The Ultimate Summer Reading List for 9- to 12-Year-Olds — 2018 Edition

by Melissa Taylor

Photo credit: Wavebreakmedia, iStock Collection/Getty Images

Looking for some great new summer reads for your 9- to 12-year-old? 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!

  • Amal Unbound

    by Aisha Saeed

    Amal’s peaceful life in Pakistan is uprooted after she accidentally insults the town’s wealthy landowner and is forced into indentured servanthood. She desperately misses her family and her beloved books. When Amal gets a chance to expose the landowner for the murderer he is, she does, hoping it will be enough to free her and the others in the household. Amal Unbound is an engrossing and atmospheric story.

  • The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker

    by Matilda Woods, illustrated by Anuska Allepuz

    Set in the Italian town of Allora, a magical bird and a boy named Tito unexpectedly arrive at the home of Alberto, a lonely coffin-maker. Hoping he’s finally safe from his abusive stepfather, Tito slowly builds bonds of trust and friendship with Alberto. Rich description, magical realism, and a heartfelt friendship will enchant readers.

  • The Cardboard Kingdom

    by Chad Sell

    Don’t miss this compelling, colorfully illustrated graphic novel in which imaginative neighborhood kids build their own kingdom … out of cardboard. The children’s non-tech adventures remind readers of magical, play-filled days and the story realistically brings up meaningful issues like inclusiveness, being yourself, bullying, younger siblings, gender identity, and diversity.

  • Creature of the Pines

    by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hatem Aly

    A field trip on Elliot’s first day at a new school leads to a friendship with a girl named Uchenna and the discovery of a tiny dragon-like creature. When they lose track of creature, the friends get worried and ask Professor Fauna for help. Professor Fauna helps Elliot and Uchenna — and invites the friends to join a secret organization that protects mythical creatures. A fantastic start to an exciting new series from Gidwitz and Aly.

  • Daring Dreamers Club #1: Milla Takes Charge

    by Erin Soderberg, illustrated by Anoosha Syed

    Five friends with big dreams — Piper, Mariana, Zahra, Ruby, and Milla — team up to form the Daring Dreamers Club. Each friend is different with her own unique dream. This first book focuses on Milla, a girl who dreams of world travel. But first she must convince her moms to let her travel to the overnight Adventure Camp.

  • Good Dog

    by Dan Gemeinhart

    Brodie, a loyal dog, knows he can’t stay in heaven. His boy is still in danger. He and new friend, Tuck, return to earth as ghosts with soul lights that will dim to nothing if they stay too long. A ghost cat named Patsy helps them escape soul-sucking hellhounds and find Brodie’s boy who is still in danger from his abusive father. Both action-packed and tender, this is a story that will stick with you.

  • Hope in the Holler

    by Lisa Lewis Tyre

    After her mother dies, Wavie moves in with her malicious aunt in a poor Appalachian town. She tries to remember her mother’s inspiring wisdom: “Be brave, Wavie B! You got as much right to a good life as anybody, so find it!” Despite her circumstances, Wavie is determined to live with courage and optimism — and hopefully stop her aunt from becoming her legal guardian.

  • The Legend of Greg

    by Chris Rylander

    Greg never expected to learn that he’s actually a Dwarf … and his best friend is an Elf. That’s what happens just before his dad is kidnapped by a Troll in this funny, thrilling fantasy adventure. Greg moves Underground with other Dwarves where he makes new friends, learns about the history of Dwarves, discovers that magic is returning to the world, and prepares to battle the Dwarves’ sworn enemy: Elves.
    (On Sale: 6/12/18)

  • The Lifters

    by Dave Eggers

    Granite Flowerpetal is new to the town of Carousel, an unusual city with a big mystery. He learns that underground the city, people like Catalina Catalan work as Lifters. Their job is to prop up the many tunnels created by the townspeople’s sadness, the Hollows. Granite (Gran) and Catalina soon realize that it’s up to them to fight the Hollows and save the town from sinking.

  • The Mad Wolf’s Daughter

    by Diane Magras

    Set in medieval Scotland, Drest is a courageous girl whose war-band family is captured by invading knights. She sets out to find her family, taking a captured knight as a hostage. Drest’s incredible journey is non-stop adventure filled with self-discovery, danger, and intrigue.

  • Maker Lab: Outdoors: 25 Super Cool Projects

    by Jack Challoner

    Maker Lab: Outdoors encourages kids to get outside and explore hands-on activities and experiments. With 25 STEAM-based projects to work through, tweens will learn science skills as they flex their creative muscles. This is the perfect read to counter any and all complaints of boredom this summer. (And be on the lookout for Star Wars Maker Lab, coming out later this year.)

  • The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

    by Stacy McAnulty

    Lucy became a genius after she was struck by lightning when she was eight years old. Now at age 12, Lucy’s grandma is sending formerly homeschooled Lucy to middle school for one year. Her grandma wants Lucy to make one friend, join one activity, and read one non-math book. Middle school is hard, more so for a genius with OCD and social anxiety — but in this emotionally resonant story, Lucy perseveres and finds just what she needs.

  • Refugee

    by Alan Gratz

    Experience the lives of three children, each from different times and countries, all fleeing their homelands. Josef is a Jewish boy fleeing Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Isabel is a Cuban girl leaving on a raft toward the U.S. in the 1990s. Mahmoud is a present-day Syrian boy whose family hopes to find safe refuge in Europe. This is a must-read novel that shows the dangers of war and the hope that comes with migration.

What books would you recommend that tweens read this summer? Let us know in the comments below!