Best-selling UK childrens' books
August 17, 2007 6:34 AM   Subscribe

Best-selling childrens' novels of the last 20 years (age 8+)?

I'm primarily interested in commercially successful kids novels in the UK book market, and am not very interested in the teens market.

So far I have:

JK Rowling - Harry Potter series
Philip Pullman - His Dark Materials series
Eoin Colfer - Artemis Fowl series
Philip Ardagh - Awful End series
JR Tolkein - Lord of the Rings series
Terry Pratchett - Discworld series, plus others
Jacqueline Wilson - Tracy Beaker series
GP Taylor - Shadowmancer series
Anthony Horrowitz - Alex Rider series
Lemony Snicket - A Series of Unfortunate Events series
posted by long haired lover from liverpool to Writing & Language (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Roald Dahl would just sneak in, I think; he died in 1990, and sold lots for years afterwards.
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 6:39 AM on August 17, 2007


I don't think Tolkien and Pratchett are normally considered children's writers (though children read their books).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:41 AM on August 17, 2007


I don't think Tolkien and Pratchett are normally considered children's writers (though children read their books).

That's an interesting statement. I would say it's the other way around: Tolkein and Pratchett are normally considered children writers, although adults read their books.

I guess there are two perspectives: Who the author writes the books for, and who the actual readers of the books are. I'm not sure I feel confident answering either question. There are "adult" editions of the Rowling books, for example (just a different, less child-friendly cover).
posted by long haired lover from liverpool at 6:49 AM on August 17, 2007


Just to back up what I say above, here's an excerpt from a Tolkein biography: "To entertain his four children, he devised lighter fare, lively and often humorous. The longest and most important of these stories, begun about 1930, was The Hobbit, a coming-of-age fantasy about a comfort-loving “hobbit”"
posted by long haired lover from liverpool at 6:52 AM on August 17, 2007


If you're putting LotR on the list, I would also place CS Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on there.
posted by jmd82 at 6:56 AM on August 17, 2007


Brian Jacques - Redwall series
posted by phil at 6:57 AM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Harriet the Spy

Does anyone still read Enid Blyton books?
posted by caddis at 7:11 AM on August 17, 2007


Ursula Le Guin?

Garth Nix?

Do goddawfull books conglomerate pseudonyms count?
posted by arha at 7:16 AM on August 17, 2007


and seconding CS Lewis if Tolkien counts.
posted by arha at 7:17 AM on August 17, 2007


Does anyone still read Enid Blyton books?

My sister works as a teacher in an inner-city school and tells me that Enid Blyton is deeply unfashionable. She's also a little on the un-PC side, what with talk of golliwogs and a definite class-structure.

That said, I still see reprints of Blyton's books on sale.
posted by long haired lover from liverpool at 7:19 AM on August 17, 2007


Not to go all chatfilter, but my point is that I'm pretty sure neither writer's books were ever marketed as children's literature, per se. (Authorial intent aside.) In the case of LOTR, it's a little strange to say that, since pretty much everyone I know who's read that series read it first as a child...but the same is true of, say, To Kill a Mockingbird, Huckleberry Finn, Watership Down, and all manner of other stuff that is typically given to young adults in school even though it didn't originally appear as "children's literature." I guess it depends on how wide you want to cast your net, but it doesn't seem to me that these books apply.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:29 AM on August 17, 2007


Although well over 20 years old, I'd say Pippi Longstocking still sells pretty well.
posted by juva at 7:37 AM on August 17, 2007


You seem to have a lot of fantasy, I dunno if that's on purpose... Anyway, how about authors like Ann M. Martin (Baby-sitters Club) or Bonnie Bryant (Saddle Club)? They're not high lit., I doubt they'll be remembered in a hundred years, but they're certainly financially successful (ok, I admit it, I read almost every damn one when I was nine).

P.S. I also wouldn't put Pratchett on a list of children's books, unless you specifically mean Wee Free Men, etc. Most of his books are probably not great at all for the 8-12 crowd, and most of the people I know who read them do not fall into that age range.
posted by anaelith at 7:38 AM on August 17, 2007


FYI, Pratchett writes a kid friendly series called "The Wee Free Men" and they're hilarious.

Also, how about Madeline L'Engle and "A Wrinkle in Time"

Caddie Woodlawn

The Edge Chronicles

Bartimaeus Trilogy
posted by santojulieta at 7:56 AM on August 17, 2007


You seem to have a lot of fantasy, I dunno if that's on purpose

Here in the UK, at least, the top selling children's books are pretty much all fantasy (outside of younger children picture books or textbooks). See Amazon.co.uk's list, although you'll have to pull out all the Harry Potter, which simply dominates the list.
posted by long haired lover from liverpool at 8:00 AM on August 17, 2007


Holes by Louis Sachar
posted by caddis at 8:06 AM on August 17, 2007


I don't know if/how they sold in the UK, but my friends and I read pretty much every Baby-Sitters Club book, Sweet Valley High, and anything written by Judy Blume while we were in the 8-12 range. Yeah, the Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High are crap, but Judy Blume ('Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret' comes to mind as a classic) is decently regarded.

I'm 29 now, so that borders on your your time limit.. (wow - was it really that long ago? Damn, I'm getting old!)
posted by cgg at 9:06 AM on August 17, 2007


Coraline by Neil Gaiman was pretty big and will be even more so following the movie release.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 9:20 AM on August 17, 2007


The Animorphs and Goosebumps series.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 9:44 AM on August 17, 2007


Tolkein and Pratchett are normally considered children writers, although adults read their books.

They are considered fantasy writers, which is why their books are found in the fantasy section of most major bookstores rather than the children's or young adults' section.

Cynthia Voight's novels, especially the Tillerman series, have been very popular with young adults for at least the past 15 years, and are often on many school recommended reading lists.

Also, young adult horror authors like Christopher Pike, L.J. Smith, and R.L. Stine were majorly popular 10-15 years ago.
posted by tastybrains at 10:41 AM on August 17, 2007


"To entertain his four children, he devised lighter fare, lively and often humorous. The longest and most important of these stories, begun about 1930, was The Hobbit, a coming-of-age fantasy about a comfort-loving “hobbit”"

Yes, but wasn't much of LotR composed for his son to read while he was off fighting in the war? (It's so indicated in the intro to at least two of the US versions I have seen.) Hardly kiddie lit there. But the Hobbit was very different from the other books, so I'd be willing to put that one in there, though my guess is JRRT's kids were probably older even then that the age group you're looking at.
posted by zeugitai_guy at 1:55 PM on August 17, 2007


What about the Warriors series by Erin Hunter?

I don't know if any of them are officially "best-sellers" (I'm not sure what qualifies that..) but I know they're growing in popularity and have a pretty big fan base (mostly pre-teen girls).

The authors (there's two...they share a pen name) are both from the UK.

There's currently 13 books in the series right now, with a 14th on it's way this Tuesday. I've heard that there are at least 11 more books scheduled to come out.

If it matters, the books are about domestic cats living in the wild, and aimed for the 9-12 age range.
posted by Squee at 7:55 PM on August 17, 2007


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