Best Books for 12-Year-Olds: Top Picks for Engaging and Entertaining Reads
Parents and educators are always on the lookout for the best books for 12-year-olds to encourage their love for reading good books in cozy reading nooks. With so many books available, it can be challenging to find a great book that will captivate their attention and spark their imagination. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to choose from, and this article will highlight some of the best books for 12-year-olds.
Curated by children’s literature experts, the list includes books that will resonate with preteens’ complex lives while educating and entertaining them. The list offers a wide variety of books that cater to different interests, from adventure and mystery to science fiction and fantasy. With the right books, children can develop their reading skills, expand their vocabulary, and improve their critical thinking abilities.
Whether children prefer physical books or audiobooks, there is something for everyone on this list. The books are suitable for both boys and girls and can be enjoyed by adults as well. From classics to contemporary titles, this list has it all, making it a valuable resource for parents, teachers, and anyone looking to inspire a love for reading in 12-year-olds.
Understanding the 12-Year-Old Reader
At 12 years old, children are in the midst of middle school and are considered preteens. They are experiencing a lot of changes, both physically and emotionally, as they navigate through puberty. As a result, their reading preferences may shift towards books that help them understand themselves and others.
Empathy is a key trait that 12-year-olds are developing, and books can help them explore and understand different perspectives. They may be drawn to stories that feature characters who are going through similar experiences, or who are dealing with challenging situations that require empathy and understanding.
Independence is also an important aspect of a 12-year-old’s life, and they may be looking for books that reflect their desire for autonomy and self-discovery. They may be interested in stories that feature strong, independent characters who are navigating their own paths in life.
When it comes to reading level, 12-year-olds are generally able to handle more complex texts than younger children. They may be interested in books that have multiple storylines or that explore deeper themes. However, it’s important to remember that reading preferences can vary widely among children, so it’s important to offer a variety of options.
In summary, 12-year-olds are in a period of significant change, and books can help them navigate these changes by providing them with different perspectives and insights. By understanding their desire for empathy and independence, parents and educators can help them find books that resonate with their interests and needs.
Exploring Different Genres
At the age of 12, kids are starting to develop their own interests and preferences when it comes to reading. This is a great time to introduce them to different genres and styles of writing to expand their horizons and keep them engaged in reading.
Fantasy: Fantasy is a popular genre among 12-year-olds, with its magical worlds, mythical creatures, and epic adventures. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is a classic example of fantasy that has captivated readers of all ages. Other popular fantasy series include Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
Adventure: Adventure books are perfect for kids who love action-packed stories with daring heroes and heroines. The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz is a thrilling adventure series that follows a teenage spy on his missions around the world. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is another popular adventure series that takes place in a dystopian future where teenagers are forced to fight to the death in a televised competition.
Historical Fiction: Historical fiction is a great way to introduce kids to different time periods and cultures. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a powerful novel set in Nazi Germany during World War II. Another great historical fiction novel is One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, which takes place during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.
Magic: Magic is a popular theme in children’s literature, and there are plenty of great books for 12-year-olds that feature magical elements. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis is a classic fantasy novel that takes readers on a journey to different worlds through a magical wardrobe. Other great magic-themed books include The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill and The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer.
Mystery: Mystery books are great for kids who love to solve puzzles and uncover clues. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin is a classic mystery novel that follows a group of heirs who must solve a puzzle to inherit a fortune. Other great mystery books for 12-year-olds include The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson and The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd.
Graphic Novels: Graphic novels are a great way to get kids interested in reading, with their colorful illustrations and engaging stories. The Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi is a popular graphic novel series that follows two siblings on a magical adventure. Other great graphic novels for 12-year-olds include Smile by Raina Telgemeier and the Bone series by Jeff Smith.
Non-fiction: Non-fiction books can be a great way to learn about different subjects and topics. The Who Was? series by various authors is a popular non-fiction series that covers famous people from history, from Abraham Lincoln to Marie Curie. Other great non-fiction books for 12-year-olds include The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.
Horror: Horror books can be a great way to introduce kids to the genre and give them a good scare. The Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine is a classic horror series that has been scaring kids for decades. Other great horror books for 12-year-olds include Coraline by Neil Gaiman and The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson.
By exploring different genres, 12-year-olds can find books that they truly enjoy and that will keep them engaged in reading. Whether they prefer fantasy, adventure, historical fiction, or any other genre, there are plenty of great books out there for them to discover.
Top Fantasy Books
Fantasy books are a great way for 12-year-olds to escape into magical worlds filled with adventure and wonder. Here are some of the top fantasy books that are sure to captivate young readers:
Harry Potter Series
No list of fantasy books for 12-year-olds would be complete without mentioning the Harry Potter series. Written by J.K. Rowling, this series follows the adventures of a young wizard named Harry Potter as he attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, is a great introduction to the magical world of Hogwarts and is sure to hook readers from the very first chapter.
Another classic fantasy book that 12-year-olds are sure to love is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. This book follows the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who is recruited by a group of dwarves to help them reclaim their treasure from a dragon. Along the way, Bilbo encounters all sorts of magical creatures and learns about the power of friendship and bravery.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Written by Rick Riordan, the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series follows the adventures of a young demigod named Percy Jackson as he navigates the world of Greek mythology. This series is a great way to introduce young readers to the world of mythology and is filled with action, adventure, and humor.
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis is another classic fantasy series that 12-year-olds are sure to love. The first book in the series, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, follows the adventures of four siblings who discover a magical world called Narnia. Along the way, they encounter talking animals, magical creatures, and an evil queen who seeks to destroy Narnia.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon
Kelly Barnhill’s novel “The Girl Who Drank the Moon” is an exquisitely crafted work of fantasy literature. It narrates the tale of Luna, a young girl fostered by a witch and endowed with her own magical abilities. Within its pages, readers will find intricately developed characters and a spellbinding storyline that will undoubtedly captivate young audiences.
The Three Privileges
Alessandro Tedesco’s The Three Privileges is a thrilling fantasy book that follows the adventures of a young boy named Jake as he discovers a magical world hidden beneath his own. Along the way, he encounters all sorts of magical creatures and learns about the power of friendship and courage.
The Forbidden Vial
Suzy Vadori’s The Forbidden Vial is a fast-paced fantasy book that follows the adventures of a young girl named Kira as she discovers a magical vial that can grant her wishes. However, she soon learns that the vial is also coveted by an evil sorcerer who seeks to use its power for his own nefarious purposes.
Finally, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a must-read for any 12-year-old who loves fantasy books. This book introduces readers to the magical world of Hogwarts and sets the stage for the rest of the series. With its engaging characters, richly drawn world-building, and exciting plot, this book is sure to capture the imagination of young readers everywhere.
Best Adventure Books
Adventure books are perfect for 12-year-olds who love to explore new worlds and go on exciting journeys. These books can take readers on thrilling quests, introduce them to fantastic creatures, and challenge their imaginations. Here are some of the best adventure books for 12-year-olds:
- The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan: This book follows Percy Jackson, a boy who discovers he is a demigod and must go on a quest to retrieve Zeus’s stolen lightning bolt. Along the way, he encounters mythical creatures and battles dangerous foes. This book is perfect for kids who love Greek mythology and action-packed adventures.
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle: This classic book follows Meg Murry, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin as they travel through space and time to rescue Meg’s father from an evil force. With its imaginative world-building and thought-provoking themes, this book is sure to captivate readers.
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: This beloved book follows Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who is recruited by a wizard and a group of dwarves to help them reclaim their treasure from a dragon. Along the way, Bilbo faces challenges and makes new friends. This book is perfect for kids who love fantasy and epic quests.
- The Maze Runner by James Dashner: This book follows Thomas, a boy who wakes up in a maze with no memory of his past. He must work with a group of other boys to solve the maze and escape. This book is perfect for kids who love dystopian stories and suspenseful adventures.
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: This book is set in a dystopian world where children are forced to fight to the death in an annual event called the Hunger Games. When Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister’s place in the Games, she must use her wits and survival skills to stay alive. This book is perfect for kids who love action-packed stories and strong female protagonists.
Adventure books are a great way to spark kids’ imaginations and get them excited about reading. Whether they love mythology, fantasy, or dystopian stories, there is an adventure book out there for every 12-year-old.
Historical Fiction Recommendations
Historical fiction is a great way for 12-year-olds to learn about history while enjoying a good story. Here are some recommendations for historical fiction books that are sure to captivate young readers:
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: This classic book is a must-read for anyone interested in World War II. It is the diary of a young Jewish girl who hid from the Nazis during the war. The book is both heartbreaking and inspiring, and it provides a unique perspective on the war.
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: This beloved book is set in the late 1800s on Prince Edward Island, Canada. It follows the adventures of a spunky and imaginative orphan girl named Anne Shirley. The book provides a charming and detailed look at life in rural Canada during this time period.
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is situated in Nazi Germany during World War II, providing a glimpse into the life of a young girl.
- The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich: This book is set in the 1840s and follows the story of an Ojibwe family living near Lake Superior. It is a great way for young readers to learn about the lives of Native Americans during this time period.
These books are just a few examples of the many great historical fiction books available for 12-year-olds. Whether they are inspired by history or simply provide a great story, these books are sure to captivate young readers and teach them about the past in an engaging and memorable way.
Mystery Books to Consider
Mystery books are a great way to keep kids engaged and entertained. They can help develop critical thinking skills and keep the reader guessing until the very end. Here are some mystery books that 12-year-olds might enjoy:
“Holes” by Louis Sachar
”Holes” is a timeless mystery novel that has captivated young readers for generations. It narrates the journey of Stanley Yelnats, unjustly sent to a desert juvenile detention center due to a false accusation. In this facility, he and fellow boys endure the grueling task of daily hole-digging under the scorching sun. However, as Stanley delves into the center’s mysteries and the area around it, he begins to realize that his punishment holds deeper, hidden meanings.
“The Westing Game” by Ellen Raskin
“The Westing Game” is a clever mystery book that will keep readers guessing until the very end. It follows a group of people who are all named as potential heirs in the will of a wealthy businessman named Samuel Westing. But when Westing is found dead, the group is thrown into a game where they must solve a series of clues and puzzles to win the inheritance.
“The London Eye Mystery” by Siobhan Dowd
“The London Eye Mystery” is a fast-paced mystery book that takes place in London. It follows a boy named Ted who is on vacation with his family when his cousin Salim disappears from the London Eye – a giant Ferris wheel. Ted is determined to solve the mystery of what happened to Salim, and he uses his unique way of thinking to uncover the truth.
Overall, mystery books are a great way to keep 12-year-olds engaged and entertained. Whether they enjoy classic books like “Holes” or more modern stories like “The London Eye Mystery,” there is sure to be a mystery book out there that will capture their imagination.
Highlight on Non-Fiction
For 12-year-olds, non-fiction books can be a great way to learn about the world and gain knowledge on various topics. One of the most popular non-fiction books for kids is the diary of Anne Frank. The book is a powerful account of a young girl’s experience during the Holocaust and her struggle to stay alive. It is a must-read for anyone interested in history and the human experience.
Another popular non-fiction book for 12-year-olds is the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series by Jeff Kinney. While the series is fictional, it is presented in a diary format, making it a great way for kids to learn about journaling and creative writing. The books are also filled with humor, making them a fun and engaging read.
For kids who are interested in science, “The Magic School Bus” series by Joanna Cole is a great option. The books are filled with fun and educational adventures that teach kids about science and the world around them. The series covers topics such as the human body, the solar system, and the ocean.
In addition to these popular options, there are many other non-fiction books for 12-year-olds that cover a wide range of topics. Some of the best non-fiction books for kids include “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” by William Kamkwamba, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot, and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan.
Overall, non-fiction books can be a great way for 12-year-olds to learn about the world and gain knowledge on various topics. Whether they are interested in history, science, or creative writing, there is a non-fiction book out there that will appeal to their interests and help them learn and grow.
Graphic Novels and Illustrated Books
Graphic novels and illustrated books are a great way to engage 12-year-olds in reading. These books offer a unique combination of storytelling and visual art that can help bring the story to life. Some of the most popular graphic novels and illustrated books for 12-year-olds include:
- “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio: This novel tells the story of August Pullman, a 10-year-old boy with a facial deformity who is starting fifth grade at a new school. The book is illustrated with black and white drawings and is a great choice for 12-year-olds who enjoy realistic fiction.
- “Matilda” by Roald Dahl: This classic novel tells the story of a young girl with extraordinary powers who uses them to overcome obstacles in her life. The book is illustrated with Quentin Blake’s distinctive artwork and is a great choice for 12-year-olds who enjoy fantasy and humor.
- Graphic Novels: Graphic novels are a great way to introduce 12-year-olds to the world of comics and graphic storytelling. Some of the most popular graphic novels for 12-year-olds include “Smile” by Raina Telgemeier, “Amulet” by Kazu Kibuishi, and “The Baby-Sitters Club” by Raina Telgemeier.
Overall, graphic novels and illustrated books can be a great way to engage 12-year-olds in reading and help them develop a love of books. Whether they are interested in realistic fiction, fantasy, or comics, there is sure to be a graphic novel or illustrated book that will capture their imagination and keep them reading.
Classic Books for 12-Year-Olds
Classic books are timeless and excellent books that often have universal themes that resonate with readers of all ages. For 12-year-olds, classic books can offer a glimpse into different eras, cultures, and perspectives. Here are some classic books that are perfect for 12-year-olds:
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Giver is a dystopian novel that explores the idea of a utopian society where everything is perfect but at a cost. The story follows Jonas, a 12-year-old boy who lives in a seemingly perfect world where there is no pain, suffering, or war. However, as Jonas begins to learn the truth about his world, he realizes that the cost of perfection is too high. The Giver is a thought-provoking book that raises important questions about individuality, freedom, and the human experience.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
A Wrinkle in Time is a science fiction novel that follows Meg Murry, a 12-year-old girl who goes on a journey through time and space to rescue her father from an evil force. Along the way, Meg learns about the power of love, the importance of family, and the value of individuality. A Wrinkle in Time is a timeless classic that continues to inspire readers of all ages.
Overall, classic books are an excellent choice for 12-year-olds who are looking to expand their reading horizons. The Giver and A Wrinkle in Time are just two examples of classic books that offer valuable life lessons and insights that are relevant to readers of all ages.
Coming-of-age books are an excellent way for 12-year-olds to explore and understand the changes they are experiencing. These books help readers navigate the emotional and physical changes that come with puberty, while also providing a window into the world of young adults.
One of the best coming-of-age books for 12-year-olds is “Hello, Universe” by Erin Entrada Kelly. This Newbery Medal-winning book tells the story of four middle school students whose lives intersect in unexpected ways. The book explores themes of identity, friendship, and self-discovery, making it an excellent choice for young readers who are beginning to explore these topics.
Other great coming-of-age books include “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie and “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton. Both of these books deal with themes of identity, belonging, and the struggle to find one’s place in the world.
For readers who enjoy fantasy, “The Golden Compass” by Philip Pullman is an excellent choice. This book tells the story of a young girl named Lyra who sets out on a quest to find her missing friend, uncovering a world of magic and mystery along the way.
Overall, coming-of-age books are an essential part of any 12-year-old’s reading list. They provide a window into the world of young adults while also helping readers navigate the changes and challenges of adolescence.
Popular Book Series
For 12-year-olds, popular book series can provide an immersive reading experience that keeps them engaged and entertained. Here are some of the most popular book series for this age group:
Harry Potter Series
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is a timeless classic that continues to captivate readers of all ages. The series follows the adventures of Harry Potter, a young wizard who discovers his magical heritage and attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. With themes of friendship, loyalty, and bravery, the Harry Potter series is a must-read for any 12-year-old.
Chronicles of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis is another beloved series that has stood the test of time. The series follows the adventures of four siblings who discover a magical world called Narnia. With themes of good versus evil, the power of faith, and the importance of family, the Chronicles of Narnia is a classic series that is sure to capture the imagination of any 12-year-old.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan is a thrilling series that combines Greek mythology with modern-day adventure. The series follows Percy Jackson, a demigod who discovers his true identity and embarks on a quest to save the world of the gods and mortals. With themes of heroism, friendship, and acceptance, Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a great series for any 12-year-old who loves action and adventure.
Overall, these book series are just a few examples of the many great options available for 12-year-olds. Whether they prefer fantasy, adventure, or mystery, there is a series out there that is sure to capture their imagination and keep them reading for hours on end.
Books Dealing with Tough Topics
At the age of 12, children start to deal with many challenging issues that can be difficult to navigate, such as racism, mental health, self-love, therapy, healing, and forgiveness. Reading books that deal with these tough topics can help children understand and process their emotions and experiences. Here are some recommended books for 12-year-olds dealing with tough topics:
- “Ghost” by Jason Reynolds: This exciting novel tells the story of Ghost, one of four very different kids who might one day become Olympic sprinters. The book deals with themes of trauma, poverty, and family issues, all while exploring the power of running and the importance of community.
- “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas: This powerful novel tells the story of Starr, a 16-year-old girl who witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend by a police officer. The book explores themes of racism, police brutality, and activism, and offers a powerful message about the importance of speaking up for what is right.
- “The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle” by Leslie Connor: This heartwarming novel tells the story of Mason, a 12-year-old boy who is relentlessly bullied at school and struggles with a learning disability. The book deals with themes of mental health, self-love, and healing, and offers a powerful message about the importance of kindness and empathy.
- “The Benefits of Being an Octopus” by Ann Braden: This thought-provoking novel tells the story of Zoey, a 12-year-old girl who lives in poverty with her abusive mother and siblings. The book deals with themes of trauma, poverty, and family issues, and offers a powerful message about the importance of resilience and self-advocacy.
- “The Boy at the Back of the Class” by Onjali Q. Rauf: This heartwarming novel tells the story of a group of classmates who befriend a Syrian refugee boy who has just started at their school. The book deals with themes of racism, immigration, and friendship, and offers a powerful message about the importance of empathy and inclusion.
These books are just a few examples of the many great books available for 12-year-olds dealing with tough topics. Reading books that deal with these challenging issues can help children understand and process their emotions and experiences, and can offer them valuable tools for navigating the complexities of the world around them.
Choosing the Right Book
Choosing the right book for a 12-year-old can be a daunting task, but it is essential to encourage them to read and develop a love for literature. Here are some tips to help you choose the right book for your 12-year-old:
Consider their interests
One of the best ways to get a 12-year-old interested in reading is to choose a book that aligns with their interests. Whether it’s fantasy, adventure, mystery, or non-fiction, finding a book that caters to their interests is a great way to get them to start reading.
Check out book lists and reading lists
There are many book lists and reading lists available online that can help you find the best books for 12-year-olds. These lists often include books that have been reviewed and recommended by experts, making it easier for you to choose a book that is appropriate for your child.
Reading reviews of books can help you get an idea of what to expect from a particular book. Reviews can also give you an insight into whether a book is suitable for your child’s age group and interests.
Consider the reading level
It is important to consider the reading level of a book when choosing a book for a 12-year-old. Books that are too easy or too difficult can discourage children from reading. It is best to choose a book that is challenging but not too difficult.
Let them choose
Letting your child choose their own books can be a great way to encourage them to read. Take them to a bookstore or library and let them browse the shelves. Encourage them to choose books that interest them and that they are excited to read.
In conclusion, choosing the right book for a 12-year-old involves considering their interests, checking out book lists and reading lists, reading reviews, considering the reading level, and letting them choose their own books. By following these tips, you can help your child develop a love for reading and literature.
Additional Reading Formats
While traditional print books are still the most popular format for reading, there are other formats that can be engaging and helpful for 12-year-olds. Here are a few additional reading formats to consider:
Audiobooks are a great way for kids to enjoy books while on the go or while doing other activities. They can listen to audiobooks while traveling, doing chores, or even playing video games. Audiobooks can also be helpful for kids who struggle with reading or have learning disabilities. They can follow along with the audio while reading the text, which can improve comprehension and fluency.
Some popular audiobooks for 12-year-olds include “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Stephen Fry, and “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, narrated by Tatiana Maslany.
Graphic novels are novels that are presented in a comic book format. They are a great way to engage reluctant readers or kids who prefer visual storytelling. Graphic novels can also help improve reading comprehension by providing visual cues to help readers understand the story.
Some popular graphic novels for 12-year-olds include “Smile” by Raina Telgemeier, “Amulet” by Kazu Kibuishi, and “El Deafo” by Cece Bell.
E-books are digital versions of print books that can be read on a variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and e-readers. E-books can be a convenient way to access books when traveling or when physical books are not available. They can also be helpful for kids who have difficulty reading small print or who need to adjust the font size.
Some popular e-books for 12-year-olds include “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner, “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan, and “Divergent” by Veronica Roth.
Overall, there are many different reading formats available for 12-year-olds to enjoy. By exploring different formats, kids can find the ones that work best for them and develop a love of reading that will last a lifetime.