There is a nice set of articles on the Guardian website, making an attempt to list The best children's books ever. Quite a task.
I do love a list, I think this is quite a male attribute, but stand to be corrected. I also love the sort of responses they provoke. People take it very personally when their favourite is neglected.
There is a nice accompanying article which quotes Pie Corbett:
"This isn't just an economic thing – it's across the whole of society. You get a lot of children coming from very privileged backgrounds who've spent a lot of time in front of the TV and not enough time with a good book. The TV does the imagining for you – and it doesn't care whether you're listening or not."
Pie Corbett's approach is very popular at the moment, I have written before about his Booktalk scheme on this blog.
I would add that we should not restrict ourselves to fiction books (Literature!). One commenter suggests the local paper, what a great idea. I get a bit nervous about strict age bands for books. I guess it is inevitable, but if you are a great reader at 11 some of the books on the 12+ list would be perfect and similarly if you are a little less experienced 12 year old reader, you shouldn't feel be embarrassed to try the books listed here for 8-12 year olds.
For what it is worth I am devastated that Holes by Louis Sachar is not included.