Why cheeky children’s books sit atop the treehouse

Australian kids love funny, naughty and cheeky books according to the list of the 50 most popular children’s books of the last decade and David Walliams, Andy Griffiths and Jeff Kinney tell us why.

Funny stories rule with Aussie kids, an exclusive honor roll of children’s book shows.

The 50 most popular children’s fiction books of the past decade have been revealed – and they’re dominated by cheeky, cheeky reads.

Australian author Andy Griffiths’ Treehouse series takes the top six spots, with combined sales of over £3.2 million in Australia.

American author Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid series, Australian comedian Anh Doh’s Weirdo series and three books by British comedian and author David Walliams also make the list, alongside JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

Griffiths, who is working on her 12th book Treehouse with illustrator Terry Denton, said the list, compiled by Nielsen BookScan, showed humor was key to getting children to read, especially in the gloom of Covid-19 .

“Even when you read seemingly silly and nonsensical things, your reading skills improve with each book you finish,” he said.

Walliams, who has the World’s Worst Kids, Gangsta Granny and Bad Dad on the list, said he was not surprised by the popularity of fun children’s books in Australia, as Australians were “well known for their naughty humor”.

Griffiths and Walliams agreed that fun books had another important role to play beyond encouraging children to read.

“Life can be tough, and we all need to laugh as much as we can,” Walliams said. “Comedy binds us together and makes us see the world upside down. Funny books make children happy. Watching your child laugh in front of a book is a wonderful thing to see.

Griffiths said being funny alone was not enough, with young readers wanting good stories that blend fantasy and adventure with laughs.

Kinney, whose 15 books Diary of a Wimpy Kid made the list with nearly 4.2 million combined sales, said “the more you read, the better your life will be.”

“Readers are always the most interesting people and they are curious about the world,” he said. “And all types of books will do: non-fiction, fantasy, adventure, humor.”

Griffith and Denton produced 11 Treehouse books, 10 of which made the Top 50 list.

The first – The 13-Storey Treehouse – was written in 2011 and tops the list with nearly 674,000 sales. Their 12th book – The 156-Storey Treehouse – is due out in September.

Griffiths and Walliams urged children to turn to the fun experiences in their lives to write their own silly stories for the 2022 children’s short story competition.

“If something makes you laugh, chances are it will make others laugh too,” Walliams said.

“When you write a funny story, you can let your imagination run wild. Be as silly and surreal as possible.


Reading has always been great fun for Natalie Morgan.

It might have something to do with her book choice. The 11-year-old boy loves turning the pages of a David Walliams story or one of Andy Griffiths’ Treehouse books.

“I love how funny and absurd they are,” said the 5th grade student from Yarrambat Primary School.

“I just like to sit down and have a good read and laugh out loud. They make me laugh so much sometimes.

Natalie, who also enjoys reading Jackie French stories, said her favorite books have inspired her own writing.

A finalist in last year’s Kids News Short Story Competition, she’s been busy planning her entry for this year and plans to try her hand at historical fiction.

The Kids News short story competition, which attracted a record 4,600 entries last year, opens on Monday 30 May.

See kidsnews.com.au for more information and to enter.

Colin L. Johnson