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Kiwi kids are proactive readers


The votes are in and Whitcoulls are delighted to announce their 2019 Kids’ Top 50 Books List today, September 23, 2019. The big news is that Kiwi kids often discover what they want to read through their own research, are huge fans of books in a series and love to read local authors.

Whitcoulls Book Manager Joan Mackenzie said, ‘Almost 25% of the List is New Zealand books – a much higher proportion than we see in our Top 100 List for adult readers – which is a real reflection of the need for Kiwi kids to be able to recognise themselves and their own environment in the books they read.’

This year, 12 of the books in the List are by New Zealand authors, including perennial favourite Lynley Dodd’s Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy, which claims second place. Stories about dragons are popular again, with Kiwi author James Russell’s trilogies The Dragon Brothers Trilogy (#9) and The Dragon Defenders Series (#20) ranking high.

Other Kiwi stars and newcomers to the List are: Kimberly Andrews award-winning Puffin the Architect (#38); actor and comedian Rhys Darby’s The Top Secret Undercover Notes of Buttons McGinty (#42), the first book in a terrific new series full of plays on language, wit and Morse code; and Donovan Bixley’s Tales of Aotearoa Series (#48), a classic re-telling of our myths and legends.

J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series holds doggedly on to the number one spot again this year, but David Walliams’s grip on the List is unassailable, with five individual books and two series’ appearing. Walliams has singlehandedly brightened up literally thousands of young readers’ lives over the last year and is the undisputed star of kids’ books these days.

For Whitcoulls, the List highlights the importance of listening to their younger readers and responding to their requests. For some time, kids have been asking about #1 New York Times bestselling series Wings of Fire by Venezuelan-American author, Tui T. Sutherland and American cartoonist Raina Telgemeier’s coming of age books, including Smile. Both, they discovered through their own research and voted into this year’s List, at numbers 34 and 46, respectively.

The List is always packed with book series and this year serial novels or chapter books comprise nearly half. Significantly, Kiwi kids voted seven of them into the top ten, which suggests that once children discover a book series they like, they keep coming back for more. Among the favourites are: Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series (# 4); Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man Series (# 5); and Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton’s The Treehouse Series (# 6).

‘The great thing about the List is that kids know these books have been voted for by their peers, which gives them confidence to try something new – and with all that fan base behind them, they are likely to be really engaging and enjoyable,’ says Mackenzie.

As ever, the List is a balanced mix of picture books for the young reader, a range of titles for the newly confident reader, as well as more challenging narratives for older children.
Whitcoulls see the publication of their annual Kids’ Top 50 Books List as a way to foster a love of reading – one of the cornerstones of a literate, rewarding life.

The Whitcoulls List will be published online at: http://www.whitcoulls.co.nz/ when the embargo lifts, on Monday, September 23, 2019 at 5:00am.

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