11 Plus English Reading List Recommendations

Thirty 11 Plus English Reading List Recommendations

One of the most effective ways to prepare for the 11 Plus English exam is to develop strong reading habits that enhance comprehension, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills.

To help your child prepare, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of recommended books, categorised by genre and difficulty level. Each category targets specific areas of learning to ensure a holistic approach to exam preparation.

Recommended Reading List for 11 Plus English

11 Plus English Reading List Recommendations

Classic Literature

Classic literature is a cornerstone for developing strong reading and comprehension skills. These timeless stories often feature complex characters, rich language, and thought-provoking themes.

Recommended Classics:

  • “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett
    • A beautiful tale of growth and rejuvenation, perfect for understanding character development and descriptive writing.
  • “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll
    • This book helps children navigate complex narratives and appreciate whimsical language.
  • “Peter Pan” by J.M. Barrie
    • A great choice for exploring themes of adventure and imagination.
  • “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White
    • This story emphasises friendship and sacrifice, ideal for discussing themes and morals.
  • “Anne of Green Gables” by L.M. Montgomery
    • Perfect for understanding character arcs and the importance of setting in storytelling.

Contemporary Fiction

Modern stories often resonate more with young readers and provide relatable contexts and language usage that can be beneficial for exam preparation.

Recommended Contemporary Books:

  • “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio
    • A touching story about empathy and acceptance, great for discussions on character perspectives.
  • “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling
    • Engages readers with its rich world-building and intricate plot, enhancing imaginative thinking.
  • “Holes” by Louis Sachar
    • A compelling narrative that intertwines past and present, perfect for understanding complex plots.
  • “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan
    • Combines mythology with modern adventure, ideal for learning about narrative structure and cultural references.
  • “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” by John Boyne
    • A poignant story that introduces historical context and fosters deep thinking about moral issues.

Adventure and Mystery

Books in this genre encourage critical thinking and attention to detail, essential skills for the comprehension sections of the 11 Plus exam.

Recommended Adventure and Mystery Books:

  • “The Famous Five Series” by Enid Blyton
    • Engaging and suspenseful, perfect for practising inference and deduction.
  • “Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Collection” by Arthur Conan Doyle
    • Excellent for understanding logical reasoning and analysis of clues.
  • “Stormbreaker” by Anthony Horowitz
    • An action-packed story that keeps readers on their toes, enhancing engagement and comprehension.
  • “The Mysterious Benedict Society” by Trenton Lee Stewart
    • Combines puzzles and mysteries, fostering problem-solving skills.
  • “Artemis Fowl” by Eoin Colfer
    • Blends fantasy with adventure, ideal for exploring different genres and narrative techniques.

Fantasy and Science Fiction

These genres encourage creativity and introduce children to complex world-building and imaginative scenarios.

Recommended Fantasy and Science Fiction Books:

  • “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis
    • A series that stimulates imagination and discusses deeper themes such as good versus evil.
  • “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien
    • A classic that introduces readers to rich descriptive language and epic storytelling.
  • “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle
    • Combines science fiction with adventure, perfect for understanding abstract concepts.
  • “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman
    • Complex themes and multi-layered narratives make this series ideal for advanced readers.
  • “Eragon” by Christopher Paolini
    • A high fantasy novel that introduces elements of heroism and mythical creatures.

Historical Fiction

Historical fiction helps children understand different time periods and contexts, fostering a deeper appreciation for history and culture.

Recommended Historical Fiction Books:

  • “Goodnight Mister Tom” by Michelle Magorian
    • A heartwarming story set during WWII, great for understanding historical context and emotional depth.
  • “War Horse” by Michael Morpurgo
    • Provides a unique perspective on war through the eyes of a horse, enhancing empathy and historical knowledge.
  • “The Silver Sword” by Ian Serraillier
    • A tale of survival during WWII, perfect for understanding resilience and the impact of war.
  • “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit” by Judith Kerr
    • An autobiographical novel that introduces the impact of war on families, fostering a deeper understanding of history.
  • “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry
    • A touching story about bravery during the Holocaust, great for discussions on courage and historical events.

Poetry and Short Stories

Short stories and poems are perfect for developing concise comprehension skills and appreciating the beauty of language and rhythm.

Recommended Poetry and Short Stories:

  • “A Child’s Garden of Verses” by Robert Louis Stevenson
    • Classic poems that introduce rhyme, rhythm, and vivid imagery.
  • “The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear” by Edward Lear
    • Humorous and whimsical, perfect for exploring playful language and creativity.
  • “The Puffin Book of Utterly Brilliant Poetry” edited by Brian Patten
    • A diverse collection that introduces children to a variety of poetic forms and styles.
  • “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” by Arthur Conan Doyle
    • Short stories that encourage logical thinking and problem-solving.
  • “Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes” by Roald Dahl
    • Twisted fairy tales in verse are great for understanding narrative and poetic techniques.

Why Reading Matters in Preparing for the 11 Plus English Exam

Why Reading Matters in Preparing for the 11 Plus English Exam

Reading offers multifaceted benefits that extend far beyond merely understanding the text. Here’s why:

  1. Exposure to a wide range of words, phrases, and idiomatic expressions allows children to acquire new vocabulary naturally.
  2. Reading diverse genres and styles helps children develop their comprehension skills—they learn to identify main ideas, infer meanings, draw conclusions, and understand complex sentences and structures. 
  3. Through reading, children are exposed to various writing styles, narrative techniques, and descriptive languages, which are invaluable skills for creative writing, one of the components of the 11 Plus English exam.
  4. Reading instils a love for learning and curiosity about the world. When children enjoy reading, they are more likely to engage enthusiastically with their studies.

One important tip for success: encourage your child to read early on. Start with age-appropriate books that pique their interest and gradually introduce more challenging texts as they grow.

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Final Thoughts

A well-rounded reading list is essential for children preparing for the 11 Plus English exam. The books recommended in this article cover a range of genres and themes, each contributing to the development of critical reading and comprehension skills. 

Encourage your child to explore these books, discuss their themes, and enjoy the journey of reading. With consistent practice and a love for literature, they will be well-prepared to excel in their 11 Plus English exam.