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Best books for ten (10) year-old girls

Posted by Kate on Oct 17, 2010

One of Kate’s children recently turned ten, and, as it happens, someone @nosycrow follows on Twitter has just asked for reading recommendations for ten year-old girls (in this case, a ten year-old girl who likes to read).

To be a girl of ten reading in English is to be spoiled for choice. Not only are some of the great classics of children’s literature yours for the taking, but the last twenty years has seen a fantastic flowering of great writing for pre-adolescent children particularly in the UK, but also, it seems to Kate, in the US and in Germany. Here are the books that instantly sprang to Kate’s mind, some from her own childhood, some from 20+ years publishing children’s books (and she did publish some of the books below), and some from her experience of her own children’s preferences. No ten year-old reader is like any other ten year-old reader. Some of the books below are easier reads than others, and some more literary than others, but Kate’s a great believer in a varied reading diet. The categorisation was the first one that came to mind and is just a way of breaking up the list, and there are many others. Many books could be in more than one category, of course: Millions is very funny as well as being about an ordinary boy, and Eddie Dickens is historical as well as hilarious.

What are your suggestions? What has she missed?


Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery
Little Women by Louisa M Alcott
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield
The Narnia stories by C S Lewis
The Little House on the Prarie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Just William books by Richmal Crompton
Matilda by Roald Dahl
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Silver Sword by Ian Serrallier

Funny books:

The Eddie Dickens books by Philip Ardagh
Molly Moon books by Georgia Byng
Larklight books by Philip Reeve
Ally’s World series by Karen McCombie
The Mr Gum books by Andy Stanton
The Ramona books by Beverley Cleary
The Rover books by Roddy Doyle (especially The Meanwhile Adventures)
The Humphrey books by Betty G Birney
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson
(And, since this blog post was written, My Best Friend and Other Enemies by Catherine Wilkins.)

Time-slip/historical books:

Charlotte Sometimes by Philippa Pearce
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
Hetty Feather by Jacqueline Wilson
Tom’s Midnight Garden by Phippa Pearce
Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
The Wolves of Willougby Chase by Joan Aitken
Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
The Rose books by Holly Webb
Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden
The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico
The Kite Rider by Geraldine McCaughrean
(And, since this blog post was written, Twelve Minutes to Midnight by Christopher Edge.)

“Ordinary girl (boy)”/school stories:

Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton
St Clare’s series by Enid Blyton
Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Cloud Busting by Malorie Blackman
Most of Jacqueline Wilson’s work (though things like Love Lessons are a bit old for 10 year-olds), but Tracy Beaker is Kate’s personal favourite
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Ida B by Katherine Hannigan
Three Weeks with the Queen by Maurice Gleitzman
(And, since this blog post was written, the Olivia series by Lyn Gardner and the brilliantly-reviewed The Secret Hen house Theatre by Helen Peters)

Fantasy stories:

Ink Heart by Cornelia Funke
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
The Dark is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Charlie Bone books by Jenny Nimmo
Harry Potter books by J K Rowling
Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan
Into the Woods by Lyn Gardner
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
The Mennyms by Sylvia Waugh
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman (a bit top-end of the age-group, this)
No Such Thing as Dragons by Philip Reeve
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve (a bit top-end of the age-group, this)
Stig of the Dump by Clive King

“Real-life” stories:

Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah (a bit top-end of the age-group, this)
The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig
The My Story books, especially Titanic (actually fictionalised, but still based on real historical events)
The Horrible Histories books
The Horrible Science books

Comments (26)

  1. I would recommend Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly. It’s a first-person narrative from the perspective of a seventeen year-old girl who is dealing with sisters, parents and boys in 1940s America.

    It came out in 1942 and was written by a then 21-year old Daly. It’s widely considered to be the world’s 1st YA novel, which is pretty cool.

    kyle Sunday October 17, 2010 #

  2. I would add anything by Jerry Spinelli – particularly Stargirl. Also, The Diary of Ann Frank.

    Lauren Ace Sunday October 17, 2010 #

  3. I thought about both Stargirl and The Diary of Anne Frank, but decided against including both on grounds of both being too old.

    Kate Wilson Sunday October 17, 2010 #

  4. I would add Watership Down to the list. Not soppy, but exciting and emotional.

    Sue Ransom Sunday October 17, 2010 #

  5. My children are arguing for the following books, which I considered but thought might be a bit too young:

    The Dolls’ House by Rumer Godden

    The Didakoi by Rumer Godden

    The Clarice Bean novels by Lauren Child

    Bill’s New Frock by Anne Fine

    And the following books which I considered but thought might be a bit too old/scary:

    Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D Taylor

    Flambards by K M Peyton

    Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver

    I, Coriander by Sally Gardner

    Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

    Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls

    Other books they said I should include, all of which I’ve read and many of which I agree I should have included were:

    The Railway Children by E Nesbit (truly a serious omission, I think, from my original list of classics)

    The Thieves of Ostia by Caroline Lawrence

    Born to Run by Michael Morpurgo

    Coralline by Neil Gaiman

    Savvy by Ingrid Law

    A Spoonful of Jam by Michelle Magorian

    Varjak Paw by S F Said

    This Morning I met a Whale by Michael Morpurgo

    The Mozart Question by Michael Morpurgo

    Kenzuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo

    Sparks by Ally Kennen

    Kate Wilson Sunday October 17, 2010 #

  6. What about the wonderful Casson family books by Hilary MacKay? My 10 year old and my 14 year old both hooked. I love them.

    And ‘the Exiles’ books by Hilary MacKay- so funny!

    And the sequel to ‘The Little Princess she has just written, called ‘Wishing for Tomorrow’?

    “Running Wild’ and ‘Mr Nobody’s Eyes’ by Michael Morpurgo

    and , under classics, ‘The Rescuers’ and “Miss Bianca, a Fantasy’ by Margery Sharp.

    ‘Time stops for No Mouse’ and the other Hermux Tantamoq books by Michael Hoeye – brilliant for both boys and girls.

    ‘Five Children and It’ by E. Nesbit.

    Is Paddington Bear too young? I still read him and I am 45!

    The Moomintroll books by Tove Janssen.

    ‘The Revenge Files of Alastair Fury’ by Jamie Rix – about a boy but appreciated by my 10 yr old girl.

    ‘Charlotte’s Web’ by E.B. White

    ‘Granny Nothing’ by Catherine MacPhail.

    ‘The Five Findouters and ‘The Mystery of..’ series, The Secret Seven, ‘The Secret of..’ series, The famous Four’, all by Enid Blyton.

    This is too addictive and exciting. Must stop.Thanks for asking!

    Pippy Longtocking by Astrid Lingden.

    ‘What Katy Did’ & ‘Pollyanna’ – the piety may be offputting but, like ‘Little Women,’ and ‘Anne of Green Gables’, great
    characters. Maybe best in modern film adaptations…

    Anne Booth Sunday October 17, 2010 #

  7. Thank you for some great additions. Ooh, I swithered (good Scottish word) about the Casson Family books. I love them and so do both my children. I thought that they might be a bit old, and was kind of saving them for another post…

    Kate Wilson Sunday October 17, 2010 #

  8. I was just drifting off to sleep when I remembered ‘The Land of Green Ginger’ by Noel Langley – the story of Aladdin’s son, Abu Ali, one of the wittiest extensions of a fairy tale ever written. I grew up with one version, including a character called Nosy Parker, (who I was very sorry to see has been edited out of the most recent edition), but even the ‘thinner’ modern version can still make 10 year olds and upwards laugh out loud. Look out for the wicked Princes, Rubdub Ben Thud and Tintac Ping Foo, the delightful Princess Silver Bud, Abu Ali’s friends Boomalakka Wee and Mouse, and a certain button nosed tortoise. Highly recommended for 10 year old girls and boys!

    Anne Booth Monday October 18, 2010 #

  9. Really interested that The Land of Green Ginger still worked for you and your family. I remembered it fondly, and tried it, but gave up. So dull and made my PC hackles rise! Still, it’s this kind of subjectivity that makes children’s books conversations great.

    Kate Wilson Monday October 18, 2010 #

  10. Thanxx this was very useful info. :P

    Raghed Sunday March 20, 2011 #

  11. im nine and ive read all the jacquline wilson tenage books like love lessons

    bethany Sunday August 21, 2011 #

  12. A good book/s to include would be:

    The diary of Anne Frank,
    Eight Cousin’s by Louisa May Alcott and Tilly’s Pony tale by Pippa Funnell

    Rachael Monday April 23, 2012 #

  13. I would recommend Bliss by Kathryn Littlewood(my favourite book), Sundae Girl, Indigo Blue, Dizzy,Scarlett and Angel Cake by Cathy Cassidy and Secrets, Midnight, Hetty Feather, Saphire Battersea, Lilly Alone and Little Darlings by Jacquline Wilson.

    ailbhe moore age 10 Thursday July 5, 2012 #

  14. I would recommend the giver, mockingbird, eight keys, the hunger games trilogy,matched

    Lexi age 10 Sunday September 16, 2012 #

  15. I’m ten years old and I personally think the following books i list every ten year old girl should read :

    The cupcake diaries
    Dork diaries
    Judy Moody
    Almost every Jaqueline wilson books

    Jubaydah Tuesday January 1, 2013 #

  16. I would recommend everything Lexi age 10 recommended. I have every book other than eight keys and they are really good.

    Camilla age 10 Wednesday February 6, 2013 #

  17. I am 10 and by 9 ive read every diary of a wimpy kid even though it is kind-of for boys but its gr8 any way

    noa Wednesday March 13, 2013 #

  18. My 10 year old loves David Williams books. He’s a bit like Dahl. Gangsta granny and billionaire boy in particular. I noticed a post saying that the diary of Anne frank might be a little old, but my daughters class were reading it a few months back and she enjoyed it. Probably depends on the child.

    Sarah Monday March 18, 2013 #

  19. My daughter loves books by David Walliams. She also enjoyed The Ranger’s Apprentice.

    Nikki Thursday April 4, 2013 #

  20. add the series the doll people!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ( :

    Eleanor Tuesday June 4, 2013 #

  21. What about Bridge to Terabithia?

    Robert Norbut Sunday July 7, 2013 #

  22. i would add the RULES FOR GIRLS books by Meg Cabot, some of the situations in the books are the ones many people can relate to.
    i would also add some Liz Kessler books such as ‘the tail of Emily Windsnap’ which is one of my favourite Liz Kessler books, but i don’t think the Liz Kessler book ‘Poppy the Pirate dog’ is very good for 10 year old girls such as myself.

    overall, i think the list is very good and gives girls who don’t like reading a good chance.

    plus, by the way Kate, i think you should also do a list like this one for 8 year old boys for i know few that like books.
    thank you

    Tia Wells-Brook Tuesday July 23, 2013 #

  23. I think that you are really clever because I love reading these books and so does all of my family. I have even read some of those for the first time and they are fab

    Niamh Saturday October 19, 2013 #

  24. I would recommend Cornelia Funke. I adored her books. The Thief Lord, Dragon Rider, Ink heart, Ink spell, Ink death.

    Kathryn Tuesday April 8, 2014 #

  25. I recommend the Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series that has books such as Santa Claus Doesn’t Mop Floors or Angels Don’t Know Karate

    megan Sunday January 4, 2015 #

  26. What about Charlotte’s Web? I haven’t read it, only heard about it. What age is it suitable for?

    Farzana Sunday April 5, 2015 #

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