children's books, summer reading

Summer top 10: recommended reading list for readers age 10 to 14

School may be out, but the summer holidays are an ideal time for relaxed reading. Moreover, according to the National Literacy Trust, spending just 10 minutes a day reading makes a huge difference in combating what experts call ‘summer learning loss’.

To help, here are our 10 current favourite tomes for readers aged between 10 and 14. We’re self-confessed book obsessives, so narrowing down the line-up was no easy task – and, of course, there are many other great reads for this age group.

Holes by Louis Sachar (10–12)

When teenager Stanley is wrongly sentenced to juvenile imprisonment, and forced to dig holes, he suspects there may be more to this punishment than meets the eye…

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo (10–14)

Published in 2003, this unflinching account of war centres on soldier Thomas ‘Tommo’ Peaceful, who looks back on his life in the World War I trenches.

Stone Cold by Robert Swindells (12–14)

This tense thriller, a Carnegie Medal winner, focuses on teenager Link, who teams up with fellow homeless youngster Deb, an aspiring journalist determined to track down a serial killer.

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery (9–12)

At nearly 90 years old, this classic series is as loved as ever. When Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert seek to adopt a boy to help them on their farm, the last thing they’re expecting is a feisty 11-year-old red-headed girl…

A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley (10–14)

When Penelope goes to live with her great-aunt, she ends up journeying through time to Elizabethan days – and becomes embroiled in a plot to free Mary Queen of Scots. First published in 1939, this adored story has been republished in recent years.

Watership Down by Richard Adams (12–14)

This gripping, prize-winning adventure story may be about bunny rabbits, but it’s anything but sweet and fluffy. Young Fiver feels certain an evil will befall his warren. No one listens, but he eventually convinces some of his fellows to leave.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (12–14)

Bruno befriends Shmuel on the other side of a fence around a prison camp, without knowing why their friendship is forbidden. Finally, he gets underneath the barrier to help Shmuel hunt for his missing father… A powerful story which won two Irish Book Awards.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (10–11)

In the first of the timeless Chronicles of Narnia series, we follow Lucy, Susan, Peter and Edmund as they step through a wardrobe door into a wintry Narnia. Combining adventure, fairy tale and fantasy, this unmissable read continues to captivate young imaginations.

Stig of the Dump by Clive King (9–13)

The first original Puffin, published in 1963, this is the story of Barney, a lonely eight-year-old who befriends Stone Age caveman Stig, who is hidden in a local chalk pit. A modern classic that’s never been out of print.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (from 7 up to any age!)

Unwanted orphan Harry Potter lives unhappily with his aunt and uncle. However, on his 11th birthday his life changes forever when he learns that his dead parents had been powerful wizards and that he, too, has magical powers. He attends Hogwarts, a boarding school for wizards, where he makes many good friends and a few very unpleasant enemies. Harry’s successive adventures as he attempts to find out the truth about his parents’ deaths have bewitched a generation of young (and older!) readers.

Happy holiday reading! We’ll be back soon with some more titles for even younger readers.


  • Karena Jarvie
    Posted at 23:01h, 30 July

    What a brilliant list!

    • Karen Elwis
      Posted at 23:03h, 30 July

      Glad you approve 🙂 There are so many other great books that could easily have been added. It was so hard to choose just ten!