a peek inside the fishbowl

19 Jul, 2012

Great summer reads for girls 10+

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy

Summer reading

There was a great article somewhere (I wish I could remember where I read it) about kids and reading. The author said that beginner readers can get away with reading anything. Any reading is good reading because there still learning how to put words together… even if they’re words from crappy comics, poorly-written storybooks (and they ARE out there) and the back of cereal boxes. But as they get older, their reading choices become a little bit more important.

When the girls were younger I used to have complete control over what they read. I flipped through every book they brought to me at the library, if it was good, I added it to a pile of books I added to as well. Somewhere along the line I started giving the girls free reign. The eldest even went to the library without me on some days. And THEN she discovered the teen section upstairs at the Carlingwood Branch. Oy.

The girls consume books faster than I can and they come home with armloads of books I don’t even have time to peek at. I got to thinking about that article, and realized that although I don’t expect them to be reading Moby Dick, they definitely weren’t reading enough of the good stuff. I know summer is supposed to be the season of beach reading, but I wanted them to digest fewer fluffernutters and take in some cheese & tomato on multigrain toast if you catch my meaning.

I decided to ask the pros for some suggestions and they came through with a fantastic list I am posting here today. By the way, these recommendations come to us from Elizabeth Thornley, Coordinator, Children and Teen Services and Librarian at the Ottawa Public Library.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead [Ed: we read this at our Mother-Daughter Book club. At the end of it you’ll be, like, WHOA. It’s a really great read.]
Twelve-year old Miranda’s favourite book is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. When Miranda starts to receive cryptic notes that seem to show that someone knows about things that haven’t yet happened – she is somehow caught up in a tale that is just as curious as her time-travelling favourite.

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
When their cousin Salim doesn’t get off after taking a ride on the giant London Eye observation wheel, Ted and Kat are sure that they can figure out what has happened to him. After all, the adults, including the police, don’t seem to be doing a very good job. Narrator Ted, who has Asperger’s Syndrome (or something similar), thinks that his “different” way of thinking will be useful in helping to find Salim. One way to visit London during this Olympic year!

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
When Claudia Kincaid decides to run away from home, she wants to run to somewhere, not just from somewhere. She chooses somewhere beautiful – the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and she chooses her brother Jamie, to accompany her – he is one with the money! What Claudia discovers there, will change her forever.

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Selznick, the author of the The Invention of Hugo Cabret, creates another brilliant story told through images and text. In this case, the parallel stories are that of twelve-year olds – Rose, a deaf girl living in the late 1920’s and Ben, also hearing impaired, who lives in the late 1970’s. Rose’s story is told in pictures and Ben’s story in words. The “wonder” is in both the illustrations and in the way that the two stories connect. Selznick includes many references to the Konigsburg classic From the Mixed-Up Files… (above) – read both and see how many you can find!

The Whole Truth by Kit Pearson
During the Great Depression – the early 1930’s – Polly, who is almost ten, and her older sister Maude have to leave Winnipeg because their father has just died (their mother died many years before) and now they are going out to British Columbia to live with a grandmother they don’t know. Along with their uncertainty, they carry with them a secret – a secret that Maude insists they not share with their new family.

The Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Eric Berlin
Winston Breen loves puzzles – so, when the antique box he gives his sister for her birthday contains a hidden drawer with a puzzle inside, everyone thinks he chose it on purpose. But no, Winston has no idea where this puzzle came from – but, he sure does want to solve it! The town librarian, a giant ex-police officer, two strangers and a young reporter all get involved too – party treasure-hunt and party mystery!

And some of my additions to the list:

The Sisters Grimm series – I think they’re up to 9 or 10 books now, but this is a a very fun fantasy series involving two brave and smart young girls and fairy tale characters who live in their town. The first one in the series is called the Fairy-tale Detectives.

The Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke is also a great read. Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living, can “read” fictional characters to life. I actually found it hard to say goodbye to the amazingly creative world that Funke created.

The Kronos Chronicles – The girls and I reading this series right now and we have not been able to put it down. In this series, twelve-year-old Petra, accompanied by her magical tin spider, goes to Prague hoping to retrieve the enchanted eyes the Prince of Bohemia took from her father, and is aided in her quest by a Roma boy and his sister. Begin with The Cabinet of Wonders.

A book that Emma enjoyed recently (and was recommended to us by one of the librarians at the Carlingwood Branch) is a Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson. It’s about a girl named Isabel who was sold to a cruel couple in New York City who then spies for the rebels during the Revolutionary War. (Edited to add: This too is a series! Thanks for letting me know Sassymonkey!)

You can find all of these titles and request them at online at the OPL website.

Got any recommendations to share? I’m all ears!

11 Responses to "Great summer reads for girls 10+"


July 19th, 2012 at 11:51 am


Great post, I love to read and couldn’t agree more! My parents would read to me and my brother every night, and now that I am older I still enjoy reading on my own.

2 | sassymonkey

July 19th, 2012 at 12:00 pm


Chains is actually the first book the Seeds of America series. The second book is Forge and the third book, Ashes, is coming out this fall.

There’s also Jodi Lynn Anderson’s May Bird books. And Francesca Lia Bloch’s Weezie Bat books. Elizabeth Cody Kimmel’s Suddenly Supernatural.

I’m looking forward to reading Ellen Potter’s The Humming Room.

3 | Siobhan

July 19th, 2012 at 12:18 pm


The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (and the rest of her books). Mysteries, word play, and strong female characters.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.

Phantom Tollbooth. The Lemony Snickett series. Trumpet of the Swan. Angel Square. Bunnicula. Cricket in Times Square. Lizard Music. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

(Sorry if they aren’t age-appropriate – I don’t categorize things by reading level. I started reading “adult” novels (mostly SF/fantasy) at about age 10, but I never stopped reading “kid” novels.)

Oh, and have they read the Wrinkle in Time books in addition to the book about the girl who likes them?

I can’t wait until my niece and nephew are old enough for me to lend them all my weird and wonderful books.

4 | Siobhan

July 19th, 2012 at 12:36 pm


Oh, and I definitely second Weetzie Bat! :)

5 | Misty Pratt

July 19th, 2012 at 1:08 pm


I think around that age I read every Kit Pearson book I could get my hands on – she has a great series all about children who were set to Canada from England during the Second World War. We also spent a whole month in England that summer, and I spent all my vacation money on The Famous Five books (Enid Blyton I think??)….not sure if you can find them here in Canada, but I own the whole series still! ;)

6 | Hilary

July 20th, 2012 at 5:38 am


Misty beat me to it – I devoured Kit Pearson as a girl this age! All her books are amazing, but it’s the ‘evacuee series’ (first one is The Sky is Falling) that are my faves. Lois Lowry is also brilliant.

I will never forget my mother’s horror (also an OPL librarian) when I discovered the Babysitter’s Club books. She tried to bribe me not to read them. Note to parents: not the way to do it ;)

7 | Sarah

July 20th, 2012 at 8:10 am


40 years ago when I was in grade 7, our teacher in Library class (yes it was a class back then) started reading a book to the class but never finished it. When I had my boys I started thinking about books that would be good for them to read and I thought about that book from grade 7. I really enjoyed the book but I couldn’t remember the name, so I went to the main public library children’s area and asked if they knew the book, they didn’t. I tried doing searches on the computer but couldn’t find it. But now, thanks to you, I have the name – From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler! Thank you so much. I just ordered the book.

8 | Alexandra

July 20th, 2012 at 8:20 am


Some of my favourites:
Un Lun Dun by China Mieville (I have a glass milk carton in my office because the main character in this has one as a pet – adorable!)
Pure Dead Magic (first in a series) by Debi Gliori
Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
Quid Pro Quo by Vicki Grant (Canadian!)
Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos (first in a series) R. L. LaFevers (would go well with the Kronos Chronicles)
Plain Kate by Erin Bow (Canadian award-winner)
The Summer of Permanent Wants by Jamieson Findlay (local setting!)

The last two are reviewed in my best books of the year lists here: http://ottawapubliclibrarian.blogspot.ca/search/label/best%20books

9 | Alexandra

July 20th, 2012 at 8:21 am


Also, btw, I sit on that exact bench almost every day for lunch!

10 | Lucy

July 20th, 2012 at 12:56 pm


Just wanted to pass on another great reading website specifically for girls.

A Mighty Girl …http://www.amightygirl.com/

It’s billed as “The world’s largest collection of books and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls”

We love this site!

We’ve used their topic sections to find books to address specific issues…we’ve had a bit of playground drama lately and we found a couple of great stories that helped with the hurt feelings.

11 | Tried and true Christmas gifts for tweens and young teens >> a peek inside the fishbowl

December 1st, 2012 at 8:07 am


[…] In case you’re also thinking about buying books for your tweens and teens, here are a few past posts regarding some of our favourite books… with lots of reader suggestions […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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