Skip to main content
Subscribe to our Beano comic! Click Here
Beano Comic

Books That Changed the World!

These 20 classic books have all had an impact on the world in many different ways. How many of these have you read?

Beano Team
Last Updated:  February 1st 2023

Books have magical powers and have the ability to change how you see the world. Not bad for a small pad of paper, printed with ink, is it? Here are 20 books which are classics, packed with amazing stories and memorable characters. Some are autobiographies which have a powerful story to tell and important lessons for everyone.

1. The Giving Tree - Shel Silverstein

The Giving Tree was written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein. It tells the story of a young boy and a tree, which the boy repeatedly takes from until the tree has nothing left to give. The story explores themes of selflessness, love, and the consequences of taking without giving back. It is considered a classic of children's literature and has been widely read and loved by generations of readers.

2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl's book tells the story of a poor boy named Charlie Bucket who wins a golden ticket to visit Willy Wonka's mysterious chocolate factory. Inside, Charlie and four other children discover a magical world filled with fantastical treats and strange characters. Along the way, they learn valuable lessons about greed and kindness. You might have seen the two different films based on this classic story!

3. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a novel written by Lewis Carroll. It tells the story of a young girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole and enters a fantastical world filled with strange and unusual creatures. The novel is known for its imaginative and absurdist style, and has become a classic of children's literature, and is considered a masterpiece.

4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a fantasy novel written by C.S. Lewis. It is the first book of the seven-part Chronicles of Narnia series. The story follows four siblings who stumble upon a magical world called Narnia, ruled by a witch and a lion who is prophesied to defeat her. The book explores themes of good and evil, sacrifice, and redemption and is a classic in every sense of the word.

5. Oh, The Places You'll Go – Dr. Seuss

Oh, The Places You'll Go! is a children's book written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss. It is a motivational book that encourages children to embrace new experiences and overcome obstacles in their lives. The book is filled with colorful illustrations and rhyming couplets that make it an enjoyable read for children and adults alike. The book is often given as a gift to students who graduate from school.

6. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

Little Women is a classic novel written by Louisa May Alcott in 1868. It tells the story of four sisters growing up in Civil War-era America and the struggles they face as they come of age. The novel is considered a classic of American literature and is still widely read and loved today. A movie based on the book was released in 2019.

7. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

The Diary of a Young Girl was written by Anne Frank, a Jewish girl who lived in hiding in Amsterdam during the Holocaust. The diary, which was written between 1942 and 1944, details her daily life, thoughts, and feelings during this period. It is considered a powerful and moving account of her experiences, and is widely read and studied in history lessons. The book is translated in multiple languages and has sold an estimated 30 million copies around the world.

8. The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit is a novel written by J. R. R. Tolkien, published in 1937. It is a fantasy adventure story that follows hobbit Bilbo Baggins on his journey with a group of friends to reclaim their homeland and its treasure from the dragon Smaug. The story is set in the world of Middle-earth and is filled with a cast of memorable characters, including the wizard Gandalf, and serves as a prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which is recommended reading too! The book is considered a classic of fantasy literature and is widely read and loved by fans of the genre.

9. Animal Farm – George Orwell

Animal Farm is a novel written by George Orwell in 1945. It is a satirical story in which farm animals overthrow their human farmer and run the farm themselves. The story is based on the Russian Revolution of 1917, and looks at how people can be corrupted by power.

10. Iron Man – Ted Hughes

Iron Man is a children's book written by Ted Hughes in 1968. It is a story of a lumbering giant iron man who comes to life and goes on a journey to find his place in the world. The book is filled with vivid imagery and is a warns readers about the destructive nature of technology and the importance of nature. The story was also adapted into a movie in 2008 and has a series of sequels and spin-offs.

11. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone – J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is a fantasy novel written by J.K. Rowling, published in 1997. It is the first book in the Harry Potter series, and introduces the story of a young orphan boy named Harry Potter, who discovers that he is a wizard and enrolls in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. There's every chance you've taken one of our many quizzes based on the books and films!

12. War Horse – Michael Morpurgo

War Horse is a novel written by Michael Morpurgo in 1982. It tells the story of a horse named Joey and his experiences during World War I. It is a heart-wrenching tale of the brutal reality of war and the bonds of friendship and loyalty. The book was adapted into a stage play and a film, both of which have been highly successful. The book is also used as a tool in teaching students the history of WWI.

13. Goodnight Mister Tom – Michelle Magorian

Goodnight Mister Tom is a novel written by Michelle Magorian, and was published in 1981. It is a story about a young boy named Willie Beech who is evacuated from London to the country during World War II and forms a close friendship with an elderly man named Tom Oakley. This popular book deals with themes of loss, love and the healing power of friendship.

14. No One is Too Small to Make a Difference – Greta Thunberg

No One is Too Small to Make a Difference is a collection of speeches given by young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. The book covers a range of topics related to climate change and environmentalism, and aims to inspire readers to take steps to make the world a cleaner place to live for generations to come.

15. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice is a novel written by Jane Austen, published in 1813. It is a romantic comedy of manners set in Georgian England and follows the Bennett family, particularly the five Bennett sisters, as they navigate love, marriage, and societal expectations. The novel is considered a classic of English literature and is a brilliant read.

16. Becoming – Michelle Obama

Becoming is a autobiography written by Michelle Obama, which was released in 2018. It is a vivid, honest account of her life journey, from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her time as First Lady of the United States. It covers her experiences, struggles and reflections on her life, marriage, motherhood, and life in Washington D.C. and is regarded as an inspirational book.

17. Life Doesn't Frighten Me – Maya Angelou

Life Doesn't Frighten Me is a poetry book written by Maya Angelou, and it was published in 1993. It is a collection of thirteen poems and features the artwork by Jean-Michael Basquiat. The book is powerful and and looks at the themes of courage, self-empowerment, and simply being human. Maya Angelou's poetry is known for its rhythm and imagery that makes it enjoyable and relatable to all readers.

18. Charlotte's Web – E. B. White

Charlotte's Web is a children's novel written by E.B. White, which was released in 1952. It tells the story of a young girl named Fern who saves the life of a piglet named Wilbur and makes friends with a spider named Charlotte, who helps to save Wilbur from being slaughtered. The book is widely read and loved for its heartwarming story, memorable characters and its themes of friendship, and loyalty. It is one of the best-selling books of all time.

19. Wonder – R. J. Palacio

Wonder is a novel written by R.J. Palacio, published in 2012. It tells the story of a young boy named August Pullman who looks different to his classmates, and his experiences in school as well as his friendships. The story looks at acceptance, kindness, the power of empathy, and the struggles of a child's journey to find acceptance and understanding.

20. I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World is a memoir written by Malala Yousafzai, published in 2013. It is an autobiographical account of Malala's life, from her childhood in Pakistan to her fight for education and women's rights, and her assassination attempt by the Taliban. The book is a powerful, inspiring and moving story of a young girl who stood up for her right to education and standing up for the rights of others.