Pride and Prejudice tops teachers' favourite 100 books

Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet, Susannah Harker as Jane and Lucy Briers as Mary in BBC production of Pride and Prejudice Pride and Prejudice was written 200 years ago, and adapted numerous times for TV and film

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Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice has topped a list of teachers' favourite books, compiled by the Times Educational Supplement (TES).

An online survey asked 500 teachers to name their favourite titles.

Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird was second and the Harry Potter series third - but the top 100 also includes picture books like The Gruffalo.

The list "is a masterpiece of erudition and entertainment", according to TES editor Gerard Kelly.

TES Teachers' Top Reads

eacher with books
  • 1. Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen
  • 2. To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee
  • 3. Harry Potter series: JK Rowling
  • 4. Wuthering Heights: Emily Bronte
  • 5. Jane Eyre: Charlotte Bronte
  • 6. Nineteen Eighty-Four: George Orwell
  • 7. The Lord of the Rings series: JRR Tolkien
  • 8. The Book Thief: Markus Zusak
  • 9. The Hobbit: JRR Tolkien
  • 10. The Great Gatsby: F Scott Fitzgerald
  • 11.. The Kite Runner: Khaled Hosseini
  • 12. The Hunger Games series: Suzanne Collins
  • 13. The Time Traveler's Wife: Audrey Niffenegger
  • 14. The Chronicles of Narnia series CS Lewis
  • 15. Of Mice and Men: John Steinbeck
  • 16. Birdsong: Sebastian Faulks
  • 17. His Dark Materials series: Philip Pullman
  • 18. The Gruffalo: Julia Donaldson+ Axel Scheffler
  • 19. The Catcher in the Rye: JD Salinger
  • 20. Life of Pi: Yann Martel

"It could be one of the few things that Michaels Gove and Rosen agree on", he writes in a leader column for the magazine, reflecting an ongoing disagreement between the secretary of state and the former children's laureate over the direction of English teaching in England's schools.

Mr Kelly points out that apart from a modern intrusion in the form of Harry Potter, the top 10 is dominated by the literary canon in the shape of the Brontes, Orwell and Tolkien.

Literary merit

Thomas Hardy, Dickens and Tolstoy all figure in the list, alongside books for very young children like The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, and Eric Carle's early years counting book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Bethan Marshall, a senior lecturer in English education at King's College London told the magazine the literary merit of picture books was often underestimated, comparing The Very Hungry Caterpillar favourably with another literary hit, Yann Martel's Life of Pi.

Dr Marshall said the central plot line where the caterpillar eventually becomes a butterfly is transformational and "worthy of Life of Pi, possibly even more meaningful than Life of Pi".

The list also includes books for older children like Roald Dahl's The Twits, plus titles beloved of teenagers such as Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

There are also a number of English set texts: To Kill a Mockingbird is one, Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is another.

Dr Marshall told the TES that this may reflect the broad nature of the teaching profession: "When you have any eclectic group, including one made up of teachers, there are going to be those who don't read that much.

"So they think back to books that they've read at one time, and possibly that might be a set text."

Mr Kelly added: "Strip out the children's books, the inclusion of which is only to be expected from people whose job it is to engage children, and what you are left with is a pretty canonical list.

There's enough Dickens, Steinbeck, Hardy, Wilde, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Hugo and Eliot to satisfy even the most conservative of politicians, and of course, plenty of modern greats: Kerouac, Ishiguro, Roy and Plath, to please the modernists.

"As a list, I think it's a pretty healthy reflection of a profession that really knows what makes a great book."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 319.

    155, My son loved Horrible Histories so much that he now has a Degree in Early Modern History, thank you Terry Deary. The downside of English Literature is that you have to study some really dark books which can really put you off reading for pleasure. Buying story books for young boys is difficult but try the Redwall series by Brian Jacques my son who still loves to read adored these.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    I actually think the list is pretty good because it covers a wide variety of different styles, subject matter and levels.

    I think that's more important than complaining a favourite author or book didn't make the list. A lot of people may have trouble when it comes to reading, just become overwhelmed when trying to decide where to start. This is a starting point.

  • rate this

    Comment number 260.

    Quite a few people are bemoaning the absence of any Terry Pratchett. I think the sheer volume of his output counts against him in polls like this where you vote for the book, not the author. He has so many novels and people will have different favourites from them, that it is hard for one specific novel to notch up enough votes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    If this list is a bit 'girlie' then why are so many of the authors men?
    Looks like a great list of books to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    It's a shame that books like the Horrible Histories series and my all-time favourite of the Railway Series are nowhere to be seen on this list. Both engaged me ever so brilliantly in the aspect or reading while these books here are like a list of 'having to reads' rather than 'wanting to reads' and enjoying them.

    Railway Series should be #1! But then I would say that as a train fan...


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