“There are many little ways to enlarge your world. Love of books is the best of all.” – Jacqueline Kennedy
Nothing can engage the mind of a middle grader as a book does. Adventure, fantasy, and mystery – these are a few things that can grip the attention of a child at that age. Reading books in these genres not only ignites the child’s imagination but also helps develop their literacy skills.
In this post, MomJunction gives you a list of interesting books with captivating stories that will entertain and educate kids aged 11 to 12 years old.
21 Books for 11 and 12-Year-Old Kids
Here is a list of books that tell stories of adventure, fantasy, and magic and take the kids on a spectacular journey into the world of fiction.
1. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Author: Mark Twain
Set in the year 1840, this story showcases the life of a young boy named Tom Sawyer, who lived with this Aunt Polly in a fictional town situated along the river Mississippi. Tom was notorious for skipping and going swimming and playing instead. As punishment for this, his aunt made him paint the fence around the house.
Tom being a clever boy would persuade the children in the neighborhood to do the job. He would make the job sound exciting, and when they’d ask if they could do it, he’d take small trinkets and treasures from them in return for panting the fence. The book tells you about the unstoppable Tom and the several adventures he goes on.
This story features satire, humor, and social criticism, making it one of the finest works of classic literature for children.
2. Oliver Twist
Author: Charles Dickens
The story revolves around an orphan named Oliver Twist, who was born in 1830 in a workhouse in England. One day, he decides to escape the orphanage where he lives and go to London. There, he falls in the hands of a criminal who trains orphan boys to pickpocket.
He tries to escape their company, but the bad guys are still after him. The story put you across the situations that Oliver goes through during his journey until a gentleman named Mr. Brownlow adopts him.
It is a children’s classic that the kids will want to read again and again.
3. A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
The story is about an elderly miser named Ebenezer Scrooge, who doesn’t care about Christmas. To him, it is just another day, and he has hated Christmas ever since the death of his business partner, Jacob Marley. But his attitude towards the festival changes when the ghost of Marley appears and tells Scrooge to change his ways or he will be cursed.
It is an excellent pick for the kids’ holiday reading.
4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Author: J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré (Illustrator)
The story is about a kid named Harry Potter, who has lost his parents and is forced to live a miserable life with his unloving relatives. One day he receives a letter that reveals the truth about him: he is a wizard kid. His destiny changes after that. He is picked up by a mysterious rescuer from his house, who takes him to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
A new life of magic, new friendships and challenges await Harry Potter at his new home. Filled with magic and fiction, the book series of Harry Potter is recommended for 11 to 12-years-old children, although adults, too, enjoy reading them.
5. Circus Mirandus
Author: Cassie Beasley
A young boy named Micah Tuttle believes a story that his dying grandfather, Ephraim, tells him. The story is about the magical Circus Mirandus, an invisible tiger that guards the gates, a flying bird woman, and a powerful magician who can bend light.
At the end of the story, his grandpa says that ‘The circus’ and the ‘Lightbender’ are real. He offers proof and tells Micah that the ‘Lightbender’ owes him a miracle that could probably save his life. Micah sets off to a journey with his friend Jenny Mendoza to find the circus and the man whom he believes can save the life of his grandpa.
Circus Mirandus is an adventure fantasy story that can transport children to a marvelous world or miracles and magical beings.
6. The Secret Garden
Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Secret Garden is a classic of English literature for kids.
The story is about a 10-year-old girl named Mary Lennox, who is born to a wealthy British family in India. Never loved by her parents, Mary grows to be an aggressive, selfish, and spoilt brat.
After losing her parents, she is sent away to Yorkshire, England, to live with her rich uncle, Archibald Craven. There, she meets a maid named Martha Sowerby, who tells her about the late Mrs. Craven who would spend hours growing roses in the private garden of the mansion and died in an accident in the garden. As Mary grows, she wonders about the secret garden and the mysterious cries that echo through the house during the night. She decides to follow the strange sounds and unravel the secrets of the house.
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow is determined to find her beloved father who disappeared from Ferenwood three years ago. The journey is not going to be easy for her as she needs to travel through the dangerous land of Furthermore where nothing is as it seems. She is accompanied by a boy named Oliver in her quest. All it takes is Alice’s wisdom to fight all the odds and bring her father back home safely.
Furthermore is a captivating and adventurous tale that will be thoroughly enjoyed by 11-year-old girls.
8. The Hobbit or There and Back Again
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
The story revolves around a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, who enjoys a cozy life in his comfortable abode, a hole inside the ground. One day, a group of dwarfs and the wizard Gandalf visits him to explain a plot they have made to raid the treasure guarded by a dangerous dragon called Smaug, the Magnificent. He sets off on a quest to win a share of the treasure. The story revolves around his encounters with several magical and mysterious creatures during his journey and how he uses his wits and common sense to win over them.
It is an adventurous story filled with humor and suspense to enthrall the little readers.
Author: Carl Hiaasen
The story sets off in Florida with the main character Roy Eberhardt, who is on a mission to stop the construction of a pancake house on a site that serves as a colony for a group of endangered species of owls. He befriends a vandal boy called ‘Mullet Fingers’ who also wants to save the home of the burrowing owls. Roy also encourages his classmates to join him in the protest to save the habitat of the endangered species.
It is an inspiring tale of adventure and compassion towards another species that young boys will thoroughly enjoy reading.
10. The War That Saved My Life
Author: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
This book is about Ada, a ten-year-old girl, who lives in an apartment in London, with her brother Jamie and her abusive mother. Embarrassed of Ada’s twisted foot, her mom would never let her go out. Around that time, when World War II begins, Ada’s mother decides to send off Jamie to the countryside and let Ada stay with her in London.
However, Ada decides to leave with her brother without letting her mother know about it. When they reach the countryside, they meet a woman named Susan Smith, who gives them shelter. Will the kids stay with her forever or will they be taken back by their abusive mother? You will know when you read the book.
The War That Saved My Life is a children’s historical book that gives them a glimpse of how times were during war and how difficult it was for children to stay away from the comfort of their homes.
11. The Phantom Tollbooth
Author: Norton Juster
The story is about a young boy named Milo and the mysterious tollbooth that appears in his room. He drives through it in his toy car and reaches the kingdom of wisdom that seems to be troubled. There, he makes two friends and goes on a journey to find and bring back two exiled princesses named Rhyme and Reason. During his journey, he learns many invaluable lessons and rediscovers his love for education. It further helps him to develop as a better person in life.
This is an adventurous story with a lot of valuable lessons for kids.
12. Number the Stars
Author: Lois Lowry
The story is set in 1943 and is centered around a ten-year-old girl called Annemarie Johansen, who lives with her family in Copenhagen, Denmark. During World War II, Copenhagen had was facing a shortage of even basic goods. Nazis could be found at every corner of the street.
For reasons unknown, the Germans start a campaign to relocate the Danish Jews. In this book, the author lets you experience the Danish resistance through the eyes of the ten-year-old Annemarie. It shows how she risks her life to protect her best friend Ellen Rose, who is Jewish, by lying that she is her older sister.
This book was awarded for its contribution to American literature for children.
13. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
Author: Lewis Carroll
Sitting on a riverbank with her sister, seven-year-old girl Alice sees a clothed rabbit with a pocket watch run past her. Curious, she follows the rabbit down a hole to find a hall with many doors of different sizes. She finds a key to a door that is too small for her to pass through.
She finds a solution to that and is surprised by what she sees behind that tiny little door. This marks the beginning of her many adventures in the wonderful land with talking rabbits, invisible cats, and many more unique and interesting characters that teach her something. Alice’s adventures make one wish they could find a wonderland like that too, filled with surprises and intriguing plot twists.
Alice in Wonderland is a fantasy story that makes it very popular among children. It is an exciting book to read for 12-year-old kids.
Author: Robyn Mundell
The book depicts the story of a fourteen-year-old teen named Bernard, who thinks out of the box. Bernard is suspended from his school for idly sitting in the classroom, which lands him at his father’s workplace. Unknowingly, he gets into a particle accelerator from where he is transported through a wormhole and dropped in the middle of a battle that is taking place inside his father’s brain.
Here starts the marvelous journey of Bernard, who is on a quest to save his father’s dying creative side of the brain from the dictatorial left side. It is a sci-fi novel that makes it an excellent pick for 12-year-olds.
15. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Author: Roald Dahl
Eleven-year-old Charlie Bucket is fascinated by the stories that his grandfather tells him of a chocolate maker called Willy Wonka. He learns that for some reason, the legendary chocolatier had to shut down his factory to the outsiders. One day, the newspaper announces that the chocolate factory is open again for visitors. The announcement also invites five kids to take a tour of the factory if they find a golden ticket for the entry.
Charlie is one of the lucky kids and gears up for the factory visit. But little does he knew about the surprises awaiting him in the mysterious factory. An adventurous story, this book is the perfect read for chocolate-loving kids aged 11 to 12 years.
16. The Frog Princess
Author: E. D. Baker
The book is about the Princess Emeralda, also known as Emma, whose unique trait is her laugh that sounds like a donkey’s bray. Her mother wants her to marry Prince Jorge, who Emeralda deeply dislikes. She runs away to escape the wedding and meets Prince Eadric, who has been turned into a frog by a witch. To her surprise, she turns into a frog herself by kissing Eadric. Both annoyed and frustrated, they begin their adventurous journey to find the witch and get their human form back.
It is a fantasy adventure book for kids aged eleven and twelve years. The storyline is both intriguing and funny enough to keep the kids hooked to reading.
17. Harriet the Spy
Author: Louise Fitzhugh
The story revolves around an eleven-year-old girl named Harriet M. Welsch. Harriet is a spy who observes everyone, including her classmates and even her best friends, and writes about them in her notebook. One day, Harriet loses track of her notebook and it falls into the wrong hands. Her friends come to know about the awful and truthful things she has written about them. Will Harriet be able to put the things rightly in place and get her friends back?
One of the best children’s classics, Harriet The Spy makes an excellent read for 11 to 12-years-old girls.
18. Sherlock Academy
Author: F.C. Shaw
Rollie and her best friend Cecily are invited to the Sherlock Academy, where they are trained to become detectives as good as Sherlock Holmes. The kids soon discover that a burglary has been committed in the academy and the mystery needs to be unraveled. Rollie is determined to use his learned skills to investigate the case. Soon he realizes that appearances are a hoax, the truth is hurtful, and friends can be foes. The story fascinates the reader and keeps them hooked to know if Rollie can solve the case.
It makes an excellent pick for children in the middle grade.
19. Emil And The Detectives
Author: Erich Kästner
If Emil’s mother had known about the adventures her son was going to have in Berlin, she would not have sent him there. But Emil goes on the trip, one that becomes a marvelous adventure in Berlin and loses his seven pounds on the train. He is determined to get the money back and teams up with some detectives in Berlin. The story explains how Emil embarks on a quest to retrieve the money and experiences during the investigations.
It is a classic, adventure story that keeps the kids enthralled throughout.
20. The Fairies of Turtle Creek
Author: Jill K. Sayre
Claire is a smart eighth grader who loves science and believes that it can prove anything. But then her estranged grandmother comes to stay with her and convinces her that fairies are real. The grandma tells about their family history that sounds supernatural and unusual. Soon she encounters mysterious things that flip her scientific world making her believe the impossible.
It is a fantasy story that makes an excellent pick for 11 to 12-year-old girls.
21. The Smile Ambassadors
Author: Zack and Mack
The story is not about a two-headed turtle named Zack and Mack, owned by seven-year-old Constance. The turtle escapes from the owners and heads towards the local creek. Constance is in vain of losing her turtle, but the media is looped in the search for the rare turtle. Constance finds them taking part in a turtle race at Maytown Fair, and things turn surreal.
The story depicts the adventures of the rare and real turtle which makes an excellent pick for kids.
While it is a good idea to pick up the best books that your child can read, it is better to let them choose books of their interest. That gives them a feeling of autonomy and also makes reading all the more pleasurable. Books are the ideal replacement to TV or computers that can limit a child’s imagination and ability to emote.
Just give them a good book and let them get lost in it.
Have your kid come across any other interesting book? Share with us in the comment section below.