A Christmas Carol is the book that most people want to pass on to their children, according to a survey by a British university.' />

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is the book that most people want to pass on to their children, according to a survey by a British university.

The story of the redemption of humbug Ebenezer Scrooge was chosen by one in five people in the University of Worcester survey. Second was the Harry Potter series, with The Lord of the Rings in third. What would you choose?

It's not surprising that a morality tale should top the list. If I could pick just one novel to pass on to my children, I'd want it to be something memorable that might help them to be a better person, or build their emotional resilience, or better understand the world (without boring them silly). If I could pick 20 books, I'd end up with more of a variety.
I might pick something Orwellian, I guess. Or a different Dickens - perhaps A Tale of Two Cities. Or anything by Evelyn Waugh, or Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana or the Quiet American, or something powerful, such as Cry the Beloved Country. I love Middlemarch for its commentary on society, but would it appeal to boys?

But if I had to choose just one book it would be Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, which came 10th in the British list. It's a deceptively simple page turner about a true hero, a man who risks everything to stand up for justice. That's the person I'd like my children to grow up to be.


(In fact, if I'd had a daughter, I might well have named her Harper. Atticus would have been a challenge for a 21st century Kiwi kid.)

Anne Hannaford, a spokeswoman for the university, said it was interesting that most of the books chosen had strong moral messages entwined in them.

"The books that feature in the top 10 all provide thought-provoking content and characters, so it is clear that parents value these books for providing challenging thoughts which can last a lifetime."

Or do you just go for good clean fun, as many people did in the survey, and give you children the Harry Potter series? Perhaps the most important thing is just to encourage a lifelong love of books?

Interestingly, though, A Christmas Carol wasn't the most-read book of the adults surveyed. That accolade went to Alice in Wonderland, though the Lewis Carroll classic only made fifth on the list of books to pass down.

More than a third of the adults surveyed had read CS Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Kenneth Greene's The Wind in The Willows and Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The latter, though, didn't make the top ten list of books they'd most want their children to read.

The survey also revealed that one in five 18 to 24-year-olds would pretend to have read a book to impress someone. And almost a third of all those surveyed admitted they choose books by their covers.

"Time is so precious nowadays that many people don't have the luxury to read as much as they used to, therefore making the right decision on what to read is more important than ever," said Hannaford.


The 10 books parents want their children to read
1. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
2. The Harry Potter series, JK Rowling
3. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
4. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
5. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
6. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
7. Animal Farm, George Orwell
8. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
9. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
10. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

If you could chose just one book to give to your children, what would it be?