Top 100 primary books: views from a pupil, a teacher and an author

Last week, TES published the top 100 books to read before leaving primary school, as chosen by teachers.

The list, which was topped by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, generated a huge response on social media and sparked heated debates about what should and should not have made the final list.

Here we hear from a teacher, a pupil and one of the authors on list, which spans everything from Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian to Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss.

A pupil’s view:

Benji Cartwright is 11 and has read nine out of the top 10 books. He said the themes in these stories could make us better people.

“I think some of the books on the list could teach you what other people go through,” he says. “They could make you a kinder, more aware person. I like stories where people struggle – it makes you care more about what happens to them.”

A teacher’s view:

Kate Pembridge, Year 6 teacher and literacy coordinator at Elmbridge Junior School in Gloucester, said the strong fantasy theme in the list should be treated with caution.

“There are pros and cons to otherworldly settings. Fantasy books help children explore emotions but keep a level of separation. But equally, real-life settings that children relate to can sometimes be useful in helping them realise that the things they go through happen to other people in their situation too.”

An author’s view:

Rob Biddulph, winner of the 2015 Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize, said dark themes – which are prevalent in many of the books – are often necessary.

“A happy ending is even happier than when it’s cut through with a bit of relief. Relief that, despite being led through terrifying situations with the characters in the book, we have survived. We weren’t eaten by the dragon. The Child Catcher didn’t lock us in his cage.”

It also hands control to children in scary situations. “The baddies disappear when we close the book,” he said.

Look out for this week’s issue of TES, which will reveal the top 100 books children should read before leaving secondary school, as chosen by you.

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