10 Best Authors Like Roald Dahl for Children to Experience

Fans of the world of Willy Wonka and Matilda will want to check out our list of the best authors like Roald Dahl to go on their next imaginative journey.

Among children’s authors, few are quite as famous as Roald Dahl. The author of classic books like James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, and Matilda, Dahl is considered one of the world’s greatest storytellers. The unforgettable characters have charmed generations of readers and have been the source of many movies, musicals, and television shows.

These treasured works of children’s literature feature the illustrations of Quentin Blake. Roald Dahl was born in 1916 in England and died in 1990, and during his lifetime, he wrote 17 children’s novels that have been translated into 68 languages and sold 300 million books to date. 

In addition to writing, he served as a finger pilot in World War II, which sparked a love of adventure in many of his books. The signature style of Dahl includes a mix of whimsy with a touch of sarcasm, and these children’s authors have a similar style, which makes them some of the best children’s book authors.

Here Are The Best Authors Like Roald Dahl

1. Lemony Snicket, 1970-present

Lemony Snicket
Lemony Snicket standing at a microphone with The End book cover on a poster

Lemony Snicket is the pen name of Daniel Handler, an American author who wrote the A Series of Unfortunate Events books. This series started with The Bad Beginning, published in 1999, and ended with The End, published in 2006. This 13-book series follows the story of the Baudelaire family, a group of three orphaned siblings who must get away from the dangerous Count Olaf, who wants them dead to get their fortune.

This popular series has sold over 60 million copies sold since the first book’s publication. Snicket, aka Handler, was born in California and educated at Wesleyan University. His penname, Lemony Snicket, is also a character in his books, written from Snicket’s point of view. Check out our post on how Matilda’s Tim Minchin believes editing Roald Dahl’s work is wrong.

“In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle.”

Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning
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The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1)
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  • 162 Pages - 04/12/2024 (Publication Date) - Scholastic Inc. (Publisher)

2. Neil Gaiman, 1960 – present

Neil Gaiman
Author Neil Gaiman wearing a black suit

Neil Gaiman is a versatile author who has written everything from short stories to novels about Greek mythology for adults. The author was born in Hampshire, UK, but immigrated to the United States at the age of 32. He is known as one of the creators of modern comics and won several awards for his 1991 comic book Sandman. Many of his children’s books have styles similar to Roald Dahl’s books.

Coraline, a 2002 book about a girl who steps into a new world with a house similar to her own but also dangerously different, is one such book. This famous novel won the ALA Notable Children’s Book, Child Magazine Best Book of the Year, and Publishers Weekly Best Book awards. You might be wowed by the fourth grader who released a book on entrepreneurship.

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Neil Gaiman, Coraline
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Coraline
  • Gaiman, Neil (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 162 Pages - 08/29/2006 (Publication Date) - William Morrow Paperbacks (Publisher)

3. David Walliams, 1971 – present

David Walliams
David Walliams smiling at the camera

David Walliams is an English comedian who also writes children’s books. He was born in London in 1971 and received his education at the University of Bristol, where he studied drama. Walliams changed his name from David Williams to David Walliams when he joined a college group, Equity, that already had a David Williams as a member, and he kept the name after college. In 2008 he wrote his first children’s novel, The Boy in the Dress, followed by Mr. Stink in 2009.

Mr. Stink won the Children’s Award in the People’s Book Prize in 2010. He also wrote several short story collections in a series called The World’s Worst Children. His writing style is often compared to that of Dahl due to its strong, sarcastic humor. To date, he has sold 50 million children’s books.

“Spending so much time alone had turned Chloe’s imagination into a deep dark forest. It was a magical place to escape to, and so much more thrilling than real life.”

David Walliams, Mr. Stink
Mr Stink
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4. Norton Juster, 1929 – 2021

Norton Juster
Author Norton Juster reclining behind a desk with books behind him

Born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1929, Norton Juster is an American writer known for his children’s books. At the start of his career, he did not have the goal of writing but rather studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. Juster earned most of his income through his architectural career. In his free time, he turned to writing and wrote several popular books, including The Phantom Tollbooth and The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics. The Dot and the Line eventually became a short film that won an Academy Award, and The Phantom Tollbooth was made into a musical play.

“So many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.”

Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth
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The Phantom Tollbooth
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  • Norton Juster (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 10/12/1988 (Publication Date) - Bullseye Books (Publisher)

5. Andy Stanton, 1973 – present

Andy Stanton
Author Andy Stanton wearing a black fishing hat

Andy Stanton is a children’s author from England known for his Mr. Gum book series. He attended Oxford briefly, where he studied English but did not graduate. Instead, he left college to work as a scriptwriter and cartoonist. Stanton started as an author when he published You’re A Bad Man, Mr. Gum! in 2006.

The famous book is the first in a nine-book series that won the Red House Children’s Book Award, two Blue Peter Book Awards, and the first Roald Dahl Funny Prize. He also has several standalone books, including Danny McGee Drinks the Sea and The Story of Matthew Buzzington. You might be interested in our round-up of the best books for five year olds.

“He would much rather hear a piano being demolished by illegal bulldozers than a Mozart concerto.”

Andy Stanton, You’re a Bad Man, Mr. Gum!
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You're a Bad Man, Mr Gum!
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  • 144 Pages - 09/01/2013 (Publication Date) - Egmont UK (Publisher)

6. Louis Sachar, 1954 – present

Louis Sachar
Author Louis Sachar in a black suit holding a box

Louis Sachar is the author of the Sideways Stories from Wayside School series. This funny series explores what happens in a school accidentally built on its side as a 30-story skyscraper. This architectural mistake means it simply makes sense that the students in the school would be just as crazy as the building itself, and the result is a collection of stories that keeps kids laughing.

Sachar graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in economics but quickly found his passion was in writing. He published Sideways Stories from Wayside School in 1978, and 11 years later, he earned enough with his books to retire from his career and write full-time. He also wrote Holes, a Newbery Award-winning book about a mystery that spans several generations. You might be interested in exploring children’s books, such as these best Dr. Seuss books.

“They had never had a nice teacher. They were terribly afraid of nice teachers.”

Louis Sachar, Sideways Stories from Wayside School
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Sideways Stories from Wayside School
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  • Louis Sachar (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 03/26/2019 (Publication Date) - HarperCollins (Publisher)

7. Astrid Lindgren, 1944 – 2002

Astrid Lindgren
Author Astrid Lindgren holds a pen near her lips while sitting on the couch

Astrid Lindgren is a Swedish author of both fiction books and screenplays. She grew up in Nas, and many of her stories are based on the people of her childhood memories. Lindgren’s most well-known series is the Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, which has been translated into 60 languages. She also wrote Mio, My Son, which won the Children’s Book Award in 1956. Her books have sold over 170 million copies in 109 different languages, making her the 18th most-translated author in the world. In 1997, on her 90th birthday, Lindgren was named International Swede of the Year.

“I have noticed several times that people don’t think I know how to behave even when I’m trying as hard as I can.”

Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking
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Pippi Longstocking
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  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages - 04/21/2005 (Publication Date) - Puffin Books (Publisher)

8. Polly Horvath, 1957-present

Polly Horvath is an American-Canadian author who writes books for young readers. She was born in Michigan and began writing as a child, and she also studied dance in Toronto. Her book The Trolls, published in 1999, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won an honor from the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. Four years later, she won the National Book Award for her 2003 novel The Canning Season.

Another of Horvath’s books, Everything on a Waffle, won a Newbery Honor. Many of her books end up on the New York Times bestseller list, and she has had works translated into 25 languages. Horvath’s books are known for their unpredictability and odd but likable characters, which makes her an author similar to Roald Dahl. Looking for more children’s books? You might also enjoy our list of the best books for six year olds.

“It’s not the natural disasters you have to fear. It’s the ones that are inside of you, waiting to happen.”

Polly Horvath, The Trolls
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The Trolls
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  • Horvath, Polly (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 144 Pages - 03/30/1999 (Publication Date) - Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (Publisher)

9. Maryrose Wood, 1962-present

Maryrose Wood is the author of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, a series about three children raised by wolves tied to a mansion known as Ashton Place and their brave nanny who helps them discover the truth about their history. NPR named these the Best Books of 2015. The six-book series, which starts with The Mysterious Howling, has plenty of platitudes and long monologues but an ample amount of humor, which makes them quite similar to the books of Dahl. 

“A well-organized stocking drawer is the first step toward a well-organized mind.”

Maryrose Wood, The Mysterious Howling
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling (Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, 1)
  • Wood, Maryrose (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 04/21/2015 (Publication Date) - Balzer + Bray (Publisher)

10. William Steig, 1930-2003

William Steig
Black and white portrait of author William Steig as a young man

William Steig is a prolific children’s author with many National Book Award finalist works. Steig is the author of well-known stories like Doctor De Soto, Dominic and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. He started drawing illustrations and cartoons for The New Yorker and didn’t start writing children’s books until age 61. One of his picture books, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, won the Caldecott award. He also wrote Shrek!, which became the basis for the motion picture of the same name. Loved this? Check out our guide with essays about childhood memories!

“I wish I were a rock,’ he said, and he became a rock.”

William Steig, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
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  • Steig, William (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 04/01/1988 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (Publisher)

Author

  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.

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