Child choosing a book

Isabelle's 'Alternative' 11+ Reading List

A curated list of fun and exciting books that will help boost your child’s learning and expand their vocabulary.

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1. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate. As order collapses, the hope of adventure seems as far from reality as the hope of being rescued.

2. Animal Farm by George Orwell

A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality.

3. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe relates the tale of an English sailor marooned on a desert island for nearly three decades. An ordinary man struggling to survive in extraordinary circumstances, Robinson Crusoe wrestles with fate and the nature of God.

Clemency is utterly penniless and entirely alone, until she’s taken in by the marvellous Marvels – a madcap family completely unlike her own. But it’s a surprise to them all when she’s mysteriously bundled from the house by the frightening Miss Clawe. Concerned about her fate, the Marvels set out to find her. Enlisting the help of some not-quite-genuine Red Indians, it’s a calamitous race across the country.

5. The BFG by Roald Dahl

When Sophie hears that they are flush-bunking off in England to swallow a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!

6. Matilda by Roald Dahl

At age five-and-a-half, Matilda is knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her! But everything is not perfect in Matilda’s world. Navigating self-centered parents, a nightmare of a school principal, and her own superpowers, join Matilda in her journey through elementary school.

7. Infernal Devices by Philip Reeve

When a dangerously charming submarine pirate offers Wren a chance to escape, she doesn’t think twice about leaving her home and her parents behind. But the pirate wants something in return – Wren must steal the mysterious Tin Book. To do so will ignite a conflict that could tear the whole world apart.

8. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer revolves around the youthful adventures of the novel’s schoolboy protagonist, Thomas Sawyer, whose reputation precedes him for causing mischief and strife.

A nineteenth-century boy from a Mississippi River town recounts his adventures as he travels down the river with a runaway slave, encountering a family involved in a feud, two scoundrels pretending to be royalty, and Tom Sawyer’s aunt who mistakes him for Tom.

10. Football Against The Enemy by Simon Kuper

Simon Kuper travelled to 22 countries from South Africa to Italy, from Russia to the USA, to examine the way football has shaped them. During his journeys he met an extraordinary range of players, politicians and – of course – the fans themselves, all of whom revealed in their different ways the unique place football has in the life of the planet.

11. Poison for Breakfast by Lemony Snicket

This true story – as true as Lemony Snicket himself – begins with a puzzling note under his door: You had poison for breakfast. Following a winding trail of clues to solve the mystery of his own demise, Snicket takes us on a thought-provoking tour of his predilections…

12. Touching the Void by Joe Simpson

In the summer of 1985, two young, headstrong mountaineers set off to conquer an unclimbed route. They had triumphantly reached the summit, when a horrific accident mid-descent forced one friend to leave another for dead. Ambition, morality, fear and camaraderie are explored in this mountaineering classic.

13. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Montgomery

Anne Shirley, an eleven-year-old orphan, has arrived in this verdant corner of Prince Edward Island only to discover that the Cuthberts—elderly Matthew and his stern sister, Marilla—want to adopt a boy, not a feisty redheaded girl. But before they can send her back, Anne—who simply must have more scope for her imagination and a real home—wins them over completely.

14. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.

15. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aitkin

Wicked wolves and a grim governess threaten Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia when Bonnie’s parents leave Willoughby Chase for a sea voyage. Left in the care of the cruel Miss Slighcarp, the girls can hardly believe what is happening to their once happy home.