Sunday, January 24, 2010

Book recommendations for 9-year-olds

I mentioned some time back that I've been trying to widen Andre's repertoire of books as I feel that the Beast Quest series by Adam Blade, which he's very fond of, is getting to be too simple for him. The challenge is that his reading interests are very limited. He's mostly interested only in fantasy, he doesn't enjoy reading about real life adventures.

I scoured the web for book recommendations for boys but I found the fantasy suggestions were mostly too advanced for him. Then Lesley-Anne suggested trying Philip Pullman's books as she finds his writing very engaging.

I first borrowed The Firework-Maker's Daughter from the library and Andre enjoyed it so much that I borrowed two more the next time - The Scarecrow and His Servant and Clockwork.

Just a short intro on Philip Pullman: he writes mostly fantasy books that are very popular with older kids. These three books I mentioned are suitable for Andre's age group - the language is simpler and while they're not exactly fantasy, they appeal to him because they have an imaginative, make-believe quality, like modern fairy tales.

Another recommendation I found on the web was The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. When I first found the book in the library, I was afraid it might be too difficult for Andre but to my surprise, he seemed to take to it quite well. The Mysterious Benedict Society is about four children who pass a series of tests and are sent to a school called The Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened (L.I.V.E.). There, they meet Mr Curtain and try to prevent him from taking over the world by destroying "The Whisperer", his brainwashing machine.

Once again, this is not fantasy but it's creatively written with a compelling storyline. However, I have to say that the length of the book (almost 500 pages) is quite daunting for Andre and being unable to finish the book after three weeks (one installment every other day) has caused the interest to wane somewhat. So it's probably more suitable for slightly older kids or those with a longer attention span.

However, I feel these are great recommendations for 9 to 11-year-olds, if you're searching for ideas. Meanwhile, let me know if you come across any other finds.


Lilian said...

Why don't modern-day kids like Enid Blyton anymore? I'm preparing to bin the hard-cover fairy tales by her, that I've been keeping since I first bought them for Brian when he was 5. Sean just won't read them. So I finally am giving up.

I didn't know Philip Pullman writes for younger readers. Must check that out, thanks.

Since Andre is already attempting a 500-page book, why don't you let him try Captain Bluebear? Many boys seem to like it.

Other than that, I am as clueless about boys' books as you are. You wanna try James Patterson's Maximum Ride?

Oh I almost forgot, Sean seems to like Brian's Alex Rider series now. I bought the latest instalment when in Singapore, and first Brian read it, then my mum read it and said it was very good (she had read the first few too when we were in Singapore), and then Sean got into it. The only one who didn't read that book was me :)

monlim said...

Lilian: Yalah, all my Enid Blytons also collecting dust. I think they're too simplistic and innocent for savvy, modern day kids.

I think Maximum Ride would definitely be too advanced for Andre, even Artemis Fowl is too complex for him. Ok, will look out for Captain Bluebear although I think the book length is seriously off-putting for him... no stamina lah!

naggo-nitemare said...

Lemony Snicket's the series of unfortunate events is written at abt the same level as benedict society. Angie Sage's Magyk, Flyte, Physik, Queste n Syren are also gd. Maybe can also read Cornelia Funke's Inkspell trilogy.

monlim said...

NN: Thanks! I let him try Unfortunate Events as I have the whole series but he wasn't interested, sigh... I've read Inkspell, personally I found the story quite dry. Will try to give Angie Sage's series a go.

Elan said...

Hmmm, my 11 year old son must be very unusual then. He won't let me give away his Enid Blyton books to his cousin, although he doesn't read them anymore.
I have heard some negative things about Philip Pullman's anti-Christian subtexts in his books. I haven't had the chance to read any yet. What do you think?
My sons used to love Lucy Daniels' books about vets and animals, they have almost the entire series (now gathering dust). I'm not sure if they are too simple for Andre.They also love the Star Wars books, I can't vouch for the standard of writing though, but if Andre is a Star Wars fan, they will at least get him hooked on reading.

monlim said...

Elan: Lucy Daniels' books sound like they will appeal to L-A but not Andre, unfortunately. He's not keen on animal books either. Picky huh?

Philip Pullman has been known to be anti-Christian but I think the message is probably only in His Dark Materials Trilogy (the first book in that series is the Golden Compass). L-A has not indicated any interest to read those so far, so I've no idea how pervasive those subtexts are in his book. I think if one's faith is so easily shaken by a book, it probably wasn't very strong to begin with, but that's jmo.

Thanks for the rec on Star Wars, Andre is just beginning to be interested in the series so that's probably a good suggestion!

Patricia said...

How about Harry Potter series? My kid has watched the shows but she seems to enjoy the books better. She never asks to buy its VCD but would re-read the books over and over again.

monlim said...

Patricia: Yeah, tried Harry Potter to no avail. Maybe he'll have a renewed interest when he's older. Thanks for the suggestion!

Anonymous said...

Does Andre like non-fiction? I see my dd reading quite a bit of non-fiction. Her latest read from library was "Who was Louis Armstrong?" and there is a series of this "Who was...." books.


monlim said...

QX: Umm.. I think the answer to your question is that Andre doesn't like to read, full stop. I tried borrowing books on fire fighters (when he wanted to be one), trucks (when he was crazy about them), even badminton! I think he's the sort who will always watch the movie before reading the book :P

Puzzled by Puzzles! said...

Has he read the Percy Jackson Series (5 in all)? My ds (also P4 if in Spore) just finished the 5 books lately. Now he borrows them from the library cos daddy is reading them too. LOL!

Puzzled by Puzzles! said...

Also "The Gravity Keeper" by Simon Bloom. ;)

monlim said...

Sandy: Percy Jackson is definitely in the horizon but it's too advanced for him now. Your ds is more mature than mine I think!

Thanks, will look out for Gravity Keeper.

Anonymous said...

These books are older since I read them when I was around his age (I'm now in my late 20s):

1. The Phantom Tollbooth (fantasy)

2. Mr. Mageika (fantasy)

3. Encyclopedia Brown (detective series, great fun!)

4. Aestrix and Obelix comic series

5. Tin Tin adventure comic series

You should be able to get all these from the public libraries unless they've disintegrated and haven't been replaced :)

monlim said...

Anon: Hey, thanks!! Andre loves Asterix and Tin Tin, will check the others out!

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