Our testing children read nearly 1,000 books every year and choose their favourite 50 books. All are highly recommended as being best picks by children for children. The full list is in age order and alphabetical order by author.

And if you want to download the full list to print off with our fantastic Winners for the 2018 Award click here.

Younger Children

There Is No Dragon In This Story

Written by Lou Carter and illustrated by Deborah Allwright

Published by Bloomsbury ISBN 978-1408864906

There should be a dragon in this story but where has he gone? When the evil Giant plunges the world into darkness will the dragon decide to come to the rescue? This clever book takes the reader on a journey through some of our favourite fairy tales enlivened by highly entertaining illustrations.

Neon Leon

Written by Jane Clarke and illustrated by Britta Teckentrup

Published by Nosy Crow  ISBN 978-0857638076

Leon is a chameleon, but he is unhappy because he can’t change his colour like the other chameleons. Poor Leon just wants to find a perfect match where he can feel at home. The clear, bright and strong-lined illustrations and full-page spreads are perfect for young children to share with adults.

A Werewolf Named Oliver James

Written and illustrated by Nicholas John Frith

Published by Scholastic ISBN 978-1-407171-98-2

On his way home one moonlight night, Oliver James turns into a werewolf full of amazing super powers! But what will happen when he gets home? This book is full of energy with a colour palette and visual puns that will appeal to adults and children and a satisfying twist at the end.

All The Way Home

Written and illustrated by Debi Gliori

Published by Bloomsbury ISBN 978-1-4088-7207-9

When Daddy Penguin is plucked off the ice clutching his egg and falls to the ground miles from Mummy Penguin, can he get his newly hatched Baby Penguin safely home before anyone misses them?  Written as a secret story that Daddy Penguin only shares with Little One, adults and their children will love cosying up to read this wintry tale with a warm heart.

The Prince and the Pee

Written by Greg Gormley and illustrated by Chris Mould

Published by Nosy Crow ISBN 978-0857638212

Prince Freddie is on holiday when he has to rush off to save a castle from a dragon, but how does a dragon-fighting prince manage when he wants a pee? Just remember to go before you go is the message in this hilarious and tongue-in-cheek story packed with colourful illustrations.

Oi Cat!

Written by Kes Gray and illustrated by Jim Field

Published by Hodder Children’s Books ISBN 978-1-444-93251-5

The third book in this highly popular series finds Cat refusing to sit on Gnats as they bite his bottom. So what can he sit on? What else rhymes with Cat? Another hilarious rhyming picture book from this award-winning team is packed full of word puns, brilliant illustrations and a satisfying conclusion.

Dinosaurs United and the Cowardly Custard Pirate Crew

Written by Sam Hay and illustrated by Daron Parton

Published by Egmont ISBN 978-1405279338

Dinosaurs United, an awesome five-a-side football team, are keen to defeat the Cowardly Custard Pirate Crew in a Fantasy League match. Unfortunately, their kit goes missing……….. A lively, colourfully illustrated romp, with clever football tactics and a T Rex mask to wear, will engage younger readers to the final whistle.

Let’s Find Fred

Written and illustrated by Steven Lenton

Published by Scholastic ISBN 978-1407166117

Join the zookeeper in his quest to find Fred the panda as he escapes from the zoo one night for adventures filled with candyfloss, balloons and parties.  Lots of puns and clever captions for young and old to share as well as maps and clues to follow in this caper through the city.

First Day at Skeleton School

Written and illustrated by Sam Lloyd

Published by Bloomsbury ISBN 978-1408868829

Thrills and escapades alike await mini skeletons on their first day at school in the dark, dark forest.  Full of ghosts and other scary creatures who join in with dancing and singing lessons as well as floating through walls……A rhyming, lively illustrated romp, for all involved in starting school!


Written and illustrated by Stephan Lomp

Published by Chronicle Books ISBN 978-1-4521-4425-2

Babysaurus loves playing hide-and-seek with Papasaurus, but one day no matter where he looks, he can’t find him. Will Babysaurus’ friends be able to help? With dark olive-green landscapes and vividly coloured dinosaurs, this book gently explores the familiar theme of taking first steps towards independence but with a parent still comfortingly nearby.

The Bear Who Would Not Share

Written by Graham Oakley and illustrated by Lizzie Walkley

Published by Top That ISBN 978-1787000506

Bear is a great baker of delicious cakes, but when his woodland friends want to try them, they find that Bear is not good at sharing. This humorous tale with a moral is enhanced by clear and colourful illustrations.

The Cow Who Fell To Earth

Written and illustrated by Nadia Shireen

Published by Penguin Random House ISBN 978-1-780-08067-3

A mysterious visitor has landed – a little cow who desperately wants to go home. But how can you find your way when no-one understands a word you are saying?  The little cow needs the help of all her new friends in this beautifully paced story of friendship and belonging, enhanced by illustrations all young children will enjoy.

Winnie and Wilbur: The Naughty Knight

Written by Valerie Thomas and  illustrated by Korky Paul

Published by Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0192759504

With a swish of her wand, Winnie takes a ruined castle back into its heyday and Wilbur turns into a dashing knight in armour – but can the much-loved duo deal with the rude and naughty knight? In a story of magic and mayhem, with illustrations jam-packed with detail, will the knight get his come-uppance?

Swashbuckle Lil and the Jewel Thief

Written by Elli Woollard and illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson

Published by Macmillan ISBN 978-1509808847

Told in rhyme, this book contains two very funny and brilliantly illustrated stories about a little girl who is secretly a pirate.  Absolutely perfect for children starting out in the world of chapter books, the stories are easy to pick up, but difficult to put down again!

Younger Readers

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball

Written and illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson

Published by Egmont ISBN 978-1405286725

For younger readers who love it when the scary meets the funny, this story will curl toes and put smiles on faces.  This book is stuffed with fabulous illustrations, clever twists and unforgettable characters. Who couldn’t love a pumpkin called Squashy?!

Lyttle Lies: The Pudding Problem

Written and illustrated by Joe Berger

Published by Simon and Schuster ISBN 978-1471146244

Sam Lyttle tells only little lies, but, as he needs to untangle the web he has created, he only ends up digging himself into a deeper hole. Can he prove his innocence, and will he be believed? Written in a mix of comic strip and humorous text, this is perfect for early confident readers.

The Bookshop Girl

Written by Sylvia Bishop and illustrated by Ashley King

Published by Scholastic ISBN 978-1407159690

This story of family, friendship and a love of books is a delightfully funny and unexpected read for children gaining confidence in their own reading. They will be carried along with a warm story about beating the odds, with truly likeable characters and delicious illustrations.

There’s a Werewolf in My Tent

Written by Pamela Butchart and illustrated by Thomas Flintham

Published by Nosy Crow ISBN 978-0857639066

The sixth book in this hugely popular series reunites readers with young detectives Izzy and her friends.  Easy to read with lots of humour and fantastic visuals throughout, this book can be read by children who are already fans of the series or by those who pick it up as a first taste.

Jim Reaper: The Glove of Death

Written by Rachel Delahaye and illustrated by Jamie Littler

Published by Bonnier Piccadilly ISBN 978-1848125872

This is the third book in the Jim Reaper series but can be enjoyed on its own as well.  Full of funny moments and clever twists with a dark undertone that will really appeal to children becoming more confident in their reading.

The Mysterious Librarian

Written by Dominique Demers and illustrated by Tony Ross

Published by Alma Books ISBN: 978-1-84688-415-3

When the strangely eccentric Miss Charlotte applies for the librarian’s job in the town of Saint-Anatole no one is prepared for her revolutionary approach to books and reading. In no time at all she has transformed the dusty old library into a magical place. However, when she gets sucked into one of her favourite stories it’s the children who have to find a way to save her. A quirky and unusual tale, promoting a love of libraries, books and the magic of stories.

Me and Mister P

Written by Maria Farer and illustrated by Daniel Riley

Published by Oxford University Press ISBN 978-1510728608

What do you do when you find a friendly, funny, clumsy polar bear on your doorstep? Invite him to stay of course! Hilarious adventures follow in this great read-aloud book, with a moving tale underlying the humour as Arthur also learns to come to terms with his brother’s autism.

The Pest in the Nest: Book 2 Rabbit & Bear

Written by Julian Gough and illustrated by Jim Field

Published by Hachette Hodder Childrens ISBN 978-1444921717 

Bear is desperate to help his unhappy friend rabbit see the world from a different place. Noisy adventures follow where they explore the woods; will they encounter the pest in the nest?   A warm, laugh out loud story to share full of delightful characters and wisdom. Clever illustrations add to the humour.

Daisy and the Trouble with Chocolate

Written by Kes Gray, illustrated by Nick Sharratt and Garry Parsons

Published by Penguin Random House Red Fox ISBN 978-1782956099

This is the eighth book in this hugely popular, funny series about a cheeky yet lovable girl who is forever getting into trouble.  The illustrations are a lot of fun and the whole package is perfect for younger readers or those fairly new to chapter books.

91 Storey Tree House

Written by Andy Griffiths and illustrated by Terry Denton

Published by Macmillan ISBN 978-1509839162

Part comic, part highly illustrated novel, this completely whacky story is brilliant for more reluctant readers to get their teeth into.  There is no need to read these books in order, so a reader new to the Treehouse series could easily pick it up and enjoy Andy and Terry’s ridiculously funny capers.

Louie in a Spin

Written by Rachel Hamilton and illustrated by Oscar Armelles

Published by Oxford University Press ISBN 978-1338055153

The third in this hilarious series sees Louie, the unicorn with two left feet, get mistakenly entered into an important dance competition. Madame Swirler and his friends are caught up in a whirlwind of adventures as training begins. Brilliant black and white illustrations add to the comedy in this story for readers gaining in confidence.

Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space

Written by A.F. Harrold and illustrated by Joe Todd Stanton

Published by Bloomsbury ISBN 978-1408869475

Desperate to become an investigative journalist, Greta Zargo is trying to work out who stole all the cakes. What she doesn’t know is that she is the only one who can save the Earth from death robots coming to destroy it. Another delightfully quirky, funny book from A.F. Harrold, amply illustrated by Joe Todd Stanton.

A Story Like The Wind

Written by Gill Lewis and illustrated by Jo Weaver

Published by Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0-19-275895-8

A small boat filled with refugees drifts on the sea. Rami only has his violin, with which he plays a song of Freedom and tells the story of a stallion as fast as the wind. This inspiring book weaves the refugees’ stories together until they are all pulling as one towards freedom and hope. The simple yet beautiful illustrations illuminate this moving tale.

Barking for Bagels

Written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Tony Ross

Published by Andersen Press ISBN 978-1783445059

Schnipp the dog loves bagels. So, running away to live in a bagel van where can she eat delicious bagels very day seems like a great idea. But after a while she wants to go home, where things are no longer the same…This humorous quirky tale is great for sharing with younger readers.

Dork Diaries: Crush Catastrophe

Written and illustrated by Rachel Renee Russell

Published by Simon and Schuster ISBN 978-1471167751

Another entry in the diary for this popular series involving Nikki and her mates. This time she encounters conflicting feelings in her love life which lead to hilarious situations and conflicts which many young readers will identify with. Zany illustrations and use of technology emphasise the hectic lifestyle of these stories.

Wave Me Goodbye

Written by Jacqueline Wilson and illustrated by Nick Sharratt

Published by Penguin Random House Doubleday ISBN 978-0440871514

A fantastic historical novel by the queen of children’s literature, this is an evacuee story of secret locked rooms, friendship, escape and how children lived during one of the most important times in modern history.  This is one of the longest stories in this category suiting more confident readers.

Older Readers

Wolf Children

Written by Paul Dowswell

Published by Bloomsbury ISBN 978-1408858516

Berlin lies in ruins at the end of the war. Otto, Helene and their small gang are living on the edge of survival, caught between invading armies, ruthless rivals and a Nazi war criminal. Can they triumph against the odds in this climactic story of truth and friendship?

A Place Called Perfect

Written by Helena Duggan

Published by Usborne ISBN 978-1474924160

A super debut novel with a very unusual story to discover about a town that is anything but Perfect. Packed full of interesting characters and quirkiness – why is everyone wearing special glasses? why is Mum acting weirdly? – this adventure story is sure to keep older readers thoroughly absorbed from the beginning.

Never Say Die (Alex Rider)

Written by Anthony Horowitz

Published by Walker ISBN 978-1406377057

After a four-year absence, teenage spy Alex Rider is back with a thrilling new, action-packed adventure. Now living in San Francisco, Alex is still grieving over the loss of his best friend Jack Starbright: and then he finds himself flying back to Egypt after receiving a tantalising message…

The Guggenheim Mystery

Written by Robin Stevens, Siobhan Dowd

Published by Puffin ISBN 978-0141377025

This book is fantastic for anyone who enjoys finding clues and solving mysteries.  Set in New York, it tells the story of an autistic boy, his sister and their cousin as they try and find a painting stolen from the Guggenheim Museum.  Highly suitable for children at the younger end of this category.

Being Miss Nobody

Written by Tamsin Winter

Published by Usborne ISBN 978-1474927277

Rosalind suffers from Selective Mutism and decides to start a blog to speak up about being bullied. But can she draw the line between finding her voice and becoming a bully herself? This emotional roller-coaster of a book tackles difficult contemporary issues whilst appealing to older readers of all ages.

The Midnight Peacock

Written by Katherine Woodfine

Published by Egmont ISBN 978-1405282901

In the fourth and final story of The Sinclair’s Mysteries, Sophie and Lil find themselves spending Christmas at Winter Hall, the home of their friends Leo and Jack. While investigating a ghost sighting the intrepid detectives discover something much more sinister, which sets off a race against time to prevent a national disaster.

And for more mature readers


Written by Catherine Barter

Published by Andersen Press ISBN 978-17833445240

Alena never knew her political activist Mum who died when she was a toddler, but frightening events in London lead Alena back into her mother’s past. This moving coming of age novel follows Alena’s journey towards adulthood as she learns to deal with grief, complex family relationships and her developing political views.

We Come Apart

Written by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

Published by Bloomsbury ISBN 978-1408878880

Emotionally-charged account of the relationship between an unlikely couple of teenagers who meet while doing community service. Told entirely in verse and set against the backdrop of Brexit Britain, this is the affecting story of a Romanian immigrant who falls for a shoplifter with an abusive stepfather.

Things a Bright Girl Can Do

Written by Sally Nicholls

Published by Andersen Press ISBN 978-1783446735

 Evelyn, May and Nell live in Edwardian England when young women have to fight for the right to go to university, are refused work because of being a girl and don’t have voting rights. By joining the Suffragettes and Suffragists in the fight for freedom, their lives are about to change for ever.

The Hate U Give

Written by Angie Thomas

Published by Walker Books ISBN 978-1406372151

This hard-hitting novel for older teenagers is set in a predominantly black neighbourhood where sixteen-year-old Starr is the only witness to the shooting of her best friend, Khalil. The question is will Starr risk speaking out about the endemic injustice and racism?