FEMALE HEROES AND VILLAINS OUTNUMBER MALES IN NATIONAL BOOK TOKENS POLL OF FAVOURITE CHILDREN’S BOOK CHARACTERS

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The results of a new poll of over 7,000 book lovers by National Book Tokens to celebrate World Book Day has shown that female heroes and villains vastly outnumber their male counterparts in readers’ affections. While Harry Potter was voted the nation’s favourite children’s book hero, six of the top ten were heroines (with a further two being bears, albeit male). Potter’s nemesis Lord Voldemort was voted most evil villain, but seven of the remaining top ten terrors were women, including classic characters Cruella de Vil and Miss Trunchbull.

Harry Potter characters took 38% of the top ten vote for Most Evil Villain, although Bill Sikes – who appeared nearly 180 years ago in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, the oldest character in either chart – should take some evil pride in receiving nearly 5% of the vote to be named second most evil male villain, placing him at 7th overall.

Top 10 Children’s Book Heroes and Villains

Top 10 Favourite Heroes Top 10 Most Evil Villains
Harry Potter (Harry Potter series) Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter series)
Matilda Wormwood (Matilda) Dolores Umbridge (Harry Potter series)
Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series) Cruella de Vil (The Hundred and One Dalmatians)
Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit) The White Witch (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe)
Lyra Belacqua (His Dark Materials series) Miss Trunchbull (Matilda)
Jo March (Little Women) Bellatrix Lestrange (Harry Potter series)
Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games series) Bill Sikes (Oliver Twist)
Winnie-the-Pooh (Winnie-the-Pooh) The Grand High Witch (The Witches)
Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) Count Olaf (A Series of Unfortunate Events)
Paddington Bear (A Bear Called Paddington) Mrs Coulter (His Dark Materials series)

The poll showed that while male readers mostly voted for male heroes, and female readers for female, both sexes were open to reading about characters of the opposite gender: four of the women’s top ten are male (although only two are human), and four of the men’s top ten are female. Harry Potter, Bilbo Baggins, Matilda Wormwood, Katniss Everdeen and Hermione Granger appear in both lists. Louise May Alcott’s feisty heroine Josephine “Jo” March – a sprightly 148 years old – is the oldest character to make either list of heroes.

Top 10 Children’s Book Heroes chosen by gender

Women’s top 10 Men’s top 10
Harry Potter (Harry Potter series) Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit)
Matilda Wormwood (Matilda) Harry Potter (Harry Potter series)
Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series) Matilda Wormwood (Matilda)
Lyra Belacqua (His Dark Materials series) Charlie Bucket (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
Jo March (Little Women) Paddington Bear (A Bear Called Paddington)
Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games series) Lyra Belacqua (His Dark Materials series)
Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit) Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series)
Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) Fantastic Mr. Fox (Fantastic Mr. Fox)
Winnie-the-Pooh (Winnie-the-Pooh) Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games series)
Paddington Bear (A Bear Called Paddington) Alex Rider (Alex Rider series)

Top 10 Future Classics

The Boy in the Striped Pyjama’s by John Boyne (2006)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (2003)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (2007)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (2003)
The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler (2004)
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (2000)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (2005)
Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo (2003)
Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (2001)
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell (2003)

The full results of the poll:

WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE HERO IN CHILDREN’S BOOKS?

  1. Harry Potter (Harry Potter series) 10.32%
  2. Matilda Wormwood (Matilda) 8.62%
  3. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series) 7.92%
  4. Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit) 5.86%
  5. Lyra Belacqua (His Dark Materials series) 5.85%
  6. Jo March (Little Women) 4.95%
  7. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) 4.78%
  8. Winnie-the-Pooh (Winnie-the-Pooh) 4.05%
  9. Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) 3.93%
  10. Paddington Bear (A Bear Called Paddington) 3.56%

N.B. Over 45s picked more classic heroes (Paddington Bear, Anne Shirley, Jo March) than under 16s (Skulduggery Pleasant, Alex Rider, Percy Jackson, Greg Heffley).

Katniss Everdeen, Matilda Wormwood, Bilbo Baggins and Harry Potter were popular heroes for all ages.

WHO’S THE MOST EVIL VILLAIN IN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE?

  1. Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter series) 20.30%
  2. Dolores Umbridge (Harry Potter series) 12.64%
  3. Cruella de Vil (The Hundred and One Dalmatians) 8.44%
  4. The White Witch (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) 7.40%
  5. Miss Trunchbull (Matilda) 6.60%
  6. Bellatrix Lestrange (Harry Potter series) 5.06%
  7. Bill Sikes (Oliver Twist) 4.93%
  8. The Grand High Witch (The Witches) 3.79%
  9. Count Olaf (A Series of Unfortunate Events series) 3.66%
  10. Mrs Coulter (His Dark Materials series) 2.62%

WHICH 21ST CENTURY CHILDREN’S BOOK DO YOU THINK WILL BECOME A FUTURE CLASSIC?

  1. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (John Boyne, 2006)15.24%
  2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Mark Haddon, 2003)11.78%
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling, 2007) 9.06%
  4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (J.K. Rowling, 2003) 6.07%
  5. The Gruffalo’s Child (Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler, 2004) 5.95%
  6. The Amber Spyglass (Philip Pullman, 2000) 5.87%
  7. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (J.K. Rowling, 2005) 3.99%
  8. Private Peaceful (Michael Morpurgo, 2003) 3.84%
  9. Noughts and Crosses (Malorie Blackman, 2001) 3.79%
  10. How to Train Your Dragon (Cressida Cowell, 2003) 3.18%

N.B. Under 16s voted for more recent books – Gangsta Granny and Diary of a Wimpy Kid instead of The Amber Spyglass and Noughts and Crosses which are older titles and popular with over 45s.

TOP 10 HEROES FOR THE UNDER 16s

  1. Harry Potter (Harry Potter series) 12.70%
  2. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series) 9.50%
  3. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) 7.21%
  4. Matilda Wormwood (Matilda) 6.18%
  5. Greg Heffley (The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series) 4.46%
  6. Percy Jackson (Percy Jackson series) 4.46%
  7. Hiccup (How to Train Your Dragon series) 4.23%
  8. Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant series) 4.23%
  9. Alex Rider (Alex Rider series) 4.12%
  10. Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit) 3.89%

TOP 10 HEROES FOR THE OVER 45s

  1. Harry Potter (Harry Potter series) 10.17%
  2. Jo March (Little Women) 8.96%
  3. Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit) 8.13%
  4. Winnie-the-Pooh (Winnie-the-Pooh) 7.20%
  5. Lyra Belacqua (His Dark Materials series) 6.13%
  6. Paddington Bear (A Bear Called Paddington) 5.53%
  7. Matilda Wormwood (Matilda) 5.16%
  8. Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) 4.88%
  9. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games series) 3.81%
  10. Charlie Bucket (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) 3.76%

 

 

 

 

 

 

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