Children’s imagination is no longer content with traditional tales, as many find excitement and entertainment in their favourite fantasy stories, according to the list of top 10 favourite children’s books of 2013 (scroll down for top 10 list).

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books continue to prove popular with children, demonstrating two key trends in this year’s top 10 books; books with a fantasy or adventure theme to them, and books which have had success on-screen, are favourites with children. Overall, the honour of the most popular title goes to the first book in Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series.

Barbara Band, Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, and a school librarian, said: “Borrowing of children’s fiction from libraries is at a seven year high, with a 0.3 per cent increase this year compared to last, showing that children’s reading is very much alive and thriving.

“The popularity of books that have seen success on-screen is very encouraging in the sense that TV and film is proving to be yet another route of engagement for children to get into reading.”

Perennial classics from the likes of Roald Dahl (Matilda, The BFG) and Allan Ahlberg (The Jolly Postman) are notable by their absence from the top 10; although according to separate but related data showing the most read, as opposed to most popular, books, they remain some of the most widely read books by UK children.

A total of 300,144 children across over 1,605 UK schools read and voted on over four million books throughout the 2011/12 school year, and now the results are in. Renaissance Learning has revealed the list to celebrate National Libraries Day, today.

Barbara added: “However, what is abundantly clear is that libraries play a vital role in children’s ability to access books; in the last year, 73 per cent of UK children visited a library, and children’s authors are amongst the most borrowed of all, so it’s vital that we make sure that children continue to have universal access to books to ensure once their appetite in reading is whetted they are able to sustain that interest.

“School librarians play a key role in children’s enjoyment of books as they are able to guide young readers to the most appropriate level of book whilst taking in to account the national curriculum and of course the individual’s personal preferences.”

The key trends found in the results included:

Fantasy and adventure - books with a fantasy or adventure theme appear in eight out of the top 10 spots, with vampires, wizards and mythology all proving popular subjects. Examples include Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, The Morganville Vampires, Twilight, and Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth.

Dirk Foch, Renaissance Learning’s Managing Director, said: “Fantasy and adventure definitely seem to be the dominant themes this year, and in many cases, books with these themes also cover quite advanced topics and issues. There are strong indications that this trend will continue too, as new authors look set to sustain it for some time.” 

Classics missing from top ten - Classic titles from the likes of Roald Dahl and Allan are completely missing from the kids’ choice top 10, but do still feature in the broader list of most read authors.

Dirk said: “This is a very interesting point - it indicates that there is a big difference between the books children enjoy reading and the books that are available to them or the books they are encouraged to read by adults.

“It’s clear that although books such as the Roald Dahl classics may still be very prevalent in schools, children’s tastes have very much moved on and it’s TV, film and vampires that are currently in vogue.”

On-screen proves popular on-page - Half of the top 10 books have risen to fame on-screen suggesting that watching films and TV is inspiring children to then read the books, which they subsequently enjoy more than other books.

“In some cases it seems to take time for on-screen popularity to feed through to on-page popularity, but the trend is likely to continue, with early indications showing that The Hunger Games books (the first film was released in 2012) are proving very popular amongst children,” Dirk said.

Series - The success of book series is very marked, with all of the top 10 being part of series of one or more books. Dirk said: “This is particularly encouraging to see, because series provide children with a far greater level of engagement with reading.

“In many cases, and this trend is particularly marked in boys, children are highly motivated to complete the series. Boys in particular tend to focus to finishing the entire series, partly because of the competitive element.”

The most popular books, as voted for by 300,144 UK schoolchildren across academic years 1 – 11, are: 

1. Glass Houses: The Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine

2.  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K Rowling

3. Twilight - Stephenie Meyer

4. Crocodile Tears - Anthony Horowitz

5. The Dead Girls’ Dance - Rachel Caine

6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth - Jeff Kinney

7. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K Rowling

8. Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth - Rick Riordan

9. Mates, Dates and Sole Survivors - Cathy Hopkins

10. Survival - Chris Ryan

The full 2013 ‘What Kids Are Reading’ report will be released on March 7 2013 to coincide with World Book Day, and can be requested from

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