The Famous Five series is the nation's most loved children's books of all time

By Richard Jenkins
Wednesday, 2nd March 2022, 5:17 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd March 2022, 5:18 pm

First published in 1942, the 21 novels follow four adventurous young children, Julian, Dick, Anne and Georgina, and her dog, Timmy.

The popular series topped the poll of beloved childhood novels, beating the likes of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which appeared in 17th place.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory completed the top three.

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Also securing a place within the top 10 were Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the Mr. Men and Little Miss books.

While The Railway Children, The Hungry Caterpillar and The Wind in the Willows also featured in the top 50.

The study was commissioned by Camden Market, ahead of World Book Day, which will see the food stalls at the Lock, Stables, Buck Street and Hawley Wharf markets recreate some of the most memorable dishes from children's books.

These will include Bruce Bogtrotter’s chocolate cake from Matilda, Turkish Delight and Hot Chocolate from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and a bubble tea inspired by the BFG’s Frobscottle.

Books teach valuable lessons

The study of 2,000 adults also found 52 per cent adore these stories because they remind them of their own childhood, while one in four think they teach valuable lessons.

The average adult reckons they have read around a third of these popular titles, but 46 per cent wished they’d read more of these memorable stories in their youth.

Maggie Milosavljevic, commercial director at LabTech, said: “It’s great to see so many iconic childhood books and characters coming through in the research.

“We’ve all had our own experiences immersing ourselves within these stories in our youth and imagining ourselves in some of our favourite character’s shoes.

“We hope to bring some of the magic of these legendary tales to life throughout the World Book Day weekend at Camden Market.”

The study also found, of those who are parents, 87 per cent have encouraged their little ones to read their favourite tales from their childhood.

In fact, 66 per cent have read their preferred children’s novels to their youngster, doing so 13 times on average.

And nearly seven in 10 have already – or intend to – hand down hard copies of their most beloved stories to their offspring.

More than half of the mums and dads polled believe it’s important for their child to do plenty of reading.

It also emerged 62 per cent of adults have even re-read a much-loved children’s book in their adulthood and have read a single storybook from their youth as many as six times.

Unforgettable tales

The research also revealed favourite characters from these unforgettable tales, and marmalade-loving Paddington Bear came out on top.

He was closely followed by Beatrix Potter’s mischief-making Peter Rabbit, and A. A. Milne’s ‘silly old bear’ – Winnie the Pooh.

A number of Roald Dahl’s marvellous character creations featured in the top 20, including Willy Wonka, Matilda, the BFG and Charlie Bucket.

With the ‘Wonka bar’ was named the most iconic fable food from childhood tales – beating Butterbeer from Harry Potter and Snozzcumbers from the BFG.

As a result, half of those polled agreed Roald Dahl is the best children’s author – despite Enid Blyton authoring their favourite childhood fiction, who came in second place.

Maggie Milosavljevic added: “You can always tell a good book, because it’s able to transport you to far off imaginary lands that you feel like you’ve really been to.

“We’ve created a number of fictional foods to tickle people’s tastebuds this World Book Day to help bring the magic of storytelling to life.

“People can come along to the markets to try a whole host of delicious concoctions such as a Hungry Caterpillar inspired ice cream and a colourful Cheshire Cat pancake.

"There will also be readings from famous authors Nicholas Allen, Holly Webb and Konnie Huq and a whole host of entertainment.”

For more information on the World Book Day activity and to book tickets to the event on March 5-6, go to the Camden Market website.

Top 50 children's books 

1.            The Famous Five series

2.            The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

3.            Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

4.            Winnie the Pooh

5.            The Wind in the Willows

6.            The Hungry Caterpillar

7.            The Jungle Book

8.            Mr. Men and Little Miss books

9.            Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

10.          The Railway Children

11.          The Tale of Peter Rabbit

12.          The Secret Garden

13.          Black Beauty

14.          The BFG

15.          Peter Pan

16.          Treasure Island

17.          Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

18.          Matilda

19.          Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

20.          A Bear Called Paddington

21.          Watership Down

22.          Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

23.          The Gruffalo

24.          James and the Giant Peach

25.          Little Women

26.          The Tiger who came to Tea

27.          The Hobbit

28.          Hansel and Gretel

29.          The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

30.          We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

31.          Fantastic Mr. Fox

32.          The Cat in the Hat

33.          The Twits

34.          Charlotte’s Web

35.          The Witches

36.          Spot the Dog

37.          Room on the Broom

38.          Stick Man

39.          The Golden Compass

40.          Where the Wild Things Are

41.          The Story of Tracy Beaker

42.          Each Peach, Pear, Plum

43.          A Squash and a Squeeze

44.          Gangsta Granny

45.          The Little Prince

46.          Billionaire Boy

47.          Girls in Love

48.          The Illustrated Mum

49.          The Paper Dolls

50.          Moominland Midwinter

Top 20 children's storybook characters

1.            Paddington Bear

2.            Peter Rabbit

3.            Winnie the Pooh

4.            Harry Potter

5.            Willy Wonka

6.            Thomas the Tank Engine

7.            Matilda

8.            The Gruffalo

9.            The Hungry Caterpillar

10.          Alice (Alice in Wonderland)

11.          The BFG

12.          Peter Pan

13.          Dennis the Menace

14.          Charlie Bucket

15.          The Tiger (The Tiger who Came to Tea)

16.          Spot (the dog)

17.          The Cat in the Hat

18.          Mr. Toad (Wind in the Willows)

19.          Dorothy (Wizard of Oz)

20.          Horrid Henry