Preparing for your child’s 11+? Help them get ahead with our reading list. By the time your child is applying for an 11+ place, they should ideally be reading full-length novels without the aid of parents. Encourage regular reading: it should form part of their daily routine. If this is not the case, try to set your child some reading goals and continue to do paired reading if necessary. All of the books on our 11+ reading list are ideal for paired reading or for children to read alone.
How can I help my child prepare for the 11+ English Assessment?
For the 11+ assessment, children are expected to read widely and know about a range of authors. Texts in the comprehension element of the exam can be quite tricky in terms of the level of language. It is therefore important to practise comprehension skills on a weekly basis to expose your child to a vast array of texts and to develop a wide vocabulary.
Developing a wide vocabulary is essential for both the English part of the assessment and the Verbal Reasoning part. Developing vocabulary takes time so it is best to start as early as possible. Get your child to start compiling a word bank of new or tricky words that they come across in their daily reading. Consider buying a set of 11+ vocabulary cards. These have words on one side and definitions on the other. These are handy and can be pulled out at any time. Aim to learn and practise three words each day and review all the week’s words at the end of each week.
At their 11+ interview, your child can be asked to discuss in detail a favourite book or a book they have read recently. They might also need to elaborate on their favourite authors and genres.
Which books should my child read before the 11+?
At this level, there is a vast array of books to choose from. Below we have detailed a small selection of classic and modern stories from renowned authors. Even if your child does not enjoy all of these, it is still a good idea to develop a global understanding of important authors and their works.
C.S. Lewis was a prolific 20th-century writer. He was a personal friend of J. R. R. Tolkien. This children’s novel forms one of a chronicle of seven books. The story, which was first published in 1950, has retained its popularity amongst readers and is frequently voted in the top 100 all-time children’s novels.
The story takes places during wartime as four children are evacuated to a country manor. They soon stumble upon the fantasy world of Narnia, which is host to mythical creatures and talking animals but is also ruled by the cruel White Witch. Luckily, the children find hope in the form of a lion, Aslan.
This young adults’ novel was published in 1998 to wide critical acclaim. It is often voted among the top ten books for this age group. The author, Louis Sachar, is famed for this novel and his Wayside School series.
The story follows the misfortunes of a young boy who, wrongly convicted of theft, is sentenced to time in a juvenile detention centre in the Texas desert. We see how the actions of people in his past are brought to bear on his present situation. The book also touches on themes of racism, homelessness, and illiteracy.
The Hobbit is a classic juvenile novel which, published in 1937, remains popular today. This, in part, is due to the international success of the film franchise The Lord of the Rings. Due to the instant popularity of this novel and later The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien is known as the father of the modern fantasy novel.
The Hobbit is set in a fictional land known as Middle Earth and follows the quest of Bilbo Baggins; a hobbit who sets out to take a share of the treasure guarded by Smaug, a terrifying, gold-loving dragon.
Philip Pullman is an English writer who rose to fame with his fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials. The trilogy consists of Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. The first book in the trilogy, Northern Lights, was adapted for the screen and released in 2007 as The Golden Compass.
Northern Lights is set in a parallel universe where people’s souls live outside their bodies in the form of animals who aid and comfort their humans. The story follows the journey of Lyra, who sets out for the arctic in search of her missing friend.
George Orwell was an English novelist known for his social criticisms and opposition to totalitarianism, which appear as themes in his books. While Animal Farm, despite the name, is not uniquely a young person’s book, it is still accessible to young readers, particularly those beginning to show an interest in politics, or fairness.
Animal farm, as the title might suggest, is set on a farm; the animals are the protagonists. A group of them, wanting freedom and equality for all animals, rebel against their farmers and decide to run the farm themselves. After a brief period of bliss, the farm and its inhabitants begin to suffer under the dictatorship of a pig named Napoleon.
H.G. Wells was a prolific writer in many genres but is known by most as ‘the father of science fiction’. Many of his works are seen as prophetic as he seemingly foresaw the invention of aircraft, space travel, nuclear weapons, television and the internet.
The Time Machine was published in 1895 and is accredited with the popularisation of the concept of time travel. The story follows the journey of a scientist, known only as the Time Traveller, in Victorian England who invents a time machine. He travels forward hundreds of years into the future and observes how the world and society changes.