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Reading list

9 must-read classics for 9 to 12 year-olds

There’s an unruly orphan, magical minds and Sand Fairies. These coming of age classics are must-reads packed with legendary characters, and above all - they all stand the test of time.

 

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Mary Lennox, a spoilt, disagreeable orphan, is the unlikely heroine of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s cherished novel. Sent to live with her uncle on the bleak Yorkshire moors, Mary starts to explore the grounds of the rambling manor, and takes an interest in a mysterious walled garden. Assisted by a robin redbreast, Mary unearths the lost key and starts to tend to the garden with the help of her new friends. The Secret Garden is a delightful story of transformation and rejuvenation, which will teach young readers about the healing powers of friendship and kindness.

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The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham

Kenneth Graham’s The Wind in the Willows has been adored from generation to generation. In this enduring classic, we meet his splendid animal characters: Mole, Rat, Mr. Toad and Mr. Badger, and revel in their adventures on the banks of the River Thames. Told in Graham’s gorgeous lyrical prose, readers will be transported with tales of Toad Hall, the Wild Wood, and ultimately friendship. This book is an endearing treasure.

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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Few books describe the intricacies of moving from childhood to adulthood with such accuracy and tenderness as Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, the novel centres around the March girls as they navigate poverty, romance, work, success, failure, and illness. The sisters are memorable and lovable: Meg is beautiful; Jo is a tomboy and aspires to be a writer; Beth is shy and good-natured; Amy is vain and artistic. Reading Little Women is a rite of passage.

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Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

In this beloved Canadian classic, local farmers Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert decide to adopt a boy to help out on their farm at Green Gables in the fictional town of Avonlea. Instead, much to their surprise, imaginative and bright, flame-haired Anne Shirley turns up. With her feisty spirit and creative mind, 11-year-old Anne soon wins over the Cuthberts’ hearts. Anne of Green Gables is a touching and inspiring story that accounts for all the trials and tribulations of growing up. Readers will be swept up by delightful Anne and her charming life at Green Gables.

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland  unfolds when a bored little girl called Alice notices a white rabbit in a waistcoat with a pocket watch scurrying past. Intrigued, Alice follows the creature down a rabbit hole, and tumbles into a whole new world of topsy-turvy madness. In Wonderland, Alice encounters an array of fantastical characters and eventually gets mixed up in a peculiar spot of bother involving a few stolen tarts. This is an utterly brilliant nonsensical tale; a masterpiece for curious readers of all ages.

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Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Auggie Pullman is ten-years-old and feels just like any boy his age. But since birth, Auggie has had a rare facial deformity which has prevented him from attending school. Now, Auggie has to enrol at Beecher Prep and must endure all the ups and downs that comes with it. What results is an emotional rollercoaster, brimming with tears and laughs and culminating in a truly life-affirming finale. R.J. Palacio’s debut holds an important and uplifting message at its core - prepare to have those heartstrings pulled.

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Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda Wormwood is a precocious six-year-old who has read everything from Pride and Prejudice to The Sound and the Fury. Ignored by her parents, Matilda befriends Miss Honey, a kind teacher who tries to convince the abhorrent headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, to allow Matilda to move to a higher class. Soon, it becomes clear that adults shouldn’t underestimate the marvellous, magical mind of Matilda. This extraordinary story is now available in a large colour-edition paperback with original illustrations by Quentin Blake.

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Four Children and It by Jaqueline Wilson

Inspired by E Nesbitt’s Edwardian classic, Five Children and It, children’s favourite Jaqueline Wilson has written a heart-warming sequel for a modern readers. In this update, the bookish Rosalind and her brother Robbie go to stay with their father and on a visit to the woods the children stumble upon the Psammead, or Sand Fairy, from E Nesbitt’s book, which Rosalind is reading. The Psammead grants the children one wish a day and they eagerly seize the opportunity to wish for fame and new talents. Full of wonder, magic and mayhem, Four Children and It will make an everlasting mark on your memory.

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Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Set in the Lake District during the summer holidays, this captivating story follows the lovable Walker clan as they set sail on a little boat, Swallow, to Wild Cat Island. Along the way, they encounter the local children who they consider to be pirates aboard the Amazon. After crossing paths with the Blackett girls, a summer of unforgettable adventure unfolds: perilous night time boat trips, camping under the stars, catching fresh fish, and leading a campaign against the Blackett’s uncle, the cantankerous Captain Flint. The first book in Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series may have been published in 1930, but this enchanting, escapist tale continues to stand the test of time.

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