Books for 12 years olds range from fantastical adventures to family-based historical fiction, from quests to magic realms, adventurous to mysterious, and from sweet and sad to wild and crazy, there are stories on this list that will engage every young reader. There is a wealth of quality middle grade fiction to choose from these days.
Looking for great books for 12 year olds? In The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, Lucy is struck by lightning which gives her a super power, but that can’t help her conquer Middle School. Or can it? This celebration of friendship is a smart, thoughtful novel that reminds us all to embrace what makes us different.
In Touching Spirit Bear, Peter must overcome the effects that violence has had on his life. He is sent to a remote Alaskan Island for juvenile offenders and while there is mauled by a mysterious white bear. This tender coming-of-age story offers many life lessons.
In Al Capone Does my Shirts, A Tale from Alcatraz, a young boy lives on the prison island because his dad works there as a guard. In this inventive historical fiction, young readers get a kid’s-eye view of the past that they can relate to. Let your child indulge his curiosity about the dim past.
Give this gift set of the first three books in the Five Kingdoms series to a young reader who enjoys fantastical fiction and mythical quests. It all started with a haunted house, but it turned into a portal to another world. Your brave adventurer will love going along with Cole and his friends into mysterious realms.
When Hal is allowed a dog, only to have it taken away, he realizes the only way for them to stay together is to run away from home. This tale of a dog and his boy is overflowing with heart and stunning in its beauty of the love for dogs.
Booked is the follow-up novel to The Crossover. Soccer, family, love, and friendship take center stage in this novel-in-verse that follows Nick as he deals with troubles at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress a girl. This is a wonderful, inspiring book that pre-teens will love.
George is a lovely, sad, hopeful, thoughtful story about George. Everyone who knows George thinks she is a boy, but deep down inside, George knows she is a girl, but thinks she will have to keep this secret forever. In this novel, tender themes of transgender issues are explored.
One Dead Spy is one of a series of “Hazardous Tales” featuring historical characters and their stories. In this graphic novel, readers learn about Nathan Hale, America’s first spy, and that he is ultimately hanged by the British. This book is filled with the kind of wild, weird, gruesome details that 12-year-olds love.
See you in the Cosmos is the story of Alex, a space-obsessed boy, and his dog, Carl Sagan. Alex goes on a mission to record a journey to show what earth is really like with plans to launch it into space. Along the way, he finds out answers to questions he didn’t even know he had.
Heart of a Samurai is the story of a 14-year-old boy named Manjiro, a Japanese boy rescued after his fishing vessel sinks by an American ship. He is eager to learn all he can about his new homeland. This journey from boy to man is a classic tale of discovery.
Kira Kira is the poignant story of a Japanese American family as they settle into the Deep South of Georgia. “Kira Kira” means shining and that is what this poignant story of belonging is all about. A story about family. Sisters. And a shining hope for the future.
What if you knew all the answers? In this story, a magic pencil answers all of Ava’s questions. She aces every test. She can even find out what her teachers are thinking. But the pencil is getting shorter with each sharpening; what will happen when it is gone? A magical book for 12 year olds.
In this exciting page-turner, Ani is caught in a devious plot while a lethal plague sweeps through the land. After testing positive for the disease, she is sent to a quarantine colony, but everything is not as it seems. With the help of her best friend, Weevil, she begins to undercover the truth.
Ahimsa is the story of India’s struggle to stand up to the British government in 1942 as told through the eyes of a young child. Pre-teens will be enthralled with this story of struggle and hope as Anjali’s family navigates the trials and tribulations of their circumstances.
When pre-teens are ready for some tough themes, this is the book for them. Ghost Boys is the story of a young black boy killed by police for the “crime” of holding a toy gun. Told through the eyes of the boy’s spirit in the afterlife, this ripped-from-the-headlines story is poignant and powerful.
Brown Girl Dreaming is an award-winning collection of poems by Jacqueline Woodson. Raised in both South Carolina and New York, the author always felt halfway home in each place. In her vivid poetry, she shares what is was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Crossover is one of a series of books-in-verse by Kwame Alexander. With an accessible, fun writing style, readers will learn about the themes of family and brotherhood. This middle grade novel is the perfect suggestion for a child looking for a different kind of book.
The dead are back to haunt the living and evil spirits crowd the streets at night. With malevolent hauntings on the rise, only the investigators at the ramshackle agency, Lockwood & Co., can solve the mystery of The Screaming Staircase. This is a fantastic read for young mystery and horror fans.
The Left Handed Fate takes readers on a magical journey with the real war between England and France as the backdrop. Lucy and Maxwell are on a mission to find three pieces of a strange engine that will somehow stop the raging war. This evocative historical mystery is set on upon the rolling adventures and dangers of the high seas.
The After-Room is the triumphant finale of The Apothecary series, so be sure to include the first two books when giving this as a gift, if they haven’t already read them, of course. The story takes place in 1955 when two young children discover they have the power to prevent a nuclear disaster.
The Mighty Odds is the first novel in a series about a group of misfits with odd superpowers. When four kids with nothing in common are exposed to “something” from a mysterious bus crash, they find themselves with some quirky abilities. Kids will love this story about social identity and stereotypes.
Beyond the Bright Sea is the evocative story of a girl who has been raised on an isolated island since she was found adrift at sea when she was a baby. This award-winning historical novel sets “Crow” on a journey to discover the meaning of family and belonging.
Confessions of an Imaginary Friend is a whimsical “autobiography” of an imaginary friend who doesn’t know he isn’t real. Jacques thinks everyone hates him. Teachers ignore him. He is never picked for sports teams. He is shocked when he learns the truth, as anyone would be to find out they were imaginary.
Norse Mythology is an enchanting read of ancient stories about the genesis of the legendary nine worlds. For fans of dwarfs, giants, and ancient mystical deities, this is a fun book that breathes life into long-ago myths. Give your child the gift of ancient adventures with this fabulous book for 12 year olds.
Well, That Was Awkward is an engaging story behind the social dynamics of being a third wheel. Gracie likes A.J., but A.J. likes Gracie’s best friend, Sienna. Gracie is super happy for her best friend. Really. She’s fine! This relevant, topical story is sure to appeal to pre-teens going through the same things.
In The Night Diary it is 1947 and India has been broken into two countries under British rule. Through the eyes of a young girl, Nisha’s journey is the heartfelt story of one girl’s search for home, her own identity, and a hopeful future. This is a thought-provoking story your tween will love.
Greeting from Witness Protection! is a funny middle grades novel about Nicki, a young orphan and pickpocket, who also happens to work for the witness protection program. Dodging hitmen, cyberbullies, and standardized testing, she is the only thing standing between the Trevor family and danger.
The Puzzling World of Winston Breen is the story of a boy who can solve puzzles that stump everyone else. When his sister uncovers mysterious strips of wood with words and letters on them, even Winston is briefly baffled. Pre-teens will love this middle grades mystery chock-full of puzzles to solve.
The Inquisitor’s Tale is subtitled ‘Three Magic Children and Their Holy Dog’, so you know right off the bat with that title that it is going to be good. This book is described as an exciting and hilarious medieval adventure and is beautifully illustrated throughout. Your little reader will love this one.
The Van Gogh Deception is a riveting middle-grade mystery thriller where Dan Brown meets Jason Bourne. A young boy must piece together disjointed clues to his identity when he is discovered in Washington DC’s National Gallery with no idea who he is or how he got there.
The Tortoise and the Soldier is a story of courage and friendship in World War I. While fighting for England, Henry rescues a tortoise and together they both struggle for survival. Thus begins the friendship of a lifetime in this story based on true events. Pre-teens will love this unique adventure.
Odd, Weird, and Little is a funny and useful book about bullying. What happens when the new kid doesn’t look or act like everyone else? Bullying and peer pressure are major issues for children today and this book can help a pre-teen navigate some of those thorny problems.
When two brothers decide to prove how brave they are in this award-winning novel, As Brave As You, everything backfires – literally. Tweens will love this fun, engaging, contemporary novel about important multi-generational life lessons that appeal to everyone. Gift the gift of reading that will last a lifetime.
Inspired by the author’s childhood love of fantasy comes this book for 12 year olds, Furthermore, that weaves magic into a spellbinding new world where color is currency, adventure is inevitable, and friendship is found in the most unexpected places. Destined to become a children’s classic, this book will transport your pre-teen to a delightful world.
Stargirl is a celebration of nonconformity. Why be normal when you can shine? From the day she arrives at her new high school in a burst of color and sound, she is embraced by her peers. Until they turn on her. Will she have to be like everyone else to succeed?
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus is a story about kids navigating life with their disabilities. Aven Green loves to tell people she lost her arms in an alligator match or a wildfire in Tanzania, but really, she was born this way. Kids will love this incredible story of triumph and friendship.
Fever 1793 tells the story of an epidemic that sweeps the streets of Philadelphia through the eyes of Mattie Cook who lives above her family’s coffee shop. With a fast paced raging plot, as fierce as the fever itself, readers are taken on a frightening and thrilling adventure they will love.
Dragon’s Gate is an historical adventure about a young Chinese boy who travels from his small village in China to the wild lands of California. But Otto feels like a stranger, even among the Chinese, who have settled in this land. Pre-teens will be enthralled with this story of rich culture and adventure.
Goodbye Stranger is a story that will be familiar to most pre-teens. How do you navigate old friendships from elementary school with the new challenges of middle school and growing up? How do things change between friends as boys and girls begin to grow up? Engaging and topical, tweens will love this book.
Follow this tutorial to make amazing baseball bookends for the little sports fan in your life. You can even use baseballs that are personally special – from a winning homerun, perhaps? These are so beautiful that everyone who sees them will want you to make them a set too.
These lovely letter bookends can be customized with any fabric or wallpaper you like and fashioned after the lucky recipient’s initials. Easy to make with some simple supplies, these are practical, yet also a stylish room accent. Everyone will appreciate these as gifts, so go ahead and make them for all your friends.
These DIY log bookends are the perfect addition to a rustic décor. Got a friend with a mountain cabin? Or just wish you lived in a lodge? Inexpensive and easy, everyone who sees these will be impressed with how clever you are. Get cracking on a set today!