Our Top 5 Roald Dahl Books

September 13th, 2016 would have been Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday. Across five decades, the prolific children’s author produced more than 40 books jammed with oddball humour, zany characters and page-turning fluency. It’s little wonder than so many translated so seamlessly to the screen.

There’s a sense of timelessness to his work, too: we loved his books as children, and now our kids are following suit.

Dahl was a big man – literally, at 6 feet 6 inches – and, at his heart, a big kid. To quote the man himself: “A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.”

So, get the kids off the iPad for some delightful one-on-one time with these five Dahl classics.

James and the Giant Peach (1961)

In this super-surreal (even by Dahl’s standards) fan favourite, orphan James escapes the evil clutches of two cruel aunts to hole up in a giant, mobile peach, where he befriends a bunch of giant insects.  Notable for its vague reference to the chocolate factory made famous three years later.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)

Humour and working-class melancholy combine deliciously in this, possibly his most famous work. Its colourful characters will stay with you forever. The 1971 Gene Wilder film capably captures the magic, but, if possible, read the book to your child first.

The Twits (1980)

A vulgar tale of marital disharmony (come on wives, surely you’ve considered tricking your husbands into eating worms?) and pet-abuse that is only depressing on the surface, this is a laugh-out-loud book more suited to the 10-13 age bracket.

George’s Marvellous Medicine (1981)

Grandmas all over the world were on tenterhooks following the release of this bite-sized story, in which the story’s hero concocts a brew – which includes shampoo, gin, engine oil and paint – to teach his nasty grandma a lesson. The results are, in typical Dahl fashion, eye-popping.

Matilda (1988)

Fundamentally a good-versus-evil tale, Matilda tells the story of a kind-hearted, super intelligent and super-powered five-year-old with a horrible, lowest-common-denominator family. Dahl at his most inventive and witty.


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