Sunday 21 April 2013



Librarians are always fascinated by book lists so when the TES recently published the top 100 teachers’ favourite books, it generated a lot of discussion amongst the online school library community. However, it was also felt that school librarians should produce their own list as we are the people that actually deal with books on a daily basis. The list we came up with is as varied as the teachers’ list; it’s in alphabetical order rather than by popularity although the top ten are highlighted. The problem is, ask a school librarian to name their favourite book and they’re likely to give you about fifty titles including their personal favourites as a child, their favourites as an adult, their favourite teenage/young adult titles, not to mention a list of picture books and graphic novels. So, whilst many of the titles listed are similar to those on the teachers’ list, they also reflect the wider reading that most librarians do and the list shows not only the varied range of books but also a more contemporary collection.

Keeping up-to-date with what is published, what’s being read and trends is part of our job. It enables us to select our stock to cater for the needs of our user group and also to match that stock more accurately with individual readers. We know how to entice a reluctant reader, what to suggest next for a Wimpy Kid fan and how to challenge a more-able reader whilst ensuring the content is suitable for their age.

Schools that ignore and do not use their libraries and librarians are wasting this expertise and experience; schools that don’t even have a library are preventing their students from accessing the resources and benefits that only a school library can provide. And when it comes to books and reading, the person to ask really is your school librarian.

Barbara Band

Skellig – David Almond

Flowers in the Attic – Virginia Andrews

Atkins’ Molecules – Peter Atkins

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen *

The Crow Road – Iain Banks

Rebecca’s Tale – Sally Beauman

Noughts and Crosses series – Malorie Blackman *

Junk – Melvin Burgess

The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

Oscar and Lucinda – Peter Carey

Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

Looking for JJ – Anne Cassidy

Wild Swans – Jung Chang

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke

Artemis Fowl series – Eoin Colfer

The Hunger Games trilogy – Suzanne Collins

The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

The Dark is Rising series – Susan Cooper

Framed – Frank Cottrell Boyce

Gatty’s Tale - Kevin Crossley-Holland

Matilda – Roald Dahl

Everything Happens for a Reason – Kaista Daswani

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

The Hare with Amber Eyes – Edmund De Waal

The Gruffalo – Julie Donaldson

A Gathering Light – Jennifer Donnelly

Frenchman’s Creek – Daphne Du Maurier

Middlemarch – George Eliot

Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

A Room with a View – EM Forster

The Diary of Anne Frank – Anne Frank

The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend – Matthew Green

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

The Raw Shark Texts – Stephen Hall

Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

Black Daisies for the Bride – Tony Harrison

Tales of the Otori series – Lian Hearn

Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

The Strange Meeting – Susan Hill

The Outsiders – SE Hinton

The Island – Victoria Hislop

Stravaganza series – Mary Hoffman

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner – James Hogg

High Fidelity – Nick Hornby

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini

The 13th Horseman – Barry Hutchinson

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Journey to the River Sea – Eva Ibbotson

A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving

The Summer Book – Tove Jansson

Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce

The Fionavar Tapestry series – Guy Gavriel Kay

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

The Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis *

The Giver – Lois Lowry

Goodnight Mister Tom – Michelle Magorian

A Song of Fire and Ice series – George RR Martin

I Carried you on Eagle’s Wings – Sue Mayfield

Atonement – Ian McEwan

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things – Jon McGregor

Breathe – Cliff McNish

Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet – David Mitchell

Anne of Green Gables – L Montgomery

Private Peaceful – Michael Morpurgo *

War Horse – Michael Morpurgo

Trash – Andy Mulligan

A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

Chaos Walking trilogy – Patrick Ness *

The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

The Abhorsen trilogy – Garth Nix

Z for Zachariah – Robert C O’Brien

1984 – George Orwell

The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series – Michelle Paver

Seeing the Blossom – Dennis Potter

Tom’s Midnight Garden – Philippa Pearce

Tamar – Mal Peet

Soul Music – Terry Pratchett

His Dark Materials trilogy – Philip Pullman *

The Long Walk – Slavomir Rawicz

Mortal Engines series – Philip Reeve

The Wave – Morton Rhue

Harry Potter series – JK Rowling *

Holes – Louis Sachar

The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick

Black Beauty – Anna Sewell *

Mahabharata – Margaret Simpson

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark

The Help – Katherine Stockett

Under Milk Wood – Dylan Thomas

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – JRR Tolkien*

The Enchanted April – Elizabeth Von Arnim

Out of Shadows – Jason Wallace

The Tadpole’s Promise – Jean Willis

The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham

The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak *


  1. This is a list of truly amazing books - I was so pleased to see A Prayer for Owen Meanie, the Mortal Engines series and Holes ... of course, I would have loved to see one book by Amy Tan as well as Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean ...and I wouldn't have picked just Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce - I would have had to list every single one of his books! But then the list would have had to go on for infinity. Mouth watering.

  2. I obviously had a lot more books suggested than I could put on the list and several authors names came up more than once with different books. Illustrates how every book speaks differently to each reader.

  3. Hello Barbara, love the list and we'll point people in this direction - can you let us know how many librarians or which group was involved in putting it together?
    Thank you

  4. Barbara, thanks for putting this together. A lot of my favourites are on here (and I was good and stuck strictly to the brief of choosing just one favourite!) plus quite a few that I've always meant to read but haven't quite got round to...

  5. Thank you Barbara. This is such a strong list - lots of my favourites on there. I hope the TES take it up. Well done for starting your blog: you really are Super Librarian!

  6. Some great books on that list. Good to see Mortal Engines on there. The Dark is Rising is brilliant. Journey to the River Sea. And Tom's Midnight Garden of course.