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 278.

    "It's a satire on class and the social mores of the day. It appears you didn't 'get' that"

    I honestly didn't realise the whole thing should be treated as a long comedy sketch, belittling and parodying the themes presented. Wow

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    272. Bumble
    Funny, you've changed your tune ...but as you have said what makes your personal view better than anybody elses.
    My view hasn't changed, my personal opinion is just that. The difference is that I'm not trying to dictate what I think should be included on a list of favourites. If anything I've said nothing should be precluded purely based on its (perceived) lack of literary merit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.

    Why? Why is this godawful book top of the list? I was forced to read it for my English GCSE about 15 years ago and I remember it boring me to tears. Looking down the list we see more of the usual suspects - Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre... Is it any wonder that girls have consistently outperformed boys in English for the past several years, if the books they select are so mind-numbingly dull?

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    I was actually thinking of the 'Castle of Udolpho' and the like.

    But how do you judge JA's social realism? She stuck to the social class that she knew but within those bounds she was very realistic. P&P is a story of 2 people seeing past their first impressions. It seems cliched now because it it so often copied.

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    Re all the comments about "girlie" bias, I was educated during the years following WWII when the bias was exactly the opposite: I was brought up on Biggles, Bulldog Drummond, King Solomon's Mines, etc. This led inevitably to a liking for Mickey Spillane when I was 15. Learning "Emma" at school was tedium personified. Today, I love Pride & Prejudice and recently enjoyed rereading Emma. You change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 273. - "OMG....Is this list supposed to indicate what teachers think is good for students???? certainly is predictable."

    Read the article and your question will be answered......

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    'Simple interest? It doesn't have to be a good thing, or even 'newsworthy' - it's just an article that has encouraged a debate on books and reading.'

    Funny, you've changed your tune considering you have been jumping down anybodies throught that dares criticize a book on the list, but as you have said what makes your personal view better than anybody elses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.

    "In fact she was reacting against the kind of gothic fantasy popular in her day by writing about the social class to which she belonged."

    Frankenstien, though intended to be fantasy, has more social realism

  • rate this

    Comment number 270.

    There is no way that this is a 'girly' list. I have read a good percentage of these books and there is some gritty stuff in a lot of them. And as for the requested sci-fi - Hitchhikers guide, Dark materials trilogy and Brave new World would all fit the criteria and that is just at a glance. I'm sure there are far more!

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.


    You again misunderstand.

    First off, don't try and guess my gender. I don't wear it as a badge of honour and it is irrelevant to this debate.

    Second, the list is obviously statistically barbed in favour of white, female, middle class authors.

    You can postulate as to why this might be but to deny that such a bias exists is breathtaking in its naivety.

  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    Paul @ 264: It's a satire on class and the social mores of the day. It appears you didn't 'get' that.

    Addendum to 263: someone has already cited 'Mrs Dalloway', but Elizabeth Gaskell's 'Mary Barton' is worth a look. On Margaret Atwood, 'The Handmaid's Tale' also ticks the sci-fi box. Iain M Banks's Culture novels repay attention. Be tempted to add some PG Wodehouse too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 267.

    OMG....Is this list supposed to indicate what teachers think is good for students???? certainly is predictable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 266.

    Really? No Jeffery Archer, nor Mills & Boons titles....????!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 265.


    It depends what you mean by 'favourite book'. It could be 'the book I remember with most affection' or 'my favourite book to use with my reception class'. That's one of the problems with surveys. The respondents may not read the question in the same way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    "if you've read it, you didn't understand it"

    I did try but did not complete because I considered the psychological damage probably wasn't worth the candle. To this day if i see a 'Mr Darcy' in the phone book or list my eyes roll and I emit a sigh recalling the totally facile 'irresistibly powerful and wealthy, alpha bad boy going to made good by her love’ portrayal. Totaly self indulgent

  • rate this

    Comment number 263.

    SurfingSharka @ 260. Interesting point on Pratchett. Personally, I'd suggest 'Thud!' and 'Jingo' because they're not only very funny, but really are satires of matters that are still completely contemporary.

    If we were doing personal lists (and I'm no teacher) I'd chuck in 'The Tin Drum' by Günter Grass and 'Buddenbrooks' by Thomas Mann. Oh, and 'The Big Sleep' by Raymond Chandler.

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    259. Bumble
    why is a list of favorite books that 0.1% of UK teachers have made such a good thing or even news worthy.
    Simple interest? It doesn't have to be a good thing, or even 'newsworthy' - it's just an article that has encouraged a debate on books and reading. I think you are reading too much into it (pun intended!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 261.

    247 BB-agree with you completely.My all time favourite is Wuthering Heights and the classics are a joy to read now, I would have also put Vikram Seth's 'A suitable boy' on here, but I also enjoy a Penny Vincenzi!.

  • 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 259.

    Again you miss my point, I'll try a different tact which is why is a list of favorite books that 0.1% of UK teachers have made such a good thing or even news worthy.


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