Many 11 Plus exams, whether for private schools or secondary schools, contain text that is difficult to understand. The texts can be on unfamiliar topics and contain complex vocabulary and sentence structures.
Getting children to read appropriate classic books helps them develop the ability to deal with more complex English and helps them develop a larger vocabulary.
Here are some examples of classic texts that have appeared on a variety of 11 Plus exams over the past few years (the list is not exhaustive):
- Tess de los D'Urberville - Thomas Hardy
- Kipps – HG pozos
- The Way to Wigan Dock - George Orwell
- Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain
- TThe Mill on Dental Floss - George Elliot
- Tobermory - H. H. Monroe
- Far from the hustle and bustle - Thomas Hardy
- Longitude - Dava Sobel
- The Destroyers - Graham Greene
- Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
While most of these books would not be fun for most children, they can prepare for this type of complex writing by reading classic books that they might enjoy. Below we have compiled a list of classic books that we think children will definitely enjoy.
For more general information on the 11 Plus exams, including exam types and their structures, see belowthis link. If you want to know more about the English look of the 11 Plus, follow alongthis link. To download from our variety of free articles in English, followthis link.
Why is it so important to read classic books?
Classic books introduce children to more complex sentence structures and a larger vocabulary. Both are essential to the success of 11 Plus. Children who read classic books also tend to develop better reading speed and accuracy than other children.
Learn more about developing a large vocabularyClick here.
Or for more information on using classic books to offer paired readingClick here.
Exams 11 Plus - List of classic children's books
We have compiled a list of classic books below that we believe will be helpful for children. In many families, children read a textbook (usually less advanced) in their free time, have a book for their own fun on the go, and have a separate book to use for shared reading activities with their parents. . We recommend starting with classic books likeread in pairsactivity and see how it goes. We've tried to give an indication of what the book is about and how difficult each title is. Of course, we could have picked a thousand more books, but these are all classic parent-recommended books that we've seen successfully read as part of an 11+ prep program for decades.
Classic books for young children.
This book contains all 168 famous fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson. We always recommend this book (especially for younger children) as the stories are relatively short and the themes appeal to children.This book is great for partner reading.
This is a collection of the works of the Brothers Grimm. A book that all children should learn about from an early age. Because there are so many stories here, you can focus on the ones that resonate with your child the most. The book contains all the classics (Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White) plus many other equally good stories.
You can choose one of Roald Dahl's books, they are all very suitable for children. This collection brings together the best (The BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Twits). We have found that many children really enjoy reading these books.
Enid Blyton as a successful children's book author. He has written many series and it's normal for kids to jump into a series and then want to read all the books in it. Although all of Enid Blyton's books are eligible, two series have been specifically chosen.
These titles can be purchased individually, but we think it's nice (and cheaper) to buy them as a box. Malory Towers follows the adventures of girls at a Cornish boarding school. Enid Blyton's original books introduce her heroine, Darrell Rivers, and follow her and her classmates from her freshman year through her senior year in a six-book series.
These titles can be purchased individually, but a collection is very popular. The Famous Five is perhaps Blyton's most popular series. The books follow the adventures of four children and their dog, Timmy. Each book focuses on a different adventure. We have found that once children have access to these books, they want to continue reading them.
More advanced classic books for children
The classic story of Ed Malone (journalist) and Professor Challenger (explorer) and their journey into the depths of South America where a lost world of dinosaurs awaits them. This is a really exciting adventure that kids love.
A true classic of children's literature. The book introduces and deals with Mary Lennox (10 years old).Living as he (after the death of his parents) moves from India to his uncle at Misselthwaite Manor.
The adventures of two groups of children learning to sail and taking part in numerous adventures in the Lake District. Swallows and Amazons is the first in a series of books.
The most famous classic high fantasy children's series. Beginning with The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and continuing through seven books, the action takes place in the fictional kingdom of Narnia. We definitely recommend trying itThe lion, the witch and the wardrobeBut you can also buy the box set with all seven books, which is pretty good value for money.
Based on Laura's memories of her childhood, these books have been firm favorites for years.
In this book, the action takes place in the woods of Wisconsin. Kids who like Little House on the Prairie will also like Little House in the Woods
The adventures of three children who are resettled during the war. Her father is falsely accused of being a spy and they team up with an old man they befriend to clear his name.
Featuring Tom's best friends Huck Finn and Joe Harper, this book follows Tom's adventures in Missouri.
Another classic book by Twain. This one focuses on Huckleberry Finn and his adventures, although it also features his friend Tom Sawyer.
A suspenseful novel that begins with Crusoe's numerous sea adventures that led him to shipwreck for many years. One of the best adventure stories of all time with a happy ending.
Anne is an orphan who is sent to a farm to help Mirilla and Cuthbert with their work. They wanted a boy, but Anne works well. Anne forms a very strong bond with Mirilla and returns to Green Gables to help her towards the end of her life.
This is a fantasy trilogy. Five Kids and It (the first in the series) begins with a group of children discovering a sand fairy (Psammead) who encourages them to make a series of wishes, many of which don't end well. Each of the books can be read individually or as part of the series.
A story about a group of children trapped on an uninhabited island trying to rule themselves. Modern conventions of behavior are soon left far behind in favor of survival of the fittest. The process has devastating consequences.
Classic fantasy novel. The Hobbit (Bilbo Baggins) is about toWin part of the treasure guarded by Smaug the dragon. The story tells of Bilbo's adventures and his growing maturity. This book is often a favorite that parents read with their children.
This is Tolkien's epic fantasy trilogy. The intention was to write a sequel to The Hobbit, but what Tolkien did was much grander than that. More than 150 million copies were sold. The Lord of the Rings is published in three volumes:
Over the years, this book has captured the imagination of many children. If your child has shown an interest in fantasy books, this is usually an ideal classic book for them.
Animal Farm is essentially a critical commentary on Stalin's rule in Russia after the Russian Revolution. Despite its strong allegorical background, the book has appealed to generations of children. You have no trouble understanding the basic concepts of justice/injustice and equality/inequality, which feature prominently in the book.
Many parents and children are a little apprehensive about the prospect of reading classic books together, you don't have to be. Our advice is to try it and see how it goes. There is sure to be a classic on this list that will capture your child's imagination. Remember that reading classic books is essential for children who want to develop a larger vocabulary and be able to handle the more complex texts that they will find in the 11 Plus comprehension activities.
Try some of the links below to review the books to use when preparing for 11 Plus:
- CEM 11+ resources and preparation for verbal reasoning
- CEM 11+ resources and preparation for nonverbal thinking
- CEM 11+ Resources and Preparation for Numbers
- More than 11 resources and preparation in English
- 11+ math resources and preparation
- 11+ resources for verbal reasoning and preparation
- 11+ non-verbal reasoning and preparation resources