Book recommendations for my 9-year-old daughter
November 18, 2016 10:40 AM   Subscribe

I like to get my daughter a book or two at Christmas and I'm hoping you folks have some great recommendations. She is a good reader for her age. Some of her favorite books are the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, Louise Erdrich's Birchbark series, Eva Ibbotson's Star of Kazan, and Kate Sered's The Good Master. I think she likes girl heroines, adventure of some sort, and a setting in a different time and/or place. She also been into fairies and mermaids lately (we just read the first Emily Windsnap book).
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather to Media & Arts (55 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
I remember LOVING The Worst Witch series at that age.
posted by lydhre at 10:44 AM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Tiffany Aching books!
posted by rtha at 10:45 AM on November 18, 2016 [7 favorites]

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Number in the Stars by Lois Lowry
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman
Catherine Called Birdy by The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman
posted by Alison at 10:48 AM on November 18, 2016 [8 favorites]

Ella Enchanted is right in that pocket, and a lot of fun

City of Ember might be a good bet. Its sequels aren't as compelling, but they're there to follow the saga if she gets hooked.
posted by Mchelly at 10:52 AM on November 18, 2016

The Witch of Blackbird Pond.
posted by BibiRose at 10:53 AM on November 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

My 10-year-old daughter really likes the Willow Falls series, starting with 11 Birthdays. There are definitely magic elements to them, although not your typical fairy stories. They are aimed more at 11-12 year olds, and they definitely deal with some middle-school level pre-teen coming of age issues, but my kid was definitely ready to think about and discuss that, and the books have opened up some good conversations. Depending on your kid, they might be a good choice. They are also really, really funny sometimes.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:54 AM on November 18, 2016

Harriet the Spy

Is she too young for Heinlein's juveniles?
posted by zadcat at 10:57 AM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Nancy Farmer! I read her books as an adult, and just absolutely loved them. Not pandering at all. She's actually a biologist whose work has carried her all over the globe, and she writes region-specific magical realistic adventure books. (Her bio on her website is a good read all on it's own.) She has won just an enormous amount of awards for most of her series. If I had to describe it, she's a storyteller more than anything else.

A Girl Named Disaster

There's the Trolls Trilogy about a boy and eventually his partner-in-crime Thorgil, a fierce shield-maiden.
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:01 AM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Maybe you know this already, but there is a sequel to The Good Master called The Singing Tree. It takes place after World War I and is a bit darker.

I really liked The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright. It is about the Melendy family, two girls and two boys who live with their widowed father. They decide to start pooling their allowances so they can do more exciting things, and each Saturday, one of the children goes off on some kind of adventure.

Anne of Green Gables is wonderful.
posted by FencingGal at 11:02 AM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Nthing Anne of Green Gables

Pippi Longstocking

The Beverly Cleary books
posted by Hanuman1960 at 11:03 AM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ursula Vernon's Castle Hangnail.
posted by jeather at 11:05 AM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Also if she likes the Little House books, she might also enjoy the All of a Kind Family series.

I fell in love with A Little Princess and The Secret Garden when I was nine. Also The Borrowers, but I just read it to my 7 year old son and it assumes such a wide knowledge of Victorian British vocabulary and technology that it may not work for her.
posted by Mchelly at 11:09 AM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Saturdays. There are a bunch of those books, so find the collection.

Also, Enchantress from the Stars. OHMYGOD this book meant so much to me!

Also, The Gammage Cup and its sequel the Whisper of Glocken.
posted by janey47 at 11:10 AM on November 18, 2016

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede is delightful. Has girl heroine, different setting, and adventurer. The young lady who the story focuses on is bored of being a princess and run away to live with the dragons, I loved this series at her age.
posted by lepus at 11:11 AM on November 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls is a must-read!
posted by bologna on wry at 11:12 AM on November 18, 2016

The Melendy books are great fun.

Edward Eager has a lot of books she might enjoy, starting with Half Magic.

My daughter really enjoyed the Gammage Cup, but she didn't like the sequel as much.

Some more recent books my daughter has enjoyed include:

Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones
Mr. and Mrs. Bunny - Detectives Extraordinaire! by Polly Horvath
The Case of the Missing Moonstone (The Wollestonecraft Detective Agency book 1) by Jordan Stratford
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Murder is Bad Manners (Wells & Wong bk 1) by Robin Stevens
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry
Ms. Rapscott's Girls by Elisa Primavera
posted by mogget at 11:12 AM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, and Caddie Woodlawn seems like it would be right in her wheelhouse.
posted by mogget at 11:13 AM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Wood Sprites by Wen Spencer might be too advanced, but it's about two 9 year old girls and it's an exciting read.
posted by Bruce H. at 11:16 AM on November 18, 2016

Seconding Island of the Blue Dolphins. Also, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:17 AM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

When I was nine, I loved all the Little House books and went on to devour all of the Oz books. Another favorite book was The Seventh Princess, about a girl who gets transported to another world and becomes a vital part of solving a mystery and ending evil within the realm. It's out of print now but used copies are under a dollar on Amazon.

My other favorite book was Behind The Attic Wall, about an orphan girl who doesn't fit in and who eventually starts to find her way. As you finish the book, you realize it's kind of a ghost story, but it's a cozy and gentle one. Also out of print but super cheap on Amazon.
posted by mochapickle at 11:18 AM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you want to go the sort of non-fiction route, I am buying the Daring Book for Girls for a 9 year old this Hanukkah! Lots of cool actitivies (friendship bracelets, paper fortune tellers) and great stories about awesome ladies of history. PLUS one of the authors is a Mefite! (I am also getting her Murder is Bad Manners, as recc'ed above by mogget. She also really likes the Wollstonecraft Agency books.)
posted by leesh at 11:20 AM on November 18, 2016

Oh, and Good Charlotte!

Apparently I was hopelessly obsessed with orphans and boarding schools at age 9.
posted by mochapickle at 11:21 AM on November 18, 2016

I was crazy for Phillip Pullman books at this age, starting with the Golden Compass.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 11:24 AM on November 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

Little Women.
posted by kimberussell at 11:30 AM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Did anyone already mention the Dark Materials books? I have only read the first, which stars a girl. I understand that the others don't.
posted by vunder at 11:34 AM on November 18, 2016

Is she too young for Jane Eyre?
posted by vunder at 11:35 AM on November 18, 2016

I Capture the Castle might work as well.
posted by vunder at 11:36 AM on November 18, 2016

Couple of older suggestions and one newer one. A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones. Ticks all the boxes of girl heroine, adventure and different time(s) and place. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken. Meets the same criteria and is the start of a series (some of which are darker and probably better for older children). In more recent books, my nine-year-old niece really enjoys the Goth Girl series by Chris Riddell, starting with Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse.

Seconding / nthing The Saturdays and other Enright books, Edward Eager, Anne of Green Gables (and other Montgomery books like Emily of New Moon and Pat of Silver Bush), The All-of-a-Kind Family, Little Women and The Secret Garden.
posted by paduasoy at 11:41 AM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I read The Giver by Lois Lowry around that age, and it's stayed with me. Also: The Chrestiomanci Quartet by Dianna Wynne Jones, which is really, truly, wonderful. And her A Tale of Time City which is also fantastic.
posted by Karmeliet at 11:41 AM on November 18, 2016

I LOVED John Bellairs books at that age. I think the first one I read was The House with a Clock in Its Walls, which has a boy protagonist, but I think in a lot of his other books it's either a girl and a boy or just a girl as the main character.
posted by lovableiago at 11:42 AM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Also, that's more or less the age that I started reading the Harry Potter books. The later ones might be a bit intense, but the first two or three aren't too scary at that age.
posted by Karmeliet at 11:45 AM on November 18, 2016

Seconding Witch of Blackbird Pond and Island of the Blue Dolphins.

Around that age, my little sister was into Avi. From what of his I have read I think he would fit the bill. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle was great.
posted by tchemgrrl at 11:55 AM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Matilda! And a couple that are possibly a little too difficult for that age, but so much fun: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making; Howl's Moving Castle.
posted by xylothek at 12:06 PM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think she would love the Betsy-Tacy books.
She may also like Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. (Not the same Betsy from Betsy-Tacy.)
posted by SisterHavana at 12:09 PM on November 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

Grace Lin's books are wonderful. The hardcover editions are lovely.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Starry River of the Sky
When the Sea Turned to Silver (just released)
posted by belladonna at 12:09 PM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Nthing Caddie Woodlawn and Little Women!

And then Little Men! (You read it too!)
posted by jgirl at 12:12 PM on November 18, 2016

Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series don't concentrate on a single girl protagonist, but have lots of girls and boys getting up to adventures in sailboats in the 1920s and 1930s in the Lake District in England. Notably, the Amazons are a pair of sisters who have their own boat and are even tougher than any of the rather straight-laced boys. All of his books are so good, and there are quite a few of them, so she can build up a collection.

(also yes Witch of Blackbird Pond definitely.)
posted by dizziest at 12:55 PM on November 18, 2016

There are many great classic books, some of which have already been mentioned.

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues by Ellen Raskin (check the age level, I think it would work but it's been a while since I've read it)
The Changeling by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Shadowed Summer by (MeFi's own!) Saundra Mitchell
posted by jessamyn at 1:06 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ooh! I haven't seen Tamora Pierce mentioned here! Her quartets (The Lioness Quartet, The Immortals quartet, the Protector of the Small quartet, the Circle of Magic quartet and its sequel, the Circle Opens quartet) are great for younger readers who love female protagonists and magic. Her later books are definitely for a slightly older set, but you know your daughter best.

Seconding Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I loved everything she wrote as a kid, particularly the Green Sky trilogy, the Changeling, the Velvet Room, and A Fabulous Creature. She has this incredible talent for capturing the magic, thoughts, and anxieties of childhood that I really haven't encountered in any other author. I still reread her books now and again.

Madeleine L'Engle is great, of course--I decided around age 8 or 9 to read EVERYTHING SHE'D EVER WRITTEN. I failed a bit in that endeavor but really enjoyed the Austin family books and a Wrinkle in Time series.

T.A. Barron's Heartlight really stuck with me for years afterwards.

Diane Duane's series So You Want to Be A Wizard is another of my favorites, although it may be a little old for your daughter. Again, you know her best, so maybe check it out. I think I first read it around 10 or 11.

Another poster above mentioned Nancy Farmer--A Girl Named Disaster is great, but I think The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm is her best.

The Diamond in the Window by Jane Langton is another I loved as a kid and recently reread. It still mostly holds up though is a little dated.

Edward Eager wrote a bunch of books about kids and magic in their every day lives that are fantastic as well, as did E. Nesbit.

Hope this helps. I love recommending children's books!
posted by Illuminated Clocks at 1:44 PM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Our 9 year old is an avid reader too, and here is what she is raving about now:

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicolas Flamel series (she was Scathatch for Halloween!)

Tuesdays in the Castle

The Penderwicks

Peter and the Starcatchers

She just read and LOVED Out of my mind and Bamboo Sword (both part of the Global Reading Challenge)

I am excited to write down the ones in this list she hasn't read!
posted by lil' ears at 1:44 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding Alanna: The First Adventure and the rest of The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce.

The Sky is Falling (first book of a trilogy) by Kit Pearson. Set at the beginning of World War 2, the book follows Norah and her little brother Gavin as they leave England to stay in Canada for the duration of the war. More of the focus is on Norah, and although the war features in it, it isn't gory etc.

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Two girls start a game of pretending to be in Ancient Egypt, other children join in and adventure and mystery ensues.

Five Children and It by E. Nesbitt.A group of children find a cranky sand fairy who grants them one wish per day. In searching for the link I found that this book is also the beginning of a trilogy, which I didn't know! More books for my TBR list).

You should check out Coraline by Neil Gaiman, if she's too young for it now keep it in mind for the future.
posted by Lay Off The Books at 6:31 PM on November 18, 2016

Ursula Vernon's Harriet the Hamster Princess series. The grade school libraries I volunteer in can't keep them on the shelves.
posted by jlkr at 7:03 PM on November 18, 2016

To Kill a Mockingbird
The School of Good and Evil.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:34 PM on November 18, 2016

Not a specific book recommendation, but if you haven't checked out A Mighty Girl, it has a wonderful collection of books for girls. You can filter by age and genre. Most (all?) of the books they list have female main characters. My neice is a bit younger than your daughter, but this site has given me tons of ideas for years to come.
posted by MuChao at 8:30 PM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Lois Lenski's America books.
Eleanor Estes
Carolyn Haywood
Marguerite Henry
posted by brujita at 11:39 PM on November 18, 2016

A Gathering of Days by Joan W Blos
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:30 AM on November 19, 2016

Lumberjanes: v.1

"Friendship to the max! Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are five best pals determined to have an awesome summer together...and they're not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! Not only is it the second title launching in our new BOOM! Box imprint but LUMBERJANES is one of those punk rock, love-everything-about-it stories that appeals to fans of basically all excellent things. It's Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Gravity Falls and features five butt-kicking, rad teenage girls wailing on monsters and solving a mystery with the whole world at stake. And with the talent of acclaimed cartoonist Noelle Stevenson, talented newcomer Grace Ellis writing, and Brooke Allen on art, this is going to be a spectacular series that you won't want to miss. Collects Lumberjanes #1-#4."

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Power Volume 1

- Age appropriate
- Upbeat
- Funny, witty, clever
- Collaborative/team-based problem solving
- Solves problems non-violently whenever possible
- None of the characters are ever sexualized or in skimpy costumes

"Wolverine, Deadpool, Doctor Doom, Thanos: There's one hero that's beaten them all-and now she's got her own ongoing series! (Not that she's bragging.) That's right, you asked for it, you got it, it's SQUIRREL GIRL! (She's also starting college this semester.) It's the start of a brand-new set of adventures starring the nuttiest and most upbeat super hero in the world! COLLECTING: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 1-5"
posted by Sockpuppets 'R' Us at 8:58 AM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Bridge to Terabithia - but she will cry
The River and The Hatchet - "boy's" books but my daughter loved them
My Side of the Mountain - kids and a falcon!
The Indian in the Cupboard - magical tiny people
The Borrowers - more tiny people
Redwall - fantasy series about mice at war with rats
Holes - a little dark

and of course Roald Dahl and Charlotte's Web

maybe a little later? -- Watership Down - one of the best books ever, for kids or adults
posted by scorpia22 at 10:00 AM on November 19, 2016

Another vote for Tamora Pierce and the Lioness heart quartet (though all her books are great). In the first book, the heroine is 10, so about your daughters age. I really enjoyed her work as a young girl interested in fantasy. Apparently Tamora wrote the books after becoming frustrated that there were no fantasy books with strong female leads for her daughter (disclaimer- i have never fact checked this anecdote). When the heroine gets older, she does start to deal with sex and other issues. If you are concerned about this, the provost's dog series set in the same universe might be better. This series also has a strong female heroine, but doesn't really have any sex scenes. In fact, on reflection, this might be my favorite series of Tamora's as the main character also solves crime.
posted by daffodil at 1:20 PM on November 19, 2016

Yes to Tamora Pierce. I read her Terrier series as an adult and loved them, but I don't know what age group they are recommended for.

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry and Let the Circle be Unbroken are books I read in 4th grade. So are the Trixie Belden books and Nancy Drew if she's interested in mysteries - I know I read the Trixie Belden books in 4th grade, too.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 9:18 AM on November 20, 2016

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi!

Island of the Blue Dolphins

I loved these at that age!
posted by la_rousse at 3:24 PM on November 20, 2016

Seconding the Betsy-Tacy books, by Maud Hart Lovelace! Here's a really nice overview of the series. There are about 10 of them, following Betsy from about five years old in all the way to adulthood, in 1890's Minnesota. The great thing is that the reading level and scope rises as the series goes on. The first book may be a little *too* easy for your daughter, in fact, but she can zip right through it, and the plot and characters are entertaining anyway.

Warrior Scarlet by Rosemary Sutcliff is a terrific book, set in Britain about 800 BC. It is much more serious and "heavy" than most children's books, but I think kids are often a lot more into that than we might expect. It does have a happy ending, tho.

Also, kudos on Kate Seredy's The Good Master! I loved that book when I was a kid.
posted by Cimrmanova at 1:46 AM on November 22, 2016

Came back in at my niece's request to recommend Kaspar, Prince of Cats.
posted by paduasoy at 12:42 PM on December 1, 2016

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