As your child moves into their penultimate year of primary school, take inspiration from our list of literary options to help them absorb more vocabulary or simply unwind. Discover our selection of books for 9 to 10 year olds.
My Swordhand is Singing, Marcus Sedgwick
In the bitter cold of an unrelenting winter, Tomas and his son, Peter, arrive in Chust. Despite the villagers’ lack of hospitality, they settle there as woodcutters. But there are many things Peter does not understand. Why does Tomas dig a channel of fast-flowing waters around their hut so they live on an isolated island? Why does Tomas carry a long battered box everywhere they go – and refuse to tell Peter of its contents? When a band of gypsies comes to the village, Peter’s drab existence is turned upside down…
Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
At just twelve years old, Artemis Fowl is a criminal genius. No scheme is too dastardly, no plot too devious. And he’s just discovered that fairies are real. But these are not the cuddly creatures of bedtime stories. They are armed and dangerous. And when Artemis captures Captain Holly Short for her fairy gold, he messes with the wrong elf.
(320 pages. There are 8 books in the Artemis Fowl series.)
The Owl Service, Alan Garner
Winner of both the Guardian Award and the Carnegie Medal, this is an all-time classic, combining mystery, adventure, history and a complex set of human relationships. It all begins with the scratching in the ceiling. From the moment Alison discovers the dinner service in the attic, with its curious pattern of floral owls, a chain of events is set in progress that is to affect everybody’s lives. Relentlessly, Alison, her step-brother Roger and Welsh boy Gwyn are drawn into the replay of a tragic Welsh legend – a modern drama played out against a background of ancient jealousies.
Redwall, Brian Jacques
Redwall Abbey, tranquil home to a community of peace-loving mice is threatened by Cluny the Scourge – the evil-one-eyed rat warlord – and his battle-hardened horde of predators. Cluny is certain that Redwall will fall easily to his fearsome army but he hasn’t bargained for the courage and strength of the combined forces of the Redwall mice and their loyal woodland friends. . . . .
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
When Charles Wallace Murry goes searching through a ‘wrinkle in time’ for his lost father, he finds himself on an evil planet where all life is enslaved by a huge pulsating brain known as ‘It’. How Charles, his sister Meg and friend Calvin find and free his father makes this a very special and exciting mixture of fantasy and science fiction, which all the way through is dominated by the funny and mysterious trio of guardian angels known as Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who and Mrs Which.
The Kite Rider, Geraldine McCaughrean
Haoyou knows that his father’s spirit lives among the clouds above Ancient China. He also knows that to save his mother from being forced into a new marriage he must now follow in his father’s footsteps and take to the skies, riding a kite through the clouds and the spirits of the dead. Then the Jade Circus offers him a chance to escape his enemies and travel throughout the empire, and maybe even perform before Kubla Khan himself. But is going with the circus really the best option? It could be that the circus master is leading him into even greater danger. This outstanding story is like nothing else you’ve ever read – packed with action, adventure and emotion.
The Railway Children, E Nesbitt
The lives of Roberta, Peter and Phyllis are shattered when their father leaves with two strangers. When they and their mother move to a country cottage, they soon come to love the railway that runs nearby. There follows a series of many adventures, including saving a train from disaster, and then finally helping the Old Gentleman try to solve the mystery of their father’s disappearance. One of the most famous stories of all time, enjoyed by millions of children and adults across the world.
The Borrowers, Mary Norton
The Borrowers live in the secret places of quiet old houses; behind the mantelpiece, inside the harpsichord, under the kitchen clock. They own nothing, borrow everything, and think that human beings were invented just to do the dirty work. Arrietty’s father, Pod, was an expert Borrower. He could scale curtains using a hatpin, and bring back a doll’s teacup without breaking it. Girls weren’t supposed to go borrowing but as Arrietty was an only child her father broke the rule, and then something happened which changed their lives. She made friends with the human boy living in the house…
The Secret Garden, Frances H Burnett
When Mary Lennox is sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle, everybody says she is the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen. It is true, too. Mary is pale, spoilt and quite contrary. But she is also horribly lonely. Then one day she hears about a garden in the grounds of the Manor that has been kept locked and hidden for years. And when a friendly robin helps Mary find the key, she discovers the most magical place anyone could imagine…
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick
Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, twelve-year-old Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric girl and her grandfather, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery. A beautifully illustrated book that is half graphic novel, half prose tale.
The Butterfly Lion, Michael Morpurgo
“All my life I’ll think of you, I promise I will. I won’t ever forget you.” Bertie rescues an orphaned white lion cub from the African veld. They are inseparable until Bertie is sent to boarding school far away in England and the lion is sold to a circus. Bertie swears that one day they will see one another again, but it is the butterfly lion which ensures that their friendship will never be forgotten. Listen to an excerpt read by the author here.