21 Best Books For 11- And 12-Year-Olds To Read In 2024

“There are many little ways to enlarge your world. Love of books is the best of all.” –Jacqueline Kennedy

A middle grader’s mind is filled with a lot of questions. And to satisfy their curiosity, you will need the best books for 11- to 12-year-olds. You can choose from adventure, fantasy, mystery, and other genres to keep your child hooked on the books, encourage reading, and develop their literary proficiency.

In this post, we have listed some of the most engaging books that your little one can read for entertainment and learning. So, keep scrolling and pick one of these best-selling books.

In This Article

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 children on a spectacular world of fiction.

1. Best Satirical: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 painting the fence. This middle-grade book tells you about the unstoppable Tom and the several adventures he goes on.

This humorous book for 11- and 12-year-olds has a story that features satire, humor, and social criticism, making it one of the finest works of classic literature for children.

2. Best Adoptive: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 powerful story puts you across the situations that Oliver goes through during his journey until a gentleman named Mr. Brownlow adopts him.

It is a best-selling children’s classic that kids aged eleven and twelve years will want to read again and again.

protip_icon Did you know?
Oliver Twist is the second novel by Charles Dickens, which was published in monthly installments from February 1837 to April 1839.

3. Best Heartwarming: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.

Item Weight: 8 ounces

4. Best Mysterious:Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone

Author: J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré (Illustrator)

The magical 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 parent-recommended book series of Harry Potter is a series of coming-of-age books for 11- and 12-year-olds in middle school, but adults, too, enjoy reading them.

A reader says, “There is a reason why Harry Potter Books have garnered the love of so many people around the world, it’s not just because it’s magical, it is a coming of age story where the reader follow harry from his teens to his adulthood through So many Adventures and hardships alongside his friends in these 7 Series Books, definitely a book that deserves to be introduced to any 11 – 12 years old.”

Item Weight: 8 ounces

5. Best Imaginary: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 on 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. Best Enchanting: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.

7. Best Friendship:Furthermore

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, it is a captivating and adventurous tale that will be thoroughly enjoyed by 11 to 12 year old girls.

Item Weight: 1.35 pounds

8. Best Quest:The Hobbit

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 best-selling book 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.

This cult-favorite book features an adventurous story filled with humor and suspense to enthrall the little readers.

protip_icon Trivia
In 1937, the book “The Hobbit” won the prize for best new juvenile fiction from the New York Herald Tribune and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal.

Item Weight: 1.08 pounds

9. Best Adventure:Hoot

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.

This inspiring book for 11- and 12-year-olds has a motivating tale of adventure and teaches children the importance of having compassion towards another species.

10. Best Historical:The War That Saved My Life

Author: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

This historical 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 historical fiction book for 11- and 12-year-olds 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. Best Educational: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 a great adventure book for 11- and 12-year-olds and has a lot of valuable lessons for children.

12. Best Courageous: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 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. Best Curiosity: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. Loved by many reviewers, this book is an exciting read for 12-year-old kids.

14. Best Particle:Brainwalker

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.

Charlie is one of the lucky kids and gears up for the factory visit. But little does he know about the surprises awaiting him in the mysterious factory. An adventurous and charming story, this book is the perfect read for chocolate-loving 11 to 12-year-old children.

15. Best Magic: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 know about the surprises awaiting him in the mysterious factory. An adventurous story, this book is the perfect read for chocolate-loving 11 to 12-year-old children.

16. Best Intriguing:The Frog Princess

Author: E. D. Baker

The book is about 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 book for 11- and 12-year-olds. The storyline is both intriguing and funny enough to keep the kids hooked to reading.

Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 8.8 ounces

17. Best Chronicle: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-year-old girls.

18. Best Detective: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 of this mystery book for 11- and 12-year-olds fascinates the reader and keeps them hooked as they try to know if Rollie can solve the case.

It makes an excellent pick for children in the middle grade.

19. Best Action: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 an action-packed book for 11- and 12-year-olds with a classic adventure story that keeps children enthralled throughout.

20. Best Scientific: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 an excellent fantasy book for 11- and 12-year-old girls.

21. Best Surreal:The Smile Ambassadors

*The prices provided in this article are based on the latest available information. However, they may vary due to changes in pricing by the seller and/or promotional offers.

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.

Item Weight: 1.01 pounds

The story depicts the adventures of the rare and real turtle which makes an excellent pick for kids.

How To Choose The Right Books For 11- and 12-Year-Olds?

Consider the following points when choosing the best book for 11- and 12-year-olds. You will find a summary of each of the recommended books to help you select the right one.

  1. Interest: Consider your child’s interests. From historical to fantasy fiction, you can explore books across various genres to find one that will keep your child engaged.
  2. Length: Choose books you think your child will enjoy and are a good fit for their attention span. While some children may be comfortable reading for long hours, others may lose interest quickly. So, consider your child’s reading habits to pick the right book.
  3. Reading level: Ensure the book is challenging enough to help them improve their skills but not so difficult that they become frustrated and give up. A good way to gauge this is by looking at the reading level on the back of the book.
  4. Reviews: Check out the testimonials by other young readers and parents to understand if the book is suitable for your child. You can also ask your child’s teacher or librarian for recommendations.

H Shamsi, book reviewer and founder of Book Nerdection, says, “Eleven- and twelve-year-old boys and girls will do good with reading pictureless books and stories. Reading slightly lengthy books (not comic books) will spark their imagination and give them the reading stamina they need for their studies. Remember, it is with imagination that creativity is born.”

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What books should an 11-year-old read?

Well-written books that showcase the author’s literary expertise enhance children’s vocabulary and fluency, books that offer them pleasure, facilitate their understanding of people and cultures, and introduce them to new topics and hobbies are ideal for most 11 year olds (1).

2. For how long should 11-year-olds read a day?

Depending on how hectic their schedule is, 11-year-olds should spend at least 20 minutes daily reading books apart from the curriculum (2).

3. What type of books should an 11- to 12-year-old not read?

It’s better for 11- to 12-year-olds to avoid books that are too gory, dark, depressing, and psychologically daunting.

4. What level of books should a 12-year-old be reading?

Since most children by this age begin to analyze the meaning of the narrative and persuasive texts, it’s great to give them books that can facilitate such explorations and understandings (3). The books should be able to ignite their intrinsic motivation to read by catering to their curiosity and involvement (1).

The Bottom Line

Reading is one of the best habits you can inculcate in a child, no matter how old they are. However, 11- and 12-year-olds tend to be extra curious about the world and the human condition, which is why it’s a great idea to present them with books and instill a love of learning in them. Our recommendations include the humorous Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the magical Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and the inspiring story of The War That Saved My Life. The best books for 11- and 12-year-olds cover a range of genres, so regardless of whether your little one likes magic or science fiction, the above book list has something for everyone. While choosing one, consider your child’s interests and encourage them to make reading a daily habit.

Infographic: How To Arouse Your Child’s Interest In Reading

Charity begins at home, and so does reading. There’s strong evidence of the importance of parental involvement in supporting and promoting the child’s reading habits at home. So, check out the following infographic to learn how to inculcate further the habit of reading books in your child.

Ways To Encourage Your Child To Read Books 278 Content topics

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

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Download Infographic in PDF version

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Reading For Pleasure: A Research Overview
    https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED496343.pdf
  2. How Much Time Should My Child Spend Reading?
    https://isaprofessionaldevelopment.org/documents/parent-booklet/PB-Q12.pdf
  3. Reading Milestones:
    https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/milestones.html

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Why Trust MomJunction?

Wedetso Chirhah is an experienced writer and reviewer specializing in books, children’s items, and other household products. Being a book lover himself, he can identify a good book when he sees one. He has conducted rigorous assessment of book plots and reader reviews to curate this list of the best books for 11- and 12-year-olds. You will find a summary of each of the books to help you select the right one.

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