BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 12:42 GMT
Children 'should read classics'
JK Rowling
JK Rowling's list includes works by Dickens, Shakespeare and Orwell
Children should be made to read classic literature by Dickens, Shakespeare and Joyce, according to authors such as JK Rowling and Philip Pullman.

The writers were among those asked by the Royal Society of Literature's RSL magazine to name 10 books children should read before leaving school.

Poet laureate Andrew Motion picked such challenging works as Paradise Lost, The Odyssey and James Joyce's Ulysses.

But Nick Hornby was one of several authors who refused to take part.

Which author should children read?
Enid Blyton
Lewis Carroll
Roald Dahl
Charles Dickens
James Joyce
Rudyard Kipling
AA Milne
Beatrix Potter
Michael Rosen
JK Rowling
Dr Seuss
William Shakepeare
6255 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion
"I used to teach in a comprehensive school and I know from experience that many children are not capable of reading the books I wanted them to read," he said.

"I think any kind of prescription of this kind is extremely problematic."

Rowling's list includes such classic works as Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe and David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.

She also recommends such 20th century novels as Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.

Pullman's selections included a range of children's books, among them Emil and the Detectives and Where the Wild Things Are.

Philip Pullman
Pullman also recommends "good collections" of myths and fairy tales
But he also includes Romeo and Juliet, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge and the First Book of Samuel, Chapter 17 (the story of David and Goliath).

'Cultural vandalism'

Andrew Motion's heavyweight list also includes Cervantes' Don Quixote, Henry James' Portrait of a Lady and Shakespeare's Hamlet - which also features on Rowling's list.

"I see no intrinsic reason why children shouldn't read these works," he told the Guardian.

Wuthering Heights
Emily Bronte
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Roald Dahl
Robinson Crusoe
Daniel Defoe
David Copperfield
Charles Dickens
Joseph Heller
To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee
Animal Farm
George Orwell
The Tale of Two Bad Mice
Beatrix Potter
The Catcher in the Rye
JD Salinger
William Shakespeare

"I find it maddening that these books should be dismissed as elitist. That way cultural vandalism lies."

The poet Wendy Cope joined Hornby in refusing the task, while novelist Ben Okri chose to contribute a 10-point list instead.

His advice to children includes: "Read the books your parents hate" and: "Read the world - it's the most mysterious book of all."

Other authors polled include the former Children's Laureate Anne Fine and the biographer Victoria Glendinning.

JK Rowling 'dreads' Potter finale
27 Dec 05 |  Entertainment
Motion cheers online poem archive
14 Dec 05 |  Technology


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific