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11+ Reading List

We’ve created our very own 11+ reading list. We’ve tried very hard to make a ‘short’ list of books that we feel all children should read before their 11+ exams. This hasn’t been easy as you’ll see; there are so many wonderful books out there that everyone should read! We’ve compiled a list of books that we love and that will give your child a well-rounded selection of books from different genres. If your child has recently read a book that they loved, please let us know so we can read it and add to our list for others!

Animal Farm

Animal Farm by George Orwell

This book tells of a relatively simple story of animals on a far who plot together to revolt against the farmers. However, it also contains political undertones mimicking the totalitarianism of Soviet Russia so an interesting book to discuss at your 11+ interview for those history and political inspired children!

Carries War

Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden

Set in World War II, Carrie’s War tells the story of Carrie and her brother, Nick, who are evacuees sent to a Welsh mining town. It’s a heart-warming and unforgettable story; a must-read!

Charlottes Web

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

What a classic! The wonderful story of Wilbur the pig, Charlotte the spider and Templeton the rat is a tale of standing up for what you believe, responsibility and friendship. Although the story deals with life and death, there is a warm humorous side to it too.

Goodnight Mr Tom

Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

I will never forget reading this for the first time. I cried my eyes out; what a story! Everyone must read this tale of Willie Beech who is evacuated to the countryside just before the outbreak of World War II to live with Thomas Oakley. An incredibly moving story.

High Rise Mystery

High Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson

Summer in London is hot and there’s been a murder in THE TRI: the high-rise home to resident know-it-alls, Nik and Norva. Who better to solve the case? Armed with curiosity, home-turf knowledge and unlimited time – until the end of the summer holidays anyway. I loved this book! It was so exciting and I would recommend to any reluctant readers wanting something a bit more modern.

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

Highly recommended to me by my 9 year old niece, this book is about a girl, Maia, who has been sent from England to start a new life with distant relatives in the Amazon. 

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

Another classic book which follows the story of a Jewish family who flee Germany before World War II. Written by the wonderful Judith Kerr, it’s a must-read for everyone!

The Cadwaladr Quests

The Cadwaladr Quests by S.L. Ager

Essential 11+, SATs and ISEB vocabulary in an original and exciting story containing 3,000-word definitions along with their synonyms and antonyms, in context, on the pages (suitable for CEM and GL 11+). Also excellent for ESL students.

The Boy at the back of the class

The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Raúf

Told with humor, this incredible novel offers a child’s perspective on the refugee crisis, highlighting the importance of friendship and kindness in a world that doesn’t always make sense.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

When Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy step through a wardrobe door in the strange country house where they are staying, they find themselves in the land of Narnia. Frozen in eternal winter, Narnia is a land of snow and pine forests, and its creatures are enslaved by the terrible White Witch. All children will love the magic of these adventures.

I am David

I am David by Anne Holm

An exciting story, full of drama, it tells the haunting story of a 12-year-old boy who is helped to escape from a concentration camp in Eastern Europe by an otherwise hateful guard. Convinced this is a trap to kill him, David nevertheless sets off by way of Greece, Italy, Switzerland and Germany in order to get to Denmark, where his former captor had told him he would find ultimate safety.


The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

This is a series of thirteeen books about the Baudelaire children and the disasters that are thrown upon them. The first book feels quite shocking as their parents are killed in a fire and they are sent to live with a terrifying relative, Count Olaf, who tries to steal the family inheritance. However, very quickly the reader becomes swept up into the dramatic storylines and the dark humour that runs through the book makes the series impossible to put down!


The Silver Sword

The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier

The powerful story of three children who are separated from their parents during the Second World War. They meet an orphan who carries a paperknife shaped as a silver sword given to him by an escaped prisoner, who they realise was their father. They travel together through dangers along the way in the hope of finding their parents again in the safety of Switzerland.


Toms Midnight Garden

Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

For all those fantasy book-lovers, this timeless story is a wonderful story full of adventure and magic. When Tom hears his aunt and uncle’s grandfather clock strike 13, he goes to investigate and discovers a magical garden where he meets a new friend, Hatty. With this new friendship however, things are not quite as a seem.


Hitlers Canary

Hitler’s Canary by Sandi Toksvig

‘A daring tale of wartime adventure’ describes this book perfectly. As German troops fill the streets of Denmark, this story follows the extraordinary efforts to help the Danish Jews to escape to Sweden and safety.


The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

This is a tale of an unlikely friendship in the most horrendous of situations. Bruno is growing up in Berlin in World War II and his father gets promoted to Commandant and they move to Auschwitz where he meets Shmuel who is living behind a fence. He has no idea of the horrors that lie behind this fence, but goes to meet his new friend everyday and sneaks food to him.  You’ll have to read it to find out what happens!


The Emergency Zoo

The Emergency Zoo by Miriam Halahmy

A moving story of two girls who, when they realise domestic pets will be put down during World War II, they decide to take action. They create a hut in the woods for their own cat and dog and soon news spreads and other children bring their own pets. The Emergency Zoo is born!


The Eagle of the Ninth

The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff

A historical adventure story which brings Roman Britain to life. It follows a young Roman officer who sets out to discover the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of the Ninth Legion, who marched into the mists of Northern Britain and never returned.


Five Children and It

Five Children and It by E. Nesbit

Five children find a cantankerous sand fairy, a psammead, in a gravel pit. Every day ‘It’ will grant each of them a wish that lasts until sunset, often with disastrous consequences. A book that has never been out of print in over 100 years, a true classic.


Northern Lights

Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman

A fantasy novel set in a parallel universe, it follows the journey of Lyra to the Arctic to search for her missing friend.


Stig of the Dump

Stig of the Dump by Clive King

Barney loves to wander off by himself. One day he tumbles over into a disused quarry where he meets somebody with shaggy hair wearing a rabbit-skin and speaking in grunts. He names him Stig. They end up going on adventures together and having lots of fun.


Truckers Diggers and Wings

Truckers, Diggers and Wings by Terry Pratchett

TheNome Trilogy tells the story of the Nomes, a race of tiny people from another world who now live hidden among humans. Through the books they struggle to survive in the world and, once they learn of their history from an artefact known as “The Thing”, make plans to return home.


White Fang

White Fang by Jack London

Set in the harsh forests of northern Canada, this remarkable tale about the relationship between man and dog is guaranteed to captivate young readers.


Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

As soon as Anne arrives from the orphanage to the farmhouse called Green Gables, she is sure she wants to stay forever. However, she is not what the Cuthberts expected and she has to convince them to let her stay. She dreams of the day when she can call herself Anne of Green Gables.


Emil and the Detectives

Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner

When Emil’s money goes missing on the train, he is determined to get it back. He teams up with the detectives he meets in Berlin and begins his marvellous adventure. Another classic!


The Ghost of Thomas Kemp

The Ghost of Thomas Kempe by Penelope Lively

This ghostly tale follows the story of James and his family when they move to an ancient cottage in Oxfordshire. Strange things start happening: doors banging and strange signs appearing written in archaic handwriting. James finds that the ghost is the spirit of Thomas Kempe.


The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

A recommendation from a tutee of ours, this mystery novel follows Ted and his older sister Kat as they try to discover how their cousin Salim disappeared from the London Eye. Ted, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, discovers clues that will ultimately lead to Salim’s rescue.


Charlotte Sometimes

Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer

This time-travel story, full of suspense, Charlotte Makepeace wakes up after her first night at boarding school and she’s baffled. Everyone thinks she’s a girl called Clare Mobley, and even more shockingly, it seems she has travelled forty years back in time to 1918.



Holes by Louis Sachar

Holes is a story about an unlucky teenage boy named Stanley Yelnats, who is sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile corrections facility in a desert in Texas, after being falsely accused of theft. Here, the warden makes the boys spending all day, every day, digging holes. Stanley soon realises they are digging holes because the warden is looking for something and Stanley wants to know the truth.


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

The whole series are a must-read! Harry Potter’s life is miserable but his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.


The Iron Man

The Iron Man by Ted Hughes

Mankind must put a stop to the dreadful destruction caused by the Iron Man. A trap is set for him, but he cannot be kept down. Then, when a terrible monster from outer space threatens to lay waste to the planet, it is the Iron Man who finds a way to save the world.


War Horse

Warhorse by Michael Morpurgo

Again, tricky to choose just one of Morpurgo’s classic children’s books, but Warhorse has been very popular with some of the children that we teach. It tells the story of Joey, the horse that is bought by the army for service in World War I and who witnesses the horror of the frontline.


Skulduggery Pleasant

Skulduggery Pleasant Series by Derek Landy

For all those fantasy novel lovers, this series is perfect for you. They follow the adventures of the skeleton detective, Skulduggery Pleasant. The first series has nine books which then followed with a second series of four novels.


The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Perhaps one for parents to read first and gauge whether they think it’s suitable given the violence in the book. However, a real page-turner! Written from the perspective of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in the future, post-apocalyptic nation of Panem in North America. The Capitol, a highly advanced metropolis, exercises political control over the rest of the nation.


A girl called Owl

A Girl called Owl by Amy Wilson

This magical, wintry story is about Owl, a thirteen year old girl who has never met her father and is desperate to find out who he is since her mother will not tell her. She soon learns from the strange frost patterns on her skin, that her father is Jack Frost which leads to an adventure into the fairy worlds.


Letters from the Lighthouse

Letters from the Lighthouse by Emma Carroll

Set in the midst of the Second World War, this follows the tale of Olive and her little brother, Cliff, who are evacuated to the Devon coast. The only two spare beds are with Mr Ephraim, the lighthouse keeper who isn’t entirely happy to be receiving evacuees. Olive becomes his post-girl, carrying secret messages to the villagers which, in turn, leads her to finding out more about her own secret she is keeping.


Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

A more challenging read for more advanced readers, this true classic is about a group of boys who find themselves stranded on an uninhabited island after a plane crash. At first, they celebrate the absence of adult supervision, but soon realise there needs to be more structure if they are to survive. They attempt to forge their own society but it fails in disastrous consequences.


Murder Most Unladylike

Murder most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

The first in a series, this mystery book follows the story of two school girls in the 1930s in England who solve their first murder mystery. There are eight more in the series!


The Elephants Tale

The Elephants Tale by Lauren St John

Lauren St John has written a series of books named The White Giraffe Series.The Elephant’s Tale is the fourth in the series and continues to follow the adventures of Martine and her friend Ben across Africa. It’s full of mystery, thrills, surprises and action.


Dolphin Song

Dolphin Song by Lauren St John

Another recommendation from a number of our tutees, this is the second instalment from The White Giraffe Series. This time, Martine and her fellow school mates are on a school trip that takes a turn for the worst. They are thrown into shark-infested waters but are saved by a pod of dolphins and find themselves marooned on a desert island. Another story full of adventure and action.


Kidnap in the Caribbean

Kidnap in the Caribbean by Lauren St John

The short chapters, each ending with nail-biting cliff hangers, mean this is a serious page turner! Laura Marlin’s uncle is kidnapped while they are on holiday in the Caribbean so she embarks on an adventure to save him, coming face-to-face with sharks, pirates and erupting volcanoes.


Head Kid

Head Kid by David Baddiel

A seriously entertaining book about a very naughty boy who swaps bodies with his extremely strict headteacher. Surely a recipe for disaster? A laugh-out-loud story full of chaos and hilarity.



Wonder by R. J Palacio

A recommendation from a tutee of mine, I flew through this book all about Auggie Pullman, a ten year old boy who was born with a severe facial disfigurement. It reads from many different viewpoints, allowing us to learn some truths about how humans should behave and how they should actually behave.


The 1000 year old boy

The 1,000 year old boy by Ross Welford

A brilliant story about Alfie Monk who is an ordinary teenage boy except that he has been a teenage boy for 1,000 years. He and his mother have lived quietly for centuries, but when everything important to Alfie is destroyed in a fire, he is forced into the reality of the 21st century for the first time.


The Girl who walked on air

The Girl who walked on Air by Emma Carroll

An engrossing and exciting historical story about Louie, a young girl who dreams of becoming a circus ‘Showstopper’. Highly recommended for lovers of adventure stories, with a determined and likable heroine.


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