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good books for bright 12/13 year olds

(60 Posts)
sphil Thu 02-Feb-12 19:15:40

I am about to start a short English intervention programme with a group of Yr 8s who are on the G&T register for reading. Any ideas for a good text? I should avoid novels they're likely to study for GCSE.

maree1 Thu 02-Feb-12 19:19:18

Try som Dickens (really) and Alexander McCall Smith - have some fun with a bit of background research first.

MandyT68 Thu 02-Feb-12 19:23:08

Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.
Cider with Rosie
My Family and Other Animals
Curious Incident...
No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Coram Boy
Last Train from Kummersdorf

Just a few I am using with my classes at the moment. Hope this helps

mindgone Thu 02-Feb-12 19:28:43

My son loves Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes!

sphil Thu 02-Feb-12 19:29:05

Thank you - great ideas. I am seriously considering A Curious Incident, but will have a look at the others as well.

I forgot to mention that I only have them for 6 hours altogether - an hour a week for 6 weeks.

tabulahrasa Thu 02-Feb-12 19:29:26

I've done Curious Incident with 13/14 yr olds, they really enjoyed it and it's good for more complicated ideas about unreliable narration and the effect of structure

MandyT68 Thu 02-Feb-12 20:25:05

I don't know where you are but I read they are doing Curious Incident as a play at the National Theatre which might be something for them to look forward to and you could look at the problems of getting a novel to the stage/screen. No idea of dates but I live too far away and would love to go.

marriedinwhite Thu 02-Feb-12 21:36:05

Chinese Cinderella
Goodnight Mr Tom
If I Stay by Gail Foreman
Up on Cloud Nine, Ann Fine
Mallory Blackman O's and Crosses

dd who is 13 has also got her nose stuck into Sebastian Faulks but the parents might not approve.

sphil Thu 02-Feb-12 21:40:38

OK, so I have another question. I haven't taught English full time for 10 years, so bear with me.

How much swearing in novels is OK for kids of this age? Curious Incident has a certain amount of f**ks I notice - when I was teaching (in London and Sussex) this woud have been a complete no-no for students under 15 or so. I have no problem with it personally, as long as it's in context and not gratuitous, but what about parents? The teaching I'm going to be doing is at a middle school, and I know that a couple of parents were a bit hmm about Noughts and Crosses because of the content, so just wondered...

marriedinwhite Thu 02-Feb-12 21:46:42

DD has just come down from her bookcase:

North Child (One that, although long and inclusive of unrealistic Polar Bears and superstition, is incredibly enjoyable)
Watership Down
Blood Child (With a depth of description on Human Psychology and the unexplained effects of amnesia on a boy who already seems to have a form of autism, this is a must read. With the added bonus of strange things happening anyway, it leaves the reader wanting to know what's going on.)
Alice in Wonderland - read it if interested in analysing things.

With annotations from DD! She is 13, an avid reader and hugely individual and has gone upstairs and chosen some things she has genuinely enjoyed and thinks others of her age might also.

marriedinwhite Thu 02-Feb-12 21:51:27

We're open minded here and believe that if the children learn the words, know what they mean and aren't frightened of them they are less likely to use them gratuitously. You probably need to be more mindful than us as a family.

Funny though - we removed dd from a school where the girls were swearing at teachers where the school would never have read a book with swear words and moved her to a school (independent) where the girls effing and blinding would not be tolerated but the attitude towards literature is probably broader minded.

EdithWeston Thu 02-Feb-12 22:03:29

How about doing Jane Eyre and The Wide Sargasso Sea back to back?


sphil Thu 02-Feb-12 22:07:47

Married - we have just that attitude with Ds1 too. Thank your DD for me - she sounds like just the sort of girl I'm going to be teaching - am foing to look uo her recommendations now.

sphil Thu 02-Feb-12 22:08:30

going to look up - Ipad typing!

wordfactory Thu 02-Feb-12 22:21:14

The Curious Incident is excellent for that age as it is all about the voice. And the voice is far stronger than other books for that age group.
Both my 12 year olds loved it.

Also Slam by Nick Hornby. Again a very strong voice though the content does include sex (not explicit).

Personally, I also rate Noughts and Crosses for the theme (as opposed to the writing). Plenty to discuss, I think. MY DC read it and then Othello, which worked well.

And how about Henry James The Turn of The Screw for a nice challenge?

happygardening Thu 02-Feb-12 22:27:22

Fatherland (Robert Harris) could generate an interesting discussion and of course a debate when you finished it; did she get away? My DS and I say yes my DH no!

gramercy Fri 03-Feb-12 11:18:27

Are they boys or girls?

Ds is just reading The Day of the Jackal and is loving it. He's just enjoyed 1984, too (although that might be a school text later on).

I think both sexes enjoy Agatha Christie. As they are rather old-fashioned now they could provoke quite a bit of discussion on how detectives "using zee little grey cells" or observing people over one's knitting have been superseded by forensics.

Imo, boys and girls equally can smell a preachy book with a message a mile off.

Theas18 Fri 03-Feb-12 11:24:45

This is a fab list to start with. Some are easy reads but never the less fun.

I'd be more troubled by the drug taking in sherlock holmes than the f**k in the dog in the night time tbh! And private peaceful gave me night mares- I understand it's read in primary along with war horse shock I'd absolutely love to read it with some teens (maybe older than your 12-13s) who are of an age where they realise "it would/could be them". Terrifying....

IndigoBell Fri 03-Feb-12 14:27:22

Won't they already have read Noughts and Crosses?

The 10pm Question is very good - a bit like 'curious incident' - but they're far less likely to have read it themselves.

IndigoBell Fri 03-Feb-12 14:44:39

Robert Cormier.

EmmaCate Fri 03-Feb-12 15:10:40

Yes, I loved 'The Body In The Library' at around that age. I second Watership Down - a fantastic book - and anything by Gerald Durrell. I read 'My Family And Other Animals' loads when I first discovered it and on about the third time I did it with a dictionary to check the words I had guessed meanings for, to make sure I was correct. 'Truculently' was the one I was most off the mark with (I imagined the -uc as an -ooce sound and so thought it meant timidly!), but remember words like 'saturnine', 'unctuousness' and 'belligerently' all being ones that were looked up.

Distopian novels were also a favourite around then, but presume a lot of them will be set texts? Adrian Mole is fun - how about the Hitchhikers series as well?

blameitonthecaffeine Fri 03-Feb-12 15:25:45

Definitely Noughts and Crosses if they haven't already read it (it has 3 sequels too) The Curious Incident is a good option too.

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry and its 2 sequels (Mildred D Taylor I think)
Northern Lights Trilogy (Philip Pullman)
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
The Looking Glass Wars (Frank Beddor)
Exodus (Julie Bertanga)
The Garbage King (Elizabeth Laird)
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (John Boyne)
Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck)
The 39 Steps (John Buchan)
I Capture the Castle (?? Dodie Smith ??)
The Book Thief (Murcus Zuzak)
Sophie's World (Jostein Garder)
Refugee Boy (Benjamin Zephaniah)
Face (Benjamin Zephaniah)

Mind you, they might have read all of those!

I would actually avoid things like Dickens and 1984 - I think they'd enjoy them better as middle/older teens. 12/13 is still quite young, however bright the child.

sphil Fri 03-Feb-12 16:08:29

I agree - Ds1 (10) is an excellent reader, but I haven't yet encouraged him to read certain novels because I think he'd get so much more out of them when he's a bit older.

Thanks for all these suggestions - am looking at them all. Atm I am most drawn towards Of Mice and Men, Curious Incident and Bloodchild, but am really enjoying looking at some of the more unfamiliar texts.

marriedinwhite Fri 03-Feb-12 19:17:29

This has been a brilliant thread for getting new ideas for dd who is voracious.

Good luck sphil. Hope it goes well - do update us.

MoreBeta Fri 03-Feb-12 19:28:27

At that age I was reading Alistair MacLean (The Guns of Navaronne, Ice Station Zebra, etc), Frederick Forsyth (Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, etc.).

Just about any decent adult author should be accessible to a gifted 12/13 yr old.

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