Blog | 30 great books for Scouts of all ages

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World Book Night is an annual celebration of reading and books. Throughout the evening of 23 April volunteers across the UK will give hundreds of thousands of books away in local communities to spread the joy of reading. Look out for World Book Night volunteers giving away free books at bus and train stations, schools, bookshops and libraries near you.

Reading benefits both adults and children, and we don’t think young people should be left out of the fun. So we’ve put together a list of 30 great reads for Scouts of all ages, from Beavers (6+) to Explorers (14+) and beyond. You could set up a book swap and encourage your Group or section to get involved. How many of these have your Scouts read?

Brilliant books for Beavers (6+)

1. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
A tiny mouse takes a walk in the deep, dark woods. What – or who – will he find?

2. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
Paddington, a small bear from darkest Peru, is found on Paddington Station with nothing but a hat, duffle coat, marmalade sandwiches and a sign saying ‘please look after this bear’. The Brown family duly try to keep him out of trouble…

3. Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
Stanley Lambchop wakes up one morning to find that he is only half an inch thick.

4. The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss
Linguistic virtuosity from the master of rhyme and unreason, featuring a very singular cat who turns up on the mat to wreak havoc at Sally and her brother’s house.

5. Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon and Tony Ross
Horrid Henry is meaner than Dennis the Menace and naughtier than Just William. But will this modern day rogue ever get what he deserves?

6. Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
This collection of timeless tales, populated by a host of gruesome characters, has captivated generations of children.

7. Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton
Meet Enid Blyton's most famous characters – Julian, Dick, Anne, George and of course Timmy the dog.

8. The BFG by Roald Dahl
The BFG stands for Big Friendly Giant, who unexpectedly spirits a little girl named Sophie out of bed, and into the land of the child-eating giants.

9. Charlotte's Web by E B White
This charming farmyard story features a little girl named Fern, a little pig named Wilbur and a very little but very wise talking spider called Charlotte. Together they hatch a plot to save Wilbur…

10. The Queen's Nose by Dick King-Smith
Harmony finds a magical 50p piece with unusual powers, which can be unleashed by rubbing the Queen’s nose.

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Cracking books for Cubs (8+)

11. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Greg Heffley is an accident-prone American kid. Trouble just seems to find him at every turn…

12. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
The tales of Mowgli, a boy growing up in the jungle, and his friends and enemies from the animal kingdom are the basis of many Cub Scout traditions.

13. Asterix the Gaul by René Goscinny
Asterix and his friend Obelix help their small village of indomitable Gauls hold out against the almighty, all-conquering Romans.

14. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Twelve-year-old criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl hatches an ingenious plot to steal all the gold in fairy land.

15. Matilda by Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake
Matilda is a child prodigy who uses her fearsome intellect and unusual powers to save her school from the tyranny of Miss Trunchbull. Along the way, she escapes from her uncaring parents and finds a happy ending.

16. The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé
Intrepid boy reporter Tintin embarks on a series of all-action adventures, solving mysteries and crimes that take him across the globe. But did you know that Tintin was originally based on a Scout?

17. Stig of the Dump by Clive King
Stig is a caveman who lives at the bottom of an old chalk pit. One day, Barney tumbles through the roof of Stig's den, and an amazing friendship is forged.

18. The Borrowers by Mary Norton
The Borrowers are tiny people who live secretly in the walls and floors of an English house and ‘borrow’ from the big people in order to survive.

19. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J K Rowling
The book that started a modern day phenomenon. In the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter starts at the Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, but he is soon embroiled in a desperate fight against his nemesis, the dark lord Voldemort…

20. The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams
David Walliams’ first book for children tells the story of Dennis, a footballing schoolboy who invents an unusual alter-ego and finds liberation in his new guise.

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Stupendous books for Scouts (11+)

21. Scouting for Boys by Robert Baden-Powell
The book that started a global movement of over 40 million members and became the fourth best-selling book of all time. Baden-Powell’s essential handbook is full of stories, tips and tricks that cover everything from adventure to woodcraft. You can even purchase a hand-written manuscript edition.

22. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis
When Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy step through a wardrobe door in the strange old house where they are staying, they find themselves transported to the land of Narnia.

23. The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien
This epic tale of fantasy and adventure takes Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit from the Shire, on a dangerous quest in the company of a band of dwarves. They seek a great treasure hoard, which is guarded by the fearsome dragon Smaug.

24. My Side of the Mountain by Jean George
Sam Gribley tires of life in New York City and runs away to live in the wilderness, where he learns about courage, independence and companionship.

25. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
Bruno is exploring his new home at 'Out-With' when he meets Shmuel, who lives on the other side of a fence that surrounds a large camp in the grounds.

26. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Panem is a dystopian nation of tyranny and inequality, where the Capitol repressively rules twelve satellite Districts, enslaving the populations and controlling them through hunger. Katniss Everdeen is called to represent District 12 to fight in the annual Hunger Games…

27. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
This funny, touching and compelling novel is the story of Christopher, whose attempts to solve the mystery of the death of next door’s dog sends him on a journey that leads him to his long-lost mother.

28. Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
Fourteen-year-old Alex Rider is enlisted as an MI6 agent, and must stop the Stormbreaker computer from unleashing a deadly virus on the nation’s schoolchildren.

29. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
Lyra Belacqua travels to the Arctic in search of her missing friend Roger, and her imprisoned uncle, Lord Asriel, who has been conducting experiments with a mysterious substance known as ‘Dust’. What she finds there will teach her much about good and evil.

30. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Liesel is growing up in Nazi Germany where she helps to shelter a young Jewish man who hides in her home during the escalation of the Second World War.

Books for Explorers and beyond… (14+)

  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

  • The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

  • Mud, Sweat and Tears by Bear Grylls

  • The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J R R Tolkien

  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

  • How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

  • Watership Down by Richard Adams

  • Junk by Melvin Burgess

  • Coram Boy by Jamila Gavin

Notes for parents and leaders

This should not be seen as a prescriptive list, as all young people develop reading skills in different ways. Encourage Scouts to pursue their own interests and open up a world of books! 

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