* Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. Indispensable. The great classic beginning of English children's literature.
* Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. What effortless invention looks like.
* Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner. A great political story: democracy in action.
* Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. As clear and pure as Mozart. Old fashioned adventures that still excite.
* Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken. If Ransome was Mozart, Aiken was Rossini. Unforced effervescence.
* The Weird Stone of Brisingamen, The Owl Service, Elidor , The Moon of Gomrath by Alan Garner. Shows how children's literature could be dark and troubling.
* The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Superb wit and vigorous invention.
* A Hundred Million Francs by Paul Berna. A gang of children living in the backstreets of Paris, risk life and limb hurtling precariously and at great speeds down the steep hill of the rue des Petits-Pauvres
* The Castafiore Emerald by Hergé. Tintin! Perfect timing, perfect narrative tact and command, blissfully funny.
* The Star of Kazan, The Beasts of ClawstoneCastle by Eva Ibbotson. Beautiful prose painting wonderful scenes of faraway places.
* Just William books by Richmal Crompton. These are a must for every child.
* The Elephant's Child From The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. I love the sheer fun of it, the music and the rhythm of the words. It was subversive too. Still one of my favourite stories.
* The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono. A book for children from 8 to 80. I love the humanity of this story and how one man's efforts can change the future for so many.
* The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy The story of two children who go to find their father who has been listed missing in the trenches of the First World War.
* The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson-Burnett. I love this story of a girl's life being changed by nature.
* Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah. Story of a young Ethiopian boy, whose parents abandon him in London to save his life.
* I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (who wrote 101 Dalmatians). Written for a teenage audience but fun at any age.
* The Tygrine Cat (and The Tygrine Cat on the Run) by Inbali Iserles. If your parents keep going on at you to read Tarka the Otter, The Sheep-Pig and other animal fantasies, do – they're great books – also try Iserles' stories about a cat seeking his destiny.
* When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr. Judith Kerr's semi-autobiographical story of a family fleeing the Nazis in 1933.
* Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett. Elaborate mythological imagery and a background based in real science. If you like this, the Discworld series offers plenty more. Also The Amazing Maurice and his EducatedRodents
* Mistress Masham's Repose by TH White. Magical story of 10-year-old Maria, living in a derelict stately home, shy, lonely and under threat from both her governess and her rascally guardian.
* Stormbreaker and the Alex rider Series by Anthony Horowitz. First of the action-packed adventures with 14-year-old Alex Rider. There are eight in the series now. Then try the Series of Five…..
* Private Peaceful, War Horse and Farm Boy by Michael Morpurgo "Dulce et Decorum Est" for pre-teens.
* Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. Lively, amoral, wildly imaginative debut (six more followed) about the money-grabbing master-criminal Artemis, 12. The author called it "Die Hard with fairies".
* The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier. Inspiring wartime story of the Balicki family in Warsaw.
* Skellig by David Almond. Brings magical realism to working-class North-east England.
* Red Cherry Red by Jackie Kay. A book of poems that reaches deep into our hidden thoughts but also talks in a joyous voice exploring the everyday.
* Talkin Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah. A book of poems that demands to be read aloud, performed and thought about.
* Greek myths by Geraldine McCaughrean. Superheroes battle with demons, gods intervene in our pleasures and fears – a bit like the spectres in our minds going through daily life, really – beautifully retold here.
* People Might Hear You by Robin Klein. A profound, suspenseful story about sects, freedom and the rights of all young people – especially girls.
Redwall series by Brian Jacques
The Eagle of the Ninth, The Lantern Bearers, The Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff
The Talking Parcel, My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilde
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall
Because of Winn-Dixieby Kate DiCamillo
Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner
Inkheart, Inkspell, The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. Not too babyish when read in its original form.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and HuckleberryFinn by Mark Twain
Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
The Book Thief, The Messenger The Underdog by Markus Zusak
Magic Series by Edward Eager
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery Charming tale of Victorian child set in America. Anne develops new relationships once she has moved to the countryside.
The Borrowers by Mary Norton . Adventures of little people all around us! Filmed and televised – but nothing beats the original book.