Cub Bold (the fourth in the series) rivals Watership Down for its sheer emotive power.
- Ann Cameron
Author of the Julian Stories, and others. I use these books every single year, for every year group, and the kids love ‘em. They’re simple, heart-warming, thought-provoking stories and Cameron is an absolute saint.
- Frank Cottrell Boyce
Yeah, he’s the guy who wrote Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics. He’s also an excellent author of children’s books, which include Millions, The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang series and The Amazing Broccoli Boy.
- Geraldine McCaughrean
The pronunciation of her name often trips me up, but her books always astound me. McCaughrean writes fiercely intelligent, engrossing stories, with a dark or fantastical edge—check out her incredibly powerful, almost feminist rewrite of the Noah’s Ark story, Not the End of the World.
- R. L. Stine
Yep, even he. Trashy American horror? Maybe. But I believe that kids need to be scared, and books are great place to uncover that fear. (Richard Thomas wrote a great piece on introducing your kids to horror, here.) Besides, my youngest brother devoured the Goosebumps series when he was a kid, and now he’s a professional dancer with a first class honours degree in Chemistry, who reads Nabakov for fun. You do the math.
- Anne Fine
She wrote Mrs Doubtfire. ‘Nuff said. (Actually, my personal favourite of hers is How To Write Really Badly.)
- Jack London
Like an Ernest Hemingway for kids. Call of the Wild and White Fang both deal in visceral, violent, and vocabulary-rich prose. You’ll need a dictionary to decipher a lot of it. (That’s a good thing, by the way.)
- Benjamin Zephaniah
Surprising, given that he’s one of the most high-profile authors, but you don’t see many of Zephaniah’s books in your average high street bookstore. You should. Terror Kid, Refugee Boy and Face are all essential reading.
- Harry Hill
I’m not even joking. Tim the Tiny Horse is a miniature masterpiece, and so much fun to read with children…
Which children’s authors would you like to see more of?