The 50 Best Books for
11- and 12-Year-Olds
by Melissa Taylor
Eleven and twelve is a time of big change for kids, both emotionally and physically. Which is why reading coming-of-age books becomes very relevant at this age. Just like the characters in the books they’re reading, 11- and 12-year-olds are experiencing emotional mood swings and physical changes from puberty that can lead to increased feelings of self-consciousness. Kids this age are also highly influenced by friends, wanting more independence from parents, and making improvements in their abstract thinking abilities. Preteens need good books that both resonate with their complex lives as well as educate and entertain them.
Which brings us to this book list — our 50 best books for 11- and 12- year-olds, curated by a panel of children’s literature experts. You’ll find a wide variety here, excellent books that appeal to a range of preteen interests, backgrounds, and even moods.
You can download the entire printable list here.
Fantasy, Magic, and Horror
Fantasy, magic, and horror provide tech-free escapism for kids. Readers can travel to other worlds to experience illusions, ghosts, dragons, and more.
Dealing with Dragons
The Girl Who Drank the Moon
His Dark Materials Trilogy
Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase
The Phantom Tollbooth
Mystery and Adventure
Kids love to imagine themselves as the main characters, especially in kids-can-do-anything adventure and mystery stories like these selections. These books are great confidence boosters and great fun.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library
The Nameless City
The Westing Game
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
These characters grow and change by facing life’s challenges. Readers will connect with the struggles of daily life and growing up. What’s more, you’re more likely to develop empathy and understanding after walking a mile in someone else’s story.
Al Capone Does My Shirts
American Born Chinese
Because of Mr. Terupt
The Best Man
As Brave As You
Counting by 7s
Flying Lessons & Other Stories
The House on Mango Street
Okay for Now
Return to Sender
The Seventh Most Important Thing
Touching Spirit Bear
When You Reach Me
Inspired by History
Few things stick with you as much as a deeply memorable story. These historical fiction books bring history to life through their dynamic characters and plots, and will stay with readers long after the last page.
Before We Were Free
Boxers & Saints Series
The Inquisitor’s Tale
The Mighty Miss Malone
Unforgettable and often unbelievable, these well-written nonfiction books inspire and educate readers. Learn more about significant people and specific periods of history in one of these compelling book choices.
Hidden Figures (Young Readers' Edition)
I Am Malala (Young Readers' Edition)
Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White
Learn more about the experts behind this reading list.
Get the printable version of the list.
Explore our 50 Best series to get great recommendations for other ages.