Voting was up a by a staggering 45 percent from last year and nearly one-third of the books (14 titles) chosen are home-grown. Perennial favourites The Little Yellow Digger and The Wonky Donkey make their annual appearance, alongside Kiwi newcomers Kuwi’s First Egg, The Dragon Defenders, Tu Meke Tui and Moo and Moo and the Little Calf Too.
Other newcomers to the Whitcoulls Top 50 Kids’ list include a second Kuwi book – Kuwi’s Huhu Hunt, Dog Man, Bad Guys and Weirdo. Among other Kiwi favourites are Baa Baa Smart Sheep (#19), Snooze with Hairy Maclary (#30) and Perky the Pukeko by Michelle Osment (#44). Comedic writer David Walliams, arguably the contemporary equivalent of Roald Dahl, is extraordinarily popular with Kiwi kids who voted seven of his books in to the Top 50.
The shape of the Whitcoulls Kids’ Top 50 Books list has changed by as much as 32% from 2016, although the top spot is still occupied by the mega-popular Harry Potter Series, followed by Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series at number two, Lynley Dodd’s enduring favourite Hairy Maclary From Donaldson’s Dairy (number three), The World’s Worst Children (number four) and The Treehouse Series (number five). More than one-third of the titles in the Kids’ Top 50 are read and voted for by children aged 8-10 years, an age group for which reading is particularly compelling.
Commenting about the differences in reading tastes between Kiwi kids and adults, Whitcoulls Head Book Buyer Joan Mackenzie said, “Interestingly, the number of New Zealand titles in the Kids’ Top 50 is significantly more than for the adult Top 100 Books list, which Whitcoulls also compiles annually. I think that the popularity of Kiwi writers with our children reflects the importance of stories that mirror a recognisable landscape, and an environment to which they can easily relate.”
This year, Mackenzie was surprised by the huge increase in votes and the fact that there was an upsurge in paper votes cast. She puts this down to the encouragement of caregivers, teachers and librarians, all of whom foster a love of reading from an early age and create environments where children can discover books that captivated them.
Whitcoulls have been asking readers to vote for their Kids’ Top 50 Books for the past 18 years and Head Book Buyer Joan Mackenzie attributes the popularity of voting with children’s love of reading, particularly New Zealand stories.
“The factors which influence voting appear to be varied – some classic favourites make an appearance year after year, whilst the effect of movies shows a more immediate impact. Books which made it to screen in recent times, but are now off the List include Divergent, Maze Runner and The Fault in our Stars.
Inspired to encourage and foster a love of reading in children, Whitcoulls knows that books are vital for language acquisition and educational success. They also fire children’s imaginations. The Whitcoulls Kids’ Top 50 Books list celebrates the nation’s favourite reads and offers something for every young reader.