Book crisis – please help!

I never thought I would be writing this post but that just goes to show you what life can throw up when you least expect it.

As you all know, Holly is an eager bookworm – otherwise she wouldn’t have started this blog with me. Granted, her contributions have dwindled over the last year because she is discovering other hobbies and is devoting her time to other passions. However, she’s always still read and enjoyed books.

But at the moment, she’s going through a bit of a book crisis.

We’re doing the Summer Reading Challenge, and she has made her way through three out of the six books. The first two were fine for her but the third proved troublesome. The first book she chose she became quickly bored with. The second book was too traumatic as the mother was going to die in it. We helped her through one of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books which she seemed to enjoy… ish.

I chatted with her today about reading and she said she just can’t get into anything at the moment. I know what she means – sometimes you just enter a phase when you just can’t settle with anything. But we’ve been stuck in that for a while, and part of me wonders if it’s part of the tween thing – she’s growing out of children’s books but young adult ones might be a little too brutal for her at the moment.

So I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions as to what they enjoyed when they were 11. What were you reading? What are you reading? She might listen to you! (We have some ‘mum-itis’ going on here – whatever I suggest falls on deaf ears!)

Looking forward to hearing your suggestions!



  1. I sympathise – I’ve been going through a phase like that! I have to confess that I can’t remember what age I read these books (I don’t want Holly to think I’m underestimating!) but here are a few quick ones off the top of my head:

    Malory Towers books
    The Babysitters Club books
    The Drina ballet books
    Rumer Godden’s children’s books (esp Miss Happiness and Miss Flower)
    Anne of Green Gables books
    What Katy Did books
    Lynne Reid Banks’ Indian Trilogy books
    Tom’s Midnight Garden
    Stig of the Dump
    Alan Garner books (esp The Owl Service)

    I’m guessing she’d know more than me about her favourite Michael Morpugo, Eva Ibbotson, Frank Cottrell Boyce, etc. books and sorry there’s nothing particularly modern in there, the boys aren’t at this stage yet so I’m going on my own book choices from twenty-six years ago 🙂

    Hope she finds something she loves!

    Loll x

    P.S. I’m about to read Stay Where You Are And Then Leave, if that helps? Not sure exactly what age it’s ‘supposed’ to be for though…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Loll! There are some great books on your list. We have read some of them (Malory Towers, Anne of Green Gables, Tom’s Midnight Garden) but there are plenty that we haven’t. I was introduced to Alan Garner earlier this year as part of my MA in Children’s Lit and enjoyed The Owl Service, having initially had reservations (I am always hesitant about fantasy books). Frank Cottrell Boyce would be an excellent choice actually – she was listening to one of his in class and enjoyed it. Thanks for the hint!


  2. I enjoyed My Family and Other Animals around then. Don’t despair – I too had a reading crisis about that age, and refused to read anything except the Sweet Valley High series for about two years! My parents worried like mad; I subsequently read English at Oxford…
    Tho’ I still have weeks where all I can face is the latest copy of ES Magazine or Stylist! Good luck finding something that appeals.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Kwise! I remember the Sweet Valley High books from when I was younger… I would read them with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys too. Holly’s going through a phase of loving magazines (Teen Now is a current favourite). And the guilty pleasures of mags is one I can identify with!


  3. Has she read the Pea books by Susie Day? Really strong character voice which instantly pulls you into the story, great pace, brill writing and full of humour and fun. Actually quite a good match for Roald Dahl. I adore them! Or if she is looking for something a bit more grown up, Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan is beautiful – plus in verse form so super speedy to read. Best of both worlds? To Be A Cat by Matt Haig is a really engaging read. If she prefers the dark side of Roald Dahl, what about Osbert the Avenger by Christopher William Hill. Stand out favourite with my year 6 kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Holly’s predicament confirms what I’ve been feeling for a while – children are being launched at YA books with difficult themes (e.g death of mum) when many 11 – 13 year-olds aren’t ready for that yet!

    I’ve recently rediscovered Leon Garfield – a superb writer for older children: Jack Holborn, Smith and lots of others. Exciting, sometimes dark and scary but always with a happy ending (don’t tell Holly though or suspense will be ruined!).

    My daughter suggests from what she loved:

    Roger Lancelyn Green’s retelling of myths – The Tale of Troy, The Luck of Troy, King Arthur
    Little Women – LM Alcott
    Mistress Masham’s Repose – TH White
    The Sword in the Stone – TH White
    The Dark is Rising – Susan Cooper
    Carrie’s War – Nina Bawden (actually anything by Nina Bawden)
    Goodnight Mister Tom – Michelle Magorian
    The Log of the Ark – Kenneth Walker
    The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster
    The Little White Horse – Elizabeth Goudge
    I am David – Anne Holm
    The Hostage – Anne Holm
    Anything by Anne Fine

    Some of these have sad bits in them but it isn’t the main theme.

    And all the books already suggested in comments above!

    All the best to Holly – hope you’re all enjoying the summer.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Griselda
      Thanks so much to you and your daughter for these suggestions. There are some on there that we have read but many we haven’t. Funnily enough, one of my favourite all time books is I am David – so moving and powerful.

      I agree with you about there being a bit of a patchy area for children and books at this age. It’s like they want to spread their wings but are still feeling delicate for things that are too dark or challenging.

      Hope you’re having a great summer too!



  5. Hi! Have you read “The Incorrigible Children of Aston Place” by Maryrose Wood? There are 4 in the series. No serious messages here, just mystery, quirky messages, and lots of intrigue and fun. It has an old world feel to it, without be old fashioned. If you know what I mean. Recommended for 8-12, but I think it’s suitable for the older end.

    From Harper Collins website:
    Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.
    Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies.
    But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance’s holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?


  6. I remember feeling like that too. I think for me it was because I needed older reads but all that seemed to be available were Sweet Valley High, which I had absolutely no interest in. Here are some of the books I read between ages 9 & 13 (ish) but if Holly isn’t interested in science fiction or fantasy this list won’t be much use 😉

    Pit Dragon Trilogy (now 4 books) – Jane Yolen
    Earthsea Trilogy (now 5? books) – Ursula Le Guin
    Wind on the Moon – Eric Linklater
    The Hounds of the Morrigan – Pat O’Shea
    The Borrowers books – Mary Norton
    The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
    Nurse Matilda books – Christianna Brand
    The Dark is Rising sequence – Susan Cooper
    The Weirdstone of Brisingamen; The Moon of Gomrath; Elidor; The Owl Service – Alan Garner
    The Children of Green Knowe series – Lucy M Boston

    I read some of, but not all:
    The Moomins books – Tove Janson
    The Wombles books – Elisabeth Beresford

    I didn’t read until later, but probably could have read earlier:
    Discworld books – Terry Pratchett (the earlier ones, but also lots of children’s ones to choose from, and non-Discworld children’s)
    Asimov – the Robot and Foundation series, also lots of short story collections

    Didn’t exist when I was a child, but I would have loved:
    Coraline; The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman
    The Keys of the Kingdom series (7 books); The Old Kingdom series – Garth Nix (Old Kingdom might be better for slightly older)
    Ante’s Inferno, if you haven’t already read.

    Probably lots more, but I’m away from my bookshelves at the moment so can’t check. I’d already read all the Enid Blytons I could find (Famous Five, Adventure series, Mallory Towers etc) before I was nine, and didn’t read her after that. Roald Dahl of course, and Dick King Smith. Oh, and I missed out on Diana Wynne Jones, but love Archer’s Goon (the only one I’ve read).


  7. I was going to recommend The Famous Five by Enid Blyton, but I see you already read those. There’s a book that we just finished reading and absolutely loved – Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein. I don’t know of anyone who didn’t like this one. I hope Holly does!


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