Books for ducklings

If you look to the right, you’ll see a few books for younger readers on my list of books read this year. There are two reasons for this:

1) As an involved parent, I like to keep up with what my kids are reading.

2) I find books that other people are reading insanely attractive. I’ve read a whole bunch of thrillers and sf space operas over the years that I would never have picked up except the Carnivore was reading them, and I couldn’t resist a little peek. It drives him nuts, which is an added bonus.

I’ve got Demon Duck started on Terry Pratchett, which she’s enjoying. She’s only eight, but she has quite an adult sense of humour. Either that or mine is pretty juvenile, because we laugh at the same things.

Drama Duck is more of a problem. She’s ten and reads as well as someone 14 or 15 – but she doesn’t like to read the kind of thing that’s aimed at 14 and 15-year-olds. She doesn’t like dark or scary or sad, which pretty much rules out most of YA, as far as I can tell.

She loves Emily Rodda’s Deltora Quest books, though she’s bright enough to pick holes in the plots. But she enjoys the adventure and puzzle-solving in them. She also loved The Hobbit. I gave her the first Harry Potter, which she liked, but the movie of it frightened her and she’s shown no desire to read any more of them.

I’d like to introduce her to some good writing, rather than the pulpy girls/babysitting/boyfriends type stuff she often reads, but I don’t know what. At her age I was reading The Lord of the Rings and other adult fantasies. I don’t remember much that came before that except Enid Blyton (which she also enjoys). And though I still read the occasional YA, I don’t read “middle grade” books, so I don’t know what to recommend. I bought her a Garth Nix on the weekend, which looks promising – and there’s certainly a good backlist there if she likes it!

Does anyone have any suggestions of something to suit a fluent but sensitive young reader who enjoys adventure?

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9 Responses to Books for ducklings

  1. Pandababy says:

    When our daughter was ten, her cousins made fun of her because watching “Jaws” at their house gave her nightmares, and they told her she was ‘a boring sissy’.

    The ‘boring sissy’ grew up to go sky diving, ski double black diamond runs, and do other “boring, sissy” things.

    I thought (still think) that exposing young children to bloody and violent movies is a violation of their spirit (they can choose to see them as adults if they want to), so I was not happy with my sister-in-law for her inappropriate choice of a birthday party movie. (That was twenty-three years ago, so I guess it is time for me to get over it.)

    At ten years old, our duckling loved the “shoe” series by Noel Streatfeild (Ballet Shoes, Theater Shoes, etc.), and she also started reading M.M. Montgomery’s books about then – beginning with Anne of Green Gables, (by the time she got to Montgomery’s young adult themes, she was nearly a teenager). “Little House on the Prairie” by Laura Ingalls Wilder – the whole set, was her Christmas present about then, and she still treasures them. (The books are different and infinitely better than the tv series by the same name.) Another series she started reading at that time was C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. The Secret Garden by Francis Hodges Burnett is still one of her favorite books. It was made into a movie – one of the few that did justice to the book about 1988 and our whole family was entranced by it. Pippi Longstocking, and many others were discovered by reading “Honey for a Child’s Heart” by Gladys Hunt, which is now on its fourth edition.

    I realize I’ve named many English classics and you probably have gone through all those already. I sympathize with the difficulties of feeding the voracious maw of a “bookovaur”.

  2. Marina says:

    Thanks, Pandababy. I hadn’t thought of Little House on the Prairie, and I’ve never even heard of the Noel Streatfeild ones.

    I’m definitely with you about scary movies. I can’t believe anyone would show Jaws to a ten-year-old. I’ve never even watched it myself — the book was scary enough for me!

  3. ellsea says:

    I agree with Pandababy – children shouldn’t be scared by what they read or see.

    I’ll second more or less everything on that list, and would throw in a couple of old-school suggestions: Swallows and Amazons is good clean fun, and Enid Blyton’s Famous Five is proving surprisingly popular for my voracious reader. E B White (Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little) is worth a look, too.

    As yours is a little more advanced, the Artemis Fowl books are an absolute hoot, as are the Lemony Snickett ‘Unfortunate Event’ series (tho we got bored on the 5th or 6th one in).

    Something a little different – I adored Susan Cooper (Dark is Rising), Ursula Le Guin (Earthsea) & Alan Garner (Wierdstone of Brisingamen etc) when I was young, tho they are a little darker & more challenging. I’d add Phillip Pullman onto that list as well – aside from the glorious Dark Materials trilogy, he’s written a lot else for children which are equally good. Elizabeth Goudge’s ‘Little White Horse’ (film = Moonacre) is a classic, too.

    Good luck, & happy reading! (Half the fun is actually getting to re-read all these myself, I think …)

  4. Marina says:

    Ellsea — I loved The Dark is Rising. It was by far my favourite book of the series. I must have read it twenty times or more. Ditto The Tombs of Atuan, which was my favourite of the Earthsea trilogy.

    Lemony Snickett is a good idea. I haven’t read any of those. I’ll have a look at one and see if it seems like her cup of tea. Thanks!

  5. Sarah says:

    Hi Marina,

    I made my way over here from Glenda Larke’s blog. I, too, am from the land of Aus.

    I had a quick browse through my bookshelf and thought that perhaps your duckling might like the ‘Wind on Fire’ trilogy by William Nicholson. I read it in my first year of high school and absolutely loved it.

    Great choice with Garth Nix, also. I wouldnt recommend his book ‘Shade’s Children’ however. Bawled my eyes out completely. Of course I could just be a massive baby.

    Glenda Larke’s Havenstar is also a great book for younger people, if you can manage to get your hands on it. I may be a bit biased when it comes to Glenda’s writings, however.

    Anyway, good luck! Love the blog.

  6. Marina says:

    Hi Sarah — welcome and thanks for the input!

    I’ve never heard of William Nicholson but I had a quick look online and the trilogy sounds very interesting, could be just the thing. Thanks for the heads-up on Shade’s Children. We’re all massive cry babies here (me especially!) so we might skip that one.

    I wish I could get hold of Havenstar. It’s the only one of hers I haven’t read. I might have to pin my hopes on someone reissuing it. Lucky you to have found it!

  7. Sarah says:

    Hi Marina,

    send me an email,, and we can discuss the possibility of me lending it to you. If you promise to send it back, of course 😉


  8. Marina says:

    Sarah, that is a lovely thought, but I couldn’t let you do that! Imagine if it got lost in the post. I would feel so bad!

  9. Sarah says:

    And what good is a book, if not to be shared? I dont think it would get lost. But, of course, if you’d rather not, I wont push. It’s just simply too good a book not to read!

    Toll couriers are pretty reliable ;).