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 378.

    All a bit of nonsense really. Teachers saying they like the expected things. If they like these books it does not actually mean they are appealing to their pupils.

    So many 'classics' many of which are boring, more are obviously there just for effect.

  • rate this

    Comment number 377.

    No wonder our education system... ?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 376.

    I mostly agree with the list, but my one issue is the inclusion of the Twilight novels over Terry Pratchett's Discworld Series. Admittedly Twilight has some value; they explore changing social values and domestic abuse, but Pratchett's works are an excellent study of human nature and a must have for any avid reader. I honestly believe that they are the only desert island books you could ever need.

  • rate this

    Comment number 375.

    There are many comments on favourite, well read books which is wonderful, but if we can get children to read anything from cereal packets, comics etc. through to the wonderful Narnia stories then we have engaged young minds. Just think they will then at the age of 17 A level students they may just enjoy such as Enduring Love or the Underground Man, only joking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 374.

    Only books in the top 20 worthy of the ranks are The Hobbit, LOTR, 1984 and Birdsong

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    I do not understand why at school you had to read books that are a thousand years old. During the summer when asked to read a book they forced you to choose from a list they created. What so I,m not allowed to read 50 Shades of Grey then. It just strikes me that constantly doing your GCSE exams on Of Mice and Men, why not an exam on a modern book.

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    369 ee./ 370 Hoofhearted

    Why not Harry Potter books? To sneer at that is just literary snobbery. This is about enjoyable books, not the profound, life changing, challenging necessarily. Some of my favourite books are light hearted and silly. Why shouldn't teachers have a lightweight popular book among their favourites?

  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee is number 2 on the list. There are people like me who believe it was written by Truman Capote. Capote's dad believes this. If you analyse the text as being written by a young gay, it makes sense. Scout, the tom boy, is Truman. Truman didn't like the attention the book received as he saw it as a weak work. Harper Lee never wrote a second book, she wasn't capable

  • Comment number 370.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 369.

    I'm confused? It says that this was a survey done on what teachers thought of as their favourite books, it seems more like a survey on what they would recommend to children, at least I hope it is. As great as many of these books are I would be slightly worried about the state of our country's teaching staff if many of them thought of Harry Potter as their favourite book

  • rate this

    Comment number 368.

    I am pleased to see Harry Potter where it should be (near the top of the list), and amongst classics like P & Prej. J.K.Rowling has brought reading back into vogue. We managed to get our 3 boys to aspire to reading HP (I thought they would never read) - they know the films inside out and the thought of being able to find out more details than the films gave proved irresistible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 367.

    I could describe these books as typical "establishment" and twee. I have read some, stared some and others the subject matter is enough to dissuade. Am I right? Yes but that's my view. I like imaginative innovative writing, particularly science fiction, Others wont which is why these lists are meaningless in so may ways. If you enjoy a particular book then good. Reading is always worthwhile

  • rate this

    Comment number 366.

    Don't know if it is in the list, but I recently read Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" and despite the odd tricky bit, was amazed by the power to entertain and move. They are called classic for a reason!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 365.

    As a 16 year old boy, who very much enjoys studying English Literature I have to say that I disagree with comments about there not being much for boys. Ok, the list quite clearly representst he limited demography of teachers in the UK, but more than half of the books in the top 20 are more than suitable for boys, many of them I have enjoyed.

  • Comment number 364.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    I'm amazed Harry Potter in the list at all, the movies were okay. The one Potter book I tried to read was poorly written, not a patch on the "Worst Witch" series by Jill Murphy. I wouldn't be surprised if the "Worst Witch"
    books were the spark that inspired the Harry Potter books.

  • Comment number 362.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 361.

    why is there no factual books quoted . a a child i enjoyed reading factual book , shurly they are more useful than "story books"

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    192. Sybarite
    180. milvusvestal: "sex, drugs and sensational explosions just aren't necessary to make a thrilling ... read."
    And yet you mentioned 'Dracula'?
    Bram Stoker's parable on sex and the modern women and the dread Victorian fear of sexual womanhood and of syphilis?
    Bram Stoker's novel with violence at its core?

    Didn't even Sigmund Freud say, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.

    Why are there so many posts saying that teenagers won't be inspired to read by the books listed here? Everyone has there own favourite genre of book. Personally, I love classics and historical fiction and read Wuthering Heights at 9 and loved it. I'm 15 now. However, I would never have read that books if my parents hadn't encouraged me. If you expect a child not to like a book, they won't like it.


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