The Ultimate Summer Reading List for Kids Ages 9 – 12

by Melissa Taylor

Photo credit: Wavebreakmedia, iStock Collection/Getty Images

Looking for some great new summer reads for your 9- to 12-year-old to help keep the summer learning slide at bay? We’ve got you covered. These are the latest and greatest middle grade books to entice your tweens to spend vacation days with a book in hand. Another epic summer vacation starts now!

  • Max and the Midknights

    by Lincoln Peirce

    Get ready for a new cartoon-filled, silly medieval adventure from the author of the Big Nate books. Max, his new friends, and the bumbling wizard Mumbling must rescue Max’s kidnapped Uncle Budrick. Will Max’s dream of becoming a knight finally be realized? Plus, just wait for the epic plot twist!

  • The Bridge Home

    by Padma Venkatraman

    In this powerful story of loss and forgiveness, sisters living on the streets of Chennai, India, forge a family bond with two boys who help them survive by scavenging trash. When they’re forced to leave their secret bridge home for a mosquito-ridden cemetery, sickness strikes the youngest sister and one of the boys. In desperation, the older sister tentatively trusts an adult stranger with her sister’s urgent medical situation.

  • To Night Owl From Dogfish

    by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer

    When their fathers start dating, daughters Avery and Bett are sent to summer camp to bond. But the dads don’t realize their crafty kids have been writing to each other for months, agreeing about two things: they’ll never be friends — nor sisters. But just when the girls start to reconsider, their dads break up, and the girls realize their former plans might need to change.

  • Tight

    by Torrey Maldonado

    Bryan’s friendship with Mike starts getting complicated when instead of spending time drawing and reading comic books, Mike starts pushing for trouble, like stealing and subway surfing. Using his comic book superheroes as inspiration, Bryan starts to consider the kind of person he wants to be, as well as what kind of friends he wants in his life. It’s a diverse coming-of-age story showing the all-too-real challenges of friendship.

  • One-Third Nerd

    by Gennifer Choldenko, illustrated by Églantine Ceulemans

    After their parents’ divorce, three wonderfully different yet close siblings worry about their family’s immediate financial need to get their dog — who won’t stop peeing in the house — to the vet. Initially, Liam’s middle sister, Dakota, tries to solve the problem on her own. But the three team up when Izzy, the younger sister with Down syndrome, thinks of a great solution. Dog-lovers will especially enjoy this warmhearted story of a family who will do anything for each other and their pet.

  • Shouting at the Rain

    by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

    Delise has lived with her grandmother ever since she was abandoned by her mother as a baby. Now she’s struggling with her best friend’s abandonment, too. In fact, she feels like her entire life is a storm about to hit. Honest, relatable characters come to life in this memorable story of heartbreak and love.

  • We’re Not from Here

    by Geoff Rodkey

    The ruling species on planet Choom don’t want human settlers like Lan and his family moving in. At first, Lan’s family tried to assimilate into the emotionless world, but when the government anti-human propaganda starts, Lan decides to try a different approach. It’s a sci-fi story with dark humor, fake news, and alien bugs that skillfully addresses immigration, communication, and relationships.

  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

    by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, illustrated by Anna Hymas

    This enthralling memoir follows William Kamkwamba as he learns everything he can from his village library in order to build a windmill, which creates electricity to power a water pump for his family’s farm. That leads to powering his village in Malawi, as well as an introduction to the wider world and a formal education. Readers will be inspired by William’s persistence and determination.

  • Escape This Book! Titanic

    by Bill Doyle, illustrated by Sarah Sax

    Step into one of history’s most dramatic moments. Readers are trapped on the Titanic after choosing to be a passenger, crew member, or stowaway. While they read all about that infamous ocean liner and its fate, they have to doodle, demolish, and think their way off the ship before it sinks to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean.

  • STEM Lab

    by Jack Challoner

    Keep kids learning all summer long with these engaging STEM activities on forces and motion, liquids and reactions, shapes and structures, and light and sound. Eye-catching, full-color photographs, engaging background information, and clear, step-by-step directions make this book a must-have for summer vacation.

  • Odd One Out

    by Buster Books

    Puzzle books make great summer activities, especially while traveling. In this book, kids look closely to spot the odd one out, match pairs, and solve color-matching puzzles, plus search for groups of pineapples, unicorns, ice creams, science beakers, and more. Fun facts accompany the cute illustrations to add bonus reading-based learning.

  • The Door to the Lost

    by Jaleigh Johnson

    Magical refugee orphans Rook and Drift must hide from the intolerance of their new home’s non-magical people. Hoping to make a portal to return to their home world, Rook keeps making a portal into a snowy world with a mysterious fox instead. Their troubles get worse when the friends are captured by the government and tasked to use their powers to save this world from a twisted, poisoned magic. It’s nonstop fantasy adventure about prejudice, loyalty, and perseverance.

  • Hilo Series

    by Judd Winick

    Hilo, a space boy, crashes into Earth with only vague memories of his past. He doesn’t realize that bad robots have followed him — or that he’ll have to go to school. Ugh! These hilarious, page-turning graphic novels entice readers with adventures full of friendship, space robots, and good versus evil.

  • The Season of Styx Malone

    by Kekla Magoon

    Brothers Caleb and Bobby Gene idolize their older neighbor, Styx. So when Styx convinces them to join in his schemes to “trade up” — including trading their baby sister for fireworks — they’re eager to say yes. Although it’s both funny and dark, the core of this novel is about growing up and the complexity of human nature.

  • The War That Saved My Life

    by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

    Because of her abusive mother, Ada’s never left her one-room London apartment, until she escapes with her brother during a WWII evacuation of children. Once in the country, they move in with a grieving woman who — despite her sharp edges — shows Ada a bigger world without abuse, teaches her how to read, and ultimately shows her what love and trust really are. Winner of the Newbery Award, this powerful story will become many young readers’ new favorite.

Looking for summer reading ideas for younger or older kids? Check out our 2019 lists for Kids Ages 3 – 5, Ages 6 – 8, and Teens.