What Our 11-Year-Old Is Reading This Summer

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11-year-old summer reading books

Our 11-year-old (she'll be 12 in two weeks!) is a very mature reader, unafraid of hefty books (both in depth of content and in page number). If you asked her to name her favorite genre, she would answer quickly and equivocally: "historical fiction." Similarly, she enjoys biographies and autobiographies - especially about missionaries or about perilous times throughout history.

Her other reading interests include action, adventure, and fantasy. She also enjoys browsing non-fiction books to learn new skills - drawing, sewing, hair-braiding, etc.

I’ve listed the books that our 11-year-old read this past summer in alphabetical order by title. I'm probably forgetting a few, but here are the most notable.

***You can also find my summer reading list here and my 9-year-old's summer reads here.***

50 WAYS TO DRAW YOUR BEAUTIFUL ORDINARY LIFE by Irene Smit and Astrid van Der Hulst

50 ways to draw your beautiful ordinary life

This new release by Workman Publishing is delightful. The tagline is "practical lessons in pencil and paper" and the book includes "mini master classes about methods of artistic expression - watercolor, sketching, and tracing." Via the lessons in this book, the reader learns how to draw a cup & saucer, a house, a lamp, a bird, a bike, and so much more. Best of all, the book has room for you to practice right in its pages. The book INCLUDES: tracing paper, postcards, watercolor paper, etcetera. Our 11-year-old is a talented artist so this book was a natural fit for her skills and interests. Both she and I would highly recommend it to any tween, teen, or adult who would like to become more adept at drawing. At under $16, this book is worth its price and would make a truly terrific gift pick!


Kisses From Katie

I passed this book on to my daughter because I read the sequel this summer (Daring to Hope) and was deeply moved by it. Originally published in 2012, "Kisses from Katie" is a memoir by a young woman who moved to Uganda at age 18. Her courage and commitment to Jesus is evident.

An excerpt from the book jacket: "What would cause an eighteen-year-old senior class president and homecoming queen from Nashville, Tennessee, to disappoint her parents by forgoing college, break her little brother’s heart, lose all but a handful of her friends (because they think she has gone off the deep end), and break up with the love of her life, all so she could move to Uganda, where she knew only one person and didn’t even speak the language? A passion to follow Jesus."


Leepike Ridge ND Wilson

"Leepike Ridge" was assigned by my daughter's school as summer reading. I was wary of this title since a few of the summer reading selections have been duds. In the end, however, my Goodreads rating was as follows: "Suspenseful, action-packed, and lots of fun, even if it does dance the rope of unbelievability. Recommended for ages 10-14+."

I also just realized that N.D. Wilson has written a number of other children's books and I'm adding them to my/our list! Especially "100 Cupboards" and "Outlaws of Time."

LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women Puffin

We've had the Puffin edition of this book on our shelves for ages, but this is the first summer my daughter picked it up. The classic story of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy has so many winning elements, but can the ending be forgiven? We still argue that the author got it all wrong.

Of note - we watched the PBS mini-series after she finished the book and it was quite good. I also recently reserved the 90's version (starring Winona Ryder) and we're looking forward to watching that one to compare the two. Last but not least, a modern retelling of "Little Women" is coming out on September 28 and another NEW "Little Women" full-length film is currently under production, starring Emma Watson and Meryl Streep, with a debut date set for December 25, 2019. I'm not sure how many versions are "too many versions," but I think I'd like to see both (so maybe that's the answer).


make 1-hour gifts sewing

Our 11-year-old is a master gift-giver and has been sewing about twice a month with her great aunt so...this slim project-based book was fun for her to browse! Now all she needs is a sewing machine.

The "16 cheerful projects" include: aprons, drawstring backpacks, bowties, coasters, baby bibs, storage trays, scarves, sunglasses cases, tote bags, headbands, broaches, and zipper pouches.


Nevermoor The Trials of Morrigan Crow

I added this one to my daughter's stack because the premise sounded interesting (and that cover art is outstanding). Ultimately, however, the characters didn't draw her in. We've talked at length about the valuable reading practice of giving up books and she opted to do exactly that with this title when she was about 1/2 of the way in. She explained afterward that it "had potential." I haven't actually read this one (have you?).

REFUGEE by Alan Gratz

Refugee Alan Gratz

Another one I haven't read! This novel has three intersecting stories: "A Jewish boy flees Nazi Germany for Cuba aboard the MS St. Louis in 1939. A Cuban girl escapes Cuba on a raft bound for America in 1994. A Syrian boy travels from Syria to Germany in the present day. Three different kids, all connected by one goal: ESCAPE."

My daughter really liked this one, despite it being both harrowing and heartbreaking. In fact, it might have been her best read of the summer. I'm hoping to take her recommendation and read it soon!

WONDER by R.J. Palacio

Wonder RJ Palacio

I read this novel in November 2016 and reviewed it with four stars (which is a high rating from me), "Well-written with memorable characters. Highly recommended for middle and high school students - perhaps even as a read-aloud by the teacher or as a book club pick."

I've been hesitant to speak much about it, however, since the release of the movie. Here's why: parents are rushing to have their younger children experience this lauded story when, in truth, the more appropriate audience for this book is 6th or 7th grades and up.

We haven't watched the movie yet and I would not select this for family movie night since we have younger children (ages 2, 6, 9). That being said, I do hope to find an opportunity to view + discuss the film with my daughter.

Again, I'm glad we own a hardcover version of this book and I DO recommend it for middle + high school students and adults.


Essential Teen Study Bible Red Cork Imitation Leather

Our almost 12-year-old aspires to read her Bible regularly. Her print version of the Bible is the Essential Teen Study Bible, which includes tools for understanding like introductions to each book of the Bible, memory verses, essential questions, behind the story features, and full-color study maps. Although I haven’t read all of the included notes and special features, I appreciate that the tone is more academic and less topical/opinion-driven. In other words, you won’t find any devotionals about dating or peer pressure. More about that Bible, along with a few photos, can be found here.

She also recently asked if we owned or knew about a good audio version of the Bible as she enjoys reading with her ears.  I need to look through our CDs because I'm pretty sure we have a version somewhere. Feel free to leave recommendations if you know of a particularly good one!


If you have an 11, 12, or 13-year-old, what has he/she been reading lately?

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