Education & Family

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tops primary school book list

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Image caption Charlie and the Chocolate Factory performed for Children in Need

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is at the top of a teachers' list of books "all children should read before leaving primary school".

The list of must-read novels has been selected by 500 teachers for the National Association for the Teaching of English and the TES magazine.

Roald Dahl's cautionary tale comes ahead of Goodnight Mister Tom.

"Fiction teaches children how to navigate the journey of life," says TES editor Ann Mroz.

As the summer holidays get under way, the list sets out the stories for pupils to read before they move on from primary school.

Classic stories

In the top 10, teachers have selected two Roald Dahl stories - Matilda as well as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Victorian tale of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is still popular in the 21st Century

There are also a couple of traditional classics, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis.

Top 10 children's books to read before leaving primary school:

  1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  2. Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian
  3. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  4. Matilda by Roald Dahl
  5. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
  6. The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis
  7. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  8. We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
  9. Dogger by Shirley Hughes
  10. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Jonathan Brunskill, a teacher at Keys Meadow Primary School in Enfield, London, told the TES that the selection reflected how favourite children's books often had dark and unsettling themes.

"I've always found that children are attracted to dark stories, Roald Dahl being the obvious example," he said.

'Mediating emotions'

Psychologist and former teacher Tim O'Brien told the magazine: "Rather than talking to a child about how they feel about the death of their favourite pet, a parent could make a conscious choice to read a book with a relevant plot instead.

"In this way, stories with dark themes and contexts can be a tool for mediating thoughts and emotions."

TES editor Ann Mroz said many of the books chosen by teachers, in this top 10 and a further top 100 list, are "not full of joy and mirth but are instead dark and full of horror - tales of ferocious monsters, abuse, abandonment and even death".

"Not what you'd think the average primary child would want to read. But these books serve an important purpose, giving children a safe place where they can take control of troubling subjects, where evil can be glimpsed and then shut within their pages."

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