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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Pointless children’s book list

There’s a BBC TV quiz show called Pointless, which Jen and I watch. Prior to the show, 100 people are each given 100 seconds to provide as many answers as possible to the questions that will be put to the teams during the show. Correct answers are assigned a point value equal to the number of respondents who gave them, so that less commonly given answers have lower values than those given by many respondents. Contestants on the show attempt to give answers worth as few points as possible, aiming to have the lowest score amongst the contestants in each round. If a contestant gets an answer wrong, they score 100 points. "Pointless" answers are those correct answers that none of the 100 respondents gave, making them worth zero points. Thus, the more obscure the answer, the more chance of getting to the final, where the objective is to get an answer without any points - a pointless answer.

Yesterday, we watched one session that concerned ‘100 books for children to read by age 14’, a list provided by the Book Trust. We, among many others, were surprised at the books that were excluded. Books such as Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island, Wind in the Willows, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Gruffalo.


I’ve since had a look at the Book Trust website, which can explain some of the exclusions.

The initial selection was for books published in the last hundred years – so that immediately excludes a great number of classics.

As for the absence of Charlie and Gruffalo, the 100 selection was further broken down into the ‘best books’ for 0-5 year-olds; 6-8; 9-11; and 12-14; so inevitably, that limits each group to only 25 titles.  The authors of both of these books are represented in the list, however, with other titles.

If nothing else, it proves that whenever a list of ‘best’ books is published, it will be controversial or at least contentious. And that can be no bad thing – it encourages discussion about favourite books.

Here is a selection of children’s classics that couldn’t make it onto that list but still provide rewarding reading for children:

(Full title not always shown, but you recognise the book!)

Robinson Crusoe, 1719

Brothers Grimm, 1812
Swiss Family Robinson, 1813

Hans Christian Andersen tales, 1837-72

Children of the New Forest, 1847

Tom Brown’s Schooldays, 1857
Coral Island, 1858

Water Babies, 1863
Journey to the Centre of the Earth, 1864
Alice in Wonderland, 1865
Little Women, 1868

What Katy Did, 1873
Tom Sawyer, 1876
Black Beauty, 1877

Treasure Island, 1883
Pinocchio, 1883
Heidi, 1884
King Solomon’s Mines, 1885
Dr Jekyll etc, 1886

Jungle Book, 1894
Dracula, 1897
Moonfleet, 1898

Wizard of Oz, 1900
Tales of Peter Rabbit, 1902
Call of the Wild, 1903
A Little Princess, 1905
Railway Children, 1906
Wind in the Willows, 1908
Anne of Green Gables, 1908
Secret Garden, 1909



Neil Waring said...

Lists are always interesting. I loved Call of the Wild and Tom Sawyer, two books that almost made it. A few others I remember reading made the list. Fun stuff, nice post.

Nik said...

Thanks, Neil. I missed off The Lost World in the 'missed list' - published in 1912, just under the wire, as it were...