During these years, kids change so much. As parents, we’re always trying to figure out what they want and what’s right for their age. What’s right for them changes as they get older.
It’s likely that second and sixth graders aren’t reading the same things. In the future, tweens will be able to read more complicated stories and talk about more complicated subjects. They might want to do this on purpose. As soon as we reach a certain age.
“Some parents don’t want to talk about difficult things with their kids” (e.g. racism, sex ed, LGBT issues, etc.). The best children’s literature lets both kids and adults be honest when they talk about hard things. Books let readers connect with the protagonist’s unique experience in a real way because they show different types of people. Another thing: “Books also speak to our humanity, celebrate the beauty of life, and make us want to do and be better.”
This also gets more difficult for kids who have trouble reading or don’t like reading when they’re in their tweens. It takes a lot of pages to read some of the best-selling books. Intimidating!
Below, we’ve put together the best books for tweens. They range from Harry Potter to Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Explore the genres you know your tween likes for their next book, and then check out some new ones to try something different.
If you’re looking for books for 4th and 5th graders, don’t look at the books for ages 12 and up right now. We made a note about them.
When you need new ideas, like a summer reading list, come back to this page and bookmark it. Add books you think we should read below!
Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan, 12 books
The books in this series are great for older tweens. They are about rangers who are trained to protect kings and villagers and who value honor, community, and courage. They fight and use mild swear words, but romance comes into play as the characters get older.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rawling, 7 books
In high school, my parents took us on a road trip, and the only book we had in the car was Harry Potter. I was bored. When I saw all the hype, I didn’t want to read it because I didn’t like fantasy or magical powers, and I didn’t want to because I didn’t want to read it. But it caught me. With both of my sons, I read the whole series. I’ll start again with my daughter soon and watch the movies as we finish each book. When I read this book as a professional, I’m amazed by everything that J.K. Rawling has done. I’m amazed by how she put together the plots and characters, and I’m amazed by the lessons she has to teach.
Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle) by Christopher Paolini, 4 books
This book series is one of my teen’s absolute favorites, and tons of moms in our gift ideas for tween & teen boys Facebook group mentioned it when we asked about great books for boys. You should know that the books are long and use more complicated words as they go. They’re better for people who are more skilled at reading. People who like the book Eragon have seen a movie about the first book years ago.
City of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau, 4 books
This was a book that fourth-graders at my kids’ school had to read. I heard kids say it was one of their favorite books. In this book, it talks about the city of Ember, which was built as a last refuge for the human race. It also talks about how to save it.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan, 5 books
A lot of young people love Rick Riordan, and the Percy Jackson books are the ones my boys like the best, too. Children born to Greek gods go on adventures in the books. Percy Jackson, son of the sea god Poseidon, is one of them. In them, there is a lot of Greek mythology as well as a lot of adventure and friendship! There are movies for the two first books. It’s been five books in the Heroes of Olympus series, and Percy’s story is still going on.
Cape (The League of Secret Heroes) by Kate Hannigan, 3 books
The book is based on real-life women from World War II. It tells the story of three girls who were chosen by a government agency to help solve puzzles for the government. Their superheroes have to solve a big mystery, so the girls become superheroes, too. Start by reading book one, Cape.
Gregor the Overlander (The Underland Chronicles) by Suzanne Collins, 5 books
Gregor and his sister fall through a vent in the laundry room of their apartment building. They find a world below with royalty, giant beasts, and prophecies below. These books were written by the same person who wrote Hunger Games. They’re a good time.
Matilda, BFG & Charlie & the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
In Dahl’s books, some of them are dark and twisty, but they’re also full of lessons and interesting people. Set: This set has 16 books in it, like Matilda and the BFG, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and more. There are movies for many of these well-known books.
The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien, 4 books, (Hobbit is 9+ but LOTR 12+)
It was a lot of fun for my son to read The Hobbit. He hasn’t read the Lord of the Rings series yet. It’s a pretty big deal. As soon as my boys are old enough, I’ll read these books to them, too. I thought I didn’t like the movies as much as I did.
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, 4 books (Recommended for 12+)
It’s hard for my aunt to read this series because she knows that the premise is about kids hurting other kids. This is why she doesn’t want to read them. Before you recommend them to your tween, you should read about them. They’ll probably want to read them at some point, and you should tell them about them first. I didn’t like the last two books as much as the first one, but I did want to finish the series. She has a role in some great movies.