KS3 English Dept Reading List

English Department
KS3 reading suggestions

While in Years 7, 8 and 9, you should try to read a wide variety of types of books.  Don’t just stick to one author, or one genre.  Experiment with something new.  That is one reason why this list is arranged in genre-based sections.  As well as reading books, don’t forget that newspapers and good magazines are also excellent reading material and will get you used to a range of reading experiences that will set you up well for GCSE and beyond, as well as broadening your knowledge and understanding of the world in which you live.

The following websites are recommended and feature news and views about all types of books written for young people.  So, as well as using this reading list, why not check the websites out too and see what other people are recommending?  They will also give information about brand new books.




Bill Bryson  Notes from a Big Country (and other travel books) – An American’s very funny perspective on Britain and British culture.

Terry Deary Horrible Histories – The gory aspects of history.

Gerald Durrell My Family and Other Animals – A young boy, fascinated by wildlife, and his crazy, funny family move to Crete.

Anne Frank  The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne, a Jewish Dutch girl, has to hide from the Germans in a tiny secret room with her family and another family for two years.

Bear Grylls Mud, Sweat and Tears – The autobiography of the famous adventurer/risk-taker.

Laurie Lee  Cider with Rosie – The funny and moving autobiography of a young boy growing up in Gloucestershire just after the 1st World War.

Adeline Yen Mah Chinese Cinderella – Adeline grows up in China during the Second World War in a family which does not seem to love her.  A moving story of individual survival.
Action and Adventure

Malorie Blackman Noughts and Crosses – Set in a society with two types of people: ‘Noughts’ and ‘Crosses’.  Can friendship overcome the divisions between the two?

NM Browne Basilisk – Myth, history and archaeology, set against the background of the caves of a dark world.

William Golding  Lord of the Flies – Boys stranded on a desert island turn to savagery.

SE Hinton Outsiders – Hate, violence, loyalty and friendship in the gang-lands of New York.

Michael Morpurgo  Private Peaceful – A moving story about a soldier’s experiences set in the 1st World War.

Robert Muchamore CHERUB-series – Big adventures and excitement as the teenage recruits at CHERUB battle the underworlds.

William Nicholson Wind on Fire Trilogy – What happens if you rebel against a society governed by exams?

George Orwell Animal Farm – Animals on the farm rise up against their powerful owners.

Louis Sachar Holes – A miscarriage of justice sends Stanley to a juvenile prison to dig “holes”.

Alex Shearer Bootleg – Chocolate is made illegal.  A resistance movement forms.

Nevil Shute A Town like Alice – The heroics of a young English woman during World War 2.

R.L. Stevenson Treasure Island – Sea adventure and the search for lost treasure.

J. Vance Marshall Walkabout- Two children, survivors of a plane crash, journey across the Australian desert helped by an Aboriginal boy.

Jules Verne Journey to the Centre of the Earth – Explorers climb down an extinct volcano and into the centre of the earth.

Family and Relationships

Louisa M Alcott Little Women – Four sisters grow up in the 1860s.  Narrated by Jo, who desperately wants to be a writer.

Terence Blacker Boy2Girl – A cross dressing dare starts as a joke but goes further.

Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre – Jane falls in love with her rich employer, only to find out he has a dark secret.

Alyssa Brugman Walking Naked – Girls in a secondary school clash with the new girl with startling consequences.

Meg Cabot All American Girl – Teen rom-com about a girl who accidently saves the life of the President and life is never the same again!

Jenny Davis If Only I’d Known – Sensitive novel about teenage pregnancy.

Charles Dickens Oliver Twist – Classic Dickens tale of the young orphan’s dramatic move through life.

Jamila Gavin  Coram Boy – Two boys, from very different backgrounds, end up in a home for parentless children.  A challenging story set in the 18th century.

Mark Haddon  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – A boy with Asperger’s Syndrome tries to find out the truth about his family.

Lesley Howarth Carwash – Set in Cornwall, told over a long, hot teenage summer.

Elizabeth Laird The Garbage King – A moving story set in the slums and streets of Ethiopia.

Michelle Magorian  Goodnight Mister Tom – An evacuee with terrible family experiences is housed with a grumpy old man – will they manage to get on?

Beverley Naidoo The Other Side of Truth – Two children have to leave Nigeria when their mother is killed.  They end up in London, abandoned to their fate.

Louise Rennison Georgina Parks (series) – The teenage Bridget Jones! Often hilarious diaries of a confused teenager.

Alex Shearer The Crush – How far would an obsession with a boy band take you in the drive to meet the love of your life?

Dodie Smith I Capture the Castle – Novel about first love featuring with an eccentric family of sisters living in a dilapidated castle.

Jerry Spinelli Stargirl – A teenager at an American high school dares to be different.

Mildred Taylor  Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry – Tale of family loyalty set against the racist background of 1930s America.


Richard Adams Watership Down – Rabbits are threatened with losing their homes and have to find ways of surviving.

Frank Beddor Looking Glass Wars – Challenging novel which develops the characters from “Alice in Wonderland” creating a whole new fantasy adventure.

Trudi Canavan Black Magician Trilogy – This is a magical tale of conspiracy and magic which is lost and found.

Katherine Langrish Troll Fell – Dark and hypnotic fantasy novel as an orphan is enslaved by savage and evil trolls.

C S Lewis The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe- Four children find themselves in another land by stepping through a wardrobe.

Cliff McNish Doomspell (trilogy) – Powerful fantasy series about children snatched from our world to satisfy the evil desires of a witch from a different dimension.

Garth Nix Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen – Powerful and complex fantasy trilogy. Sabriel sets out on a quest to avenge the death of her father in the land of dark, dark magic.

Chris Paolini Eragon & Eldest – By a 16 year old author whose main character begins his quest to be a Dragon Rider.

Michael Paver Wolf Brother & Spirit Walker – Charts the lives and adventures of early man’s fears, adventures and superstitions.

Philip Pullman His Dark Materials trilogy – Follows the coming-of-age of two children as they wander through a series of parallel universes.

Philip Reeve Mortal Engines (series) – Moving cities trawl the globe. Tom and Hester are thrown from their beloved “London” and try to get back on board.

J K Rowling  Harry Potter series – Set in Hogwarts, a school with a difference, a young boy and his friends battle against evil forces.

Chris Wooding Poison – Poison must rescue her kidnapped sister from the land of the “phaeries”.

J R Tolkein  The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings – Start with the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, the reluctant adventurer, then move further into Middle Earth.

Ghosts and Horror

Kate Cann Leaving Poppy – When Poppy moves into a house to help look after her sister, there’s something about her which the house doesn’t like.

Ann Halam Don’t Open Your Eyes – Spine chilling horror novel about a boy killed in a joyriding accident.

Carol Hedges Red Velvet – Nasty things begin to happen to Elly when she finds the skeleton of a dead girl wearing a red dress in an old house.

Susan Hill The Woman in Black – A young man becomes the victim of a ghostly campaign of terror and tragedy while in a deserted house.  Go and see the play too and be scared out of your wits!

Edgar Allan Poe Tales of Horror – Stories from the man seen as the first true horror writer.

Celia Rees Witch Child – A girl’s mother is accused of being a witch in 18th century England.

Celia Rees Soul Taker – Jardine is so obsessed with the lovely Lisa that he sells his soul for a
chance to be with her.

Marcus Sedgwick My Swordhand is Singing – Chilling vampire tale set in 17th Century Europe.

Darren Shan Demonata series – Can the three main characters, all living in different times, fight against the demonic forces who are attempting to destroy the world?

Chris Wooding Haunting of Alaizabel Cray – Two ‘wychhunters’ search for a beast lurking in the sewers of old London.

Mystery, Crime and Thrillers

Terence Blacker Angel Factory – A curious boy hacks into his father’s computer.

Tim Bowler Apocalypse – A young family is shipwrecked on an island.

Kevin Brooks Martyn Pig – Martyn’s life is turned on its head when he accidently kills someone very close to him.

Kevin Brooks Road of the Dead – Two teenage boys want to avenge the death of their murdered sister.

Anne Cassidy Missing Judy – A six year old vanishes, and her 16 year old sister feels responsible.

Agatha Christie The Body in the Library – Just one of Christie’s famous crime novels – there are plenty more!

Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories – Choose any of Conan Doyle’s fascinating tales about a 19th century detective with extraordinary abilities.

F. Cottrell-Boyce Millions – You find £250,000 and have 10 days to spend it before Britain joins the euro.  What would you dos

Jennifer Donnelly A Gathering Light – Based on a real-life murder, a girl finds that the story of a drowned girl impacts on her own life.

Valerie Mendes Girl in the Attic – Accessible, spine-chilling ghost/mystery novel set in Cornwall after a family move from the big city.

Nicola Morgan FleshMarket – Set in the dark streets of 19th Century Edinburgh where the body-snatchers Burke and Hare stalk the homeless street urchins.

Philip Pullman The Ruby in the Smoke – A girl tries to find out why her father was murdered.

Alex Shearer Tins – Fergal collects metal tins, until life changes completes when he finds a finger in one tin and the word “help” scrawled in another.

Alex Shearer Speed of the Dark – A scientist disappears into thin air but leaves an intriguing manuscript behind.

Nancy Werlin Killer’s Cousin – A 17 year old is acquitted of murder and forced to move to live with distant relatives.

Tim Wynne-Jones Boy in the Burning House – Two friends try to solve a mystery from a previous generation.

School Stories

Robert Cormier The Chocolate War – One small act of defiance starts a chain reaction – a shocking novel about the power of gangs.

Catherine Forde Fat Boy Swim – A misfit will do anything to fit in at school.

Graham Gardner Inventing Elliot – A gang of school thugs called ‘The Guardians’ rule and bully at Holminster High.

Roger Green Cuckoos – School bullying begins with a ‘whisper’.

Louis Sachar The Boy who Lost his Face – A bully seems cursed and begins to see things from the point of view of the bullied.

Science fiction
Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Arthur Dent is upset because the council has demolished his house to make way for a bypass. Unfortunately the earth is to be demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass.

Patrick Ness The Knife of Never Letting Go – Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown, a place where everyone can hear other people’s thoughts in a constant Noise.  Todd finds a gap in the Noise.

Philip Reeve  Larklight trilogy – Set in an alternative Victorian-era universe.  The nations struggle over who gets access to space technology to travel the solar system.

Neil Shusterman  Unwind – Parents fed up with the children can sign them up to be ‘unwound’ and their parts donated to others.  When Connor finds this out, he plots his escape.

Justin Somper Vampirates Series – Twins who live in a lighthouse go on a boat trip in a storm.  One gets rescued by a pirate ship, one by a vampire-run ship.

HG Wells War of the Worlds – The Martians invade Earth.

Terry Pratchett The Discworld Series (starting with ‘The Colour of Magic’) – Comic fantasy novels set in a flat world balanced on the back of four elephants who are standing on a giant turtle.

Scott Westerfield Uglies – In the future plastic surgery is taken to the extreme. Those who reject the process are known as “Uglies”.