Top 12 Children's Books You Can Read as an Adult

Children's books can be some of the most inspiring and exciting you'll ever read - even as a grown-up! Below are some of the very best children's books that you can (and should) read as an adult, from enthralling thrillers to magical adventures and poignant tales.

1. His Dark Materials

Philip Pullman

Featuring three books - Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass - this gripping fantasy trilogy follows Lyra and her 'daemon', the animal embodiment of her inner self. Travel with Lyra to amazing fantastical settings, through snowy hills, to an otherworldly city, and even to the Land of the Dead, on all sorts of daring and dangerous quests.

2. Howl's Moving Castle

Diana Wynne Jones

This thrilling, funny novel is set in the fantastical world of Ingary, where young Sophie Hatter is put under a terrible curse by the malevolent Witch of the Waste, and made to look like an old crone! In Sophie's efforts to find a way to break the spell, she will go on all sorts of adventures in a magical, moving castle, accompanied by the charismatic Calcifer the Fire Demon, the formidable Wizard Howl and Howl's apprentice, Michael.

3. A Wrinkle in Time

Madeleine L'Engle

This much-loved science fiction novel revolves around the endearing misfits, Meg and her brother Charles. Meg, worried about her missing father and doing badly at school, struggles with everything that seems wrong with her life, when events start to take a mysterious turn. Together with Charles and her friend Calvin, she comes across a gap in time through which the children embark on a riveting and perilous adventure. This gripping tale will appeal to booklovers of all ages.

4. The Fault in Our Stars

John Green

This stunning philosophical novel is heart-warming and devastating in equal measure. It follows cancer survivor Hazel Grace Lancaster, who meets the charming yet enigmatic Augustus Waters at a cancer support group. They will develop a profound friendship - based largely on a shared wisdom beyond their years - that will 'slowly, and then all at once' become love, peaking with an eventful trip to Amsterdam together. Both heart-breaking and humorous, this book will make you laugh, cry, reflect and ruminate.

5. Noughts and Crosses

Malorie Blackman

This moving and powerful novel subverts social history to compelling effect. Callum is white, and a lowly Nought; Sephy is black, a privileged Cross and the daughter of a powerful politician. Despite their segregated society, they maintain a close friendship throughout their childhood, which inevitably blossoms into something more, but can their love endure hardship, heartbreak, loss and division? This story is filled with unpredictable twists and turns, and is riddled with gripping subplots.

6. The Harry Potter Series

J. K. Rowling

You're never too old for the magic and mystery of the spellbinding Harry Potter series! Follow Harry on his exhilarating adventures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he will have to confront dangerous creatures like dragons and dementors, contend with cruel and cold-hearted rivals, and ultimately face his most terrible nemesis: Lord Voldemort himself.

7. Bridge to Terabithia

Katherine Paterson

Jesse Aarons is determined to be the fastest runner in class, so when a new girl named Leslie turns out to be faster, he's not happy! But over time, these two misfits develop a close friendship. They embark on all sorts of fantasy adventures in the imaginary land of Terabithia in the woods, but it can only be reached by a rope-swing across a river. What will happen when tragedy strikes whilst Jesse is away? Uplifting and heart-breaking, this book will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

8. The Lie Tree

Frances Hardinge

This dark and powerful novel stars Faith, whose curiosity is piqued when she stumbles across her disgraced father's journals. Amongst the hotchpotch of scribbles and notes within, she finds tales of a strange tree which can uncover a truth if it is told a lie. On Faith's quest to locate the tree, she finds herself in real peril, and quickly realises these lies could shatter the truths her world has been built around...

9. Chinese Cinderella

Adeline Yen Mah

In this captivating true story about Adeline Yen Mah's childhood, the young Adeline is deemed bad luck by her family because her mother died giving birth to her. They make her feel unwanted and undeserving of their love, though she continually strives to attain it. Her stepmother is callous, her father dismissive; only her aunt and grandmother offer her compassion. She grows up with an aptitude for academia and a natural ability in writing, but must struggle to survive the abuse and cruelty inflicted upon her by her stepmother and siblings.

10. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll

When Alice falls down a rabbit hole, she finds herself in a bizarre, unpredictable and magical land, filled with strange fauna and flora as well as quirky characters like the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts. Join her in this exciting world as she comes face-to-face with all sorts of crazy creatures and has marvellous adventures.

11. The Little Prince

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Saint-Exupery himself described this classic tale as a book for children, written for grown-ups. It features a pilot whose plane crashes in the Sahara Desert, where a little boy appears, asking him to draw a sheep. This boy, the Little Prince, who comes from Asteroid B-612, has been on all sorts of adventures on different planets, discovering the narrow-minded grown-up world through a variety of characters, including a king and a drunkard. Will these two stranded individuals be able to get back home? Don't miss this much-loved, thought-provoking story.

12. Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

In this beloved story, the marvellous Dr. Seuss readies his readers for all sorts of life's mishaps - from bang-ups and hang-ups to lurches and slumps - encouraging us to take it all in our stride! In his typical sing-song style, this delightful and hilarious rhyming story, complete with Dr. Seuss's vibrant illustrations, brilliantly inspires us all - whatever our age! - to look on the bright side of life.

  • AABVB 9 years +
    Diana Wynne Jones
    9 years +
    • £5.59
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    A new look for one of Diana Wynne Jones' funniest and most popular novels. In the land of Ingary, where seven league boots and cloaks of invisibility do exist, Sophie Hatter catches the unwelcome attention of the Witch of the Waste and is put under a spell. Deciding she has nothing more to lose, she makes her way to the moving castle that hovers on the hills above Market Chipping. But the castle belongs to the dreaded Wizard Howl whose appetite, they say, is satisfied only by the souls of young girls! There she meets Michael, Howl's apprentice, and Calcifer the Fire Demon, with whom she agrees a pact. But Sophie isn't the only one under a curse -- her entanglements with Calcifer, Howl, and Michael, and her quest to break her curse is both gripping -- and howlingly funny!
  • AEBBV 5 years +
    Dr Seuss
    5 years +
    (1)
    • £4.79
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    In this classic Seussian tale, the good doctor primes his readers against all the little mishaps and misadventures that can befall even the best of us -- from bang-ups and hang-ups to lurches and slumps -- encouraging us to take life in our stride! With his unique combination of hilarious stories, zany pictures and riotous rhymes, Dr. Seuss has been delighting young children and helping them learn to read for over fifty years. Creator of the wonderfully anarchic Cat in the Hat, and ranked among the UK's top ten favourite children's authors, Seuss is firmly established as a global best-seller, with nearly half a billion books sold worldwide. As the first step in a major rebrand programme, HarperCollins is relaunching 17 of Dr. Seuss's best-selling books, including such perennial favourites as The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham and Fox in Socks. In response to consumer demand, the bright new cover designs incorporate much needed guidance on reading levels, with the standard paperbacks divided into three reading strands -- Blue Back Books for parents to share with young children, Green Back Books for budding readers to tackle on their own, and Yellow Back Books for older, more fluent readers to enjoy. Oh, The Places You'll Go! belongs to the Yellow Back Book range.
  • ACYRC 11 years +
    Philip Pullman
    11 years +
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    A modern masterpiece from Philip Pullman, this slipcased collection includes all three books in the His Dark Materials trilogy.

    A bestseller all around the world that tackled a number of important and controversial issues, it also won many awards and has had a remarkable influence on literature since.
  • ACGRT 7 years +
    Antoine de Saint-Exupery
    7 years +
    (1)
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    This parable tells the story of an air pilot who meets a Little Prince when he has to make a forced landing in the Sahara Desert. The Little Prince tells him wise and enchanted stories
  • NUX2 12 years +
    Malorie Blackman
    12 years +
    (8)
    • £3.99
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    Malorie Blackman's bestselling dystopian novel Noughts & Crosses launches a superb young adult fiction trilogy.

    Callum, a lowly Nought, and Sephy, a Cross and the daughter of a powerful politician, are childhood friends who eventually fall in love. Increasing animosity between the two families leads Callum and Sephy to see each other in secret. But for how long? Written alternately in the voices of Sephy and Callum, this is a powerful and perfectly paced novel with a provocative plot line to keep readers on tenterhooks.

    Suitable for those aged 12 and over, Noughts and Crosses was chosen as a World Book Night book in 2013.

    This children's book has been hand-picked for you by Red House.
  • FUL2 13 years +
    John Green
    13 years +
    (7)
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    John Green, the author of Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns, is one of the most popular voices in contemporary young adult fiction and The Fault in Our Stars became an instant classic.

    You will probably have been in tears watching the big-screen adaptation that starred Shailene Woodley and Ansel Engort as the devoted teenage lovers Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters and the book is just as heart-wrenching and poignant, but keeps a fine line in self-depreciating humour - especially from the wise-beyond-her-years Hazel.

    After meeting at a cancer support group, the cynical sufferer Hazel unexpectedly finds herself falling for the charms of Augustus and the novel follows the two as their relationship develops - taking in a romantic trip to Amsterdam in the process.

    Full of wit, sensitivity and observations about life and illness, this profound book will make readers of any age (especially teens) laugh and cry in equal measure.
  • The Complete Harry Potter Collection - 7-Book Box Set - Collection - 9781408856772 - JK Rowling
    HRYP 9 years +
    9 years +
    (18)
    • £29.99
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    • Just £4.28 per book
    If you're lucky enough to have tickets to see The Cursed Child on stage or are already excited for the next Fantastic Beasts film in 2018, then why not head back to Platform 9 3/4, climb aboard the Hogwarts Express and enjoy the Complete Harry Potter Collection for a magical price. Presented in a gorgeous slipcase, these editions of J. K. Rowling's classics come complete with stunning cover illustrations from Jonny Duddle.

    A phenomenon like no other, Harry's incredible journey begins with The Philosopher's Stone. Unhappily living in a cupboard under the stairs at his aunt's, he's visited by a giant called Rubeus Hagrid who delivers the most astonishing news - Harry's a wizard. As he heads to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry makes friends with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, meets oh-so-wise Professor Dumbledore and the complex Severus Snape and their incredible adventure begins. But evil in the shape of Lord Voldemort is getting ever closer - and the Dark Lord has his sights set firmly on Harry.

    Throughout the seven books, Harry learns what it means to be a Gryffindor student and the value of friendship and trust. The eight films starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint were a record-breaking success and now you can relive the stories where it all began time and time again with this amazing Harry Potter box set - Expecto Patronum!
    Format: Paperback
  • AWI2 11 years +
    Madeleine L'Engle
    11 years +
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    With her book A Wrinkle in Time, gifted children's author Madeleine L'Engle has created an absorbing science fiction novel that revolves around the likeable, misfit characters of Meg and her brother, Charles.

    Criticised by her teachers for doing badly at school and worried about her missing father, Meg is struggling with how wrong her life is when events take a mysterious turn. Together with Charles and her friend Calvin, she stumbles upon a gap in time through which the children embark on an amazing and dangerous adventure.

    A gripping read for any young adult fiction fan aged 11+ who have ever felt like the odd one out!
  • AOHWL 9 years +
    Katherine Paterson
    9 years +
    • £5.59
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    Jess Aarons wants to be the fastest boy in the class, but when a girl named Leslie Burke moves into the neighbouring farm his life changes forever. Even though she runs faster than him, Jess begins to think Leslie might be okay - she's clever and funny and not a bit soppy. And it is Leslie who invents Terabithia, the secret country on an island across the creek where he can escape his troublesome family. The only way to reach Terabithia is by rope-swing where Jess and Leslie become King and Queen, defeating giants, sharing stories and dreams, and plotting against their enemies. They are invincible - until tragedy strikes. It is more dreadful than anything Jess had ever dreamed of, but as he struggles to cope with his grief and anger, he finds that his family value him more than he'd thought and that, still King, he could even save Terabithia for the future.
  • AOHYM 14 years +
    Adeline Yen Mah
    14 years +
    • £6.69
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    Chinese Cinderella is an autobiography for children based on the bestselling Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah. Jung-ling's family considers her bad luck because her mother died giving birth to her. They discriminate against her and make her feel unwanted yet she yearns and continuously strives for her parents' love. Her stepmother is vindictive and cruel and her father dismissive. Jung-ling grows up to be an academic child, with a natural ability for writing. Only her aunt and grandfather offer her any love and kindness. The story is of survival in the light of the mental and physical cruelty of her stepmother and the disloyalty of her siblings. Jung-ling blossoms in spite of everything and the story ends as her father agrees to let her study in England. This is a reissue in the 'A Puffin Book' series of Puffin children's modern classics.