Books I'd give my 10-year-old self: from Harry Potter to Black Beauty

To celebrate the 10th birthday of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize, we asked Mumsnetters what book they'd give to their 10-year-old self.

The responses were many and varied; we've rounded up 20 of the most popular here. If you can't see your favourite, or you'd like to read more, come and talk about it over on the thread. You can also let even more Mumsnetters know how great it is by writing a review.


GoodnightMisterTom-coverGoodnight Mister Tom, by Michelle Magorian 

"This was the first book I read that made me cry. I hadn't realised until then how books could stir so many different emotions. I have since been an avid reader, never happier than when I have my head in a book, and will read anything I can get my hands on." Madamecastafiore



The Invention of Hugot CabretThe Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick

"By 10, I was reading older fiction, and I feel like I really missed out on the world of imagination in children's books. This book is the most wondrous, imaginative story and a great introduction to mixed media. I read it to the kids at school and they applauded at the end." SummerSevern



FamousFiveonaTreasureIsland-coverFamous Five: Five on a Treasure Island, by Enid Blyton 

"I would give myself any of the Enid Blyton Famous Five books. At the age of 10 I was an avid reader of them - they were everything I needed: adventure, beautiful islands, the sea, beaches, a great bunch of kids, a dog and of course lots of lemonade! I absolutely loved to escape into their world and I couldn't wait to snuggle up in my bed and read them." wittymacs 



KisstheDust-coverKiss the Dust, by Elizabeth Laird 

"Kiss the Dust is gritty and realistic. It's the story of a family escaping persecution, told through the eyes of Tara (who is probably about 10). Although it's set during the Iraq-Iran crisis, it tells of forced migration, immigration, secrecy and desperation in a way that would have made sense to the 10-year-old me." SE13Mummy



Tom'sMidnightGarden-coverTom's Midnight Garden, by Philippa Pearce 

"Tom's Midnight Garden is a history lesson and sci-fi/ghost story rolled into one. It is one of those rare books that appealed as much to me as to DH (we didn't know each other as children but read it at similar ages) and continues to fascinate children today...our DCs loved it! And Tom the protagonist is also around the age of 10, so it's easy to identify with his 'issues' despite it having been written well before I reached that age!" Willemdefoeismine



TheBoyWhoSproutedAntlers-coverThe Boy Who Sprouted Antlers, by John Yeoman and Quentin Blake 

"This is a great story with a good message about willpower, how you can achieve just about anything if you really want to, and it's okay to be different." Filimou



HarryPotterandthePhilosophersStone-coverHarry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, by JK Rowling 

"At 10-years-old I was an only child, shy and awkward, and I loved to read. I would have really enjoyed the Harry Potter series. It's filled with magic and wonder, and contains some good messages too. The Philosopher's Stone and the others in the series teach you that it's okay to be different. That you, too, can be accepted. That friendship, loyalty and courage are valuable. And that you should never, ever give up." ShadowKittee



AlannaTheFirstAdventure-coverAlanna: The First Adventure, by Tamora Pierce 

"I love how hard Alanna works in this book. There's no 'I found a magic sword and became great' rubbish, just hard work and determination. DD1 said: 'I'm going to be like Alanna. I want to pass my swimming test. Can you take me swimming more often so I can practice?' And after putting in more work, she passed it and was rightly proud of herself!" chaosmonkey



ThePaperBagPrincess-coverThe Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munsch 

"I read voraciously as a child but sometimes struggled with the passiveness of the female characters. The Paper Bag Princess is a brave and daring character. She rescues a prince, refuses to be defined by what she's wearing and is quite happy to be on her own. She's a brilliant heroine, a great female role model and I'd have loved to have discovered her when I was still a child. Plus she says 'bum' at the end!" BookABooSue



ThePhantomTollbooth-coverThe Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster 

"It's so hard to choose just one book at that age, but my all-time favourite was and is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. This book not only took me on an imaginative journey but also exposed me to the wonder of words and their power." katb1973



ALittlePrincess-coverA Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett 

"The lead character here is Sara Crewe, whose kindness, morality and vivid imagination make her a charming role model. Sara becomes an orphan aged 11, which changes her status at school from being the rich, star pupil to becoming a drudge in the seminary. Throughout everything Sara treats others politely and with respect. When she is finally at breaking point and her self-belief is fading, she makes a magical new friend, and things start looking up again. Given the book was written well over 100 years ago, it truly is a timeless classic." maybefaraway



MidnightisaPlaceMidnight is a Place, by Joan Aiken 

"I'd give my 10-year-old self pretty much anything by Joan Aiken, who is really unjustly neglected nowadays. Her books are full of fantastic adventurers, strong heroines, alternate history and exotic vocabulary. If I had to pick just one of her books, I'd probably go for her own favourite, Midnight is a Place. It's darker than some, and more of a stand-alone work." ChrisTheSheep



Black BeautyBlack Beauty, by Anna Sewell 

"As a horse-mad child, I would give myself Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Not only is it beautifully written, with a tale straight from the horse's mouth (as it were), but also a timeless classic that deals with notions of kindness and cruelty in a very gentle way; ideal for a young child." Kveta



Wonder-coverWonder, by RJ Palacio 

"I have never read a book that has engaged as much thought and debate with my own DC (seven and nine years old) as this. I do not believe you can read it without it affecting how you think of others with disabilities, what friendship means and how to stand up to the crowd. It's heartbreaking, life-affirming and life-changing. We refer to it often and I tell everyone I come across that they must read it." eightytwenty



TheOrdinaryPrincess-coverThe Ordinary Princess, by MM Kaye 

"This was the first book I remember reading that subverted the cliché fairy tale concept: the protagonist was a princess but didn't have long blonde hair or blue eyes. She wasn't always elegant and graceful, but was kind, intelligent and worked hard - and that brought its own reward. What a great message for children." Alicadabra



TheCompleetMolesworth-coverThe Compleet Molesworth, by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle

"The Compleet Molesworth is a fantastic send-up of every school story ever written and has a beautifully anarchic sense to it. The books taught me about philosophy, grammar, spelling and literature without my suspecting a thing, and that it was okay to find things a little ridiculous sometimes. Molesworth reminded me to be mischievious occasionally." vladthedisorganised



TheDeathDefyingPepperRoux-coverThe Death Defying Pepper Roux, by Geraldine McCaughrean 

"This book has it all: adventure, fantasy and a moral. I read it with my then 10-year-old and we both absolutely loved it. I think I would have been mesmerised by it as a child. It inspires you to be anything you want to be." Pinkbatrobi



CharlotteSometimes-coverCharlotte Sometimes, by Penelope Farmer 

"I loved this book. It fascinated me to think of becoming someone else in another time, and seems very appropriate now with the centenary of the First World War. At primary school I remember our teacher asking us which book she should read to us next. I argued unsuccessfully for this one, and it's about time I persuaded another (hypothetical) 10-year-old how fabulous and atmospheric it is!" Swanbridge 



King of the VagabondsKing of the Vagabonds, by Colin Dann 

"This is about a tabby cat called Sammy who lives a very nice domestic lifestyle, but wants to follow a different path and have an adventure. There is something so brilliant about Dann's writing and how he manages to bring these cats and their personalities to life." GossamerHailfilter



Goodnight OpusGoodnight Opus, by Berkeley Breathed

"This beautifully illustrated, sly skewering of Goodnight Moon teaches kids young and old that it's okay to get carried away, and step out of your comfort zone. We read it to our child every night, and I always cry." weenwee



Last updated: almost 2 years ago