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September 8th marks UNESCO’s International Literacy Day, a day set up to commemorate efforts to improve literacy worldwide.
What better time to encourage children and young people to read than September, therefore? Especially when you consider that reading is by far some of the best at home preparation you can do for the 11 plus.
Here are some recommended reads for a variety of ages to get you started this September. Don’t forget, you can always ask your tutor for recommendations too!
The first in our list of recommended reads for September features the return of a beloved character: Mildred Hubble. The eighth book in Jill Murphy’s timeless Worst Witch series (book one was published over 40 years ago), First Prize for the Worst Witch is a delightful magical adventure for readers aged seven and above.
For readers familiar with the hapless witch Mildred Hubble, the words ‘first prize’ might come as something of a shock. Famous for both getting herself into scrapes and then managing to sort them out – displaying a simultaneous lack of talent and ingenuity – Mildred normally languishes at the bottom of the class (much to the pleasure of her arch enemy Ethel). But now that Mildred has reached her fourth year at Miss Cackle’s academy, could it be her turn to shine at last?
Bursting with Murphy’s trademark wit, subtle feminism and clever observances of teenage life, First Prize for the Worst Witch is as relevant now as it was in 1975 – and the characters remain as vibrant and engaging as ever.
The second of our recommended reads for September also focuses on schoolgirls, but within a more mature setting. The debut novel from model and campaigner Charli Howard, Splash tells the story of Molly: a teenage girl who longs to be a champion swimmer but also wants to keep up with the ‘in crowd’ at school. Chloe, her best friend, says that swimming is for geeks, and eventually encourages a gang of peers to gang up on Molly. As the nasty comments escalate, Molly finds solace in sport and the easy friendship of her teammate, Ed.
An insightful exploration of ‘frenemies’ and the dangerous pressures around adolescent body image, Splash delivers a powerful message about the importance of friendship, having dreams, and being true to yourself.
Praised by a range of notable individuals, including presenter Dermot O’Leary (who deemed it an ‘inspiring, uplifting read’ and one ‘[he wishes he’d] had as a kid’), You Are Awesome is an innovative non-fiction work from world champion table-tennis player (and bestselling author) Matthew Syed. Part self-help book, part manual on growth mindset, in this book Syed sets out the tools that children and teenagers need to overcome fear of failure and develop a mindset appropriate for achieving their dreams.
With an emphasis on hard work, determination and a positive mindset above all, Syed has created an engaging and accessible guide to training one’s brain for success. The examples given range from excelling in tests and exams to sport, meaning that there really is something for everyone.
If you’re interested in enhancing your child’s wellbeing – as well as priming them for academic success – we highly recommend adding this thoughtful, creative book to their selected reads for September.
Deemed a ‘thrilling story with terrifying real-world resonance’ by the Irish Times, Night of the Party is the last on our list of recommended reads for September. The dystopian novel portrays post-Brexit Britain, now governed by a far-right nationalist party (known simply as ‘The Party’). Thanks to the government’s flagship policy, everyone who is not British born is being deported. Within this unsettling environment of political unrest, fearsome raids, and conspiracy, an unlikely romance blossoms between Zara and Ash, a young pair who meet on a train and instantly connect. Zara, however, is hiding a big secret: she is an illegal immigrant and the only person who knows who killed Ash’s sister. But how can she speak out when she has no rights?
A compelling tale filled with political questioning, literary allusions and complex themes, Night of the Party is a must-read for any young student.
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