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Reading: The Key to Success for Youth

27 DEC 2021

What Books Do We Recommend for Children Aged 11-14?

by Gala Radinovic

Back in eighth grade, I clearly recall my English teacher telling me that if I want to be amongst the top 1% of intellectuals in the world, I need to be reading at least one book a month outside of the reading that is regularly expected of me as a student. While my teacher failed to divulge the source of this information, it is a habit I eagerly stuck to and upon graduating top of my class and having achieved a perfect score in my IB English HL exam, as well as successfully minored in English at an Ivy League school, I am happy to give credit where it is due. Fancy statistics aside, reading does provide numerous benefits—from the obvious growth of reading and comprehension levels to having a positive effect upon writing abilities, expansion of vocabulary and general knowledge, and an improvement in empathy, wellbeing, and understanding of oneself and others.

We read a lot every single day when you really think about it—be it the signs on the road, the text message on your phone, or assignments you have to complete. However, just being surrounded by text is not necessarily going to help your son/daughter achieve the reading skills which an elite university would one day expect of them. I invite you to think about reading the way you would about your diet—what is the quality, quantity, and nature of your child’s reading? What are they consuming and how will it impact them in the future?

Obviously we are spoilt for choice with this “reading diet” and another challenge is choosing something in the age of abundance. Definitely begin with something your child is interested in—be it a book about coding if their desire is to one day build a robot, a biography of their favorite athlete, or a fantasy if they are the escapist type. As for children that are not readers, start with something visual such as comic books or encourage them to read a newspaper article every day as over the course of a month, it will add up!

Here are a few suggestions:

Non-Fiction:

  • Coding – Creative Coding in Python: 30+ Programming Projects in Art, Games, and More by Sheena Vaidyanathan
  • Biography – Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, a Life in Balance by Simone Biles
  • To Awe and Amaze – The Guinness Book of World Records
  • For the History Buffs – The Horrible Histories Series (start with an era your child loves, such as the Renaissance or Ancient Egypt – and go from there!)
  • For the Budding Mad Scientists – The Horrible Science Series

Fiction:

  • Male main character series – Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
  • Female main character series – The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
  • For those whose English is still growing and have a sense of humor – The Horrid Henry Series by Francesca Simon
  • For the fantasy-loving escapists – The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony Diterlizzi and Holly Black
  • For those who are not into fantasy – A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
  • For the detectives – The Hardy Boys by Dixon and Robbins

Classics:

  • Fantasy Series - The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  • Author Spotlight – Roald Dahl. Look into novels such as Matilda, the BFG, and the Witches.
  • Stories You Know But Haven’t Read Yet – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Childhood Nostalgia – Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

I hope these books are a good place for you to get started on building the home library equivalent of a fridge stocked with healthy food as far as diets and consumption is concerned. Since this December, Crimson Rise is sending out a monthly newsletter with additional reading and vocabulary recommendations which are strategist-approved and age appropriate for our Rise students so definitely keep an eye out for it. Each newsletter has a theme, five titles (a classic, a series, a non-fiction book, a recent release, and a strategist’s choice), as well as ten vocabulary words for your child to add to their vocabulary diary (all Crimson Rise students get a vocabulary list after their first handful of sessions with their strategist and are encouraged to add new words to it each month—this newsletter makes it easier for them!). It would be a great idea to read through this list each month and suggest your child to pick one of the five books as we will also be discussing them in our Rise House Community events that take place once a month. Alternatively, a monthly trip to the bookstore for them to choose a title would also be a great idea – choose one for yourself too and lead by example! 😉 You could even make it a monthly habit of an afternoon treat in a coffee shop after school where you discuss your previous month’s books with each other, then go to the bookstore to get new ones. Happy Reading!

Your friendly neighborhood Rise blogger,

Gala

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