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8 Books That Will Ignite the Imagination for Tweens

by Jennifer Garry

books on imagination tween
Image credit: Donald Iain Smith/Getty Images

The tween age group is not so easily defined. Not quite teens but not little kids anymore, tweens fall into this dicey zone of emerging self-awareness and carefree frivolity. One minute they’re playing with dolls and dreaming up elaborate recess games, the next minute that’s for babies.

More often than not, the dreamy, creative thinking that was so fun when they were younger becomes something they’re unsure about. But the world needs writers and artists, thinkers and inventors. These eight books will help ignite their creativity and show tweens that there’s nothing quite like a little imagination.

  • Wannabe Farms

    by Brian McCann, illustrated by Meghan Lands

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    In rhyming verse, comedy writer Brian McCann explores what farm animals really want to do with their lives. From cows that want to drive to pigs that dream of being sophisticates and sheep that take their hairstyles into their own hooves, this laugh-out-loud funny book will make readers look at animals in a whole new way.

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  • Matilda: Be Outrageous

    by Roald Dahl, Illustrated by Stephen Baxter

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    This beautiful gift book takes some of the best, most iconic quotes from Roald Dahl's magical story, Matilda, and features them in whimsical hand-lettered calligraphy. Including quotes like, "Sit back and allow the words to wash around you like music" and "Her words went off like fireworks flying past the stars on silver wings," readers are sure to find inspiration within its pages.

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  • Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet

    by Zanib Mian, illustrated by Nasaya Mafaridik

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    Omar and his family have just moved, and his imagination is running wild with "what ifs" about his new school. What if the work is too hard, or the kids are mean, or the teacher is a zombie alien? Things look up for Omar when he makes a new best friend - until a bully named Daniel makes his life a nightmare and even tells him all Muslims are getting kicked out of the country. Omar's imagination helps him get through it all in this funny, relatable #OwnVoices story.

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  • Pages & Co.: The Book Wanderers

    by Anna James, illustrated by Paola Escobar

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    After her mother disappeared, Tilly found comfort in the books at her grandparents' bookstore, Pages & Co. But when her favorite characters start showing up at the shop and she learns she can bookwander into any story she chooses, Tilly's adventure begins. Uncovering secrets and trying to solve the mystery of what happened to her mom, Tilly takes readers on an enchanting quest in the first book in the Pages & Co. series.

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  • The Imaginaries

    by Emily Winfield Martin

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    Emily Winfield Martin, author-illustrator of The Wonderful Things You Will Be, shares paintings captioned with a single mysterious sentence, designed to inspire. From mermaids and giant flowers to a library occupied with humans and animals, this gorgeous collection of art will inspire the artist and the writer.

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  • The Cardboard Kingdom

    by Chad Sell

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    This graphic novel follows a neighborhood full of kids during a summer when they transform cardboard boxes into magical costumes and explore conflicts with friends, family, and their own identities. Featuring diverse characters and a lot of imaginative play, ten different authors contribute stories that are drawn and organized by Chad Sell.

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  • Saving Fable

    by Scott Reintgen

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    Indira cannot believe her luck when she's finally picked to study at Protagonist Preparatory, a school in Fable that's known to produce the best heroes. When a failed audition lands her in the side-character track and her efforts to prove her abilities are constantly sabotaged, she begins to suspect an evil antagonist. Soon all of Fable is under siege and Indira begins piecing together who might be behind the dark magic threatening them all. But can a side character really save the day?

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  • Nessie Quest

    by Melissa Savage

    Ada Ru is not happy. She thought she'd final get to visit Disney World this summer, but her dad's teaching job lands them in Scotland for the whole summer instead. She doesn't like their house or haggis, and there's supposedly a monster in the lake nearby. When Ada Ru meets and befriends the captain of the Nessie Quest Monster Chaser boat tour, the two embark on an epic adventure.