Seven inspiring books for kids this summer, chosen by kids aged 11-12


Written by:

Kate Douglas, Flinders University

Kids aged five to 14 read less in their spare time than they did four years ago, according to a recent study – but a healthy 72.4 per cent still like to read.

How can we encourage children to keep reading?

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Supporting kids to choose what they read is crucial to reading motivation. My research explores how reading books they feel personally connected to, with characters they can empathise with and relate to, can help them become more motivated readers.

And there are some simple things you can do to encourage and support your kids’ reading choices.

You can make time to visit a local library or bookshop (which might be a second-hand bookshop, or the books section of your local op-shop).

You can provide your kids with websites or catalogues they can browse and let them choose from them.

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And you can stay open to books in accessible formats, like graphic texts, digital books and audiobooks – available for free from most libraries – which are crucial in supporting diverse reading needs.

In the spirit of celebrating choice, here are some summer reading recommendations from kids aged 11 and 12, who belong to a book club I run. I asked them each to review an inspiring book they’d chosen for themselves – whether they borrowed it from a library or a friend or asked someone to buy it for them.

Their recommendations reflect their interest in diverse representations, inspirational role models and accessible reading formats.

1. Not Here to Make You Comfortable: 50 Women Who Stand Up, Speak Out, Inspire Change

Not Here to Make You Comfortable (Penguin Random House) is an awesome book that tells the stories of 50 incredible women who have fought for what they believe in.

It is full of inspiring stories about women who have made a difference in the world, including fighting for equal rights and showing people that your body isn’t gross at all. I learned so much about these amazing women and their accomplishments.

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I was especially inspired by the stories of Taylor Swift, who wasn’t afraid to claim what was hers, Celeste Barber, who shows women how to be proud of their bodies, and neurodivergent actor, author, and podcaster Chloe Hayden, who wrote a book about how being different is a superpower.

I highly recommend this book to any girl or boy who wants to make a difference in the world.

– Chloe, 12

2. My Journey to the World Cup by Sam Kerr

My Journey to the World Cup is about Sam’s achievements and how she got into the amazing sport of soccer. This non-fiction book has different parts: Sam’s stories, lots of photos, interviews with Sam and teammates, fact sheets and statistics.

Sam talks about playing for local, national, and international clubs and for Australia – and how she felt when she played. The book aims to inspire readers and motivate them to do the things they love and to always try their best. It motivates me to know other people feel the way I do about the value of teamwork.

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This book would appeal to many readers, including people who play a sport, who like watching the Matildas, or who are interested in Sam Kerr. The book is written for readers of my age and older.

– Darcy, 12

3. The Amazing Edie Eckhart by Rosie Jones

Edie Eckhart is an 11-year-old girl who has cerebral palsy. The Amazing Edie Eckhart, written by Rosie Jones, a comedian with cerebral palsy, is about Edie starting high school.

She has a best friend named Oscar, who has been with her since day one. Everything is exciting until Edie is put in a different class to Oscar. Now she cannot rely on him to help her all the time. She has to figure out how to be independent on her own. Edie thinks she is not good enough and will never be like the others. But the moral of the story is that her slower talking and different way of walking does not stop her from achieving success.

This book is funny, warm, and heartfelt. This book is aimed at young readers, to teach them that even disabilities cannot stop you from reaching your dreams.

– Arly, 11

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4. The Boy From Boomerang Crescent by Eddie Betts

The Boy from Boomerang Crescent (Eddie Betts, Simon & Schuster) is about Eddie’s life before, during and after football.

Eddie grew up in Kalgoorlie and Port Lincoln. He shares stories about his large family and playing with his brothers and cousins. Throughout his whole career, he was raising his own children, which shows how important family is to him.

Eddie talks about starting and ending his football career at Carlton, as well as his time at the Crows and their infamous camp. He talks about his coaches and how they influenced him, and the impact of the death of former Crows coach Phil Walsh.

I was inspired by Eddie Betts, as he wasn’t drafted in the first draft and joined mid-year, when he was very unfit. He could have given up, but he put a lot of work in. He didn’t come from the richest family, so had to work harder than most. The book would appeal to AFL fans, sport fans, people interested in stories of overcoming challenges and people who like reading biographies.

– Asher, 12

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5. Dragon Skin by Karen Foxlee

Dragon Skin is about a girl called Pip who finds a baby dragon. She finds it at a waterhole and takes it home to save it. The dragon scratches her and she knows it has given her access to something special. Two other people help her save the dragon, and the cut on her hand opens a portal the dragon flies into.

Meanwhile, her mother has met a guy, and they are dating and living together. He verbally abuses them, but eventually they can get away from him.

This book intrigued me because it had more mature themes and an essence of magic to it. The main character, Pip, inspired me because although she was being verbally abused, she still had the strength and bravery to save a dragon. She also convinced her mum to escape her abusive partner Matt, and she made new friends.

I recommend this book for ages 9-13 years old.

– Sienna, 12

6. We are Wolves by Katrina Nannestead

We Are Wolves is set in the second world war and told from the perspective of a German family. The father must go to war and the rest of the family is forced to evacuate. However, as they are evacuating, the three children get separated from their mother and grandparents. These three children are named Leisl, Otto and Mia. This book is about their survival on their own in a war-struck country.

I found this book interesting because when we learn about wars, we are only ever taught about what happens on the battlefield. We are never taught about what is happening to people who live in these places and are affected and suffer from the consequences of war. I found the main characters very inspiring.

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Overall, I found this book amazing. It had a beautiful storyline that kept me hooked.

– Molly, 12

7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Big Shot by Jeff Kinney

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Big Shot is about a boy named Greg, who is trying out for a basketball team because his mum said he had to try. Greg had already tried out for soccer before, in kindergarten, but he quit – knowing he was terrible!

Greg makes a team and when they start playing, they learn a lot about being a team and being the underdog. Playing is very hard for them and the book is very funny. Greg’s mum wants to teach him playing sports is good for you, no matter if you lose.

This book would appeal to young children who enjoy stories about young people’s lives and who like reading funny books. I found this book easy to read because of the illustrations.

– Daisy, 11

Kate Douglas, Professor of English, Flinders University

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This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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