So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall. (Roald Dahl.)
In our media saturated world, it’s easy for the bedtime story to get lost at the hands of just ‘one more episode’ or a game on the iPad.
But I firmly believe it’s the nightly storytelling that helps children foster a love of books, a colourful imagination and a better grasp of the world in general.
Recently, however, all the old favourites (many of these), fell by the wayside in our house. My daughter needed something more than We’re Going On a Bear Hunt, yet wasn’t quite ready to let go of the pictures.
So we read the revised Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass and the fantastic Pippi Longstocking, both with great illustrations – but after that we hit a rut again.
Then it struck me.
One of the greatest storytellers of our time.
And author to a host of ‘whiz poppingly, brilliant books, perfectly complemented by the quirky drawings by Quentin Blake.
So we started with Matilda and she loved it.
How does Roald Dahl engage children so much? I think it’s a combination of things. He:
- captures kid’s imagination
- makes them laugh our loud
- is authentic, picking up on kid’s real life interests, as well as their hopes and fears
- is bit rude, vile and disgusting! (which kids love of course)
Here are 15 classic Roald Dahl books for kids to get your little ones immersed in the barmily brilliant and wonderfully wacky world of Roald Dahl (with a bit of disgracefully disgusting thrown in).
You’ll be shouting ‘snozcumber’ and ‘woopsy wiffling’ before you know it.
15 of the Best Roald Dahl Books for Kids
1 – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Join lovable hero Charlie Bucket as he enters Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory for the wildest (and yummiest!) adventure of his life…
2 – James and the Giant Peach
Poor James Henry Trotter’s parents have been tragically eaten by a rhinoceros and strange things are about to happen! I read this to my Little Lady when she was still in my belly and the adventures of James in his giant rolling peach never fail to entertain…
3 – Matilda
I LOVE this books (and the film. I defy anyone not to fall in love with the brilliant and extraordinary Matilda Wormwood, as she decides to teach all those nasty grown ups a big old lesson. True genius.
4 – The Twits
Mr and Mrs Twit are the nastiest couple you could ever hope not to meet. Help save the day by joining Muggle-Wump the monkey and his family, as they set out to teach the terrible Twits a lesson they will NEVER forget…
5 – The BFG
This book is responsible for me and my Little Lady saying ‘snozcumber’ and ‘sickable’ on a daily basis. THE BFG tells the extraordinary tale of a young girl named Sophie and the Big Friendly Giant who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant County. Recently adapted into a Hollywood movie, my Little Lady’s verdict is ‘the original animated version is better because of the Whiz Popper song’!
6 – George’s Marvellous Medicine
George has the most horrid, grizzly old grunion of a grandma ever. And she is about to get the strongest medicine of her life. Dahl at his outrageous best and with all the usual moral undertones to boot.
7 – Danny – the Champion of the World
A wonderful book about a boy’s love for his father and the epic adventure Danny and his Dad embark upon when Danny discovers his father’s secret. The film is an absolute classic too – British actor Jeremy Irons is brilliant as the Dad.
8 – Fantastic Mr Fox
Mr Fox is a very clever chap and every night he pops down to the farm to help himself to food. But the farmers are about to get their own back. Or are they? Kids will love the awful (and rather dumb!) farmers and the charismatic Mr Fox.
9- The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
Billy’s biggest wish is to turn a weird old wooden house into a wonderful sweet-shop. But then he finds a giraffe, a pelly and a monkey living inside. As you do. Bonkers and brilliant.
10 – The Magic Finger
This is a lesser known Roald Dahl book, but My Little Lady loves it. Every Saturday the Greg family go out to shoot birds and animals and the girl next door is not happy about it! Cue her magic finger which is about to do very strange things. A tale with a strong moral and female heroine.
11 – The Minpins
‘Little Billy doesn’t really believe there are monsters in the wood, but the red-hot smoke-belching gruncher is real enough, and so are the tiny minpins, whose minature world is in danger.’ I only discovered this book recently and I don’t know why it’s not better known. It’s wonderful.
12 – The Witches
What I love about Ronald Dahl is that he deals head on with kids fears. And what kid doesn’t fear witches? Meet the Grand High Witch – she absolutely hates children and she’s about to make every single one of them disappear… Yikes! The film version of The Witches with Angelica Huston is also a must see.
13 – Dirty Beasts
Not a story, but rather a collection of wonderful and wacky rhymes about beasts! ‘Gorgeously ghastly and deliciously dreadful.’
14 – Esio Trot
With the help of a magical spell, some cabbage leaves and one hundred and forty tortoises, can shy Mr Hoppy win Mrs Silver’s heart? In Esio Trot you’ll find out…
15 – Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
Join Charlie Bucket and Willy Wonka inside the great glass elevator, as they take on the American Space Hotel and the evil, dastardly Vernicious Knids. This is not my favourite Roald Dahl but if your kid loves Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this is a fun sequel and I had to include it simply for the words vernicious knids!
What an imagination Roald Dahl was blessed with…
Other Kids Books You Might Like:
- 15 Amazing Short Stories For Kids You’ll Want To Read Too
- 9 Space and Solar System Books For Kids
- 16 Picture Books With Strong Female Characters
- 21 Chapter Books For 7 Year Olds That Are Whiz Poppingly Good
Have you read any Roald Dahl stories with your children? What is their (or your!) favourite?
I just bought The BFG for my son. I’ve loved Roald Dahl books since I read Danny the Champion of the World when I was a kid. I’ll have to check out the others on your list. Thanks for sharing!
Hope your son likes BFG! The original film version of Danny with Jeremy Irons is fab too if you feel like checking it out…