The Discoverer, by N. C. Wyeth

The Discoverer, by N. C. Wyeth

Ten to Twelve Years Old

This page lists books to read to children or for them to read to themselves. For books about children and childraising, see Education.

Many books listed on the pages for earlier ages continue to be suitable for this age, and may be appreciated with a growing sophistication.


  • Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. Anne Shirley, though an orphan, has a romantic, bold and sometimes headstrong character that wins her adventure, bosom friends and the love of initially-cold foster parents.
  • Beowulf, A New Telling by Robert Nye. The legendary story of Beowulf -- a renowned, though unconventional, hero -- begins when he arrives in a foreign land to rid it of a hideously malevolent monster.
  • Harry Potter by Rowling, J. K.. Through a rare ability and his moral courage, a boy plunges into a world of exotic adventure, fighting a battle for good against evil, and against the ignorance and hostile indifference of many.
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. A teenage boy is the only survivor of a small-plane crash in the middle of the Canadian wilderness, and must now survive on his own.
  • Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth by E. L. Konigsburg. Elizabeth longs to be special, as Jennifer is. But when she really has to choose, Elizabeth discovers the virtue of integrity.
  • Pasteur's Fight Against Microbes by Beverly Birch and Christian Birmingham. Louis Pasteur, through observation, careful exprriment and induction, discovers microbes. This is a crucial discovery in biology and medicine. His story is an emblematic example of the role of evidence and the mind in science.
  • Sophie by Tal Tsfany.

    Sophie is a book for 10 to 16-year-olds designed to inspire kids through a virtuous young girl named Sophie. Sophie embodies a rational, confident, independent personality that deals with hardships and conflicts in her own special way.

    Leo, Sophie's best friend, tells the story from his point of view. Doing so, he is learning and introspecting, trying to understand Sophie's unique approach to life.

    The book tries to give your child a role model, to demonstrate the principles and virtues that are required to live a heroic, fulfilling life, regardless of what their specific journey is.

    Sophie is illustrated by my son Ron, a talented (and I'm very objective...) young illustrator who captures the essence of Sophie, Leo, and their unique relationship.

    In today’s media and art scenes, it is rare to find pieces of art that inspire and feed the soul with inspiring heroes. Sophie will hopefully give that gift to your child.

    Sophie will give you, the parent, an opportunity to discuss important philosophical topics with your child.

    -- from the publisher

  • Swallows and Amazons. Several children, while on school holiday, are permitted by their parents to use a small sailboat to explore the lake they are staying at. Here, they discover and colonize an island, but discover that there are other chldren also sailing the waters, children who are as inventive as themselves. Told with great detail and from a child's point of view, thes stories convey a sense of boundless., realistic adventure.
  • The "What's Happening to My Body" Book for Boys by Area Madaras. This book gives boys entering puberty the information they need to understand the changes to their bodies, emotions, and, interests. The explanations are sensible, non-threatening, and in terms understandable to a boy becoming a teen.
  • The "What's Happening to My Body" Book for Girls by Lynda Madaras and Area Madaras. This book gives girls entering puberty the information they need to understand the changes to their bodies, emotions, and, interests. The explanations are sensible, non-threatening, and in terms understandable to a girl becoming a teen.
  • The Arthur Trilogy by Kevin Crossley-Holland. Thirteenthth-century Arthur develops his values and becomes a young man at the time of the fourth crusade, aided by a "seeing stone," which gives him a view into the sometimes parallel, sometimes very different life of the legendary Arthur, and gives the reader much to think about, both of the myth and history, and also of more philosophic ideas such as purpose, independence, and values.
  • The Miracle Worker by William Gibson. Twelve-year-old Helen Keller lived an animal's existence, blind, deaf, and without language, and shielded by her parents from the challenges and possibility of becoming human. Anne Sullivan, a brilliant and determined tutor, changed that by teaching Helen sign language and demanding that Helen rise to the potential of a thinking, volitional, conceptual being.
  • The Mysterious Valley by Maurice Champagne, author; introduction by Harry Binswanger; translated by Bill Bucko.
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Mary grew up in India, ignored by her parents and a tyrant to her native servants. Suddenly orphaned, she is brought to England to the home of her mother's brother, Misselthwaite manor, where she finds a cousin, Colin, even more spoiled than she is. But she also finds a neglected garden and a boy, Dicken, who helps bring the garden back to life. Mary, Colin and her uncle are all restored in the process of awkening the garden again.
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Lawyer Atticus Finch defends rationality against irrationality, in the form of respect for individuals against collective, racial prejudice. The deeper theme is the importance of forming character judgments of other people on the basis of evidence, carefully weighed, not on superficial appearance or tribal membership.

  • A Child's Treasury of Poems by Mark Daniel, editor. An excellent selection of poems for children beginning to think conceptually about the world, from mideaval times up to the work of Browning, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Stevenson, Dickinson, Rosetti and Kipling.
  • A Gathering of Days, A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32 by Joan W. Blos. A young girl in 1830's New England records in her journal her thoughts about growing upthe important issues she faces, including her father's remarriage, the role of women, and the debate over the morality of slavery.
  • A Triumph for Flavius by Caroline Dale Snedeker. See the catalog from American Home School Publishing, page 51, for a description and ordering information.
  • A Turn for De Wurst by Sydney Kendall. What ideas will control the school of De Wurst: Obedience or Independent thought?
  • Adventures with a Hand Lens by Richard Headstrom. Clearly written guide to observing and studying flowers and grasses, fish scales, moth and insect wings, egg cases, buds, feathers, seeds, leaf scars, moss, molds, ferns, common crystals, etc., all with an ordinary, inexpensive magnifying glass. 209 exact line drawings aid in your discoveries. (Publisher's description)
  • Adventures with Insects by Richard Headstrom. Discover the myriad forms, habits and habitats of insects in 39 fascinating adventures guided by noted author and teacher. You’ll encounter eggs that look like flowerpots, weevils like pebbles, galleries of termites, much more. Opens your eyes to hundreds of nature’s tiny miracles. 307 illustrations by the author. List of biological supply houses. (Publisher's description)
  • Black Ships before Troy, The story of The Iliad by Rosemary Sutcliff. Homer's epic poem, The Iliad, is one of the greatest adventure stories of all time. In it, the abduction of the legendary beauty, Helen of Troy, leads to a conflict in which even the gods and goddesses take sides and intervene. It is in the Trojan War that the most valiant heroes of the ancient world are pitted against one another. Here Hectore, Ajax, Achilles, and Odysseus meet their most formidable challenges and in some cases their tragic ends. Rosemary Sutcliff makes such extraordinary stories as those of those Trojan horse, of Aphrodite and the golden apple, and of the fearsome warrior women Amazons, accessible to contemporary young people. (publisher's summary)
  • Boys At Work by Gary Soto. Principle: Acting Long Range, Thinking for Oneself. Rudy gets into trouble when he accidentally breaks the Discman belonging to a neighborhood tough guy. He recruits his best friend to help earn money to replace it. The boys try lots of jobs, from combing fleas off cats to babysitting messy twins. Their accomplishments are told with humor and suspense.
  • Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry. New York Herald Tribune: "A boy's character at ten years old is more often influenced by emotion than by reasoning. Something in the conduct of a hero leaps like a spark to light his own spirit. A book with a hero can sometimes bring this about. This is such a book.... It is related with unusual skill, carrying along a reader so rapidly he scarecely realizes how well it is being told... The story is wild enough to be remembered, and it cannot be remembered without doing good."
  • Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham. Nat Bowditch appeared to be an unpromising sailor as he was smaller than the other boys in Salem. But his intelligence and determination to master mathematics led him to revolutionize navigation and made him a hero.
  • Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfeld. Seven boys in ancient Rome use courage and rationality to solve some very strange crimes.
  • Einstein Anderson by Seymour Simon. Principle: Focusing the Mind. This series has as its hero a young man who solves mysteries by science facts. This is great reading material for children who love science and shows how valuable this information is in everyday life.
  • Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol. Principle: Focusing the Mind. Leroy Brown is an unusual ten-year-old. He has the nickname Encyclopedia because his head is filled with facts he learned from books. He is a great help to his father, the chief of police in Idaville, when it comes to solving difficult cases. In this series of cases that Encyclopedia investigates, the reader is invited to solve each himself before he reads the conclusion at the end of the book.
  • Ice Story, Shackleton's Lost Expedition by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. Beautiful photogrpahs and text tell the gripping story of Shackelton's expedition, in which courage, rationality, and strong leadership enabled Shackelton to survive loss of his ship, months on the Antarctic ice, a 15-day journey across icy water in an open boat, and traversal of mountains, to bring eventual rescue to his crew, with no loss of life.
  • Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Bjork. Principle: Focusing the Mind. Originally published in Sweden, this book tells a delightful story and introduces information about art. Linnea has always loved flowers, and goes with her upstairs neighbor to visit the museums in Paris and the home of Claude Monet. She is thrilled to see his gardens and his lily pond, and to meet his great-grandson and learn about his life.
  • Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C. S. Forester. Here we meet Horatio Hornblower, a young man of 17, in this Volume #1 of what becomes the 11 volume set about the career of this British Naval officer fighting against Napoleon and his tyranny of Europe in the late seventeen hundreds. Bullied and forced into a duel, he takes an even chance. And then he has many more chances to show his skills and ingenuities - from sailing a ship full of wetted and swelling rice to imprisonment and saving the lives of shipwrecked sailors. And along the way, he fights galleys, feeds cattle, stays out of the way of the guillotine, and makes friends with a Duchess. Here Hornblower becomes a man and develops the strength of character which will make him a hero to his men, and to all England. (publisher's description)
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien. Mrs. Frisby, an ordinary mouse, discovers an extraordinary society of rats, and gradually learns the secret of their origin and their plans, with surprising implications for her history and the future of her family.
  • My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. (autobiography) Gerald's family takes him, aged ten, to the Greek island of Corfu for several years. He finds it full of colorful people, fascinating animals and much adventure.
  • Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper. In the first of of five books in "The Dark is Rising" series, teh Drew children find an old map that draws them into a fight of good against evil, based on the Arthurian legend.
  • Redwall by Brian Jacques. Principle: Thinking for Oneself, Self-confidence. The heroes in this series are mice, moles, hares, and a large badger. They are a peaceful group until it comes to defending their home at Redwall or rescuing some of the residents. Then they use their wits against the villains, who are foxes, weasels, stoats and rats. Most of the villains rely on brawn rather than brains to try to take the heroes as slaves and confiscate their property. Only the evil leaders can plan trickery until the brave small creatures defeat them.
  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. In a landmark epic of fantasy and storytelling, Philip Pullman invites readers into a world as convincing and thoroughly realized as Narnia, Earthsea, or Redwall. Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford's Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing - victims of so-called "Gobblers" -and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person's inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved. (publisher's description)
  • The Light Beyond the Forest by Rosemary Sutcliff. The Tale of King Arthur and the Holy Grail.
  • The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds. In 1756, New York State was still a British colony, and the French and Indians were constant threats to Edward and his family. When his father was called away to watch for a raid from the north, only Edward was left to protect Mama and little Trudy. His father had shown him how to use the huge matchlock gun, an old Spanish gun that was twice as long as he was. But, would Edward be able to handle it if trouble actually came?
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde dramatically brings to life a science-fiction case study of the nature of good and evil and the duality that can exist within one person. Resonant with psychological perception and ethical insight, the book has literary roots in Dostoevsky’s The Double and Crime and Punishment. Today Stevenson’s novella is recognized as an incisive study of Victorian morality and sexual repression, as well as a great thriller.
  • The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois. Professor William Waterman Sherman sets out to have a relaxing year of sailing aimlessly in a baloon whereever the wind takes him. Instead, he crashes on the supposedly-uninhabited island of Karakatoa, discovers an amazing and urbane civilization and escapes with his new friends just in time to avoid being blown to bits by an enormous volcanic explosion.
  • The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine. Princess Addie thinks that she is not brave, but to save her beloved sister Princess Meryl who has fallen terribly ill, she sets off on a dangerous quest to find a cure. As she rises to the increasing challenges, she discovers just how brave, resourceful and purposeful she really is. A recommendation and a warning: Through the end of the quest, the story is one of my faovrite in children's literature, full of bravery, selfishness and heroism; after the quest, the story takes a turn to mysticism that undercuts the heroic purpose.
  • The Wanderings of Odysseus, The Story of the Odyssey by Rosemary Sutcliff. Odysseus fights ten years to return home to his beloved wife Penelope, encountering ceasless dangers and adventures. On winning home, he metes out justice to those who would steal his wife and kingdom.
  • Tiffany's Table Manners for Teenagers by Walter Hoving (author) and Joe Eula (Illustrator). Charming illustrations accompany sound and considerate advice on manners, both principles and practice.

  • Nutcracker by E. T. A. Hoffmann, Maurice Sendak (Illustrator), Ralph Manheim (Translator). This vigorous translation of E. T. A Hoffman's story has complexity, poetry and depth missing from other versions. Here we find stories within stories from the mysterious Herr Drosselmeyer, the curse of Madame Mouserinx, what happened to Princess Pirlipata, the origin of the Nutcracker and his enmity with the Mouse King, and how Marie, by her bravery, saved the town, married the prince and became Queen of Marzipan Castle.


  • Rattatouille by Pixar. An animated rat pursues and achieves the career he loves.
  • Toy Story by Disney, Pixar. Woody overcomes his jealosy and Buzz Lightyear his delusions when they realize that the values they hold in common are more important than their rivalry.
  • Toy Story 2 by Disney, Pixar. Woody discovers that a finite life full of values is better than a value-empty immortality.

Text Books and Reference Books

  • Websters New World Children's Dictionary. Of all the children's dictionaries I've looked at, this one typically has the most conceptual definitions, that is, definitions naming the essential characteristics of the term defined rather than non-essentials and incidental consequences.


  • History at Our House – Historian Scott Powell offers classes by teleconference and recommends books to read.
  • Jason Crawford's Children's Book Recommendations – This is a list of children's books recommended by Jason Crawford based on his recollections of what he valued as a child.
  • Kids Need History Early – You want to include history in your homeschooling curriculum, but you face a lot of tough questions. At the top of the list are what to teach, and how. But if you want to help your child to appreciate history, an equally important question is when to start teaching it. The sooner children start learning the right history, the greater the chance they will learn to love it.
  • Music at Our House – Music teacher M. Zachary Johnson teaches children to understand and appreciate the value of music to leading a value-rich life.
  • VanDamme Academy Favorite Books by Grade Level – An excellent list of books for children, grouped by the grade level they are typically appropriate for.
  • Why History? – Why should kids study history? Why should anyone, for that matter? Here is why.