The List: five classic children’s books

James Patterson’s books have sold more than 275m copies worldwide, making him one of the bestselling authors of all time. He is among a group of celebrities, authors and businesses to have joined Booktrust’s Children’s Reading Fund, a new initiative targeting disadvantaged children in the UK. Below he selects his five favourite children’s books.

1. Wonder (2012)

RJ Palacio’s book is the moving and uplifting tale of August Pullman, a 10-year-old boy born with a disfigured face caused by a mutant gene. It looks at how he deals with going to school for the first time and how others react to his deformity. I think the more children hear other people’s stories, especially those that are very different from their own, they begin to inch away from self-involvement.

2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2007)

Jeff Kinney started publishing his cartoon series in daily instalments online in 2004 before releasing them in print three years later. The stories are about a middle-school newbie called Greg Heffley and his everyday struggles of starting at “big” school. His brother bullies him and his parents don’t understand him, a notion many kids can identify with. The series is almost half-movie and half-book, which is great for kids who feel less inclined to read.

3. The Book Thief (2006)

My parents forced a number of books on me that I didn’t care for, so at school I didn’t read much outside the classroom apart from the Hardy Boys stories and lots of comics. It wasn’t until four years ago that I read The Book Thief, by Australian writer Markus Zusak. Narrated by “death” and set in Nazi Germany, the book follows a group of street-smart German children and how they deal with the atrocities that happen in their small town. It’s a difficult read but the writing is so vivid you’ll remember it for the rest of your life.

4. Harry Potter (1997)

No list about children’s books would be complete without JK Rowling’s series. The minute you meet the boy wizard and his stepfamily you really want to know what happens next.

5. Matilda (1988)

Roald Dahl’s tale is primarily about an extraordinary girl but it’s the villains that do it for me. Dahl has a way of creating over-the-top characters (such as Miss Trunchbull) with a combination of nightmare and dark humour.

My son Jack is 14 and loved it.

James Patterson’s children’s book ‘Middle School: Get Me Out of Here’ (Arrow) was recently published in paperback

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