Famous Five, firm favourites for parents: Enid Blyton's stories top poll of adult's most loved children's books

  • Children chose JK Rowling's Harry Potter series as their favourite
  • Poll of parents and youngsters was carried out for World Book Day
  • Survey questioned 1,747 parents including 1,000 with children under 13

By Laura Clark

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Firm favourite: Enid Blyton's first Famous Five book. The series of children's books is the favourite of parents in Britain, a poll has found

Firm favourite: Enid Blyton's first Famous Five book. The series of children's books is the favourite of parents in Britain, a poll has found

It may be 70 years since they first appeared, but Enid Blyton’s Famous Five novels remain the books most favoured by parents for their children, a poll reveals.

The adventures of Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog topped a survey in which parents were asked to name their favourite children’s books.

Two other series by Blyton, the Secret Seven and Malory Towers, also made the top five, confirming her status as the nation’s best-loved children’s author.

Among children, however, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series emerged as the favourite.

The survey, carried out to mark World Book Day today, suggested that children's book tastes are inherited from their parents since choices were similar across both top 10 charts.

Adventure tales, such as Treasure Island, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Blyton's 21-book series, first published in 1942, were popular among both audiences.

Despite the recent popularity of futuristic titles such as the Hunger Games, the science fiction genre failed to make an impact on the children's list.

Instead, classics such as Thomas the Tank Engine, the Mr Men and Little Miss books and the Gruffalo featured strongly in their top 10.

Authors appearing in both sets of results were Blyton, whose Famous Five tales came fourth on the children's list, as well as Roald Dahl and CS Lewis.

The poll also showed that more than three quarters of children would choose the paper version of a book over an e-book or tablet.

 

Among children dressing up for World Book Day, The Boy Who Lived emerged as the most popular character for children to go as.

Along with Harry Potter, other popular costume choices for the day were Horrid Henry, Where's Wally and Cinderella.

A scene from one of the Harry Potter films: JK Rowling's series about a boy wizard was the children's favourite

A scene from one of the Harry Potter films: JK Rowling's series about a boy wizard was the children's favourite

The poll, by Asda, questioned 1,747 parents including 1,000 with children under 13. They answered on their children's behalf.

Hayley Whittaker, Asda's childrens' books buyer, said: 'Even though hundreds of new children's titles are released every week, parents and kids alike are united in their love of classic childhood literature, with their humour and adventure proving relevant across generations.

'It's clear to see that kids still think nothing beats the feeling of having a real book in their hands.'

There was less positive news about children's reading habits in a separate poll, also released today.

Significant numbers of youngsters are unaware that popular characters from films and TV programmes actually originated in books.

According to a survey of 500 eight to 13-year-olds, 40 per cent are unaware that Harry Potter started life in a book, and even more - 42 per cent - didn't know Winnie the Pooh is a literary character.

The comments below have not been moderated.

I have been around a long time, and I loved The Famous Five Books, when I was a lad I could not wait, for the next one to be published...

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Arthur Ransome.. Swallows and Amazons: If a child aged 7 to 12 doesn't enjoy reading that marvellous tale there's something amiss in their head!

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sad to see this was carried out by a supermarket, supermarkets jump on bandwagons, they are not innovators this survey will tell them which books and authors are popular and stock them under cutting bookshops. bookshops carry a large range of books by old and new authors, you will not buy a book by a new author in a supermarket

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I recently downloaded some Enid Blyton books to read to my six year old granddaughter as bedtime reading. I must admit I had forgotten just how well written they were. My children read and enjoyed the Faraway Tree books. The storylines and the structure have really stood the test of time.

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I loved the famous five boos as a child and read them all over and over in order. My 12 year old son never liked them but loves all of the James Patterson childrens' books, the Harry Potter series, beastquest and has moved on to reading the hobbit, life of pi, Lord of the Rings trilogy, Alex Rider & Artemis Fowl etc. He loves reading and is often found tucked up in a corner with book in hand, normally James Patterson nevermore or one of the Artemis Fowl books which are his clear favourites! I'd recommend them to any parent of a boy who is a reluctant reader.

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They still have Enid Blyton books in school. The teacher is reading The Magic Faraway Tree to my five year olds class and my older child has borrowed The Valley of Adventure from the school library. I read it last night when he'd gone to bed lol.

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Most people read Enid's books in their childhood, and thoroughly enjoyed them. It's only natural that they would want their children to have the same experience.

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On a sunny day [remember them?] climbing trees, making dens and collecting scabs and bruises were my favourite chidhood pastimes, but when it rained, or I was in bed recovering after falling out of a tree, what better than a spiffing story about smugglers and a ruined castle on an island with no grown-ups about to spoil the adventure?

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I always had my doubts about Uncle Quinton!

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I used to love the Famous Five books when I was a child, but they do seem very dated now. The characters go to single-sex boarding schools and have servants - this is far away from the normal life of a child these days.

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Redkite - It was very far away from the life of working class families, decades ago. But we still enjoyed reading about the adventures at boarding school.

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Harry Potter and his friends are witches and wizards who attend a school of magic, which is far away from the normal life of a child. My 9 year old daughter loves the Famous Five. So did I, and I never went to a boarding school, had servants, or was allowed to go on holiday on my own with no adult supervision. It's escapism. If books only reflected real life they'd be pretty dull.

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