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Tween

Holiday Book Gifts for Tweens
Ages 9 – 12

by Dena McMurdie

holiday gift guides tween
Illustrations: Penelope Dullaghan

It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is here at last. After the year we’ve had, I’m more than ready to do something that feels normal and happy, like picking out holiday gifts for my children. My kids love getting new books, and there are many notable titles this year that I can’t wait to give them. I love the way their eyes light up at the sight of a new book and how they get lost for days at a time between the pages.

In this gift guide, you’ll find exciting new titles, timely stories, and gift-worthy books to give your tween this holiday season. Whether they love action-packed adventures, heartfelt stories, or fascinating nonfiction, there are books for every kind of reader.

Gift Guides, Holiday Stories, & More!
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  • Books That Celebrate Our Differences:

  • Wink

    by Rob Harrell

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    Ross Maloy wants to survive middle school by blending in and flying under the radar. But when he is diagnosed with eye cancer, blending in becomes impossible. Based on the author’s real-life experiences, this novel tackles the serious topics of cancer and middle school with humor and heart. With plenty of comic panels and illustrations throughout, this book will be enjoyed by voracious and reluctant readers alike.

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  • Tornado Brain

    by Cat Patrick

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    Thirteen-year-old Frankie is neurodivergent, which makes it difficult for her to make friends. When her former best friend goes missing, Frankie believes that she is the only person who can decipher the clues left behind. With the help of her sister, Frankie races against time to unravel the clues and find her friend.

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  • Jingle Jangle: The Invention of Jeronicus Jangle

    by Lyn Sisson-Talbert and David E. Talbert

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    If your kids love receiving books about Christmas for Christmas, this is the perfect fit. This middle grade novel is based on the Netflix movie, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey! When an unconventional toymaker is betrayed by his apprentice, his spunky granddaughter comes up with a new invention to help him out. You’ll love this feel-good holiday story!
    (On Sale: 12/1/20)

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  • Nonfiction for Kids That Love to Learn:

  • How We Got to the Moon

    by John Rocco

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    Kids who are obsessed with outer space and the exciting work happening at NASA and SpaceX will love this gorgeously illustrated book. It celebrates the people and hard work that went into one of the most amazing accomplishments of all time — landing on the moon.

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  • Superpowered

    by Renee Jain and Dr. Shefali Tsabary

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    This year has been tough on everyone, including kids. Superpowered gives kids the tools they need to manage their stress, anxiety, and insecurities. With goofy illustrations and spot-on advice from two psychology professionals, this book will help your child find ways to strengthen their mental health.

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  • Bee Fearless: Dream Like a Kid

    by Mikaila Ulmer

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    One of my daughters has an interest in entrepreneurship, and I love introducing her to strong role models like Mikaila Ulmer. When she was a child, Mikaila started her own lemonade company to raise funds for bee conservation and became a wildly successful business owner. In this memoir, Mikaila shares her journey and advice for young entrepreneurs who dream of making a difference in the world.

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  • Brave. Black. First.

    by Cheryl Hudson, illustrated by Erin K. Robinson

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    If you want your child to feel inspired and learn about some amazing women, give them a copy of this book. With 50 short biographies of Black women who changed the world, you’ll find stories about women who made waves in civil rights, science, music, and the White House.

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  • Books to Keep Them Up All Night:

  • The Last Kids on Earth and the Skeleton Road

    by Max Brallier, illustrated by Douglas Holgate

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    My pre-teens love this series and the accompanying Netflix show. These highly illustrated books are hilarious, heart-pounding thrill rides that kids can’t get enough of. They’ll love diving into the latest action-packed adventure about a group of kids surviving the zombie apocalypse.

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  • The Smartest Kid in the Universe

    by Chris Grabenstein

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    Chris Grabenstein’s books are a favorite among children everywhere, and they’ll love receiving his newest novel as a gift. When Jake eats a bowl of normal-looking jelly beans, he doesn’t know that he chowed down on the first form of edible information. Now, he’s a bonafide genius and everyone, including the government, wants to get their hands on him. He’ll have to use his newfound smarts to evade his pursuers and save his middle school from the threat of being shut down.

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  • Pages and Co.: The Bookwanderers

    by Anna James, illustrated by Paola Escobar

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    If your kids are obsessed with The Land of Stories series, they’ll love this book. Tilly enjoys working at her grandparents’ bookshop, but when the characters from her favorite books walk into the store, she discovers there’s more to the bookshop than she thought. As Tilly follows the characters into their stories, she finds adventure, danger, and clues that could help her find her missing mom. The third book in the series, Pages & Co.: The Map of Stories, was just released.

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  • Timely Books To Help Kids Make Sense of the World:

  • Before the Ever After

    by Jacqueline Woodson

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    If you’ve been hoping for another poignant novel in verse from the author of Brown Girl Dreaming, you’re in luck. This heartfelt story is about a boy named ZJ, whose father is a retired professional football player. When his father’s memory starts to fail from the brain injuries he sustained during his career, ZJ worries that his family’s best days are behind them.

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  • The Talk

    edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson

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    Some books make it easier to start tough conversations with your kids. This is one of those books. An anthology featuring 30 diverse authors and illustrators, this book is filled with messages of anti-racism, unity, and hope. If your child has been unsettled by the recent events in our country, this book is a must-have.

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  • Clean Getaway

    by Nic Stone

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    Send your kid on a spontaneous road trip with a young boy and his G’ma in this timely middle grade novel. As Scoob and his grandmother make their way across the country, they also take a trip down memory lane. They visit places connected with the civil rights movement, and Scoob learns about the events that formed both his family and modern race relations.

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  • When Stars Are Scattered

    by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, illustrated by Victoria Jamieson and Iman Geddy

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    Heartbreak, hope, and resilience combine in this novel about refugees in Kenya. When Omar gets the chance to go to school, he knows it can change his and his brother’s lives forever. But Omar will have to leave his non-verbal brother alone in the refugee camp every day while he’s at school. This touching graphic novel gives readers a peek into the lives of refugees around the world.

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  • This Is Your Time

    by Ruby Bridges

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    When she was six years old, Ruby Bridges was the first Black child to integrate New Orleans’s all-white public school system. In this book, Ruby shares her remarkable story and encourages children to fight for a better tomorrow. Heartfelt and timely, this book is a wonderful gift to give a child this holiday season.
    (On Sale: 11/10/20)

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  • Exciting Mysteries for Aspiring Detectives:

  • Kudo Kids: The Mystery of the Masked Medalist

    by Maia Shibutani, Alex Shibutani, and Michelle Schusterman, illustrated by Yaoyao Ma Van As

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    Maia and Alex are headed to Japan to watch the Summer Olympics. In Tokyo, they start playing a new game that sends them all over the city, looking for virtual medals and clues to the game creator’s secret identity. When someone starts cheating, the siblings will have to figure out who it is and stop them before they ruin the game for everyone. If your child loves Pokemon Go and geocaching, they’ll love this big-city adventure novel.

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  • Enola Holmes: The Case of the Missing Marquess

    by Nancy Springer

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    If your child has never read the Enola Holmes series, now is the perfect time to introduce them to it. With a spunky heroine, a kidnapping, a missing mother, and murderous villains on the loose, your kid won’t be able to set this book down. And when they’re finished reading, they can watch the Netflix adaptation starring Millie Bobbie Brown, Henry Cavill, and Helena Bonham Carter.

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