Books as Gifts: Recommendations for Kids Ages 8-11

Again, this may seem like a large age range, you’ll also notice some overlap with the ages. The truth is, children’s reading skill levels can vary wildly, especially middle reader ages (around 9-13). I’ll try my best to give you an idea of skill level with all my picks so you can really tailor your gifts to your child’s reading level and interests.

My Recommendations (in order of easiest to most difficult reads):

Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books.

Ramona’s misadventures have been delighting children since the 80s and have gained renewed interest since the big screen release of Ramona and Beezus. These books are a great introduction to chapter books for great for young readers and have only a sprinkling of really challenging words.

Where the Sidewalk Ends By Shel Silverstein

Hilarious poetry the will leave kids of all ages giggling and pondering. Perfectly suitable for reading aloud to younger kids, immensely readable for most 8 and up. Silverstein’s other stories and poetry collections are also quite good.

Judy Blume Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Another immensely entertaining chapter book that most kids in this age range will find highly readable (though maybe slightly more difficult, but shorter, than Ramona).

Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne

With roughly the same difficulty level as Blume, but the addition of mysteries, adventure and the joy of reading, this is a great series for reluctant young  readers.

The Monsters of Morley Manor by Bruce Coville

Toss together all your favorite monsters, magic, mayhem and maybe even aliens and you’ll get Coville’s fun but challenging world. Morley Manor isn’t so much scary as is it an adventure with monsters, still be wary of easily spooked readers. A good one for reluctant readers who are at a higher level than Tree House fans.

James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

At roughly the same reading level as Morley Manor, Dahl’s beloved classic is both fun and heartwarming.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Fun diary format,  with hilarious illustrations, make this the perfect book for reluctant readers and book lovers alike. It’s not as challenging as some of the others but at over 200 pages it is a long (but quick) read.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

This classic adventure is not recommended for reluctant readers, it’s the most challenging so far and due to its age includes some words which will be unfamiliar to many young readers. However, it is a wonderful book for children who enjoy fantasy, and if they like this one several sequels are available. Learning idea: It’s also a great book to read with your kids before of after watching the famous movie as a wonderful way to begin a discussion on the differences between the book and film.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol

Heed the same warnings as Oz. A challenging but enjoyable read with many beautifully illustrated versions. I’m partial to Camille Rose Garcia’s illustrations in the version above.


Check back later for gift ideas for ages 10-13!

See ideas for ages 4-8 here.


One response to this post.

  1. […] to collect at least once copy of each of the 79 books on our gift recommendations lists (found here, here, and here) which will be divided between the 5 classrooms (by age level) as well as donations of […]


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