I’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 Books for Kids Ages 9 to 12, based on an informal poll of my library-loving tween daughters, their friends, our family, and my own youthful reading habits. If you haven’t read any (all!) of these great books, I encourage you to pick them up and enjoy! You’re never too old for a great kid’s book!
Anything by Rick Riordan: My girls enjoyed the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, but they really loved the Kane Chronicles series, particularly the first book. Our copy of The Red Pyramid is held together with several layers of clear packing tape and has been read countless times by both girls. The books are cleverly written adventures that explore ancient Egyptian mythology and the world of magic. Every time Lakin or Addah read Riordan books, they become utterly immersed in the world inside the pages, emerging only to laughingly read a particularly witty section out loud to me.
The Chronicles of Narnia: A classic series, and for good reasons. Talking animals, adventures with mythical beasts, magic and mystery and fantasy combined with the fight between good and evil… what’s not to love?
Guardians of Ga’Hoole: My oldest adores this book series, which follows a young barn owl and teaches a message of leadership and friendship.
Island of the Blue Dolphins: What an amazing novel this is! I must have read this a thousand times as a child… couldn’t get enough of this tale of Karana, who survives alone for 18 years on an island in the Pacific Ocean. She is a tenacious heroine who overcomes incredible obstacles, from the constant need to forage for food and water, how to clothe herself and dealing with the death of her little brother. I highly recommend this for kids and adults. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.
The Hobbit: Excellent for reading out loud to younger kids, and perfect afternoon reading for tweens, this prequel to the Lord of the Rings books follows Bilbo Baggins on his adventures across the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood forests of Middle Earth. Definitely worth reading (even for adults!) before you see it at the movie theater!
Little House on the Prairie: Oh, how I loved the Little House books when I was a girl! I read the first two books to my girls at a young age, and I was thrilled when they became old enough to read the entire series themselves. I still read these once a year or so, just to get lost in the world of Ma and Pa, Mary, Carrie and Grace, Laura and Almanzo.
Dragon Rider: The Dragon Rider books are long, but an easy read for the 9 to 12 year old crowd. This tale of a young dragon who sets out in search of the legendary ancestral home of the dragons enchants kids and makes for a great read-aloud book for younger kids too.
The Last Dragon Chronicles (series): These are Addah’s absolute favorite books and she’s been working her way through the series for the last couple months. Each book in the series highlights a different clay dragon with unusual powers and the adventures that ensue telepathically. She highly recommends them… in fact, she’s insisting that I need to read them now.
A Wrinkle in Time (series): This trilogy is a great read for kids who struggle with fitting in, feeling lonely, or who have dealt with loss. Both of my girls checked these books one out of the library enough times that we bought our own copies.
Harry Potter (series): Of course! Lakin has read up through Prisoner of Azkaban and Addah is halfway through the first book. I’ve read all of them many times (my favorite is the last one, and I cry every time). I will encourage the girls to read them all, for the amazing characters and story and the lessons learned within.
The books that stand out the most from when I was this age are books that my kids haven’t yet read, but they’re on our list to be checked out from the library. I loved Bridge to Terabithia, Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, Misty of Chincoteague, Tuck Everlasting (oh how I loved this one!), The Secret Garden, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The Girl Who Owned a City, and Roald Dahl’s Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, and so many more. I was one of those kids who spent my free time devouring books like my life depended on it!
What were your favorite books when you were 9-12 years old? Leave a comment and add your top picks!