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Tween

Let’s Get Real: 19 Realistic Fiction Books for Tweens

by Janssen Bradshaw

realistic fiction for tweens

Although there’s no denying the draw of magical powers or mystical beasts, realistic fiction holds a significant space in every young reader’s heart.

Books that reflect the world you live in have their own magic for children and teens—whether they’re about playing sports, dealing with family difficulties, navigating friendships, or overcoming a personal challenge.

This reading list of realistic fiction books for tweens has adventures in the classroom, challenges on the field, stories of home life, and much more. No matter what your tween reader is looking for, this list has several fantastic options!

  • Where the Red Fern Grows

    by Wilson Rawls

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    This is one of my favorite read-aloud books. Billy has always wanted a dog and spends years saving enough money to buy not just one but two hunting dogs. He and the dogs spend nearly every night hunting in the Ozark woods, and the bond between them becomes unbreakable. Get your tissues ready for this one.

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  • Fast Pitch

    by Nic Stone

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    Shenice is a proud member of the softball team, Fulton Firebirds. For her, softball is everything. But real life interferes when her uncle reveals a long-held family secret. Shenice struggles to keep her head in the game while trying to unravel her family’s complex history.

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  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

    by Judy Blume

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    The incredibly famous series about Fudge, Peter, and Sheila starts with Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Peter’s relationship with his little brother, Fudge, defines sibling rivalry better than the dictionary. Peter gets irritated with Fudge’s constant antics, but everyone else thinks they’re cute. What makes it even worse? Peter and Fudge share a bedroom. This hilarious series is fun for any reader!

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  • Because of Mr. Terupt

    by Rob Buyea

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    The school year has just begun, and seven 5th-grade students with nothing in common end up in Mr. Terupt’s class. The students each tell the story of how their teacher makes the classroom a place they all look forward to. And then, an accident happens that puts their newfound friendships to the test.

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  • Any Day with You

    by Mae Respicio

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    Kaia loves everything about making movies. The makeup, special effects, and how actors transform into characters. At home, she lives with her parents and her beloved great-grandpa, Tatang. Her world gets flipped upside down when Tatang wants to move back home to the Philippines. Can Kaia convince him to stay with her short movie about Filipino folktales?

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  • When You Reach Me

    by Rebecca Stead

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    Middle school is already challenging, but when Miranda has a falling out with her best friend, it seems things can’t get worse — until they do. Miranda starts receiving anonymous notes with mysterious instructions she must keep secret. She wants to ignore the messages, but that becomes impossible when they predict someone’s death.

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  • Tight

    by Torrey Maldonado

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    When Bryan starts doing crazy activities with his new friend Mike, he feels excited — these adventures give him a rush. But as their stunts lead to trouble, Bryan’s chest feels tight, and he knows he needs to change. Can Bryan figure out a way to keep his friend and stand up for what he feels is right?

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  • The Boy Who Saved Baseball

    by John Ritter

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    Tom’s baseball life is on the cusp of utter destruction. His hometown field will be gone if he and his team don’t win their next game, but winning might not be possible. Just in time, a newcomer shows up, claiming to know the secrets of the town’s local baseball hero. Can this new friend be too good to be true?

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  • Fish in a Tree

    by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

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    Ally is dyslexic and secretly doesn’t know how to read. She distracts her teachers from noticing by getting into trouble, and she’s terrified someone will discover her secret. But her new teacher, Mr. Daniels, sees through her antics and gets to the heart of the issue. Mr. Daniels teaches her how to overcome this challenge and have confidence in herself.

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  • Two-Minute Drill

    by Mike Lupica

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    Chris Conlan is the stereotypical popular kid in school — a star quarterback with tons of friends who want to be just like him. But when Chris’s path crosses Scott Parry’s, the most intelligent and least athletic kid in school, they realize they have more in common than they thought.

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  • Marcus Makes a Movie

    by Kevin Hart with Geoff Rodkey, illustrated by David Cooper

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    After-school film class is Marcus’s worst nightmare. He has no idea what he is doing, but Marcus gets excited when he finds out he can turn his cartoon superhero story into a movie! This humorous middle grade novel keeps readers entertained, laughing, and inspired as Marcus stumbles through making his movie with hard work and a bit of help from his friends.

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  • Mockingbird

    by Kathryn Erskine

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    Things have never been easy for Caitlin, a girl diagnosed with Asperger’s. She always relied on her older brother Devon for help when she became confused, but after he got killed in a school shooting, she had no one to turn to. Can Caitlin receive closure and get her life back to normal?

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  • Things Not Seen

    by Andrew Clements

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    Can you imagine a life where you suddenly become invisible? That’s what happens to 15-year-old Bobby. With no explanation for why this condition occurred, Bobby becomes a missing person. Then he meets a blind girl named Alicia, who might be the key to making him visible again.

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  • Merci Suárez Changes Gears

    by Meg Medina

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    Merci and her brother Roli attend a private school. However, they are there on a scholarship and must do community service to cover some tuition costs. Merci has to deal with bossy girls and boy trouble at school. At home, her grandpa has health issues that her parents won’t explain.

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  • There's A Boy in the Girls' Bathroom

    by Louis Sachar

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    The author of the best-selling book, Holes, releases a brand new cover on There’s A Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom! Bradley Chalkers is the toughest kid in school. He lies to everyone, picks fights, and is an all-around troublemaker. But then he meets the new school counselor, who sees the good in him. Will Bradley change his ways and his reputation?

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  • The Penderwicks

    by Jeanne Birdsall

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    This National Book Award winner is the first book in a series that your child will love. The four Penderwick sisters head to the Arundel estate for a summer holiday. There, the girls team up with Jeffrey, the estate owner’s son, and spend their days exploring and going on adventures. This series is hilarious, fun, and can be read on repeat.

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  • Stand Up, Yumi Chung!

    by Jessica Kim

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    Yumi Chung leads a double life. She is painfully shy at school and gets teased for smelling like her family’s Korean BBQ restaurant. However, Yumi is ready to take the stage as a stand-up comedian, using her horrifying memories as the perfect comedy sketch. When a mix-up offers her the chance to live her dreams, she must decide what's more important — internet fame or her integrity.

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  • Scat

    by Carl Hiaasen

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    Mrs. Starch is the most despised biology teacher in the entire school, so no one gets upset when she vanishes after a field trip to the swamp. The principal tries to convince everyone she had a “family emergency,” but the kids know better. Nick and Marta realize it’s up to them to piece together what happened to their horrid teacher and find her before it’s too late. This hysterical mystery will keep your kids on their toes!

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  • The River

    by Gary Paulsen

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    In this sequel to the bestselling classic novel Hatchet, Brian returns to the wilderness for another survival adventure. This time, Brian has a psychologist companion who gets knocked out by an unexpected storm. Brian must build a raft and get himself and Derek to safety — 100 miles down the river.

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