Roald Dahl Day: eight popular & favourite stories and books

Roald Dahl Day: eight popular & favourite stories and books

ROALD DAHL was one of the best children's authors of all time. Roald Dahl Day !

To commemorate him and his achievements, Roald Dahl Day happens every year on his birthday - September 13th - celebrating the magic that he brought and continues to bring to children everywhere.

The wonderful film To Olivia (below) tells of his tale of his daughter Olivia – and his passion for children’s tales and its impact on the rest of his family life and world. More on that below.

Born on the 13 September 1916, Roald Dahl wrote books which children loved to read and adults loved to read for their children as well as for themselves  -  selling 250 million copies worldwide.

The imagination was stunning and remarkable, as he brought wonderful worlds to life and descriptions which he painted with his pen.

Many of his wonderful books have been adapted in to classic films and Theatre Musicals and Plays.

Which is your favourite children’s book by Roald Dahl?


  1. James and the Giant Peach

    This book is James and the Giant Peach was written in 1961, and has been adapted for screen (film) and as a Musical
    It’s of a young English orphan boy.

He enters a gigantic, magical peach, and embarks on a wild and strange adventure encountering a range of wild transforming  garden bugs and creatures.

Dahl dedicated the book to his six-year-old daughter, Olivia, who died only a year after the book was published.

  1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

    Written in 1964, is this the most famous and best known due to its early film adaption, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory starring the late Gene Wilder, in 1971?

    Following its cinematic release, it seemed to screen on television stations in USA, Ireland and UK at Christmas time every year, being one of the Christmas must-watch films for so many people young and old alike.
    The film made its television debut on Thanksgiving Night, November 28, 1974 – and forever became a Christmas favourite.
    The book follows the adventures and fortunes of a young boy Charlie Bucket, who from his hardship in his poor household, unveils one of the 5 lucky Golden Tickets for the Willy Wonka factory visit – and with his granddad, the adventure begin.
    There was a 2nd film released in 2005, called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starring Johnny Depp.
    It also was adapted for Theatre as a Musical playing at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London.

    Which film version do you prefer?

    Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) with Johnny Depp

  1. Matilda
    Matilda published in 1988, has been adapted as a film and as a Musical.

Matilda the story book has been ranked in the top 30 all-time greatest children’s novels. Worldwide sales have reached 17 million, and since 2016 sales have spiked to the extent that it now outsells Dahl's other works.

The film was released in 1996 starring Mara Wilson as Matilda, and directed and produced (and co-stared) by Danny De Vito.
And it has been a successful musical.
Matilda Wormwood is a young self-taught genius, neglected by her parents. She loves books and reading and she discovers she has a gift  -and develops a bond and friendship with her young school teacher Miss Jennifer Honey – and an arch villain, the tyrannical principal Miss Agatha Trunchbull.

  1. The Witches

    The Witches was originally published in 1983.

    The story is set in Norway and in England. A young young English boy and his Norwegian grandmother enter a world where child-hating societies of witches secretly exist in every country.
    It was adapted to film in 1990, starring   Anjelica Huston, Mai Zetterling and Rowan Atkinson.
    There was an Opera in 2008, and a new film in October 2020, starring Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer and Stanley Tucci

And a remake in 2020, starring

  1. Fantastic Mr Fox

Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl was published in 1970.

The story is about Mr. Fox and how he outwits his farmer neighbours to steal their food from right under their noses.
It was adapted to an Animation film in 2009, with voices by George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe and Owen Wilson among others.

  1. The BFG
    The Big Friendly Giant (BFG) is a 1982 children's book, also dedicated to Dahl's late daughter, Olivia, who died of measles encephalitis at the age of seven in 1962.
    As of 2009, the novel has sold 37 million copies in UK editions alone, with more than 1 million copies sold around the world every year.

In The BFG, an eight-year-old orphan girl named Sophie lying in bed in an orphanage. cannot sleep, and sees a strange sight in the street. She sees a Giant in the street carrying a bag and an odd trumpet. He sees Sophie, who tries to hide but he plucks her out from her bedroom,  through the window. Then he runs quickly to his large cave.

When he sets Sophie down, she begins to plead for her life  - and the story of the Big Friendly Giant develops from there.

There was an animated cartoon film in 1989, with David Jason (Only Fools and Horses fame) providing the voice of the BFG and Amanda Root as the voice of Sophie.
In 2016, there was a live action film by Steven Spielberg, starring Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill and Penelope Wilton.
In the film version,  the "Big Friendly Giant" takes Sophie to Giant Country, where they attempt to stop the man-eating giants that are invading the human world.

It has also been adapted as a theatre performance

  1. The Twits
    The Twits is a humorous children’s book, first published in 1980 and adapted for stage in 2007Roald Dahl hated beards, and this started out against beards “What a lot of hairy-faced men there are around nowadays.”
    A hideous, vindictive, spiteful couple known as the Twits live together in a brick house without windows. They continuously play nasty practical jokes on each other out of hatred for one another.
    Their tricks include
    1. The Glass Eye
    2. The Frog
    3. The Wormy Spaghetti
    4. The Shrinks
    5. The Sticky Tree
    6. Rescuing the Animals

There has been workings to develop a CG animated/live-action film since 2003, with John Cleese and Kirk DeMicco, then Mark Mylod in 2004, and in 2012 Conrad Vernon was pencilled to direct a film.
Here is a theatre version of The Twits from the Royal Court Theatre, in Sloane Square, London.

  1. George's Marvellous Medicine.
    Published in 1981, George's Marvellous Medicine (George's Marvelous Medicine in the US), traces eight-year old George Kranky.

While his parents are out grocery shopping, his elderly grandmother bosses him around and bullies him. She intimidates George by saying that she likes to eat insects and he wonders briefly if she's a witch.

To punish her for her regular abuse, George decides to make a magic medicine to replace her old one.
There are all sorts of ingredients in it- like Scarlet nail varnish, Hair remover and Pink plaster powder.
George's Marvellous Medicine is one of Dahl’s shorter of his published books, at 96 pages.

It was adapted to stage by Birmingham Stage.


Finally - not a Children's book - To Olivia

To Olivia

Part of Roald Dahl’s and his wife Patricia Neal’s story is featured in the film To Olivia.
It released on 19 February 2021, starring Hugh Bonneville as Roald Dahl and Keeley Hawes as Patricia Neal.
In November 1962, Dahl's daughter Olivia died of measles encephalitis, age seven. Her death left Dahl "limp with despair", and feeling guilty about not having been able to do anything for her.

Have you read Roald Dahl's books when you were a child, or to your children, or are your children reading them, or are you reading them yourself?
What's your favourite?

Roald Dahl Day 13 Sep Roald Dahl Day 13th September