11+ Reading List | Recommended Reading for Ages 8 to 12

Whether your child is a bookworm or a reluctant reader, sometimes it is hard to know which books they will like. Below are three separate reading lists for children in Years 4, 5 and 6, recommended by our 11+ English tutors. The lists are filled with fantasy stories, historical tales, sci-fi adventures, mystery novels, and exciting non-fiction. Whatever your child is interested in, there is sure to be a book here for them.

Year 4 reading list

Most eight and nine-years old are not completely fluent readers. While Roald Dahl’s stories are fantastic for older children as well, the books in this list are shorter, use simpler language, and tend to have more illustrations. Michael Morpurgo and Dick King Smith are perfect for children who love animals, while the Horrid Henry stories provide a dose of irreverent fun. For children who like magic, Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witchseries is a gem, and with eight books to get through there is plenty for children to enjoy.

  • Fantasy

The Worst Witch series – Jill Murphy

The Worst Witch

The Faraway Tree– Enid Blyton

The Magic Faraway Tree- Enid Blyton

  • Animal stories

Fantastic Mr Fox– Roald Dahl

Fantastic Mr Fox- Roald Dahl

The Sheep-Pig– Dick King Smith

The Sheep-Pig- Dick King Smith

The Butterfly Lion– Michael Morpurgo

The Butterfly Lion- Michael Morpurgo

  • Adventure

The Twits– Roald Dahl

The Twits- Roald Dahl

Georges Marvellous Medicine– Roald Dahl

George’s Marvellous Medicine- Roald Dahl

Flat Stanley stories – Jeff Brown

Flat Stanley stories - Jeff Brown

My Naughty Little Sister– Dorothy Edwards

My Naughty Little Sister- Dorothy Edwards

  • Humour

Horrid Henry stories – Francesca Simon

Horrid Henry stories - Francesca Simon

Year 5 reading list

By the age of ten, children are reading with more confidence, but many still need a helping hand. Either from a parent, relative or teacher or from a specialist reading tutor.   Below are a selection of Year 5 favourites ranging from sci-fi stories like Artemis Fowlto old-time classics like Stig of the Dump. In Year 5, children still love pictures and cartoons, so don’t be worried if they are drawn to heavily illustrated books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

  • Adventure

Billionare Boy– David Walliams

Billionare Boy- David Walliams

Kensukes Kingdom– Michael Morpurgo

Kensuke’s Kingdom- Michael Morpurgo

Matilda– Roald Dahl

Matilda- Roald Dahl

Stig of the Dump– Clive King

Stig of the Dump- Clive King

  • Fantasy 

The Witches– Roald Dahl

The Witches- Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory– Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory- Roald Dahl

Skellig – David Almond

Skellig - David Almond

  • Science Fiction

Artemis Fowl– Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl- Eoin Colfer

  • Mystery

Time Stops for No Mouse– Michael Hoeye

Time Stops for No Mouse- Michael Hoeye

The London Eye Mystery – Siobhan Dowd

The London Eye Mystery - Siobhan Dowd

  • Humour

Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Jeff Kinney

Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Jeff Kinney

Year 6 reading list

Year 6 is often the time when children fall in love with reading. 10 and 11-year-olds are typically capable of reading without the help of parents, teachers, or English tutors, and relish the independence and freedom this brings. Series of books are popular with Year 6 students, hence why Harry Potter, Alex Rider, Percy Jackson and the children of Narnia all appear on the list. For less confident readers, Danny the Champion of the Worldand Why the Whales Cameare captivating stories with lovely illustrations. Finally, for children interested in non-fiction, you can’t beat the Horrible Historiesand Horrible Scienceseries.

  • Fantasy

Harry Potter series – J.K Rowling

Harry Potter series - J.K Rowling

Percy Jackson & the Olympiansseries –  Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson & the Olympians series -  Rick Riordan

The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S Lewis

The Chronicles of Narnia - C.S Lewis

  • Adventure

Alex Rider series – Anthony Horowitz

Alex Rider series - Anthony Horowitz

The Wolves of Willoughby Place – Joan Aiken

The Wolves of Willoughby Place - Joan Aiken

Goodnight Mr Tom– Michelle Magorian

Goodnight Mr Tom- Michelle Magorian

The Thief Lord – Cornelia Funke

The Thief Lord - Cornelia Funke

Why the Whales Came – Michael Morpurgo

Why the Whales Came - Michael Morpurgo

Danny the Champion of the World – Roald Dahl

roald dahl danny the champion of the world

  • Non-fiction

Horrible Histories – Terry Deary and Peter Hepplewhite

Horrible Histories - Terry Deary and Peter Hepplewhite

Horrible Science– Nick Arnold and Phil Gates

Horrible Science- Nick Arnold and Phil Gates

The Diary of Anne Frank

The Diary of Anne Frank

  • Mystery

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time– Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time- Mark Haddon

Year 7 reading list

Year 7 students are faced with more demands on their time. Homework picks up the pace in secondary school and children often become more engrossed in their friendships and their phones. There are some fantastic books out there for 11 and 12 year-olds, however, so it is important to keep encouraging your child to read. By Year 7 some children will be ready to start classics like Black Beauty, Little Womenand The Hobbit. However, if your child is put off by small writing and thick spines, shorter, more modern stories like Holesand Cirque du Freakare also great reads.

  • Fantasy

Lord of the Rings series – J.R.R. Tolkien

Lord of the Rings series - J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit– J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit- J.R.R. Tolkien

His Dark Materials trilogy – Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials trilogy - Philip Pullman

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen – Alan Garner

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen - Alan Garner

  • Adventure

Holes – Louis Sachar

Holes - Louis Sachar

A Series of Unfortunate Events– Lemony Snicket

A Series of Unfortunate Events- Lemony Snicket

Cirque du Freak– Darren Shan

Cirque du Freak- Darren Shan

  • Classics

Little Women– Louisa May Alcott

Little Women- Louisa May Alcott

Watership DownRichard Adams

Watership Down- Richard Adams

Black Beauty– Anna Sewell

Black Beauty- Anna Sewell

  • Historical fiction

Private Peaceful– Michael Morpurgo

Private Peaceful- Michael Morpurgo

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4– Sue Townsend

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3:4- Sue Townsend

  • Science Fiction

The Day of the Triffids– John Wyndham

The Day of the Triffids- John Wyndham

Chocky– John Wyndham

Chocky- John Wyndham

5 tips to encourage your child to read

  • Try one page on, one page off. If your child finds reading a challenge, don’t make them read every page themselves. Read one page to them and ask them to read the next. This way, children can enjoy the story and improve their literacy skills. Reading to children is a great way to peak their interest in books and to encourage them to start trying it for themselves.
  • Dont make them finish every book. Sometimes, children just don’t get on with certain books. It might be the plot, the characters, the difficulty of the language —any number of things. There is no point, therefore, making them finish every story they start. In most cases, it will just put them off reading, and prevent them finding a book they do.
  • Try using a ruler. If your child is often losing their place on the page, try using a ruler or a bookmark underneath the line to keep them on track.
  • Let them read things you think are too easy. When children are young, the most important thing is that they enjoy reading and don’t see it as a chore. If that means sometimes buying them books you consider “too young”, so be it. Ultimately, even if they are reading a comic, they will still be practising their reading skills and discovering the joy of storytelling.
  • Play games that involve reading. Although many parents are keen for their child to curl up with a book, a surprisingly large number of activities involve reading. Games are an excellent place to start. Buy a few child-friendly quizzes, and ask your child to read out some of the questions. Games which involve unscrambling letters —like My First Banagrams and Scrabble Junior —are also well worth trying.
  • Bonus Tip: Parents READ these two great articles for even more advice and tips from Pearson and The Guardian.