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#1 of 54 Old 11-28-2010, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am looking for a series to buy for my niece for Christmas and am drawing a blank.  She is 10 but reads at at least a 10th grade level, if I had to guess.  She is quite naive and socially a bit backward, and her family is pretty strict about content: nothing fantasy, nothing remotely mature.  She is not even allowed to read the Harry Potter series due to the sorcery content. She has read every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mystery she can get her hands on and prefers the "original" versions.

 

Any suggestions?


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#2 of 54 Old 11-28-2010, 01:41 PM
 
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What about some of the classic children's books? I loved the Secret Garden, The Little Princess, the Shoes books, Black Beauty, Thursday's Child, Treasure Island, Around the world in 80,000 days, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the Oz series (dunno if that would qualify as fantasy).

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#3 of 54 Old 11-28-2010, 01:45 PM
 
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How about books by Elizabeth Goudge?  My sis-in-law recommends the series starting with A City of Bells.  

My daughter read  The Little White Horse by her and loved it.  It does include a bit of a fantasy element though.  The reading level was high with wonderful vocabulary, but the plot only had mild peril and no overly adult themes.  It had some adult themes like taking responsibility for past actions, but not the kind of adult themes we sometimes limit our little ones exposure to. 

 

What about classics like Anne of Green Gables?  or perhaps Jane Austen?  My daughter loved Pride and Prejudice.  She also enjoyed Twain - The Prince and the Pauper and Tom Sawyer.  

 

Sadly, my daughter is a big fantasy reader so I'm having trouble thinking of other alternatives!

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#4 of 54 Old 11-28-2010, 01:45 PM
 
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I would also second classics--- how about Louisa May Alcott.  Little Women, Little Men & Jo's Boys.  If you wanted to do more, you could include the rest of her books.  Is Mark Twain too "much"?


 

 

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#5 of 54 Old 11-28-2010, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the suggestions!  My mom started me on the classics around this age as well, and I lent my niece my library, so I think she has read quite a few of the titles above from there. I LOVED Little Women and the rest of Alcott, but I worry that SIL will think the content too "mature".  The Elizabeth Goudge recommendation is not one I have heard--thank you, mom2ponygirl!  I will check that out.  As for Twain, yeah, a little "too much", Tiredx2!  And I found his work painful to read at that age :) so I hate to buy it for someone else.


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#6 of 54 Old 11-28-2010, 03:25 PM
 
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Phillipa Pearce is wonderful too. "Minnow on the Say" and "Tom's Midnight Garden" are my favourites.

 

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#7 of 54 Old 11-28-2010, 04:08 PM
 
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What about the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery?

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#8 of 54 Old 11-28-2010, 04:14 PM
 
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What about The Giver? To Kill A Mockingbird? I don't know if those would be considered "too mature".


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#9 of 54 Old 11-28-2010, 05:34 PM
 
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I would stay away from Mockingbird. The whole Tom Robinson trial is about an alleged rape, and the book uses the "n word." Definitely not something for a sheltered 10 year old. 

 

I second (third?) the Anne of Green Gables series. I adored them as a child. I also was really into the Trixie Belden series, but I'm not sure if that's still around. 


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#10 of 54 Old 11-28-2010, 05:58 PM
 
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I've been all over the boards lately recommending The Penderwicks by Jane Birdsall. There are only two books so far, but I think they'd fill the bill. They're about 250 pages and have an old fashioned feel, but are set in the contemporary era. It's a story of 4 sisters and their dad. Their mom has already died of cancer 4 years earlier when the book starts and there are mentions of her, but it's one of those things that is more sad for an adult reading it than a kid. No violence at all, but very fun. I think they'd be perfect.


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#11 of 54 Old 11-28-2010, 07:13 PM
 
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I was all set to suggest the original Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, based on her preference for mysteries. Then I remembered that Sherlock was a cocaine addict, and can't recall how prominent that little character fact is in the stories. It's been a long time since I read them, and my memory is clouded by the Hollywood and BBC versions that have played it up. They may or may not be appropriate, I'm really not sure. 

 

I thought of Jane Austen, also suggested by pp, but wondered if the romances would be considered "too mature".  They are certainly tame compared to most teen fiction these days. It's hard to know what some parents will find objectionable. 

 

Eva Ibbotson writes some charming books for tweens/early teens that are historical fiction - Journey to the River Sea, Star of Kazan, etc. She also writes some fantasy (The Secret of Platform 13 and others), so you may have to be careful if you pick her books. 

 

Karen Cushman writes some really good historic fiction for young teens - The Midwife's Apprentice, Matilda Bone etc. about plucky girls who are making lives for themselves in medieval England. 

 

How about some non-fiction? Something like Walden by Thoreau or some inspiring biographies (Rachel Carson, Georgia O'Keefe, etc.) Hmm, maybe not O'Keefe (affairs etc.)

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#12 of 54 Old 11-28-2010, 07:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been all over the boards lately recommending The Penderwicks by Jane Birdsall. There are only two books so far, but I think they'd fill the bill. They're about 250 pages and have an old fashioned feel, but are set in the contemporary era. It's a story of 4 sisters and their dad. Their mom has already died of cancer 4 years earlier when the book starts and there are mentions of her, but it's one of those things that is more sad for an adult reading it than a kid. No violence at all, but very fun. I think they'd be perfect.



THANK YOU!  They DO sound perfect,and I like that there are more coming.  I will check those out.  

 

To whomever recommended the Anne books, I am pretty sure she has read those.


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#13 of 54 Old 11-28-2010, 07:16 PM
 
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A Girl of the Limberlost is a classic full of "old-fashioned values" that your niece's family would approve of. Plus, a great story and wonderful protagonist!

http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Limberlost-Gene-Stratton-Porter/dp/1934169315/ref=tag_dpp_lp_edpp_ttl_in

A Girl of the Limberlost (1909) by Gene Stratton Porter is the story of a poor Indiana girl Elnora Comstock who lives with her emotionally abusive mother, a stern heartless widow, at the edge of the Limberlost Swamp. Elnora attends school against her mother's wishes, fighting every inch of the way for her dream of an education, and collects and sells moths and other rare biological specimens from the swamp to pay for her schooling, books, and bare necessities. At first a laughingstock of her fellow students, Elnora persists against unfair odds, and asserts her true self.

A wonderful turn-of-the-century novel of discovery of identity, wonders of nature, friendship, family trust, love, and the process of growing up in the magical shadow of the Limberlost.
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#14 of 54 Old 11-28-2010, 07:20 PM
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The first four or so pages (and the last line) of the second Holmes novel, The Sign of Four are ALL about cocaine - what Holmes uses, why, how he administers it, how Watson feels about it, that Holmes also uses heroin.  The first Holmes novel, A Study In Scarlet has the Mormons as the main villain (Brigham Young makes a shadowy cameo appearance).  I love both books, but I wouldn't recommend either for a sheltered ten-year-old.  The Hound of the Baskervilles might be pretty cool, though, and there are some good collections of the short stories.   

 

While I prefer not to read abridged versions with my own children, the Holmes stories are widely available in editions that have been abridged for children.  Those might be well worth looking into in this case. 

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#15 of 54 Old 11-28-2010, 08:04 PM
 
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Homecoming and Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt

 

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

 

The Trixie Beldon mystery series by Julie Campbell

 

All Creatures Great and Small (and the following books in the series) by James Herriot

 

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#16 of 54 Old 11-28-2010, 08:13 PM
 
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I wouldn't stress so much about what level the book is at and instead go with interests of the child. Even most adult novels top out at the 5th grade level. You'll be quite limited if you are looking for actual 10th grade material. Both mine were at or above the high school level in reading at that age but they were still 10 and so still wanted books they could actually relate too. My DD was more than capable of reading "Pride and Prejudice" at 10 but she balked at reading anything involving romance. At 13, she can't get enough of it lol.  

 

How about horse novels? We know tons of girls (myself included) that just loved series like "The Black Stallion" or "Misty" or "National Velvet." I second "Anne of Green Gables" and reccomend "Emily of New Moon" by the same author. She might like the "Little House" series though she may have already read them. Unfortunately, most of my regular reccomendations are fantasy. It's too bad your niece can't read them as fantasy is one of those genres where you can find LOTS of higher level material that is appropriate but can also interest young readers.


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#17 of 54 Old 11-29-2010, 07:04 AM
 
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I wouldn't stress so much about what level the book is at and instead go with interests of the child. Even most adult novels top out at the 5th grade level. You'll be quite limited if you are looking for actual 10th grade material. Both mine were at or above the high school level in reading at that age but they were still 10 and so still wanted books they could actually relate too. My DD was more than capable of reading "Pride and Prejudice" at 10 but she balked at reading anything involving romance. At 13, she can't get enough of it lol.  



ITA, DS is younger, so the age vs. reading levels in question are different, but when finding books for him interest and content take precedence over reading level. Some of his books are challenging for him to read, but most of them are an enjoyable easy read for him.

 

With that in mind, I'm going to suggest Encyclopedia Brown.  They have recently been re-released in a boxed set.  They are a very easy reading level, but they fit with the interest in mysteries, and are very age appropriate.

 

Is the concern over anything fantasy one of scariness, or is it about religious beliefs?  If it's about scariness, we could probably think up some pretty gentle fantasy type books to start her on, such as some of the E. Nesbit books.  If it is about religion, then possibly they would be ok with things like the Narnia books, which were written by a fairly religious man.


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#18 of 54 Old 11-29-2010, 07:17 AM
 
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The first four or so pages (and the last line) of the second Holmes novel, The Sign of Four are ALL about cocaine - what Holmes uses, why, how he administers it, how Watson feels about it, that Holmes also uses heroin.  The first Holmes novel, A Study In Scarlet has the Mormons as the main villain (Brigham Young makes a shadowy cameo appearance).  I love both books, but I wouldn't recommend either for a sheltered ten-year-old.  The Hound of the Baskervilles might be pretty cool, though, and there are some good collections of the short stories.   

 

While I prefer not to read abridged versions with my own children, the Holmes stories are widely available in editions that have been abridged for children.  Those might be well worth looking into in this case. 

 

Ah, thank you for clarifying. The abridged versions are a idea. I don't like abridgements either, but they may be the answer. 

 

The Girl of the Limberlost is a good suggestion. When I was about 8 or 10, I liked it and Freckles.  

 

 


 

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#19 of 54 Old 11-29-2010, 08:14 AM
 
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I was going to recommend Trixie Belden too. 

A great place to search for books is Chinaberry.  http://www.chinaberry.com/  They're well reviewed books. 


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#20 of 54 Old 11-29-2010, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the new suggestions!  There are some great ones I had forgotten. She is a horse lover, so I bought her The Black Stallion boxed set two years ago, and her other aunt gifted The Little House series a while back as well. I'm keeping The Chronicles of Narnia in mind for her birthday if she hasn't read them already or possibly Anne/Emily all of which I really enjoyed!

 

eepster--The concerns about fantasy are both.  She may now be getting old enough to deal with the scary factor, though.  As for reading level, she does prefer books that are a bit more challenging to read.  I was much the same at her age--it could be a good story, but if it was too "babyish" I didn't enjoy it!  The challenge of reading was part of the fun.

 

 

 

I am just back from the book store.  I ended up buying The Penderwicks and its sequel (the first won the National Book Award--who knew!) and The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. The latter is the first in a series, and the synopsis on the back cover sounded fun.  If she likes it, she can get the subsequent books later.  I was jealous, though, that children's paperbacks are so affordable--I got all 3 for $25.  I wish I could buy my own reading material so cheaply!!

 

Does anyone know anything about the Enola Holmes series?  I read about it briefly when I googled to find mystery recommendations, but I haven't heard anything about it otherwise.


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#21 of 54 Old 11-29-2010, 10:54 AM
 
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The challenge of reading was part of the fun.

 

This puts things into a different perspective...
 

Does she like crossword puzzles?  you could get her a collection.

 

Maybe it's time for truly hard stuff then, some Shakespear isn't that mature.

 

What about poetry?


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#22 of 54 Old 11-29-2010, 06:54 PM
 
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Does anyone know anything about the Enola Holmes series?  I read about it briefly when I googled to find mystery recommendations, but I haven't heard anything about it otherwise.


DD read a couple for her mystery book shares within the last couple years.  She doesn't like mysteries, as a general rule, but enjoyed them.  She was 9 & 10 and reading at a 9th-10th grade level, but they definately were not challenging at all.


 

 

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#23 of 54 Old 11-30-2010, 08:19 AM
 
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sorry getting in on this thread late but I was this kid... very advanced reader but socially/emotionally not "advanced" at all and I HATED all the teen themes in the kiddie lit.

 

I second the "classics" ideas. Often less "mature" themes anyway b/c of culture at the time, and the language is a little bit arcane and dense, making it more challenging to read.

Amazing writer I don't see listed- E. Nesbit. Lots of fun, series about "regular" kids in Edwardian England. Nesbit was a very interesting character herself.

Also Edward Eager is a lot of fun, and he's very inspired by Nesbit (often then kids are reading Nesbit in his books... BTW the kids are all avid readers which I think is cool... and they mimic the adventures in some of the Nesbit books).

MoominTroll series? Weird but fun.

I loved the Hobbit but was way too scared by Lord of the Rings at that age.

 

some more recent literature written for younger readers that I've enjoyed as an adult

Haroun and the Sea of Stories (Salman Rushdie)

The Everlasting Story of Nory (hilarious story of a very smart and funny girl who moves to London)

 

Matilda Bone and others by Katherine Cushman (might be too "easy" a reading level though)


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#24 of 54 Old 11-30-2010, 10:51 AM
 
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Amazing writer I don't see listed- E. Nesbit. Lots of fun, series about "regular" kids in Edwardian England. Nesbit was a very interesting character herself.

 


E. Nesbitt is great. Eager is lovely too, though not nearly as good literature or as challenging in the language. These books do have magic in them. Not sure if that's a problem for the girl in question. The magic isn't of the sorcery sort that conservative Christians tend to be leary of, more of the "charm that grants wishes" and "fairy in the garden" sort.

 

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#25 of 54 Old 11-30-2010, 11:00 AM
 
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Some of the E. Nesbits are magic-free. There's The Railway Children, and the perfectly hilarious Bastable Family series -- starts with The Story of the Treasure Seekers, and continues with The Would-Be-Goods. I will say that Nesbit raises issues with racial stereotypes, class prejudice, and anti-Semitism. These are totally in keeping with cultural attitudes in England when the books were written, but unpleasant to come across now, and I don't remember how much they rear their heads in the Bastable books (I've never read Railway Children).

 

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#26 of 54 Old 11-30-2010, 11:46 AM
 
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Go for classics:

Watership Down

Where the Red Fern Grows

Secret of Nimh

I loved all the Margarite Henry books at that age, even if they were easy to read

 

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#27 of 54 Old 11-30-2010, 01:03 PM
 
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Some of the E. Nesbits are magic-free. There's The Railway Children, and the perfectly hilarious Bastable Family series -- starts with The Story of the Treasure Seekers, and continues with The Would-Be-Goods. I will say that Nesbit raises issues with racial stereotypes, class prejudice, and anti-Semitism. These are totally in keeping with cultural attitudes in England when the books were written, but unpleasant to come across now, and I don't remember how much they rear their heads in the Bastable books (I've never read Railway Children).

 

Class prejudice shows up in Railway Children, but it's in the form of people being extra nice to the family because the mom is a "real lady".

 

Around age 12, I couldn't read Watership Down because it was scary and tedious.
 

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#28 of 54 Old 11-30-2010, 01:13 PM
 
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Madeleine L'Engle's stuff.

 

Wrinkle in Time has a science fiction element but is pretty straight up Christian (the author was a devout Episcopalian)--I use it with a church book club for 4th-6th graders.

 

The Meet the Austen's series is also lovely (by the same author).

 

Wolves of Willoughby Chase (don't recall the author right now) was a hit with my 4-6th graders (all of whom are "gifted") and for Christmas they are reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (which is much beloved!).


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#29 of 54 Old 11-30-2010, 02:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks again, everyone!!  More great ideas--I loved Where the Red Fern Grows, though I get teary just thinking of it.


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#30 of 54 Old 11-30-2010, 04:12 PM
 
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Some of the E. Nesbits are magic-free. There's The Railway Children, and the perfectly hilarious Bastable Family series -- starts with The Story of the Treasure Seekers, and continues with The Would-Be-Goods. I will say that Nesbit raises issues with racial stereotypes, class prejudice, and anti-Semitism. These are totally in keeping with cultural attitudes in England when the books were written, but unpleasant to come across now, and I don't remember how much they rear their heads in the Bastable books (I've never read Railway Children).

 


actually I think she was fairly progressive for her era... more so than some of the stuff in the Little House books! But yes, it has to be taken in historical context and some adult guidance with that is good. My parents always read the books I was reading at that age and I plan to do the same with my kids!


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