6 non-fiction reads for kids this summer, recommended by kids aged 9 to 11

Kids are often gifted books for Christmas, but the trick is to get them to read them!

No one likes nagging their kids to read, though we know reading is crucial to their critical and literacy development.

But what do they think about books and reading over the summer? Kids’ voices are often overlooked when it comes to cultural criticism.

For the past two years, I have been facilitating a children’s book club. In our most recent session, I asked the participants – aged 9 to 11 – to share their summer reading recommendations.

My research has found that kids respond positively to non-fiction books in social reading environments. Reading non-fiction impacts positively on their civic and critical literacy. So, we focused on non-fiction recommendations.

These tips – straight from the kids themselves – might help adult readers to know what books to buy this Christmas, or to hunt out at the library over summer.

1. You Don’t Know What War Is: The Diary of a Young Girl from Ukraine by Yeva Skalietska

This is an eye-opening and heart-breaking story about a 12-year-old girl called Yeva Skalierska, living through the Ukraine war of 2022.

A normal girl who loves school and spending time with friends, she suddenly goes through shelling and bombing right out the front of her own house. She travelled around Ukraine with her grandmother, and many other Ukrainians, trying to escape the war and danger. This book is Yeva’s personal diary account of the experiences of the war through her eyes.

I found it fascinating that a girl so similar to me can be going through something so drastically different. This is happening at this very moment, not in the history books, which makes me wonder why we have to have more war like this. This is a good book for anyone wanting to understand the impact of war on children and families and to put into perspective the things we might complain about that don’t really matter.

– Chloe, age 11

Read more:
5 must-read books about Russia and Ukraine: our expert picks

2. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Inspiring Young Changemakers by Jess Harriton and Maithy Vu

This is the latest book in the amazing Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls series.

The book contains 100 short stories about young changemakers. A changemaker is someone who has achieved something in the world to make it a little bit better. These changemakers are from all parts of the world with different abilities.

The book is introduced by conservationist Bindi Irwin. The subjects in this book include Greta Thunberg (activist), Isabella Springmuhl (fashion designer) and Zendaya (actor and singer).

I think this book is wonderful because this Rebel Girls book focuses on young people only. Young girls aren’t usually recognised as having an impact in the world, so that’s what makes this book special. People who read this will see how great young people are at making the world a better place.

– Darcy, age 11

Read more:
Empathy starts early: 5 Australian picture books that celebrate diversity

3. Welcome to Your Period by Melissa Kang and Yumi Stynes

This is a very informative book about welcoming you to your period and what is going on with your body as you grow up and start changing into a young woman. The authors are two women that have experienced everything you’re starting to go through and know all the tricks to managing your period.

They understand what you’re going through and how you may feel about the situation. The book makes you feel as if it’s nothing to worry or be scared about. The authors act like your big sisters; they’ll guide you and teach you everything you need to know about your body. They make you feel comforted, with different alternatives to manage your period to suit your body type, and help you talk to somebody you can trust and help you through that process.

I think that this book is a really great preparation for when you don’t have your period but when you feel like you need to start managing it or talking to a helpful adult who can help you through this tough time.

– Arly, age 10

Read more:
First periods can come as a shock. 5 ways to support your kid when they get theirs

4. Barefoot Kids by Scott Pape (2022)

This book is all about money and how to invest properly. It teaches you about money and how to use it a “smart” way.

Usually, when I think of a book about money, I think “oh no I’m not reading that!”. But this book was super fun, exciting and interesting. I loved it. It included short interviews of children who started a business and got heaps of money. It was really inspiring and amazing for giving ideas. It had good instructions of what to do to earn money, and I found it interesting that children five and up can have their own business.

I definitely recommend this book to other kids aged nine and up, because I gave it to my cousin who is nine years old, and she loved it. It definitely helps children to be “smarter” with money than most adults. I think it would be very intriguing for kids with a short attention span.

It tells kids that they are the boss, while also telling them to get parents’ permission and help. It tells you how to separate money into four buckets and has apparently changed lives. I give this book a five-star rating.

– Sienna, age 11

Read more:
Teaching kids about maths using money can set them up for financial security

5. How to Speak Dog: a Guide to Decoding Dog Language by Aline Alexander Newman

How to Speak Dog is a fantastic book about how to communicate with dogs. This book tells you when your dog is sick, sad, happy or scared. It has many interesting facts about dogs. It even tells you how to deal with an aggressive dog and what to do if a dog attacks you. How to Speak Dog even has some pages on how to train your dog.

I think people will like this book because it has lots of information about dogs and dogs are a common pet. They could have a new puppy with some bad habits, and they might need help training their pup.

I have a dog and this book was very helpful to me because I learnt from it that my dog is scared when he shows the whites of his eyes. My favourite thing about this book is that they have funny facts on every page. Facts like: “A dog can smell half a teaspoon of sugar dissolved in an Olympic sized swimming pool.”

– Avery, age 9

Read more:
To pat or not to pat? How to keep interactions between kids and dogs safe

6. Against all Odds: Young Readers’ Edition by Richard Harris and Craig Challen

This is an interesting, educational, and suspenseful book, with exhilarating and thrilling twists all through it.

(Editor’s note: the book tells the inside story of the cave rescue of a boys’ soccer team in Thailand, back in 2018. It’s written by the two Australian cave divers involved in the rescue.)

This book explained everything in great detail, giving the reader a real idea of what’s happening. I liked how they made the book extremely fascinating, and the authors went far to explain everything to an understandable degree.

I disliked how such a large chunk of the book was an autobiography about Craig and Richard. I would recommend this for 10-15 year olds, since younger children may not understand the complex vocabulary used in the book. I would rate it 7.5/10.

– Molly, age 11

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