Children in the age group of 9-12 years stand on the cusp of adolescence, and with that comes the numerous physical and emotional challenges. This age group is all about change. It is a period of transition. He/she may sometimes act like the child you have always known and at other times turn into a little adult right in front of you.
Children in the age group of 9-12 years will pursue their interests with diligence and focus. On one hand, they will have longer attention spans and will enjoy more complex and lengthier chapter books from different types of fictional and non-fictional works, including biographies, poems, historical fiction, suspenseful series, novellas, and novels, but on the other hand, they tend to shift their interests rather quickly. One day they might be marveling over the fantasy world of a book, while the next day you might find them immersed in a suspense novel or digging up facts in historical fiction, or even trying their hand at writing a poem dedicated to someone.
Many children will start to think of themselves as being almost teenagers and start looking and acting more mature, while others will remain more child-like, both physically and emotionally. With the passage of time, they will start to understand the world and converse like a mini-adult. It is important to retain their interest in books, engage their curiosity and help make learning exciting.
Given below are the names of books I suggest for the age group of 9-12 years (remember each child has their own reading level and even older children who haven’t read these books should be encouraged to read them at least once):
‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott is my favourite novel from my childhood days as it taught me about family and sibling bond, responsibility, patience, and kindness. Then there was the thrill and mystery in ‘The Hardy Boys’ by Edward Stratemeyer, along with dealing with the theme of the need for justice and the concept of Good v/s evil.
The famous ‘Harry Potter Series’ helps children understand the power of love, friendship, courage, and knowledge while marveling over the intricate details of the fantastical world created by J.K. Rowling. Another fantasy fiction series is ‘The Story of Dr. Dolittle’ by Hugh Lofting which focuses on the theme of health and life. ‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’ by Booker Prize winner, Salman Rushdie is a fantasy novel dealing with language and speech, and the topic of censorship. ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ by Madeleine L’Engle is a science fantasy novel on the theme of Good vs Evil for control of the universe. For children interested in scientific study and politics, ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy‘ by Douglas Adams is highly recommended.
The novels by Charles Dickens, one of history’s finest storyteller are highly recommended for children of this age group. ‘Oliver Twist’ deals with the concept of Good versus Evil, ‘David Copperfield’ introduces the topics of growth and maturity and ‘Christmas Carol’ gives hope for transformation. Mark Twain’s ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ is another such classic which lets children dwell in notorious antics of a boy with a golden heart and reminds them of the joy of childhood.
For children who are interested in historical fiction, ‘King Arthur and His Knights’ by Howard Pyle is a tale of love, betrayal, heroism, and loss, and ‘The Skylarks’ War’ by Hilary McKay deals with the topic of war, love, and family. ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens is also an interesting historical novel on revolution, and the possibility of resurrection. To understand the Complex emotional issues during the Holocaust, ‘The Boy In The Striped Pajamas’ by John Boyne is a good book for children in this age group. To dwell in the spirit of adventure and learn the art of survival, give your child ‘Robinson Crusoe’, a historical novel by Daniel Defoe. On the same adventure theme, I suggest ‘Treasure Island’ by Robert Louis Stevenson as it will also enlighten the child about honour, greed, and moral ambiguity.
To teach the kids about survival and determination, and the conflict between civilization and wildness, I recommend the adventure fiction novella, ‘The Call of the Wild’ by Jack London. On a similar theme of determination, we have Wilson Rawls’ autobiographical fiction novel ‘Where the Red Fern Grows’ which deals with the relationship between humans and dogs. Another fiction novel on animal rights and friendship is ‘The One and Only Ivan’ by K. A. Applegate. ‘My Family and Other Animals’ by Gerald Durrell is an autobiographical drama on friendship, care for animals and nature.
For introducing the themes of diversity, inclusion, acceptance, kindness and the true nature of friendship for the children of this age group, I recommend ‘Wishtree’ by Katherine Applegate. She also teaches the children about empathy for the poor and homeless, through her fantasy fiction novel, ‘Crenshaw’. ‘Mayil Will Not Be Quiet!’ by Soumya Rajendran is a contemporary fiction novel that deals with the crucial topic of gender and feminism. Lucy Maud Montgomery’s fiction novel, ‘Anne of Green Gables’ teaches children that mistakes help you grow into a better person.
For children interested in non-fiction, I recommend ‘We, The Children Of India’ by Leila Seth to understand the Preamble to the Constitution. ‘Totto Chan’ by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi is an autobiographical memoir that imparts values of independence, integrity, and compassion and deals with the challenges of adolescence. ‘Manan’ by Mohit Parikh is a fiction novel based on the theme of onset of puberty, family relationships, authority figures, and peer pressure. Another such novel is ‘Wonder’ by R.J. Palacio that deals with anti-bullying, friendship, kindness, and courage.
Some of your child’s favourite books might not be mentioned here, so let me know about them in the comments section. Remember, as your child is inching closer every day to being a full-fledged teenager, you need to make sure you are guiding them towards the right books so that they pick up life lessons from them and are more aware of the world around them. Best wishes!