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15 year old intellectually, definitely only 9 emotionally - book help?

(36 Posts)
Kuriusoranj Sun 27-Dec-15 00:43:33

My older daughter is a prolific reader and is intellectually about 15 years old. However, she is just 9, and emotionally very much her real age - if that old, to be honest. She has very low tolerance for even mild peril, but her particular challenge is rule-breaking or naughtiness of any kind. To give an example - we had to turn off the DVD "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" after about 10 minutes when one character wouldn't let another pass on the pavement! She's slightly better with written descriptions than visuals, but not much, to be honest.

She's also not into anything about boys, makeup, giggly pre-teen stuff. I also find myself clutching my pearls a bit at those themes. I have to emphasise - she's a very young 9 year old in many ways.

So far we've had success with:

- older classics - I find the language is complex enough to engage her, but the concepts and themes are 'safe'. So - The Secret Garden, Little Women that kind of thing, but also Helen Cresswell when we can find them. She actually mentioned Oliver Twist yesterday, but if I remember correctly that's a bit harrowing.
- all the Enid Blyton school stuff, plus Secret 7 and Famous 5, all a couple of years ago. I think she's left that stuff behind now.
- Percy Jackson and all variations. These are probably her favourites and have sparked a real interest in mythology of all kinds. Rick Riordan cannot write fast enough to satisfy her.

So - I'm sure I'm not the only one in this predicament. What we seem to need is challenging vocabulary used in stories with very little tension, no love interest and no antagonists! Easy right? hmm

We talked about Artemis Fowl last night and she's downloaded that onto her Kindle - think she'll like it? I've never read them. If anyone knows of any good myth-based stories, or non-fiction that might suit, that's be great too. Other than than, any suggestions?

Gruach Sun 27-Dec-15 01:07:44

Hmm ...

I would have said Susan Cooper The Dark is Rising series; but saving the world from evil does involve a fair bit of peril - though the writing is stupendous.

And she may well enjoy the Chalet School but it's basically a rule-breaker's handbook in 50 volumes - though avoiding the more tedious teen concerns.

Have you been down the Stig of the Dump / The Family from One End Street route? Good, old fashioned storytelling?

Noel Streatfield? Negligible amount of peril, well written and absorbing.

Two that have caught my eye on the bookshelves :

Steve Augarde Celandine ... (Good Lord! There's a note inside front flap "Before you read this read: Alice in Wonderland; The Borrowers; all of Narnia, The Hobbit; Arsops's Fables, Tom's Midnight Garden ... I have no idea when I wrote that, though I know who I wrote it for.)

And Lissa Evans Small Change for Stuart - extremely funny, very gentle.

D'you think she'd take to P. G. Wodehouse? Great language, no real peril ...

Gruach Sun 27-Dec-15 01:10:23

(I have no idea who Arsop might be - but my phone insists.)

SofiaAmes Sun 27-Dec-15 01:19:50

Pretty much anything by Jerry Spinelli....eg Stargirl series, Wayside School

SofiaAmes Sun 27-Dec-15 01:20:22

Anne of Green Gables.

MyFavouriteClintonisGeorge Sun 27-Dec-15 01:27:23

Some Neil Gaiman perhaps, like 'Fortunately the Milk', and 'Coraline'?

Lawrence Durrell's 'My Family and other Animals';

Rumer Godden is worth a look; as are Alison Uttley (especially the fairy tales and magic short stories and Nina Bawden.

Random ideas:
The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
Harriet the Spy

Linds53 Sun 27-Dec-15 01:32:41

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, A Dog so Small by Philippa Pearce. Definitely The Family at One End Street and the sequels. Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotsen (and lots more by same author). Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh.

HesMyLobster Sun 27-Dec-15 02:03:42

I was going to suggest Artemis Fowl. Your dd sounds very similar to my dd (now 15) although she didn't mind a bit of peril!
If she loves Percy Jackson has she read The Kane Chronicles and Heroes of Olympus?
I'm trying to remember what she was reading at that age.
She devoured all the Harry Potters between 7 and 9. Also CS Lewis around then I think.
39 Clues?

Will have a look on dd's bookshelf later for more!

junebirthdaygirl Sun 27-Dec-15 08:39:45

What about all the Noel Streatfield.. Not spelt right..Ballet books. Can't remember names but my dd loved them all at that age and also was a great reader and loved Secret Garden

Sadik Sun 27-Dec-15 10:01:12

I'd suggest carrying on with older classics. TBH, it's a really common situation to be in, a lot of dc just 'get' reading, but obviously are still only 7/8/9/whatever. Abebooks is a great source for older childrens books for pennies.

A few thoughts if she hasn't read them:
All the EE Nesbits
The Edward Eager books (the Half Magic series) that spin off from EE Nesbit
The Narnia books
The Wombles chapter books and the Magic books by Elizabeth Beresford
The earlier Little House books while Laura is still a child
The Swallows and Amazons books (12 of them and long!)
The younger end of Diana Wynne Jones' books, specifically the Chrestomanci series
The Princess and the Goblins
The Carbonel series by Barbara Sleigh
The Saturdays series by Elizabeth Enright
The Family from One End Street series

YeOldeTrout Sun 27-Dec-15 10:27:43

er, Artemis Fowl is a criminal mastermind, you know that, right? Isn't that rule-breaking of the worst kind??!!

Agatha Christie, James Herriot. Maybe Emma (Jane Austen). I was a precocious 7yo smile.

I would try to beef her up on tolerating more peril, though, tbh.

PirateSmile Sun 27-Dec-15 10:32:36

Ds2 reading level was assessed as being 14 years 3 months when he was 9 and a half. To be honest, I'm just letting him read what he fancies. That seems to have stood him in good stead up to now.

momb Sun 27-Dec-15 10:36:18

John Wyndham: pick your titles though: Some are for children and some aren't. Chocky is an excellent start.

zoemaguire Sun 27-Dec-15 10:39:12

Gah, definitely not coraline! I found that freaky, let alone a sensitive 9yo. A child who doesn't like mild peril is very unlikely to enjoy a story involving disembodied hands and evil mothers who threaten to sew buttons on your eyes!!!

Some other good suggestions though. I have a similarly advanced-reading peril-averse nearly 8yo, so taking notes!

SuiGeneris Sun 27-Dec-15 10:44:55

How about Jules Verne and Stevenson? So Robinson Crusoe, Voyage to the centre of the Earth, Treasure Island, 20,000 leagues under the sea... I was v similar to your daughter in being a very good but extremely sensitive reader (still am- sensitive, that is) and remember loving them at a similar age

GinIsABreakfastFood Sun 27-Dec-15 10:47:58

Definitely Noel Streatfeild & Susan Cooper.

Also, try the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver.

Has she read the Narnia books?

You mentioned Helen Cresswell - if she liked 'Moondial', then she will LOVE the Green Knowe books by Lucy M Boston. I was quite precocious as a child and they were my favourites smile

Kuriusoranj Sun 27-Dec-15 10:53:32

Thanks everyone, some really good suggestions and lots I hadn't thought of. We're reading Narnia, Harry Potter and Tolkien together so they're covered. I bought Coraline a couple of years ago but luckily read it myself (I'm a huge Neil Gaiman fangirl) before I tried her. There's just no way she'll get through that one!

Never thought of John Wyndam, though, or Wodehouse - both of which are intriguingly left-field in the way I was really hoping for, thank you for those in particular. I had thought about Austen, but I hated her as a child - she's an adult love of mine. Maybe the offspring will be different - have to keep reminding myself she's not me!

Re Artemis Fowl - yeah, I know - but she's very enthusiastic about the precis. I've convinced her to start with the first and see how she goes. I totally agree with pushing her tolerance up - she's so much better than she was, but it's a long and slow process. I'd hate to push her too far too fast and have it backfire. The fear of rule-breaking is the biggest problem for me, it's a symptom of her general perfectionism and rigidity - there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything, and why bother if you're not going to get it right? She puts enormous pressure on herself and we're working with her to tone that down. (I agree with letting her read what she fancies by the way, but there's a world out there and she wanted some suggestions).

I've told her about this thread and she's very excited, we're going to start at the top and work down grin. Please keep 'em coming.

Chopz Sun 27-Dec-15 12:50:09

The 13 lives of captain blue beard. It's like a children's book for adults. Complex language, fun line drawn visuals, bear with crazy adventures, highly rated and there's a whole series to read.

Annarose2014 Sun 27-Dec-15 12:59:34

Check out the Sunday times "best children's books of all time" list. David Walliams did a programme on it last night and I checked out the list after and it's an incredible resource just to remind yourself of books you'd completely forgotten.

educatingarti Sun 27-Dec-15 12:59:54

Yy to Noel Stretfeild, Arthur Ransome, and also historical fiction by Rosemary Sutcliffe and Geoffrey Treece. There are a couple of books by Elizabeth George Spears that are also good (The Witch of Blackbird Pond and The Bronze Bow). I was very like your daughter 40 odd years ago and loved the above!

Meeep Mon 28-Dec-15 15:46:02

Wolves of Willoughby Chase!

Meeep Mon 28-Dec-15 15:47:56

How about Agatha Christie too?

Gruach Mon 28-Dec-15 15:58:10

fgrin Did I ever tell you about the Easter holiday I spent in my university room, terrified of the curtains and checking under the bed after I bought a job lot of Agatha Christie for entertainment?

I've never been quite the same since.

(They are fab though.)

mrsmortis Mon 28-Dec-15 20:36:33

How good is her separation of fantasy from reality? I was in her situation and Mum drowned me in good quality fantasy. Because it was so definitely 'not real' I had less issue with the levels of peril.

I completed Lord of the Rings at 9 for the first time (It was about my 3rd attempt). I also read all the David Eddings that was published at that point. Anne McCaffrey's Pern books were a hit (avoid Refugee and the Freedom books). Stephen Lawhead's In the hall of the Dragon King is good if you don't mind the blatently Christian undertones. And Pratchett, at 9 she might not get all the jokes but she'll get enough of them. I'd start her with Wee Free Men as Tiffany is a role model for all girls (My 7 year old and I have been reading it as a bedside story). Oh and I was given Hitchhikers Guide for the first time at 9. Yes it involves earth being destroyed but it's not threatening which is weird.

Now there is a whole world of good quality young adult fiction and it isn't all as violent as The Hunger Games. You could have a look at Tamora Pierce which is full of really strong female leads (the only one that mentions sex is in the Song of the Lioness Quartet so you might want to skip that). Anything by Garth Nix is also good. I'd suggest starting with Sabriel.

Scrowy Mon 28-Dec-15 20:47:53

100% any Noel Streatfeild. I loved them at her age and was an avid reader.

All of the Shoe books (ballet shoes/white boots etc)

Other favourites were

Thursday's Child
Caldicott Place
The Painted Garden (read after the Shoe books as it references some of the same characters)

The Gemma series.

The themes in the books can often be around displaced children so not great if that is a sensitive subject.

I also loved the Mallory Towers / St Claire's series by Endid Blyton but they contain a fair bit of rule breaking!

I liked Micheal Morpurgo at that age too but found some of them a bit too difficult to read and listened to them on tape instead.

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