Top Teacher Reads


book shelves

The Times Educational Supplement survey a range of Primary and secondary teachers to see what their favourite books were. Each participant had to choose ten books they rated. For once the list is one I can understand, because often these lists are artificially highbrow as teachers pretend to like books that no-one actually reads in their own time but claim they have to look more well read.

The list (included at the bottom of the blog) is a mix of books teacher’s tech, those they know kids love and then some they read themselves leading to an eclectic list. The other thing I’ve enjoyed about it is that the “experts” asked for their opinion were very honest and said they liked the fact “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” was on the list because it’s a classic as much as Life of Pi is. That’s such a refreshing thing to read as there is a snobbery about how many classics you have read, and if you dare to say you don’t like certain writers others (often older teachers or the suck-ups in departments) will look down their noses at you.

For me a good book is about the characters and the story they take you on. I don’t care a huge amount if it is written in flowery prose or very dry vocabulary as the main thing is it should grab you and drag you into the fictional world. I’m not a huge fan of certain writers, including the number one choice Jane Austin’s “Pride & Prejudice” which is always near the top of these polls. Austin has never interested me and I positively hate reading Dickens although his stories and characters are good the writing is turgid at times. These are blasphemous things to say in some English Departments.

My own personal list of favourite books changes all the time, but the ones that stick with me are still the ones from childhood that made me fall in love with books for the first time so it’s great that Harry Potter, Roald Dahl and Gruffalo are all near the top. Also books I am happy to teach time and again because they are so good, and the pleasure of seeing the kids “get” them is a fantastic reward in our job. From “Of Mice & Men” to “To Kill a mockingbird” looking at the American Dream and two specific points in the development of the US, to “1984” and “Lord of the Flies” which both look at dark fantasy worlds we are always just on the edge of.

I think this list shows that a new generation of teachers is in school now and the openness to new authors, ideas and modern classics is now part of our education system. There will always be a place for good writing regardless which period in time it is from, but to see “The curious incident of the dog in the night-time” rubbing shoulders with “Rebecca” shows there’s a good mix of literature in teachers’ lives.

TEACHERS’ TOP 100 BOOKS (I’ve highlighted my 10 favourites in red)

1. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

2. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

3. Harry Potter (series) J.K. Rowling

4. Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte

5. Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte

6. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell

7. The Lord of the Rings (series) J.R.R. Tolkien

8. The Book Thief Markus Zusak

9. The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkien

10. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald

11. The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini

12. The Hunger Games (series) Suzanne Collins

13. The Time Traveller’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger

14. The Chronicles of Narnia (series) C.S. Lewis

15. Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck

16. Birdsong Sebastian Faulks

17. His Dark Materials (series) Philip Pullman

18. The Gruffalo Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

19. The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger

20. Life of Pi Yann Martel

21. Tess of the d’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy

22. Rebecca Daphne du Maurier

23. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Mark Haddon

24. Lord of the Flies William Golding

25. Matilda Roald Dahl

26. Catch-22 Joseph Heller

27. Millennium (series) Stieg Larsson

28. Animal Farm George Orwell

29. The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood

30. Persuasion Jane Austen

31. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez

32. Kensuke’s Kingdom Michael Morpurgo

33. Goodnight Mister Tom Michelle Magorian

34. The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck

35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl

36. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas John Boyne

37. Little Women Louisa May Alcott

38. One Day David Nicholls

39. We Need to Talk About Kevin Lionel Shriver

40. The Twits Roald Dahl

41. Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel

42. A Thousand Splendid Suns Khaled Hosseini

43. The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame

44. Frankenstein Mary Shelley

45. Great Expectations Charles Dickens

46. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis de Bernieres

47. George’s Marvellous Medicine Roald Dahl

48. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams

49. Room Emma Donoghue

50. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy

51. Atonement Ian McEwan

52. Emma Jane Austen

53. Middlemarch George Eliot

54. The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon

55. The Color Purple Alice Walker

56. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle

57. Brave New World Aldous Huxley

58. Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen

59. The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath

60. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll

61. Charlotte’s Web E.B. White

62. Dracula Bram Stoker

63. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

64. A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving

65. The Secret History Donna Tartt

66. The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery

67. Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoevsky

68. The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver

69. Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy

70. Skellig David Almond

71. The Woman in White Wilkie Collins

72. Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell

73. Game of Thrones (series) George R.R. Martin

74. David Copperfield Charles Dickens

75. Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro

76. Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak

77. Twilight (series) Stephenie Meyer

78. Beloved Toni Morrison

79. The Help Kathryn Stockett

80. Sherlock Holmes (series) Arthur Conan Doyle

81. Half of a Yellow Sun Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

82. Moneyball Michael Lewis

83. My Family and Other Animals Gerald Durrell

84. Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden

85. On the Road Jack Kerouac

86. Cloud Atlas David Mitchell

87. Wild Swans Jung Chang

88. Anne of Green Gables L.M. Montgomery

89. Les Miserables Victor Hugo

90. Room on the Broom Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

91. Private Peaceful Michael Morpurgo

92. Noughts and Crosses Malorie Blackman

93. Cider with Rosie Laurie Lee

94. Danny the Champion of the World Roald Dahl

95. Down and Out in Paris and London George Orwell

96. The Magic Faraway Tree Enid Blyton

97. The Witches Roald Dahl

98. The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy

99. Holes Louis Sachar

100. The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde

Taken from


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