Childrens Books – A Reading List for Writers

This list was compiled during Wolves & Apples 2016 and is a small demonstration of the breadth and ambition of writing for young people. It is by no means definitive, but a snapshot of work that inspired or taught delegates and guest speakers something about writing for children and young adults. You may not agree with all the books included (feel free to send us your suggestions) but we’d be surprised if you didn’t find something here to interest and excite you.

AuthorTitleWhy included?Other books by the same writer.
Janet and Alan AhlbergThe Jolly PostmanEach Peach Pear Plum
Joan AikenBlack Hearts in BatterseaAlternative history/worldbuilding, dialogue.The Serial Garden, Night Birds on Nantucket, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
R.M. BallantyneThe Coral IslandMakes the reader work.
Marc BoutavantAround the World with MoukA picture book that integrates text and illustration.
Tanya BurnFollow Me Down
Doris BurnAndrew Henry's MeadowEvocative picture book which shows what you can do in black and white.
Beverley ClearyRamona Forever
Eoin ColferArtenis Fowl
Susan CooperThe Dark is RisingOver Sea, Under Stone, Greenwitch, The Grey King, Silver on the Tree.
Robert CormierThe Chocolate WarI Am the Cheese
Roald DahlMatildaChild's pov.
Kate DiCamilloThe Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
Helen Dunmore
Neil GaimanCoralineSpare use of language.The Graveyard Book, A View from the Cheap Seats
Alan GarnerThe Owl ServiceMakes demands on the reader, use of mythology.The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Moon of Gomrath, Red Shift, Elidor.
Frances HardingeThe Lie Tree
Lian HearnAcross the Nightingale FloorWorldbuildingGrass for His Pillow, Brilliance of the Moon.
Russel HobanRiddley WalkerThe Mouse and His Child
Brian JaquesRedwall
Clive KingStig of the Dump
Ursula LeGuinA Wizard of EarthseaThe Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore.
E. LockhartWe Were LiarsCompelling writing and a clever twist
Sarah J. MaasThrone of GlassPlotting/worldbuilding.
Margaret MahyThe Tricksters
John MasefieldThe Box of DelightsInfluences many fantasy writers that come after.The Midnight Folk. Dead Ned.
Cliff McNish
Jandi NelsonFor YA 'tone'.
Patrick NessA Monster Calls
Garth Nix
B.J. NovakThe Book with No Pictures
Louise O'NeillAsking For ItYA issues/ voice/ observation of dialogue.
Terry PratchettThe Wee Free MenNation, Only You Can Save Mankind, A Hat Full of Sky
Nonn PrattFor YA 'tone'.
Susan Price
Phillip ReeveMortal EnginesImaginative concept.
Lynne Reid BanksThe Indian in the CupboardGreat concept and what the story then does with it.
Katherine RundellRooftoppers
SF SaidPhoenixMythologyVarjak Paw
Francesca SannaThe JourneyBeautiful picture book that explores the refugee experience for young children.
Dr SeussGreen Eggs and HamCompelling story using simple vocabulary.The Sneetches and Other Stories, I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew, The Cat in the Hat.
Sean TannDays of SummerThe Arrival
Elfrida VipontThe Elephant and the Bad Baby