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Homegrown books among Kiwi kids’ favourite reads

Kiwi children love to read books by local authors and their enthusiasm for reading is as keen as ever reveals the 2018 Whitcoulls Kids’ Top 50 Books list, announced today (24 September 2018).

Whitcoulls Book Manager Joan Mackenzie said, “Kiwi kids cast their votes with great enthusiasm and as they did, couldn’t resist sharing glowing endorsements and comments about their favourite books. Some clear patterns emerged about the ones they loved the most loved.”

Ten of the books in the Kids’ Top 50 are by New Zealand authors. Lynley Dodd’s classic story Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy continues to win the hearts of Kiwi kids to claim sixth place. Captivating Kiwi trilogies The Dragon Defenders (number 10) and Dragon Brothers (number 15) were also among the favourites, particularly with young boys, who are often perceived as reluctant readers.

Again, two picture books in te reo Māori were voted into this year’s Kids’ Top 50 – Malcolm Clark’s 2018 award-winning Tu Meke Tūī! (number 22) and Kat Merewether’s Kuwi's First Egg (number 36), which received a gong in 2016. Their inclusion points to the recent resurgence in popularity of the te reo Māori language and our fascination with indigenous stories.

Book series dominate, with nearly half the list comprising serial novels or chapter books. Kiwi kids voted seven of them into the top ten, which suggests that once children discover a book series they love, then they keep coming back for more.

Not surprisingly, Harry Potter is again at number one with his hold on modern imaginations showing no signs of abating; indeed, J. K. Rowling’s bestselling series is now being discovered by a whole new generation of children. Mackenzie was extremely pleased to see Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor (number 32) make the cut, describing it as “a magical, brilliant first book in a planned series, which will appeal to fans of Harry Potter looking for the next best thing.”

The Treehouse series by Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton claimed the number two spot; Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man series was at number three; Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series secured fourth place; and David Walliams was at number five with his hugely popularThe World’s Worst Children series. Walliams also wins the ‘popularity contest’ for favourite author, with nine different titles appearing in the Kids’ Top 50.

One of the stand out books is Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls (number 20), which appears to have sparked a new publishing phenomenon – that of the lives of remarkable people whose stories have been edited into inspirational and aspirational chapters. Children of all ages who dream about what their lives might become will be transfixed.

“Books for children are in very good heart and a future where books will continue to feature strongly in both lives and in imaginations is assured,” says Mackenzie.

The Whitcoulls Kids’ Top 50 Books list will be published online at when the embargo lifts, on Monday 24 September 2018 at 5:00am.


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