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Books to read to a very bright 11 year old

(92 Posts)
Kuriusoranj Sun 05-Nov-17 13:24:31

My oldest child is a super bright just-turning 11 year old, reading age of 15 and a great vocabulary. She reads All. The. Time. We are holding on to our tradition of reading to/with her - it's just such a lovely thing to share at the end of each day, for as long as she still enjoys it. However, we're struggling for some new material, so I'd love some suggestions.

Things she has read alone:
- Rick Riordan in all forms, she loves the bones of him
- The Martian - loved it
- Incorrigible Children series
- Artemis Fowl - didn't like it
- Agatha Christie - she loves them
- The Maze Runner series

Things we have read with her recently:
- HP, just finished book 7
- Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
- The Golden Compass
- Before that, we did a bunch of classics - Alice in Wonderland, The Secret Garden and so on

We've been trying The Hunger Games but she's struggling to get engaged and wants to read it herself instead. We're all wondering if it's because it's written in the 1st person, but that's only a theory.

We have a general low-censorship policy. The books she's choosing for herself tend to be YA ghost stories/junior horror and so on - she's developing quite a taste for the creepy! By her age I was deep into James Herbert and Stephen King, but she's not there yet. On the other hand, that's not the sort of thing that we want to read to her - she finds it easier to manage her reactions if she reads stuff herself.

Googling brings up lots of suggestions for 11 year olds to read, but not so many for books to read to them. I'm thinking maybe Lord of the Flies next. I'm particularly interested in any suggestions for classics that might be entertaining to read aloud - maybe Jane Eyre? Pride and Prejudice?

Any suggestions. literary mumsnetters? Anyone else faced the same situation?

VioletCharlotte Sun 05-Nov-17 13:34:45

How about the Twighlight books? I read these with DS when we finished HP.

harrietm87 Sun 05-Nov-17 13:36:44

Anne of Green Gables? Anne is about 11 at the start I think.

Joskar Sun 05-Nov-17 13:39:32

I love reading Treasure Island aloud.

Dickens works well read aloud too so maybe start with Oliver Twist or Pickwick Papers.

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Sun 05-Nov-17 13:44:08

Terry Pratchett are fun to read aloud.

The Patrick Ness Chaos Walking trilogy are definitely ones for her to read - DS loved them. We read the first one together, then he galloped ahead and read the rest alone. Ness is the best YA author out there atm, I think.

The Woman in Black would be good to read to her, I think. How about Oscar Wilde’s stories - they are very beautiful and very poignant. You could try something like Simon Armitage’s translation of Gawain and the Green Knight - a long alliterative poem but a great story and HAS to be read aloud otherwise all the beauty and power of the way it sounds is lost.

We read DS lots of mythology - Norse as well as Greek and Roman.

DeadDoorpost Sun 05-Nov-17 13:44:37

Lord of the rings
Fahrenheit 451
The book thief
The colour purple (This is a debatable one imo but everyone is different so sometimes it's worth reading things at that age)

I personally wouldn't read Pride and Predjudice to her. It's easier to read by yourself.

If you don't mind me asking, how come you're reading to her? Is it a school thing or just time to spend with her? My parents stopped reading to/with me at a young age because I read so much that there wasn't much point. I too had a high reading age well above my own age. (Not knocking you,just genuinely curious)

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Sun 05-Nov-17 13:44:46

I read DS A Christmas Carol too - good to read that at this time of year!

twinone Sun 05-Nov-17 13:45:11

Huckleberry Finn.
Michael Morpurgo books.
Goodnight Mister Tom.

CMOTDibbler Sun 05-Nov-17 13:46:14

How about some Terry Pratchett? DS(11) loves them. He's enjoying the Susan Cooper Dark is Rising series at the moment which your dd might like.

Mine is making me learn latin with him as he won't be read to (too slow) so I'm jealous! Rick Riordan has a lot to answer for...

twinone Sun 05-Nov-17 13:48:10

doorpost I still read to my 11 year old, she has a 16.5 yr reading age.
I love reading, my dh not so much, and really enjoy reading in bed to her. She lies and follows where I am in the book, she doesn't drop off to sleep.

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Sun 05-Nov-17 13:50:24

DeadDoorpost - we read to DS for a long time too. He enjoyed it, and it was a good way for us to maintain a closeness. I often found that if I got him going on something (as with the Patrick Ness) he would then keep going with it himself. We all share a love of reading and DS will frequently read a book that I’ve read and vice versa. It also enables us to talk about what we’re reading.

In ye olden days, before TV, reading aloud was a very common family activity; it’s a shame it’s disappeared, I think.

OP - how about the stories of Edgar Allan Poe? When I read those to a class of students, you could hear a pin drop, they are so absorbed. Something like The Tell Tale Heart.

DeadDoorpost Sun 05-Nov-17 13:54:42

twin and theonly thanks, Yeah, maybe it was just the way my mum was? She wasn't a very.. erm.. helpful parent in the right context of things. She loves to read too but genuinely thought of me as a child until I was maybe 16 or so? As in a little child.
Dad on the other hand was wonderful and bought me books to read but never read them with me as he worked a lot and it's not really his thing.
I like Patrick Ness; got 4 of his books on my shelves here.
And I second Terry Pratchett as well. Love his books so much.

Kuriusoranj Sun 05-Nov-17 13:59:26

Thank you all so far - some great suggestions. I hadn't even thought of Oscar Wilde, for instance, and that's a brilliant suggestion. And from there we can go to Poe and then Lovecraft and ... [cackles]. Some of the suggestions we've done (LOTR, for example) but most not.

Clearly we'll have to do A Christmas Carol next though - how could I have missed that?

Don't mind at all, Doorpost, but honestly I'm not sure of the answer. She loves it and prompts discussions about what we'll read next. I think it's just a nice thing we still share - both her and her younger sibling get sacrosanct time at the end of the day, if they want it. Sometimes she opts for a private discussion instead, and sometimes she negotiates 10 mins on Minecraft strategy as an alternative, Lord help me. I'm very conscious that we're living on borrowed time though - and we'll be guided by her when she's outgrown it.

PhilODox Sun 05-Nov-17 14:01:06

It's really valuable to read to older children too- really helps their pronunciation as they meet more difficult words.
Diana Wynne Jones- Charmed Life/Chrestomanci series
John Masefield Box of Delights (is v christmassy)
Asimov's robot series

Makesmilingyourbesthobby Sun 05-Nov-17 14:02:49

Enid blyton
- the enchanted wood
-the magic faraway tree
-the folk of the faraway tree
-famous five
-secret seven
The chronicles of narnia
The hobbit
Harry potter series
Twilight series
The borrowers
Anne franks diary
Once (morris gleitzman)
Goodnight mister tom
Carries war (Nina bawden)
Little women

I loved reading as a child and would devour a good book eg Enid blyton novels I haven't got the time anymore & admit I miss a good book, a questionable choice but I loved Virginia Andrews novels when I was about her age there are tons of them & tons in each series smile

Makesmilingyourbesthobby Sun 05-Nov-17 14:04:25

Oh and oc a cat named Bob & the world according to bob by james Bowen xx

ZeppelinBend Sun 05-Nov-17 14:04:55

His Dark Materials?

DeadDoorpost Sun 05-Nov-17 14:08:25

@Kuriusoranj Yeah, I sometimes wish I'd had the opportunity to have discussions with someone besides the teachers about books I was reading but my mum limited me to certain things because of 'bad words' (apparently GIT is just as bad as some other words but there we go and almost didn't let me read the Harry Potter books because Ron uses it)
I'm hoping when my son is born he'll have a love of reading. I'll be slightly upset if that's the case.
It's nice you spend time with them every day though. I think it definitely makes a difference

annandale Sun 05-Nov-17 14:12:22

Maybe some nonfiction - I am Malala?
Definitely Jane eyre.
Treasure island

TimbuktuTimbuktu Sun 05-Nov-17 14:12:43

There is another Phillip Pullman series that’s very good. The Ruby in the Smoke is the first one. Ages since I read them but I think they are sort of detective/murder mystery set in Victorian London.

Etymology23 Sun 05-Nov-17 14:14:25

Maybe H.I.V.E or poss CHERUB (some of the latter will likely be aimed at too old an age group content wise possibly.

Mysterious benedict society.

All three above have gifted children in, which seemed to go down well.

I liked agatha Christie from that age. Also Sherlock Holmes.

Possibly daisy dalrymple books might be good, not children's specifically but quite "light" murder mysteries.

bigbadbarry Sun 05-Nov-17 14:15:40

My DD really loved the Cat Royal series at that stage - first one the Diamond of Drury Lane. Also, one from my own childhood, the swish of the curtain by Pamela Brown

ZeppelinBend Sun 05-Nov-17 14:24:10

Just remembered ones from my own childhood about that age.

'The Hounds of The Morrigan' and 'Charlotte, Sometimes'. Maybe 'Children of the Dust' if that sort of thing (nuclear war) is ok with her. I've reread them all as an adult too.

Puppymouse Sun 05-Nov-17 14:29:17

My Dad used to get me to read to him. He did one of those fortnightly subscription things they always used to advertise on the tv. We did Far from the Madding Crowd, Tess of the D’Urbavilles, Mill on the Floss etc etc.

I think there’s a middle ground somewhere as I found it all a bit heavy going but you could find a top 100 books type list and then weed out anything not suitable for under 18s?

MrsPworkingmummy Sun 05-Nov-17 15:33:42


I'm Head of English in a secondary school and would recommend you begin to look at some of the prescribed GCSE classic texts. Here is the list from AQA's specification:

Robert Louis Stevenson The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens Great Expectations
Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre
Mary Shelley Frankenstein
Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle The Sign of Four

You might also want to introduce her to play scripts and poetry books too - both classic and contemporary.

Romeo and Juliet
The Tempest
The Merchant of Venice
Much Ado About Nothing
Julius Caesar

The Lady in the Van
An Inspector Calls
Any Alan Bennett etc

I would say The Colour Purple is a little unsuitable for her age, purely because of the themes. That is a text previously studied in Y13 for ALevel. You might want to consider older classics from a similar period through - To Kill A Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men (I've never taught a child who hasn't absolutely loved that) etc. You could also perhaps try some Bill Bryson?

Happy Reading x

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