12 Best Books for Twelve Year Olds: Awesome Novels for Your Middle Schooler

Finding great books for pre-teens is tough—but we’ve got it covered with our list of the best books for twelve year olds.

Finding the best books for twelve-year-olds isn’t easy—they’re beyond the point where children’s books are the right fit but often aren’t at the age where adult novels are interesting or appropriate. Finding the right reading list additions for young readers in middle school means you need to know your child’s interests—the reading needs of a twelve-year-old girl who is into historical fiction will vary vastly from those of a twelve-year-old boy who wants to immerse himself in the magical world of science fiction.

Our list below captures many good books for your tween that are both challenging and exciting. If you’re interested in this topic, you will love our round-up of the best J.K. Rowling books!

Here Are The Best Books for Twelve Year Olds

1. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
A book cover of a brown-haired boy, a red-haired boy, and an owl riding together in a flying blue car

The world-renowned Harry Potter series follows the story of Harry, a young boy who discovers that he’s a wizard. The books tell the story of Harry and the friends he meets at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry and his friends Hermione and Ron navigate both the intricacies of having magical powers and the ups and downs of tweenage and teenage life. There are eight books in the series, each taking readers through the process of the magical trio perfecting their powers and growing up. You might also be interested in our list of books for eight year olds.

“It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.”

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

2. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
A book cover of a girl in a blue dress with black hair flying behind her looks towards the sky

The worlds of humans and magical beings meld in The Girl Who Drank the Moon. Townspeople leave a baby to a witch that they fear each year. Unbeknownst to the townspeople, the witch takes the babies and gives them to loving families in another town. Luna is given to the witch as a baby, and the witch accidentally feeds her moonlight instead of starlight, which gives the baby magical powers. The witch, Xan, names her Luna and takes care of her in her forest home. As Luna grows older, her magic becomes dangerous, and readers will stay on the edge of their seats as they watch how Luna, Xan, and the townspeople nearby interact.

“How many feelings can one heart hold?… Infinite, Luna thought. The way the universe is infinite. It is light and dark and endless motion; it is space and time, and space within space, and time within time. And she knew: there is no limit to what the heart can carry.”

Kelly Barnhill, The Girl Who Drank the Moon
The Girl Who Drank the Moon (Winner of the 2017 Newbery Medal)
  • Newbery medal winners
  • Language: english
  • Book - the girl who drank the moon
  • Hardcover Book
  • Barnhill, Kelly (Author)

3. All of Me by Chris Baron

All of Me by Chris Baron
A book cover with an illustration of a boy at a beach leaning on a bicycle with both fists raised toward the air while looking at the sunset

Ari is a young, overweight boy struggling with his body image. A cross-country move means less time with his parents as they work to promote his mother’s art career. While settling into his new home, Ari makes new friends and grows close with classmates Pick, Jorge, and Lisa. The young boy experiences bullying in his new school but feels his parents are too busy to listen to his concerns. After his mother encourages Ari to go on a diet, he begins to learn how to love himself in the body he’s already in. Check out our guide on the best books for ten year olds.

“A clear thought like starlight, the kind that only comes after something tough happens.”

Chris Baron, All of Me
All of Me
  • Hardcover Book
  • Baron, Chris (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 06/11/2019 (Publication Date) - Feiwel & Friends (Publisher)

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
A book cover with the title of the book in black capital letters

Little Women is a timeless classic tale that follows the lives of Alcott and her three sisters, Amy, Beth, Meg, and Jo, as they grow from children into young women. The family is not wealthy but keeps an optimistic perspective on following their dreams. The sisters tackle issues around love, work, and domesticity. Readers will find that each of the sisters maintains their sense of individuality. The book takes place during the American Civil War and shows how the issues happening in the country at the time affected the family.

“There are many Beths in the world, shy and quiet, sitting in corners till needed, and living for others so cheerfully that no one sees the sacrifices till the little cricket on the hearth stops chirping, and the sweet, sunshiny presence vanishes, leaving silence and shadow behind.”

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
Little Women (150th Anniversary Edition): With Foreword and 200 Original Illustrations
  • Alcott, Louisa May (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 546 Pages - 03/02/2019 (Publication Date) - SeaWolf Press (Publisher)

5. Track Series by Jason Reynolds

Track Series by Jason Reynolds
A box set of books with the title of the book names on the side of the box. On the front of the box, the author’s name and the title of the book are written on a yellow, orange, green, and blue background

The Track Series follows the stories of Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu, four runners from different backgrounds on the same track team. Young readers love how relatable the characters are as they deal with issues that plague many middle schoolers. Parents love how the books touch on moral and social issues without overwhelming readers.

It’s unusual to find a series focused on sports that include both boys and girls and isn’t football or baseball focused. In addition to focusing on running, the group faces its issues. Many readers relate to the idea that everyone has more going on beneath the surface than initially meets the eye. If you like reading children’s books, you might also enjoy our list of the best books by Roald Dahl.

“Trouble is, you can’t run away from yourself.” Coach snatched the towel from his shoulder, folded into a perfect square, and set it in the space between us. “Unfortunately,” he said, “ain’t nobody that fast.”

Jason Reynolds, Ghost
Jason Reynolds's Track Series (Boxed Set): Ghost; Patina; Sunny; Lu
  • Hardcover Book
  • Reynolds, Jason (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 832 Pages - 11/27/2018 (Publication Date) - Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books (Publisher)

6. Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
A book cover with a cartoon-drawn boy and girl adjusting the letters of the book title against a background of a fiery yellow sky with houses and palm trees

In Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, Sal Vidon is a magician who meets Gabi Real, the student council president, when Sal is blamed for putting a raw chicken in Gabi’s best friend’s locker. Sal prides himself on his magic skills, and Gabi prides herself on never missing anything. Together, the two discover that Sal can reach through space and time and retrieve people from the past. When Gabi learns about Sal’s abilities, she can handle his otherworldly powers–but the two face issues that could threaten the universe. 

“Fear is your body trying to tell your brain what to do. But the brain is the king of the body. It calls the shots.”

Carlos Hernandez, Sal and Gabi Break the Universe
Rick Riordan Presents: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe-A Sal and Gabi Novel, Book 1
  • Hardcover Book
  • Hernandez, Carlos (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 03/05/2019 (Publication Date) - Rick Riordan Presents (Publisher)

7. Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers by Celia C. Perez

Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers by Celia C. Perez
A book cover with a blue background and an illustration of a group of girls standing together

In Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers, Lane, Cat, Aster, and Ofelia come together to form a different kind of scout troop, as they find that the current scout troop in their area isn’t a good fit for them. The girls are diverse and come together to stop another troop from participating in activities that they find morally unjust. Strange Birds tells a unique story of friendship and encourages girls to use their minds to make a difference.

Many parents like that this book stays away from romantic themes, focuses solely on friendship and intellectual pursuits and encourages young girls to look at their communities and find ways to create positive change.

“She could see that familiar look on her mom’s face. It was her I’m-just-making-conversation-but-really-hoping-you’ll-share-something-important look.”

Celia C. Pérez, Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers
Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers
  • Hardcover Book
  • Pérez, Celia C. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 09/03/2019 (Publication Date) - Kokila (Publisher)

8. Mostly the Honest Truth by Jody J. Little

Mostly the Honest Truth by Jody J. Little
A book cover with the title centered on a background of a tan table scattered with hair ties, a donut, two blue candies, two daisies, and a blue coffee mug

Jane’s life isn’t easy; she’s trying to manage her own life while also living with an addicted father while dealing with the ins and outs of living in foster care. It’s not her first time being displaced due to her father’s addiction. In Mostly the Honest Truth, Jane’s matter-of-fact attitude can be surprising, and her ability to take life in stride is proof that she hasn’t had it easy.

While she knows what to expect, she’s surprised to find that she feels a sense of community, even when the person who is most important to her is far away. Readers find Jane likable and relatable and love watching how she never gives up hope, even when life throws her unexpected turns.

“Yep, twelve days in rehab for Pop. Twelve days in a temporary foster home for me. We’d already done it three times before, but this fourth time was going to be the last. I had made sure of it. That’s the honest truth.”

Jody J. Little, Mostly the Honest Truth
Mostly the Honest Truth
  • Hardcover Book
  • Little, Jody J. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 03/12/2019 (Publication Date) - HarperCollins (Publisher)

9. The Lord of the Rings Series by J.R.R. Tolkein

The Lord of the Rings Series by J.R.R. Tolkein
A book cover with a cloudy landscape with trees and green grass is set between trees

An age-old tale of good versus evil, The Lord of the Rings is a six-book series that follows a group of heroes on a quest to save their world from those who are out to destroy it. Frodo Baggins receives a magical ring from his uncle and quickly learns that the ring can control the world. The ring is known for its ability to corrupt whoever possesses it, and Frodo learns that it’s up to him and those closest to him to keep the ring safe. 

“I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings: Boxed Set
  • Harper Collins Paperbacks
  • Tolkien, J. R. R. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1150 Pages - 07/17/1995 (Publication Date) - HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (Publisher)

10. The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
A book cover with the book’s title is handwritten on strips of notebook paper against an orange background with lightning bolts

Whether your kid loves math or struggles with numbers, they’ll love reading The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl about how Lucy is a genius when solving math problems fast. The twelve-year-old was struck by lightning and was suddenly able to do math at a crazy speed. Lucy is brilliant and also lives with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Her math skills mean that she’s ready for college years before her peers, but her family isn’t sure she’ll be able to handle the pressures of higher education. 

After twelve years of homeschooling, Lucy’s a mathematician, but her grandmother tells her she must grow up socially before handling a college class. This coming-of-age story touches on mental health, confidence, academics, social issues, family relationships, and other issues that are close to the heart of today’s pre-teens. You might be interested in exploring other children’s books, such as these best Astrid Lindgren books.

“Don’t be afraid of numbers. Use them to compute your solutions. Look at the world as it is intended.”

Stacy McAnulty, The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl
  • Hardcover Book
  • McAnulty, Stacy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 05/01/2018 (Publication Date) - Random House Books for Young Readers (Publisher)

11. Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Pax by Sara Pennypacker
A book cover with an illustration of a fox looking at the sky surrounded by brush. The book’s title is centered on the blue sky

Sara Pennypacker‘s New York Times bestseller, Pax, is a heartwarming story that follows Peter and his pet fox, Pax. Peter and Pax were inseparable until Peter’s father enlisted in the military and made Peter return Pax to the forest. After finding himself three hundred miles from home at his grandfather’s house, Peter decides to embark on his journey–to find his beloved fox again. He isn’t the only one longing for his long-lost friend – Pax is also waiting for Peter, all while going through his adventures in the wild. 

“After his own mother had died, Peter had watched his father anxiously. At first, there had just been a frightening silence. But gradually, his face had hardened into the permanent threat of a scowl, and his hands clenched in fists by his sides as if itching for something to set him off. Peter learned to avoid being that something. Learned to stay out of his way.”

Sara Pennypackar, Pax
  • Hardcover Book
  • Pennypacker, Sara (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 02/02/2016 (Publication Date) - Balzer + Bray (Publisher)

12. The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
A book cover with an illustration of hands reaching out to each other on a dark blue background

The Night Diary is set in India in 1947. The country has recently been split into India and Pakistan, and there’s a vast divide between people of the Hindu and Islamic faiths. Nisha is a twelve-year-old who feels stuck–she’s half-Hindu, half-Muslim, and she can’t quite figure out where she fits in. Her father decides the family can no longer stay in Pakistan and must make the dangerous journey to a safer home.

The Night Diary shares themes of hope, family, and hardship, and readers will root for Nisha with every page turn. Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best books for teenagers!

“It feels like we’re really in a story now. I’ve heard about stories like these, about people who flee their homes in a war with nothing but the clothes and food on their backs. Now that’s who we are, even though there’s not a war here, but it’s like a war. It seems almost like a made-up war.”

Veera Hiranandani, The Night Diary
The Night Diary
  • The Night Diary Hardcover
  • Hardcover Book
  • Hiranandani, Veera (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 03/06/2018 (Publication Date) - Kokila (Publisher)