Writers On Writing / Aleesah Darlison shortlists her favourite children’s books…EVER!

We asked award-winning author Aleesah Darlison one tough question… and she rose to the challenge with a stellar list of children’s books.

This was a difficult list to compile when I’ve fallen in love with so many characters and storylines during my reading life. It’s literally agony for me to exclude books, but common sense and a strict word count prevail! So, here goes …

  1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – staple reading for every child of my era. Thankfully!
  2. A Rag, a Bone and a Hank of Hair – what is it with the list-of-three titles? Either way, this one has stayed with me because of the twist ending. It was a true ‘gotcha!’ moment.
  3. Lord of the Flies – gritty, realistic, and a gripping fictional ‘social experiment’.
  4. The Diary of Anne Frank – Anne spoke for so many Jewish children who lost their voice and their lives so tragically.
  5. Flowers in the Attic – edging into the YA/Adult sphere, but I was totally obsessed with these books when I was sixteen. Probably my generation’s version of the ‘forbidden love story’ ala the Twilight Saga but without the vampires and werewolves. I was Team Jacob, by the way.
  6. Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox – encourages the page turn right to the end. One of those stories that appears simplistic … yet requires meticulous care to pull off.
  7. The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey – super funny! 
  8. The Once Series by Morris Gleitzman – heart-breaking yet triumphant. Felix and Zelda stay with the reader long after their story has ended. 
  9. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson – seriously, who doesn’t wish they could rhyme and maintain rhythm and build in a brilliant, quirky narrative?
  10. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen – funniest bear picture book you’ll ever read. Guaranteed.

So, there you have it, my shortlist of favourite children’s books. Apologies to all the books I couldn’t squeeze onto the list. PS: I still love you.


Aleesah Darlison writes picture books, chapter books, novels and series for children. Her story themes include courage, understanding, self-belief, friendship and environmental issues. She has won several awards for her writing and has had numerous short stories, articles and book reviews published across various mediums. Aleesah’s picture books include Stripes in the Forest: The Story of the Last Wild ThylacineMama & HugEmerald: The Green Turtle’s TaleFox and MoonbeamPuggle’s Problem, Our Class Tiger (2015 Wilderness Society Award Winner, Non-Fiction), and Warambi (2012 CBCA Notable Book Non-Fiction; 2012 Wilderness Society Award for Children’s Literature Shortlist). Her novels and series include Ash RoverLittle Good Wolf, Running from the Tiger, the Totally Twins Series, the Little Witch Series, the Netball Gems Series and the Unicorn Riders Series. Aleesah travels across Australia and internationally teaching creative writing and the power and value of the written word. Visit aleesahdarlison.com.

Join Aleesah for her course, Online Feedback: Children’s Books, starting Monday 14 September. Enrol now>>

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