You’d have to search long and hard to find someone who hasn’t read a book by Roald Dahl.
With a library packed full of childhood classics, Dahl’s work has been an instigator of imaginations for the last 50 years, with kids getting lost in the tales he tells through his words. From ginormous flying fruit to foxes fighting farmers, the creativity of Dahl’s work knows no limit.
September 13th marks Roald Dahl Day, a celebration of the iconic author’s stories and characters, so we’ve looked at the best Roald Dahl books for your children to read.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)
What better place to start than arguably Dahl’s most famous work! The story follows Charlie Bucket, an 11-year-old boy from a poverty-stricken family, who finds a golden ticket to take a tour around the reopened factory of enigmatic chocolatier, Willy Wonka.
Along with his Grandpa Joe (who has been bed-ridden for years, but manages to muster strength to go on a tour of a chocolate factory!), Charlie goes on an outrageous adventure in the factory, finding out all about Mr Wonka himself, his Oompa-Loompas and the crazy chocolatey inventions he’s creating. With the likes of the gluttonous Augustus Gloop and super-spoilt Veruca Salt meeting hilarious fates, your kids are sure to be belly laughing at this tale!
James and the Giant Peach (1961)
A hard done by protagonist, a bunch of talking insects and, of course a massive piece of fruit – what more do you need to get your child’s imagination going!
James and the Giant Peach tells the tale of James Henry Trotter, who is forced to live with cruel aunts on the White Cliffs of Dover after his parents are run down in a rather unfortunate escaped rhinoceros stampede. But when he spills a bag of crocodile tongues, given to him by a mysterious old man, into the front garden, a huge peach begins to grow before it eventually rolls out to sea – taking James with it.
Befriending the likes of Mr Grasshopper, Mrs Ladybug and Miss Spider, James and his new insect family set sail (and flight!) across the Atlantic to New York City. Perhaps Dahl’s wildest creation, your kids will be hooked on this book.
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More (1977)
Aimed at a young adult audience rather than children, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More is a collection of seven short stories with both fiction and non-fiction accounts being told. From ‘A Piece of Cake’, describing Dahl’s time as a flight pilot in World War Two to insight into how he became a writer in ‘Lucky Break’, the book brings a real-life element to Dahl’s writing. But fear not – readers will still be able to get lost in the author’s creativity in ‘The Swan’ and the title story ‘The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar’.
Fantastic Mr Fox (1970)
Fantastic Mr Fox depicts a Robin Hood tale of taking from the rich and giving to those in need. The story revolves around the inventively clever Mr Fox, who provides for his family by stealing from three dim-witted farmers - Boggis, Bunce and Bean.
As the farmers fight back by destroying the foxes’ burrows and vowing to catch the thief, Mr Fox and his family are forced deep underground, left hungry and unable to reach any food. But with some trickery and mischief, Mr Fox creates a cunning plan to empty the farmers’ poultry and cider storerooms and teach them a lesson they’ll never forget!
The Twits (1980)
This story is sure to get your kids laughing. Based on the unhappy marriage of the disgustingly dirty Mr and Mrs Twit, The Twits recounts the two main characters trying to humiliate one another with a series of ever-so-cruel pranks and tricks. From making Mrs Twit think she’s shrinking through adding wood to her chair legs and walking stick, to feeding Mr Twit worms and claiming it is squiggly spaghetti, the pair are constantly in battle with one another.
But with the Muggle-Wumps (the couple’s pet monkeys) and the birds the Twits try to catch and eat lurking in the background, these unlovable rogues get their comeuppance in the end…
Last but no means least, the magical world of Matilda. The daughter of dodgy car salesman Harry and forever-looking-in-the-mirror Zinnia, Matilda is a child nothing like her parents – she loves reading and has an unexpected power of telekinesis!
The plot follows Matilda and her journey at school, especially her relationship with the loveable Miss Honey and the despicable head mistress Miss Trunchbull, a brute of a teacher who terrorises the students with over-the-top punishments. It’s a story of avenging her classmates and Miss Honey, as our protagonist uses spell-binding tricks to get one over on Miss Trunchbull.
Happy Roald Dahl Day – spend it enjoying the works of this iconic author with your children!