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I want to buy DD twelve books for Christmas that she'll enjoy but that will also help her with GCSE

(83 Posts)
OccamsLadyshaveToo Sun 29-Nov-15 17:17:03

She's in Y9 and a strong reader but for the past year has got stuck in a rut of fanfic, manga, anime etc. She is a bit worried about English and the new GCSE format because it's the subject she struggles most at. They have been advised to read as much as possible and with as much variety as possible so on her Christmas list she's put "12 books that will make me pass GCSE!" She plans to read one each month.

So far I've got:

To Kill a Mockingbird
An Austen - probably Pride and Prejudice
The Color Purple
Catcher in the Rye
The Handmaid's Tale
Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Some poetry - maybe Ted Hughes?

She's quite political - particularly gender politics. Her teacher at parents eve recommended a real mix of genres, eras etc. I haven't got a play in there yet. An Inspector Calls is the obvious one but I think they are doing that this term at school. If not it will go in.

MaryFlynn Sun 29-Nov-15 17:25:53

At about that age, a lovely friend of my Mum's gave me "The Women's Room by Marilyn French. It had a massive impact on me at the time. Not sure if it would be as ground breaking for a girl today (not read it for years) but might have to re read it and send a copy to my own daughter.

FauxFox Sun 29-Nov-15 17:27:51

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy
Some Maya Angelou?
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Bone Clocks David Mitchell
The Kite Runner
When Hitler stole pink rabbit

...I could go on forever grin

FauxFox Sun 29-Nov-15 17:29:05

Wild Swans too...

FauxFox Sun 29-Nov-15 17:30:09

Sophie's World

FauxFox Sun 29-Nov-15 17:31:13

Diary of Anne Frank

hippospot Sun 29-Nov-15 17:32:02

I second The Women's Room.

Great list so far - The Handmaid's Tale made a big impression on me at that age.

I capture the castle - Dodie Smith
Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Brideshead Revisited

These were all favourites of mine in my late teens.

PotteringAlong Sun 29-Nov-15 17:32:13

What other subjects is she doing?

OneMoreCasualty Sun 29-Nov-15 17:32:21

Delusions of Gender (non fiction but good for criticising set notions)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

ImperialBlether Sun 29-Nov-15 17:39:03

Wild Swans might be a bit of a challenge. It's a fantastic book, but she's only in year 9.

What about Testament of Youth and a book of WWI poetry?
The Magus by John Fowles
The Collector, again John Fowles
Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
Rebecca - and any Daphne du Maurier
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
The Road - Cormac McCarthy
Oranges are not the only fruit - Jeanette Winterson
1984 - George Orwell

ImperialBlether Sun 29-Nov-15 17:39:47

The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing

ImperialBlether Sun 29-Nov-15 17:41:10

Donna Tartt - A Secret History

Ohtobeskiing Sun 29-Nov-15 17:41:37

My Family and Other Animals - Gerald Durrell
Silas Marner - George Eliot

Both are probably a bit out of fashion but I loved them as a young teenager.

Leeds2 Sun 29-Nov-15 17:42:37

Animal Farm

FauxFox Sun 29-Nov-15 17:43:38

Sorry - might have got a bit carried away for a Y9 blush maybe a few on my list might be better saved til she's older.

TeenAndTween Sun 29-Nov-15 17:57:43

Has she read the Noughts and Crosses series by Malorie Blackman?

Very readable and probably quite thought provoking for someone interested in politics.

Also, Animal Farm.

cathyandclaire Sun 29-Nov-15 18:01:21

My DDs enjoyed 1984, Pride and Prejudice, The Handmaid's Tale, Room (Emma Donoghue)

blueemerald Sun 29-Nov-15 18:04:07

As an English teacher looking towards the new GCSE spec I would recommend getting a decent whack of 19th and 20th century writing in. That's the part of the spec I think future students are going to struggle with the most.

The 19th century text will be nonfiction in the exam but knowing the types of issues 19th authors were writing about will be really helpful (housing, crime, poverty, education, technology etc etc).

LBOCS2 Sun 29-Nov-15 18:41:56

A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

Have you thought about getting her the York notes for some of them as well? They're great books for reading for pleasure, but it might be nice for her to flick through the crib sheets so she has a bit more idea of the 'background' without it feeling like school reading.

CrotchetQuaverMinim Sun 29-Nov-15 18:50:52

You could also get children's/young adult books that are set in the time periods and/or locations of some of the GCSE pupils. Some of the students I have worked with have had absolutely no idea of what e.g., the Great Depression was, or any of the social context and history of the last couple of centuries - class system, role of women, importance of religion, beginnings of science, British empire, patterns of migration, etc etc., and it is actually that side of it that makes many of them struggle with appreciating the books at GCSE. They just have nothing to fit it to, no real idea of how life was different at different times, don't get the allusions, don't get the implications of certain phrases or character types, and so on. And reading widely - even if they are not books at GCSE level - gives this broader perspective, I think. In fact, better if they're not just books at that level, because she can read a lot more of them, and more easily, and not feel that they are 'school' books, but just giving a much wider experience of the world, greater vocabulary, greater sense of what things were like when, greater familiarity with phrases, proverbs, other uses of words, and so on.

CrotchetQuaverMinim Sun 29-Nov-15 18:51:03

sorry GCSE 'pupils' = GCSE 'set texts' in my first line!!

rudolphistheboss Sun 29-Nov-15 18:52:58

Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Little Women By Louisa M Alcott
1984 by George Orwell

Is she doing French? Would she be interested in having a bash at Les Miserables? It could be hard work but I really enjoyed it at that age and liked the links with the French I was learning.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein

What other subjects is she doing? Maybe there are some books which would be relevant to more than one in providing background and further interest smile

CrotchetQuaverMinim Sun 29-Nov-15 18:59:51

Also, it doesn't just have to be the heavier 'literature' type books that will help her do well - the language paper often has extracts from non-fiction books that they have to discuss what makes them amusing, or how the writer gets a particular impression across, and things like Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island have been used before, or Gerald Durrel's autobiographical books, that kind of thing. After reading a number of things like that, you get a much better sense for how to read/write that style of work, what sort of things they have in common, the sense of timing, etc.

Muskey Sun 29-Nov-15 19:10:19

Third time lucky the website keeps crashing.

I think it's a fantastic idea

I would say 1984, frankinstein, mill on the floss, hard times, Persuasion, the grapes of wrath, the great gatsby, Jane eyre, hard times, cider with Rosie, sikas marner and fair stood the wind for France and for a bakers dozen something a bit different dangerous liasons

gleegeek Sun 29-Nov-15 19:11:52

Oh poor girl, already worrying about GCSE this early in year 9 shock I agree with the PP who mentioned reading widely to try to get a more rounded view of the world and its history. Some of the suggestions may well put her off for good I would have thought - particularly if she's not finding English easy...
My dd discovered historical fiction through the My Story set of books, easy reads but really got her interested and she's gone on to read more difficult texts like Tess, Jane Eyre, Rebecca as she could picture the sort of lives the characters were leading.
Maybe talk to the local bookshop/librarians for ideas?

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