Reading to Help Pass

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Reading for Fun

When preparing for the 11 Plus, it’s important to choose texts that will challenge and stimulate young readers… but it’s important to take some time out just to read for fun, too! And there’s no reason that the two activities need to be mutually exclusive. Children can still prime their literacy and vocabulary skills by reading books that don’t (on the surface) seem like a stretch.

Three children reading for fun in the garden

In this reading list, we’ve hunted down a selection of books that will thoroughly engage young bookworms. They’ll be having so much fun that reading practise won’t feel like ‘work’ at all!

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Malorie Blackman’s groundbreaking novel envisions a divided society in a reimagined Britain (named Albion). In Albion, the black Crosses are thought of as the superior race and reign supreme; whereas the white Noughts are second-class citizens that live in poverty. When 15-year-old Callum (a Nought), meets Sephy (a Cross and daughter of one of the most influential politicians in Albion), a powerful connection is formed: but their relationship is frowned upon by society, and they are forced to keep it a secret. Through a clever reversal of conventional racial stereotypes, Blackman explores prejudice and discrimination in a new and compelling way; and, through a gripping depiction of love, friendship and moral courage, keeps readers hooked from start to finish.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The first in the award-winning series, The Knife of Never Letting Go is set in a small town in which only men remain. The women have all been banished… and that’s not the only unusual thing about the town. The locality has been affected by a virus that means everyone can hear each other’s thoughts.

We follow Todd Hewitt, who happens to be the last boy in town. One day, whilst fleeing a group of men, he comes across a rare patch of silence, and – with it – something even rarer: a girl named Viola. Viola and Todd are forced to work together to evade the pursuing men; an action that creates a strong bond and causes Todd to question all his long-held beliefs. An enthralling sci-fi story.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

The best-selling series perhaps needs no introduction – but it’s a real treat for any young reader. 

Orphan Harry Potter has lived a miserable life with his awful aunt, uncle and bullying cousin Dursley; but when he receives a letter asking him to study at the mysterious Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, it seems his luck is finally about to change. But Harry soon learns that magical life contains perils of its own. Along with his new friends, Hermione and Ron, can he master the challenges of adolescence, new skills, and threats of an altogether more dangerous kind?

A wonderfully inventive and richly imagined introduction to the fantastical world of Harry Potter – not to be missed!

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

The wickedly fun tales of the Baudelaire children – which continue over 13 volumes – will provide hours of delight for any young reader. Charting the journey of Violet, Klaus and baby Sunny, who – after being tragically orphaned when their parents die in a fire – are sent to live with their distant relative, the dastardly Count Olaf, The Bad Beginning is a brilliant introduction to this macabre world. Violet, Klaus and Sunny must outwit Olaf if they are to escape his clutches and receive their due inheritance. But there are many obstacles in their way, particularly as all the other adults they encounter seem to be taken in by Olaf’s act.

This is not a novel for the fainthearted, so readers beware! In fact, in the opening sentence the author states: ‘If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.’ Read on if you dare…!

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Now a popular television series, the world of Lyra, daemons and Dust was first brought to life in Philip Pullman’s thrilling His Dark Materials trilogy. 

In Northern Lights, the first in the series, we are introduced to the carefree adventures of Lyra and her animal daemon, Pan. But when children begin to go missing in Lyra’s hometown of Oxford, a series of amazing circumstances throw her and Pan onto a different path. The journey takes her along unfamiliar waters with the river-boating gyptians, to the frozen wastes of the Arctic, where she meets witches, ice bears, and more. Little does Lyra know that what she learns along the way will not only have far-reaching consequences for her and Pan – but for the whole world…

An enchanting, epic story – and true classic of contemporary children’s literature – that will capture the imaginations of children and adults alike.

Little Badman and the Invasion of the Killer Aunties by Humza Arshad and Henry White

It’d be hard to find a reader who didn’t enjoy the exploits of Humza (AKA Little Badman), who has aspirations to be the greatest 11-year-old rapper Eggington has ever had. But when he starts to notice some funny goings-on at school – teachers being replaced by Aunties who are determined to stuff the children full of food – he decides this is one mystery he must solve. The problem is, Humza has a bit of a reputation for telling tall tales – so how can he get anyone to listen? The answer is his talent: along with his friends Umer and Wendy, plus his uncle ‘Grandpa’, Humza must put his musical skills to work to save the school from an alien invasion (as long as a pesky case of stage fright doesn’t get in the way…).

Pacy, hilarious, and moving all at once, Humza’s journey will both amuse and grip young readers.

Bonus Tip: Go Online

When encouraging budding bookworms to read for fun, don’t forget – there’s a world of literature out there that isn’t constrained to novels! Online reading can be valuable too: helping young readers to develop endurance and other critical thinking skills, as they click, bookmark, and browse sites that are rich in content (like NFL.com, if they’re a sports fan; National Geographic; The Week; or even something like MyPopStudio, which a creative play experience that strengthens critical thinking skills about television, music, magazines and online media).

child reading for fun on laptop

For more top book recommendations, see all of our reading lists. Or check out more fun 11 plus reads:

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