Raymond Briggs graphic novels among British children’s favourite book in new poll

The Snowman © Raymond Briggs

The Snowman © Raymond Briggs

Two graphic novels by Raymond Briggs are in the Top 15 of a list of 20th century children’s books which are still being read today, in a new poll commissioned by the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals.

Top honours went to Roald Dahl, with three of his books commanding the Top Three, all illustrated by Quentin Blake. The results indicate how important eye-catching covers and illustration are for young readers.

The poll has been announced in the run up to this year’s CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals presentation in London next week, which could see former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell , a fervent supporter of The Phoenix, win a record-breaking fourth Kate Greenaway Medal in the 60th anniversary year. (The full nominees for 2017, who include Philip Reeve and Jim Kay, appear below).

“These results show that parents enjoy sharing books they love with their children and connect with these books through their engaging covers and illustrations,” notes Chris Riddell. “There’s a special alchemy by which illustrators bring characters to life for the reader. They turn words and pictures into gold in our imaginations. That is why I believe all books should have pictures.”

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, originally published in 1964, topped the poll was commissioned by the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals, the prestigious book awards for children and young people that celebrate its 80th anniversary this year, to see which books from the past 80 years had made the most impact on British families.

The story of Charlie Bucket’s adventures in Willy Wonka’s factory, illustrated by Quentin Blake and written 53 years ago, was the number one chosen by parents of children aged one to 12 across every region of the UK. Two other Dahl stories – The BFG (1982) and Matilda (1988), also illustrated by Blake – came second and third place in the list of favourite reads for parents and children.

It was Raymond Briggs The Snowman and Father Christmas that made the Top 15, the latter the winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal in its publication year.

Briggs has had much success in his career, millions of children have loved his work, and he’s received many awards for his books and almost all of his work has been translated into many different languages and adapted into other mediums.

Art from The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

Art from The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

The text-free The Snowman was first published in 1978 by Hamish Hamilton in the United Kingdom, and Random House in the United States in November of the same year. In the UK, it was the runner up for the Kate Greenaway Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year’s best children’s book illustration by a British writer.

In 2012, it was The Snowman that helped Raymond Briggs become the first inductee into the British Comic Awards Hall of Fame.

One winter’s night, a snowman comes to life and an unforgettable adventure begins. Raymond Briggs’ favourite classic is a true piece of Christmas magic – narrated entirely through pictures, it captures the wonder and innocence of childhood and is now recognised throughout the world.

The Snowman was adapted as a 26-minute animated television special by Dianne Jackson for the fledgling British public service Channel 4, first broadcast on 26th December 1982, and was an immediate success. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and won a BAFTA TV Award, out of two nominations.

In 2012, the 30th anniversary of The Snowman was celebrated with a brand new half-hour animation The Snowman and the Snowdog.

Farther Christmas © Raymond Briggs

Farther Christmas © Raymond Briggs

Father Christmas, the tale of a very grumpy present-giver, written and drawn by Briggs, was published by Hamish Hamilton in 1973 and won the annual Kate Greenaway Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year’s best children’s book illustration by a British subject. For the 50th anniversary of the Medal (1955–2005), a panel named it one of the top ten winning works, which composed the ballot for a public election of the nation’s favourite. An animated short based on Father Christmas and Father Christmas Goes on Holiday was released in 1991.

Farther Christmas by Raymond Briggs - Page 1

The Top 15 were selected from a list of books that were at least 20 years old and published after 1936, the year the Medals began. The oldest book on the list, at number 10, is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (which has been adapted into graphic novel form), first published in 1937. Carnegie Medal winner The Borrowers by Mary Norton also makes it onto the list.

Interestingly, books published in the 1950s take the highest number of spots on the list.

The Top 15 are:

  1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (1964)
  2. The BFG by Roald Dahl (1982)
  3. Matilda by Roald Dahl (1988)
  4. A Bear called Paddington by Michael Bond (1958)
  5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (1969)
  6. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (1997)
  7. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (1950)
  8. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (1952)
  9. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss (1957)
  10. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937)
  11. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell (1982)
  12. The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr (1968)
  13. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs (1978)
  14. The Borrowers by Mary Norton (1952)
  15. Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs (1973)

The majority of parents questioned (80.75%) agreed that distinctive covers and illustrations made a book stick in the mind, with picture books (32.3%) and fantasy (27.65%) thought to make the most impact on kids, a fact reinforced by the choices selected in the poll.

When asked why they believed their chosen books remained popular, parents cited timeless settings and reminisced about being transported into another world. The study shows almost 84 per cent actively encourage their children to read their own favourite classics. 53% like their children to know and experience a character they loved themselves as a child and 44.3 per cent like the idea that their child is sharing an experience with millions of other children. When asked how they felt reading these classic books, 76.84 per cent of parents said they themselves felt happy, nostalgic and comforted.

Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay

Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay

Other reading habits were revealed through the poll, with the majority of parents only reading to their kids an average of two hours per week , but overwhelmingly (over 80 per cent) preferring print books to ebooks.

“Over the past 80 years, the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals have played a crucial role in highlighting excellence in children’s books,” comments Nick Poole, Chief Executive of CILIP. “To mark our anniversary year, we wanted to find out which children’s books have stood the test of time and why. The findings show the strength of illustration and fantasy in reading choices, as well as the nostalgia and affection that parents have for books from their own childhood. Whilst parents are unanimous about the appeal of reading physical books to their children, the findings also highlight the importance of schools and libraries in encouraging reading, with an average of only two hours a week spent on reading at home. We watch with interest to see which of today’s books will become the classics of the future.”

Wild Animals of the North

The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2017 shortlist (alphabetically by illustrator surname):

  1. Wild Animals of the North illustrated and written by Dieter Braun. Translated by Jen Calleja (Flying Eye Books)
  2. TIDY illustrated and written by Emily Gravett (Two Hoots)
  3. The Wolves of Currumpaw illustrated and written by William Grill (Flying Eye Books)
  4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone illustrated by Jim Kay, written by J.K. Rowling (Bloomsbury)
  5. A Great Big Cuddle illustrated by Chris Riddell and written by Michael Rosen (Walker Books)
  6. The Journey illustrated and written by Francesca Sanna (Flying Eye Books)
  7. The Marvels illustrated and written by Brian Selznick (Scholastic)
  8. There is a Tribe of Kids illustrated and written by Lane Smith (Two Hoots)

The winners of this year’s CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals will be announced at a lunchtime ceremony in London on Monday 19th June 2017.

• For more information on former winners or on the shortlists for this year’s Medals, visit: www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk

You can find all Roald Dahl’s books currently in print on amazon.co.uk – using this link helps support downthetubes

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2 replies

  1. It’s worth pointing out that Blake was not the original illustrator of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – he only did it in 1995. Faith Jaques was the illustrator of the first UK edition – it looks as far as I can see that while Quentin started illustrating for Dahl in the 1979 with the enormous crocodile, he didn’t work backwards to do the full set until the 1995 editions.