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What books would you pass on to the next generation?

10:49 UK time, Thursday, 4 March 2010

JK Rowling's Harry Potter series has topped a World Book Day poll of books British people would most like to pass on to the next generation to read. Is this the right choice?

The survey was carried out to mark World Book Day, to be held on 4 March in the UK and Ireland and on 23 April in more than a hundred other countries around the world.

World Book Day aims to celebrate books and encourage children to explore the pleasures of reading, so we will be hosting a lively debate about all things literary.

Is World Book Day a good idea? How important is reading in your life? Did you enjoying reading as a child? We'll be asking more questions throughout the day, so join the discussion!

This debate has now been closed. Thank you for your comments.


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  • Comment number 1.

    All successful books today are simply marketing successes, nothing to do with merit! And the public are, by & large, gullible & under-cultured. For posterity, I will still plumb for the established classics eg. George Eliot, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, etc., etc.

  • Comment number 2.

    I wouldn't pass on any books to the next generation! Whats the point?. most kids these day only read what on their computer from friends.

  • Comment number 3.

    There are a few, for a younger child it'd be Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, for an older child; Harry Potter, for an adult, something by Dan Brown (probably Angels and Demons or the Soloman Key). It's a difficlut one but all of the stories I have picked are based on fantasy and magic. For me, a book should take you far into your imagination where you decide how everything looks, smells and feels. I have to say I am not into factual books or Biographies but each to their own.

  • Comment number 4.

    Any Roald Dahl book, I've kept all of mine. Enid Blyton and Mallory Towers/Naughtiest Girl were also fabulous to me as a young girl, dreaming of the day my parents would let me go to boarding school, and not that boring High school up the road!

    Harry Potter for definite, such imagination in those books..and I grew up with them, waiting year after year for the next installment.

    His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman is possibly the most thought provoking book I read as a young adult, so sad yet happy and full of ideas and thoughts that really provoke a reaction.

    I still read these when I get the urge, so I would definitely recommend.

  • Comment number 5.

    It's so obviously going to be the best selling book of all time (outselling its four nearest rivals all put together) ~ a book that haas been translated into more languages & has been passed down a thousand (if not two thousand ) generations of "Fathers to Sons" and a book that has shaped our current world more than any other book that has ever existed or will ever exist !

    ~ "the Holy Bible"

  • Comment number 6.

    "Books are the treasured wealth of all nations, the fit inheritors of our generations and actions" - Thoreau.

    Surrounded by piles of books (and with more on my e-book reader and in PDF on my hard drive) I am delighted to say that my daughter is also an avid reader, starting before she went to school and now never without something to read on the bus to high school.

    But what to pass on? Is it the one I wrote? Or a wonderful illustrated list of world medals in two volumes? Or a role-playing game book - unlocking the reader's imagination and giving them the tools to get creative in collaboration with their friends? Or a novel that has really stuck in one's mind years after it was first read? The panoramic pan-galactic effulgence of E.E. 'Doc' Smith's "Lensman" series? Classic Napoleonic seafaring derring-do with Hornblower, Ramage or Bolitho? J.R.R. Tolkein's elves and hobbits and orcs and Gollum? Jane Austin or James Joyce? Or even 'Cider with Rosie' that I only got around to reading last summer when the English department at college had a clear-out and gave me a copy they no longer required?

    Too many to choose from... :)

  • Comment number 7.

    Lord of the Rings, it is a strong moral lesson, a classic piece of history and literature, and a great allegory for the great wars of the last century.

  • Comment number 8.

    I used to read much more when I was younger, I read Catch-22 while at school & really enjoyed it. I would recommend it to everyone.

  • Comment number 9.

    I hunted down "The Satanic Mill" by Preussler for my son. It's a book about a boy who starts working at a mill, learning black magic from its owner. When you re-read it you keep discovering new layers of the story. I think I've finally figured out who the mysterious man with the feather in his hat is ...

    It's such a shame that awesome books like that are often out of print in English.

  • Comment number 10.

    The Bible

  • Comment number 11.

    Harry Potter ???? Of course these stories and the resulting films are great entertainment, but classics in the same vein as those of the past? Hardly. Books that capture an age or a generation should be profound and moving such as books by Ernest Hemmingway, John Steinbeck, etc. As for the current age I'm sure there is plenty of great literature that fits this bill. Not to knock Harry Potter, but this is high entertainment not classic literature (my opinion)

  • Comment number 12.

    Beowulf and Chaucer spring to mind immediately. There is a certain fondness for Terry Pratchett and Arthur C. Clarke, and I would take Jane Eyre to bed anytime.
    Reading these, and many others of the 5000 or so books we have in the house indicates the importance of reading to me, an importance that has always been there since the age of four, when I was struggling through Dickens' Christmas Carol, understanding little, but enjoying the task of deciphering the print.

  • Comment number 13.

    At 12:53pm on 04 Mar 2010, brad wrote:
    "It's so obviously going to be the best selling book of all time (outselling its four nearest rivals all put together) ~ a book that haas been translated into more languages & has been passed down a thousand (if not two thousand ) generations of "Fathers to Sons" and a book that has shaped our current world more than any other book that has ever existed or will ever exist !"
    ~ "the Holy Bible"
    Coronation Street is the most-watched progamme and longest-running U.K. soap by a mile, although I'm not going to model myself on Peter Barlow, or his dad, Ken.

  • Comment number 14.

    Ian Cheese: I agree with you about modern books being published for commercial gain first (which doesn't mean that many modern books aren't classics) but it was always thus. Publishing houses exist to make money and even Victorian authors like Dickens and Conan Doyle published their works in magazines and HAD to write to deadline. If you read Sherlock Holmes carefully its riddled with continuity errors as a result of being written fast (specifically Watsons wound moves from shoulder to thigh and back again and the regt he served with in Afghanistan varies from book to book). Several of the later Holmes stories are just older stories slightly chopped about with different character names... clearly a deadline was approaching and Conan Doyle needed to submit something.

    Getting back on thread the book I'd recommend is 'The Big Show' by Pierre Clostermann. He was a French man who served in the RAF during WW2 and wrote diaries for his parents. Its an amazing book both as a historical source but also for the humanity showed by Clostermann and the brutal honesty of parts of it. I was very sad to learn of his death a few years ago.

  • Comment number 15.

    Harry Potter ?? is that a joke ? or has the British population dumbed down that much to think that this series of books are serious reading, worthy of passing down to the next generation.

  • Comment number 16.

    I would pass on an illustrated version of "The Tales of Alder, The Littlest Giant" - but that's only because I wrote it!
    :) xx

  • Comment number 17.

    The Bible...

    If for nothing else, to annoy the sanctimonious atheist lobby and their attempts to eradicate religion from all walks of life and from history.

    My own person dislike for militant atheism aside, there aren't many modern books I can think of, of particular merit or worth. However Tolkien, Dickens, Lewis, Hardy, Austen and Poe would be authors who I would strongly recommend to the next generation.
    Of course translation into ‘txt’ language would be essential for the youth of tomorrow to understand them.

  • Comment number 18.

    Shantaram, a great read, a story of love, life, poverty, cruelty... you name it.

    Harry Potter???? sorry never got the hype at all!

  • Comment number 19.

    Anything by David Mitchell should be treasured. And no, before I get any banal posts saying Peep Show is rubbish because it isn't old or similar rubbish, I'm not referring to THAT David Mitchell. I mean David Mitchell the author of Ghostwritten, Cloud Atlas, Black Swan Green, and number9dream.

  • Comment number 20.

    The adventures of Paddington Bear is the book i would choose to pass on. A book that reminds me of my childhood and I believe to be a great piece of literature. I think books are a very important part of our lives and I feel for those who, for whatever reason, are unable to read them. They are are truly missing out.

  • Comment number 21.

    The World Book Day will not likely be a good idea since it's not going to have any actual effects on anyone except may be used as a tool to sale more superficial novels.

    What should really be valued are those classics that had major impacts on the societies in their own times. However, the world now is dominated by electronic media which is fast and direct, I feel like people already lost patient in reading an real book. But this shall not justify the idea of a "World Book Day", it would solely be used to promot books which are for commercial purposes instead of education and sharing of human cluture.

    Also, different naitons have different histories, values, languages and so on, how on earth could one be able to write a list of all books that are worth passing on? This list will only exclude the controversial master pieces (e.g. Lolita) from public eyes. It will not do any good to the freedom of speech and society equality.

  • Comment number 22.

    I have read all the Harry Potter books and whereas they are a good read I do not think they are worthy of being a book that is passed onto generations of children. Surely Alice in Wonderland, Too Kill a Mockingbird and such like are more worthy of this accolade. Maybe people do not realise that the 1st Harry Potter was not the huge success until it the second book was published in 1997.

  • Comment number 23.

    Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species" This is by far the most important book ever written. I have a copy at home and ensure my children have access to it and understand its content.

  • Comment number 24.

    I would give them a book detailing all of the dept we have run up and a note advising them to pay it of as soon as they can! Oh and have a nice life like we did

  • Comment number 25.


  • Comment number 26.

    The Charles Dickes collection , which unlike Rowlings efforts , were orginal and successful even before most of them were made into movies and TV series`.... many times.

  • Comment number 27.

    'The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come' is a Christian allegory written by John Bunyan and published in February, 1678.
    It is regarded as one of the most significant works of English literature,[1] has been translated into more than 200 languages, and has never been out of print.
    Bunyan began the work while in the Bedfordshire county gaol for violations of the Conventicle Act, which prohibited the holding of religious services outside the auspices of the established Church of England. Early Bunyan scholars like John Brown believed The Pilgrim's Progress was begun in Bunyan's second shorter imprisonment for six months in 1675,[3] but more recent scholars like Roger Sharrock believe that it was begun during Bunyan's initial, more lengthy imprisonment from 1660-1672 right after he had written his spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners.[4]

    The English text comprises 108,260 words and is divided into two parts, each reading as a continuous narrative with no chapter divisions.

    The first part was completed in 1677 and entered into the stationers' register on December 22, 1677. It was licensed and entered in the "Term Catalogue" on February 18, 1678, which is looked upon as the date of first publication.[5] After the first edition of the first part in 1678, an expanded edition, with additions written after Bunyan was freed, appeared in 1679. The Second Part appeared in 1684. There were eleven editions of the first part in John Bunyan's lifetime, published in successive years from 1678 to 1685 and in 1688, and there were two editions of the second part, published in 1684 and 1686.

  • Comment number 28.

    Book of Mormon

  • Comment number 29.

    "There are so many great books? But the one I would pass on to the next generation would have to be The Dead, The Dying, and the Damned. by D.J Hollands is all about The Korean war a country many who died there, never hear of? "Modern war" at its most brutal.

  • Comment number 30.

    The Lord of the Rings. The greatest English literary work of the 20th century, if not all time. It has everything; mystery, adventure, suspense, action, prose and verse, joy and despair, you name it.

    It spawned a century of copycat fantasy novels and contributed to almost every other genre of fiction imaginable. Forget boring old Shakespeare or arcane Dickens, Tolkien is where it's at and he could write with the best of them.

  • Comment number 31.

    My collected diaries 1974-present - page a day, probably boring but real and contempory nonetheless. They are my most valued books, although I rarely read them.

  • Comment number 32.

    Is this the right choice?

    Well, if the poll results are genuine, and not some sort of scandalous fix, then of course it's the right choice.

    It wouldn't have been my choice, but then I didn't even vote, and even if I did then I am more than happy to abide by the democratic result.

    The Harry Potter books, whilst being interesting stories (up to the third book anyway), are hardly groundbreaking works of literature. Having said that, reading skills of children are at their lowest for decades, so by the time the next generation of children are able to read, finishing a Harry Potter book will probably be regarded as quite a feat.

  • Comment number 33.

    We have already passed Harry Potter and many of the Roald Dahl stories onto our son. He loves them and they are something we can enjoy together.

    I am not sure World Book Day is such a great idea. For families such as ours who encourage their child(ren) to read, it holds little appeal other than the chance to become aware of other books of interest. For families who do not read to their children or do not actively encourage reading, I doubt a single day will change their opinion. However, I do hope that some children decide to pick up a book after being introduced to them at school.

    I didn't begin reading for pleasure until my late teens, when I was introduced to Harry Potter, incidentally. I'm now in my late 20s and enjoy reading immensely. Before that time it was always a chore to read a story. In my experience of school, the only books we were exposed to were those that were considered to be classics or of some literary significance. Often these are very dated and use words and situations that children do not understand. I believe many children are put off reading because of adult's snobbish opinions of what is a good book.

    It would be interesting to see if adding Harry Potter and other stories that children find interesting to the school syllabus improved literacy levels.

  • Comment number 34.

    The works of Darwin to give a scientific basis to society and remind Man of its small place in the scheme of things. The works of Jane Austen to show the intricacies of Love, and Thomas Hardy to show the stupidity of the closed mind. AND a whole Library full of others, for the simple pleasure of reading.
    I do have a list of Books that should never be passed on, the first book I listed should be the clue to the 'banned list', but I firmly believe that ALL books should be available. It is for you to make the choice.

  • Comment number 35.

    Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn would be my favourites. I've reread them both many times and each time find a new twist from the wonderful Mark Twain.

  • Comment number 36.

    “1. At 12:38pm on 04 Mar 2010, ian cheese wrote:
    All successful books today are simply marketing successes, nothing to do with merit! And the public are, by & large, gullible & under-cultured. For posterity, I will still plumb for the established classics eg. George Eliot, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, etc., etc.”

    Oh Oh – Book snob!

    How to put a child off reading for life, make him read some dry as dust Dickens or some irksome Austen. If you want to set a child’s imagination free you need tales of magic, mystery and adventure. I would recommend “The Wierdstone of Brisingamen” by Alan Garner or any of the Willard Price “Adventure” series quite simply because these were the books that started me reading in earnest, and it is still my favourite pastime.

    I still dislike Dickens though (I guess that makes me gullible and “under-cultured”) :-)

  • Comment number 37.

    The Bible, with a huge disclaimer saying this is a dangerous book of FICTION, for centuries people were brainwashed by this book, learn from this please. Obviously this is all my opinion...

  • Comment number 38.

    What about Shakespeare - he seems to be as popular today as he has ever been. His writings have lasted several centuries and will do so for many to come.

    Personally, I love the Dickens stories and so did my chidren. No doubt these will be passed on to their children.

  • Comment number 39.

    Aesop's Fables

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    All Roald Dahl's childrens books, they stand up even today with lovely stories for the kids with a wry twist for the adults. I would also pass on George Orwell's 1984 with a cover note to say this story is one man's nightmare of the future, not a handbook on how to conduct the country in the future (TAKE NOTE WESTMINSTER).

    i can't believe all the hype around the harry potter books, it's more of a marketing exercise rather than a great literary work, I doubt it will endure as long as, say, Alice in Wonderland....there's another great story that should be passed on in it's original form not the hollywood monstrostiy currently in the cinemas.

  • Comment number 42.

    I would pass on the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. Not only are they imaginative fantasy novels, well-written and incredibly funny, they also say an awful lot about humanity.

    For children, I would recommend Roald Dahl. His stories are weird and wonderful, and Dahl recognised that children don't necessarily want to read about kittens and puppies and flowers all day.

  • Comment number 43.

    I have read all my life, and my two sons read on a daily basis. My youngest son enjoyed the Harry Potter series. Something new will come along and H.P. will fade away.
    Not a fan of fiction, one exception would be Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes.
    The best book no one reads is in philosophy, The Sunflower: on the Possibilities and limits of Forgiveness, by Simon Wiesenthal, this book should be read by all at the appropriate age.
    Pass on books that make you think, cry, or laugh. I find most fantasy books nonsense.

  • Comment number 44.

    1984 by George Orwell, not that they will need to read it, they will be living in it.

  • Comment number 45.

    I would like to express my sadness at the news that the Harry Potter series is what most people value as 'culture to be passed to the next generation'. I am not joining this crowd on this choice. The HP series is for people that believe that Avatar is a good film, that the Oscar is awarded to good films, people that follow the popular choices without critical mind (the I-Diot generation). I would rather let young people free to choose what they want to read, as I did before them.

  • Comment number 46.

    What a silly question!! I would leave every single book, magazine, newspaper and comic. There is nothing more precious than the printed word in all its forms. We must pass on the full breadth of our culture and scientific knowledge. It is our accumulated knowledge and 'intelligence' that will helps us in our relentless evolutionary and technological transition from animal, to human, to superhuman to gods. Nothing should be cast aside. Pass on Mien Kampf, Tom's Midnight Garden, The Bible, The Qua'ran, Mao's Little Red book, the works of Shakespeare, Dante's Inferno, Harry Potter, Tolstoy's Cherry Orchard, Ibsen's Brand, The Beano, Isabel Allende, The Being and the Nothingness, Margaret Attwood, Paris Hilton's autobiography, The Hansard, my Mum's diary..................

  • Comment number 47.

    Hmm, Tough choice but I would say that the books should be entertaining. To get children to read, give them something that sparks the imaginiation and watch them learn to love books, therefore I would probably hand down the following:

    Jane Ayre, Pride and Predjudice, The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Roald Dahl books (I loved these growing up), 5 children and It, the Beatrix Potter stories and the Sherlock Holmes stories. I would also pass on the great scifi novel Dune when they are older and can understand the complexities of the story.

  • Comment number 48.

    Killer Boots Man says he didn't start reading until his teens and that the books he was given to read in school were very dated and a chore to read.

    Did you start reading late? What was your experience of reading in school? What do you think of the books children read at school nowadays?

  • Comment number 49.

    Aesops Fables. I've owned a copy for about 45 years and still read it!

  • Comment number 50.

    If I could only give one book to my children, it would have to be my battered, dog-eared boxed collection of the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. I loved those books as a child.

    Harry Potter is over-hyped, the first book had some lovely ideas in it but the commercial machine has since taken over.

  • Comment number 51.

    @Post 36. At 1:26pm on 04 Mar 2010, By The_Happy_Hammer.

    It appears we have the same opinion of Book Snobs, having written similar things in our posts.

    Book Snobs drive me crazy and I hate the idea that every book anyone reads should educate them in some way. As an adult I find this depressing, what hope is there for children if this is the way they are introduced to reading? Can a book not simply be for pleasure, despite some others not finding that particular topic pleasurable?

  • Comment number 52.

    I certainly wouldn't pass on Tony Bliar's memoirs, unless it's in a fiction category.

  • Comment number 53.

    My favourite book ever - and therfore the one I would recommend to pass on - is Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol".
    Besides the Christmas theme, the story of a man reflecting on his life (albeit compelled to by spirits), resulting in a change of heart for the benefice of himself and everyone else who is affected by his actions, is truly wonderful, and a good lesson for us all.
    It's probably why my favourite film is "It's a Wonderful Life" - where the story theme similarly reflects on how a man's life impacts on so many others.

  • Comment number 54.

    I would pass on 'His Dark Materials' by Philip Pullman. I think it's a beautifully written series of books that really explores the ideas of free will, the pursuit of knowledge, self reliance and the consciousness of the human being on a level that can be understood at both a child & adult level.

    Having read it as an adult, I have spoken to both children and elders who've experienced so much joy from these books.

  • Comment number 55.

    The book which must be passed on like a sacred treasure is Orwell's 1984.This stunning condemnation of every repulsive shade of socialist doublethink from Stalin and Pol Pot to Brown and Obama has never been more relevant. Now that the western european left is reviving heresy laws and show trials on behalf of it's craven alliance with islamism, Orwell's plea for freedom of speech and thought is crucial.

  • Comment number 56.

    I would pass on books to feed the imagination - Harry Potter, The Famous Five and Mallory Towers !

    Wonderful stuff !

  • Comment number 57.

    "23. At 1:13pm on 04 Mar 2010, pinkfluffyhippo wrote:
    Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species" This is by far the most important book ever written. I have a copy at home and ensure my children have access to it and understand its content."

    Not really (and I'm a geneticist). 'The origin of Species' was extremely carefully written to avoid REALLY annoying the church. Its hundreds of pages of rather stilted prose about minor variations in Finches. You'll be reading it for weeks before Darwin actually gets to the point. 'The Descent of Man' was rather more interesting as it covers Human evolution but again being written in the 1850's its hard reading. If you want to teach evolution get a decent A level biology book... it'll explain the fundamentals of the theory and has the advantage of 150 years of science to provide examples (like antibiotic resistance in bacteria) that is a far stronger argument in favour of Darwins theory than anything Darwin could write about at the time.

    It does amuse me how similar are the attitudes of the Darwin lovers to 'the origin of species' and fanatical religious types to their Bibles.

    Incidentally those bad mouthing Harry Potter are missing the point. Its wildly successful because kids find it very entertaining. If you want to turn a child off reading for life give it Jane Austen or the Lord of the Rings. They won't finish it and they'll get the play station out instead.

  • Comment number 58.

    Killer Boots Man:

    Make up for lost time! There are some brilliant books to be had.
    Listen to the book review shows on Radio 4 and get some ideas - older titles can normally be found in charity shops for a few pence.

    Reading is one of lifes greatest pastimes !

  • Comment number 59.

    Good books and literature are timeless and revolutionary. That is why Shakespeare is still the most popular author world wide 400 years later. He writes about real people and real issues, his themes are still current today and he was pretty revolutionary in his day.

    There is nothing new or revolutionary about Harry Potter, it is just a modified Disney copycat. History will not really remember it with any great favour.

    The only book I can think of in the last 100 years which might still be remembered in the next 500 years is probably 1984.

    Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984 could be key books used to talk about the true nature of human kind and of the real dangers this could lead to with globalisation.

  • Comment number 60.

    52. At 1:39pm on 04 Mar 2010, Sam wrote:
    I certainly wouldn't pass on Tony Bliar's memoirs, unless it's in a fiction category.

    I've never read Tony Bliars memoirs so I'll take your word for that. Our former PM who has a similar name hasn't even written his yet although I heard a rumour they may appear in September 2010. Personally I'd wait to read them before deciding how much is lies or not.... but maybe thats too rational for some people, especially on Have-your-rant?

  • Comment number 61.

    Yes I do think World Book Day is important and yes I did enjoying reading as a child and still do so as an adult.
    As to Favourite Books that I would want to pass on to the next generation that is really hard as there are so many of them.
    Here are just a few of my favourites (some of which I have already passed on to my nieces and nephew).
    For the babies and small children it would have to be the Little Grey Rabbit stories and the story of Carbonel.
    For under 8's I would recommend The Wind in the Willows and for older children The Secret Garden, The Railway Children, Tom's Midnight Garden and specifically for girls The Anne of Green Gables books.
    For older children/adults The Complete Works of Lewis Carrol (as there was so much more to his talent than just the 'Alice' books) and also Out of the Silent Planet by CS Lewis.
    As to my current favourite living Authors there is Robert Holdstock (especially his current 'Merlin' series), Paul Coelho whose use of language is simply beautiful, Anne Fine and Alice Hoffman whose storytelling skill is both wonderful and compelling and contains characters you can really identify with and want to care about.
    Reading is a wonderful way to 'escape' day to day life, but it is also a great way to learn, to appreciate the world around you and to want to share with others.
    God Bless William Caxton for inventing the first commercial printing press!

  • Comment number 62.

    The God Delusion

  • Comment number 63.

    My daughter is reading a Sherlock Holmes short story - 'The Speckled Band' - in her English class at the moment. She was a bit startled to find that her Mum could quiz her about her understanding and point out details that she'd missed (while driving down a country lane)... it's entertaining to watch her discovering things I probably read for the first time at about the same age, and very amusing to see her reaction when I always know about it and in more detail than she does!

    We don't pass books on to her, it's more a case of open access to whatever she wants to take off the shelves. But she has been recommended 'Swallows and Amazons' - youngsters making their own entertainment (Better drowned than duffers, if not duffers won't drown) - and needs no encouragement to delve into Sir Terry Pratchett's works (possibly the only complete set of UNSIGNED books in existance, he keeps threatening to break in to our house to sign them!).

    Incidentally we share an approach to books: he once asked me what I'd do once my books filled up my house. When I replied "Live in a tent in the garden" he had a good giggle!

  • Comment number 64.

    Yes I agree with the Harry Potter series - I LOVED all the books. Other books that I am/was into were the Nancy Drew series (I grew up reading those) John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Steven King and of course the classics - Dickens, Austen, etc. But the best book/story were the ones my mother use to read to my brother and I - it could be about anything. That act alone gave me my love for reading. So here's a hint for parents with youngsters - read to them instead of letting them hit the computer, television, iPod, etc.

  • Comment number 65.

    There are far too many to list, but a shortlist would have to include;

    The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings/The Silmarillion
    The Discworld series
    The Satanic Verses
    Battle Royale
    To Kill A Mockingbird

    The Origin of Species
    Principia Mathematica
    Pilgrimage to Nonviolence

    Green Eggs and Ham
    The Very Hungry Caterpillar

    Although there are so many amazing books that I love that I could probably fill up the rest of this blog trying to list them all…

  • Comment number 66.

    I would vote for any book that makes the reader want to pick up another book and start reading it straight away.

  • Comment number 67.

    Personally, I would hope all literature and every book is passed down to the next generations including all those mentioned above! The most important books to be read are those hiding in corners. Those we are never encouraged to read and those which challenge our understanding, beliefs and perceptions!

  • Comment number 68.

    This is a stupid idea, choosing one book. Even the Bible couldn't be considered a single book.

    However, 1984 should be required reading in all our secondary schools, if only as a fine example of the documentary form - it has, as 'they' used to say, come to pass!

  • Comment number 69.

    As a work of fiction and fantasy the Bible comes top.
    Works of Fact would be the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens.
    Read them and see for your self.

  • Comment number 70.

    I would pass on any CS Lewis (Lion, Witch and Wardrobe series) Roald Dahl and any classics such as any Dickens (Oliver Twist etc) to children from 6 to 18.

    I would pass on the Bible too - its got history, romance, poetry and despite what alot of people say, it is not fiction. That is my opinion, read it and see.

  • Comment number 71.

    "Life is short and information endless: nobody has time for everything."

    Aldous Huxley's Brave New World Revisited, his 1958 non-fiction accompaniment to the 1932 novel, is a book that was so far ahead of its time and painfully relevant today, I would see it still being the same many years from now.

  • Comment number 72.

    My earliest memories include going with my father to the local Library. One of the books I borrowed was 'The Ant and the Elephant', and the very first Thomas the Tank Engine stories. It wasn't school that started my interest in reading, it was my father. School was simply an interference in my life. I really started reading during the sixth form, when I normally read one complete non fiction book per day on top of my textbooks.
    I have continued to read a wide variety of both fiction and non fiction ever since. There is only one thing I prefer to a good book, but Ice cream never lasts as long.

  • Comment number 73.

    Harry Potter tops World Book Day poll. How depressing mais quelle surprise

  • Comment number 74.

    Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. It's a classic that one can read time and again and enjoy it each time. All of his books are wonderful. I would also pass down to the generations Time Enough for Love by the same author.

  • Comment number 75.

    Book – pieces of mashed dead tree fixed together? Why would I want to give someone a bit of dead tree?

    How would this affect their condition?

    Well the beauty of the language, the flights of imagination which must be used when there are no pictures provided. The creativity engendered by having to use the imagination.

    So the bits of dead tree I would will to the next generation are: of course the classics, Shakespeare, Bronte, Stevenson, and modern works by Terry Patchett!

  • Comment number 76.

    A good book should be about building a world in your imagination, and for that reason I would hold the fantasy genre above all. I'm not sure I could pick one book to pass onto the next generation as many are quite adult in their themes. Lord of the Rings would be an obvious choice but is quite old fashioned in its style now, so would not be a good choice in my opinion.

    If I had to choose a recent series of novels I thoroughly enjoyed it would be "The Night Angel" trilogy by Brent Weeks. It was thrilling, full of twists and turns and an expertly written character.

  • Comment number 77.

    I like the HP series but recognise it for its limitations. It is good, lightweight, fun and if it gets children to read for pleasure then it has achieved something very important.

    The Narnia series is much better literature. Terry Pratchett is also very good fun and better written but possibly for slightly older children than HP.

    On the science fiction/fantasy genre much better books are the Stephen Donaldson Thomas Covenant series and I have a love of HG Wells novels (particularly the less well known such as In the days of the Comet).

    If I were to recommend books to my children they would not just be English writers but the following would be a good choice

    Narnia stories
    Alice in Wonderland
    Germinal (hard but superb historic social commentary)
    Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn
    Chalet School stories (for young girls)
    Thomas Covenant series bu Stephen Donaldson
    Animal Farm

  • Comment number 78.

    'Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About' by Mil Millington probably, it remains one of the only books to have genuinely made me cry with laughter.

    I recommend it to all the moaners in here getting sly digs in at the government by referencing 1984 (how clever you are! I'm sure on one else has ever made that connection before!), and to the snobs looking down on a book series that captured the imagination of a generation of children, and most of their parents, from the moment it was released simply because it's not Dickens. Anything that gets a whole generation of kids reading is a good thing in my book, if you'll pardon the expression.

    I'd also recommend Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves, for simply completely turning what we think books are and should do on its head with inventive structure.

  • Comment number 79.

    I'd like to pass 1984 to the next generation. I just hope that they don't grow up to be politicians and use it as their operating manual, as the current lot seem to be doing.

  • Comment number 80.

    JK Rowling's Harry Potter series has topped a World Book Day poll. Is this the right choice?
    No, but it may be the “familiarity” choice.
    Take a look at the purpose of World Book Day: to celebrate books and encourage children to explore the pleasures of reading.
    Do you not think that picking one book (or one series) contravenes the purpose? Encouraging children to read a wide variety of books is probably the best educational habit that you can give them. They learn words; they learn to separate fact from fiction. They broaden the intellectual vision…
    Reading is extremely important in my life – at least one book/week, sometimes two. I have never read the Potter series, though I gave it one prolonged trial; or (more like it) it gave me one prolonged trial.
    I have strained my brain to think what books I would like to see passed to the next generation and I have concluded, there are so many of merit that I would leave the choice to our future children and hope that peer-pressure does not dictate what they should be reading, as I think happened in the Potter series.

  • Comment number 81.

    From the classics:

    Complete Shakespeare's works
    Complete Charles Dickens' works
    Complete Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's works
    Complete Agatha Christie's works
    Robert Graves' "I, Claudius" and "Claudius the God"
    Complete Enid Blyton's works

    From the current generation/last 50 years:

    Complete Stephen King's works
    Complete Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwall
    Complete Douglas Adams' works
    Complete John Wyndham's works
    Complete J.R.R. Tolkien's works

  • Comment number 82.

    For me its the following books, that have changed by life they are:- Bridge Across My Sorrows & Mama Tina by the amazing Christina Nobel O.B.E. The Kid by Kevin Lewis,Suffer The Little Children by Mary Raftery Eoin O'Sullivan, In The Name Of Honour by Mukhtar Mai, The Hurricane all these books about true stories of people who did not give up, against all the odds. So many children now seem to want the easy way out & lots, cant be bothered. These people have inspired me, to not give up & to keep trying there is always a light at the end of the tunnel!

  • Comment number 83.

    Leaving The Saints by Martha Beck. WOW!!!!!

  • Comment number 84.

    I don't think it would be Harry Potter!
    I would pass on some of the great Sci-Fi authors works. As a young boy, my imagination soared with the possibilities - probabilities even - of my future as a space-faring buccaneer.
    Frederick Pohl, Isaac Asimov, Pohl Anderson, HG Wells, And so on in a long, long list.
    Of course, so little of those possibilities came about. Still, I often think back to the days when I would gaze up at the stars and vow to go "out there" one day.
    I at least used my imagination, and dreamed a dream.....

  • Comment number 85.

    There are many, many books that are much better-written than the Harry Potter ones. You could choose any one by Terry Pratchett, for example.

    The Harry Potter books have thoroughly distorted the whole publishing industry and people's perceptions of writing and books. Ask most people a question like this one, and it seems that 90% of them can think of nothing but Harry Potter and JK Rowling.

  • Comment number 86.

    The first time I read a book, without it being part of any lessons at school, was quite literally because I judged one by it's cover. I saw a copy of James Herbert's "Moon" in my Grandmothers house, and asked if I could borrow it. I was eleven at the time, and perhaps a horror novel was not that appropriate for my age, but I started reading. From the first chapter, I was hooked and this gave me an appetite for the written word. So, my teenage years were spent, among other things, reading James Herbert and Stephen King. It even fitted in with my rebellious nature at the time because I was reading books that were written for adults.

    The point about this is that it doesn't really matter what book a young person picks up. As long as they pick something up.

    For me, I would pass on one of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. Maybe The Truth, or Going Postal.

  • Comment number 87.

    User barryp remembers going to his local library as a child.

    Does your family still use the local library? Or do you prefer to own the books you read? Where do you buy your books from?

  • Comment number 88.

    Nelson Mandella's Long Walk To Freedom - assuming I have finished it by the time I die!

  • Comment number 89.

    - Terry Pratchett's books (a lot deeper than you'd think)
    - Narnia books
    - Lord of the Rings
    - The Book Thief

  • Comment number 90.

    My Secret Life by Walter -- the most truthful book in the English language about the ways of the English.

  • Comment number 91.

    I wouldn't pass that drivel on to the current generation, let alone the next.

    What should be passed on to future generations? The same books that have been: the works of Aristotle, Locke, and the other founders of the western liberal tradition. It is vital that the next generation understand the logic and philosophy behind the values that have made ours the most advanced and prosperous culture in history, especially, at this time when those values are under assault both internally and externally.

  • Comment number 92.

    What books would you pass on to the next generation?

    Knowing my family, they'd want my cheque books!

  • Comment number 93.

    Enid Bylton's Famous Five and Secret Seven I loved these books and hope my granddaughter will read them when she is older.

  • Comment number 94.

    re #74:

    "I would also pass down to the generations Time Enough for Love by the same author."

    One of my all time favourite books! The excerpts from the notes of Lazarus Long are brilliant and truly thought-provoking.

  • Comment number 95.

    Books to pass on to the next generation?

    Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlien.
    Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith.
    Childhoods End by Arthur C Clark.

    Brilliant reads.

  • Comment number 96.

    The best book for the next generation is, 'THE PRINCE' by N.Machiavelli. This book has every scenerio required for survival in the modern world. As life will undoubtedly become more 'dog eat dog' this script should be essential reading for every decision maker/manager and those hoping to achieve.

  • Comment number 97.

    "Does your family still use the local library?"

    Nope, horrible places by and large, unless you visit the huge and wonderful city centre ones. But small local libraries are horrible. I remember being 11 and going to the library after school, only to have some hateful old harridan shouting at me for reading unsuitable books.

    Ugh, thank God for online bookstores and wikipedia.

  • Comment number 98.

    "I would pass on the Bible too - its got history, romance, poetry and despite what alot of people say, it is not fiction. That is my opinion, read it and see."

    I started reading it and the characters Adam and Eve are very interesting. Amazing that all human races decended from these two. They must have had black genes, white genes, chinese genes ... Adam lived to 930 years old ... not fiction eh?

    I'd pass on Charlie and the Chocolate factory and the Magic Far away tree.

  • Comment number 99.

    Charles Dickens works are an excellent subject, as are those of Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice being my personal favourite. There are so many - where to begin.

    Novels, biographies, The origin of species.

    Too short a life, too much to read. I suppose therefore that I would pass on my own of course.

  • Comment number 100.

    " Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee ! " Would be the book I would leave.
    It gives good authenticated examples on how the USA conducts its negotiations.
    I would also have the books inscribed " NEVER TRUST THE USA ! "


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