Explore the 25 best books for tweens through our comprehensive book list. Meet engaging characters, enter fascinating worlds, and explore fresh perspectives.
With their many digital distractions at their fingertips, many tweens need encouragement to pick up a book and dive into a great story. Reading offers some serious advantages to young minds, so it’s an avenue worth exploring. Reading can enhance reading comprehension, sharpen concentration, and bolster vocabulary.
Tweens are those who are in their pre-teen stage of life. You’re a tween if you’re in between being a child and an adolescent. Generally, they are those between the ages of 9 and 12. If you’re interested in this topic, check out our round-up of the best books for twelve-year-olds!
- 1. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
- 2. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
- 3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
- 4. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
- 5. Nancy Drew Mystery Stories by Carolyn Keene
- 6. Starfish by Lisa Flipps
- 7. Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
- 8. One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
- 9. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
- 10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
- 11. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- 12. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
- 13. Awful Auntie by David Walliams
- 14. The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brailler
- 15. All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
- 16. Misfits
- 17. The Blackbird Girls
- 18. The War That Saved My Life
- 19. Awkward
- 20. Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
- 21. Dear Martin by Nic Stone
- 22. Alex Rider Adventures by Anthony Horowitz
- 23. The Laura Line by Crystal Allen
- 24. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead
- 25. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
1. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter is one of the most famous series, with over 500 million copies sold worldwide. In this story spanning seven novels, Harry is a young boy who discovers he’s a wizard.
Harry is then enrolled in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to learn all about magic. Tweens will enjoy attending the school alongside Harry and his friends, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
2. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a string of novels by Rick Riordan. It’s an exciting series that blends modern times and ancient mythology. Any tween will enjoy the humorous but action-packed story of Percy as he discovers being Poseidon’s son.
Although its main protagonist is a demigod, readers can easily relate to him and the other characters. Aside from the exhilarating adventures, Riordan keeps the audience’s attention via witty dialogue and seamlessly interlaced Greek mythology. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“If my life is going to mean anything, I have to live it myself.”Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
A great introduction to fantasy literature is The Hobbit. Penned by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien in 1937, he originally made it for his children. For generations, many praise it for its vivid descriptions of fantastical elements. In particular, the world-building details he demonstrated in creating Middle-earth.
It’s a must-read and timeless classic with the main themes of camaraderie and bravery. Readers can explore how an unexpected hero inspires significant change in The Hobbit. The novel is also available as a picture book and audiobook. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“It is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk, that keep the darkness at bay.”J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
4. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon earned the 2017 Newbery Medal for its spellbinding writing. The novel starts with an annual sacrifice where babies are offered to a witch. Unbeknownst to the others in the land, this witch is different. Instead of assumed evildoing, she imbues the babies with magic by feeding them stars and rehoming them.
Until one day, she accidentally lets one baby drink the moon. With this much magic comes the many uncertainties Luna should face as a 13-year-old. The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a heartwarming read. It teaches readers the importance of family and finding a place where one belongs. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Knowledge is power, but it is a terrible power when it is hoarded and hidden.”Kelly Barnhill, The Girl Who Drank the Moon
5. Nancy Drew Mystery Stories by Carolyn Keene
The Nancy Drew stories are perfect for young readers to play detective. As a collection of various writers under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene, this series maximizes different perspectives and creativity. Tweens are encouraged to solve mysteries via critical thinking and problem-solving.
Though the series highlights Nancy as an independent youth with unwavering bravery, it also promotes teamwork. Nancy may be tenacious, but so are her friends, Bess Marvin and George Fayne, who assist her in figuring out the mysteries. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Do act mysterious. It always keeps them coming back for more.”Carolyn Keene, Nancy Drew Mystery Stories: Nancy’s Mysterious Letter
6. Starfish by Lisa Flipps
Lisa Flipps’ first book, Starfish, centers around the challenges of being fat and how the main character evolved to accept herself. Meet Ellie, the protagonist who has a complicated relationship with her body. She follows the “Fat Girls’ Rules” but still gets fat-shamed by strangers and her mother. She only feels free when underwater, floating, and swimming.
Flipps wrote the book based on her real-life experience as a big girl when she was younger. That’s what makes the book relatable, poignant, but also inspiring. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“The fat on my body never felt as heavy as your words on my heart.”Lisa Fipps, Starfish
7. Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
Although Amulet: The Stonekeeper might seem heavy, it’s appropriate for 7- to 11-year-olds. This book by Kazu Kibuishi is about Emily Hayers and her brother Navin’s adventure as they try to save their kidnapped mom.
This graphic novel’s stunning artwork engages readers as the two kids fight for survival against unfamiliar territories. Amulet: The Stonekeeper is a highly recommended novel for fans of fantasy and ingenious character designs. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“You creatures are not as complex as you make yourselves out to be.”Kazu Kibuishi, Amulet: The Stonekeeper
8. One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Katherine Applegate is a known American children’s book writer. One and Only Ivan is a Newbery Award recipient and tells the tale of a real gorilla named Ivan. Though he used to live in the jungle, he is now used to being ogled at by humans. After all, he’s been locked up in the same cage for 27 years.
He’s busy thinking of other things outside of his past life. Instead, he wonders about his friends, TV shows, and art. That’s until a baby elephant joins him.
One and Only Ivan is a nuanced story of hope, friendship, and kindness. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”Katherine Applegate, One and Only Ivan
9. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and Garth Williams is about a barn spider named Charlotte and her friend pig, Wilbur. Inspired by the sick pig he failed to save and his observations of a spider, White came up with a tale he didn’t expect would live on decades after it was first published. The story revolves around the “miracles” Charlotte spun using her web to save Wilbur from being slaughtered. Read it on Amazon; click here.
Many label this classic children’s tale as a critical success for its charm and the essential lessons it stills on children. The main themes include friendship, coping, and sacrifice.
“With the right words, you can change the world.”E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid might be satire, but it’s a realistic portrayal of middle school. The book contains Greg Heefley’s recordings and drawings of his daily life. Readers get into various shenanigans that make it relatable to those in the same age bracket.
Tweens will appreciate reading the 17 installments of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Every book is filled with lifelike situations told hilariously. Despite its innocent and funny attributes, this literature is still full of wisdom. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“I guess you can’t expect everyone to have the same kind of dedication as you.”Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid
11. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Wonder by R.J. Palacio is a book that teaches tweens critical life lessons. It tells the story of a boy, August Pullman, with a facial deformity who attends a traditional school for the first time.
Readers follow his life as he deals with challenges for merely existing. The perspectives stretch over to the other characters to help the readers have a complete view of Auggie’s world. This novel underscores compassion and dissects bullying that scourges everyone it affects. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Kinder than is necessary. Because it’s not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.”R.J. Palacio, Wonder
12. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle is a science fiction book. It chronicles Meg Murry and her family’s life after her scientist father traveled to a newly discovered planet and never returned. Soon, they are thrown into a journey of needing to travel through time to save the world.
At its core, the book is about the clashing ideas of good and evil. It’s a coming-of-age tale that focuses on the importance of family and courage. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“To love is to be vulnerable; and it is only in vulnerability and risk — not safety and security — that we overcome darkness.”Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
13. Awful Auntie by David Walliams
Awful Auntie has a simple plot: An aunt who wants to take her niece’s inheritance. It’s a fun book brimming with evil schemes but equally crafty maneuvers from the main character, 12-year-old Stella.
Like David Walliams’ other works, Awful Auntie is an excellent gift to any bookworm. Despite its simple storyline, it’s funny, witty, and, most of all, thought-provoking. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“However awful your auntie might be, she will never be in the same league of awfulness as – Aunt Alberta.”David Walliams, Awful Auntie
14. The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brailler
Max Brallier’s The Last Kids on Earth, illustrated by Douglas Holgate, is a fiction novel in the action and adventure genre. Set in an apocalyptic world, this novel spans at least a dozen books. It narrates Jack Sullivan’s survival as a 13-year-old living in a tree house.
Jack is accompanied by his best friend and schoolmates, and he does his best to stay alive in a chaotic world. The novel focuses on school kids turned heroes who fight against an unknown entity that wants to control the earth. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“I was totally not a hero, totally not a tough guy, totally not fighting giant monsters. But look at me now. Battling a gargantuan beast on the roof of the local CVS. Life is crazy like that.”Max Brallier, The Last Kids on Earth
15. All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
Follow a Jewish immigrant family’s life in an All-of-a-Kind Family. Here, Sydney Taylor enchants the readers to enjoy life’s simple pleasures as the Jewish girls in the story do. Living in New York City’s Lower East Side in 1912 wasn’t easy. Still, Henny, Ella, Charlotte, Gertie, and Sarah find ways to turn the mundane into something extraordinary.
This novel is under the children’s middle-grade books and is an excellent depiction of childhood innocence. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Few of us will ever be famous, I can tell you none of us will be rich. But we will have more important riches — the joy of making the beautiful music.”Sydney Taylor, All-of-a-Kind Family
Jen Calonita’s Royal Academy Rebels or Misfits is set in Enchantasia. Through its Royal Academy, future fairy tale leaders are honed. The narrative focuses on a princess who can talk to animals called Devin. Although she wants to stay with her animal friends in her castle, her royal duties say otherwise.
In the academy, she meets the headmistress fairy godmother Olivina. She’s not just a stickler for rules. She’s also paranoid about something. Readers follow Devin as she breaks the rules and meets new friends while trying to uncover Olivina’s secret. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“I did it because I was so scared!”Jen Calonita, Misfits
17. The Blackbird Girls
The Blackbird Girls is an award-winning novel flushed with life lessons told from three alternating perspectives. With the Chernobyl reactor painting the sky red, two girls — Valentina and Oksana, flee to save themselves. Although they were initially not fond of each other, the need to survive led them to work together. In time, they became best friends.
Anne Blankman’s historical fiction novel touches not only on the growth of its protagonists. It also lets the reader in on what life is like for the survivors of the Chernobyl disaster. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Distance between true friends doesn’t matter when their friendship lives in their hearts.”Anne Blankman, The Blackbird Girls
18. The War That Saved My Life
The War That Saved My Life is a highly engaging look at the early days of World War II. Set in the England countryside, it’s an honest and moving tale that bagged many awards. Aside from the adjustments the time period demanded its participants to get accustomed to, the main protagonist suffers from clubfoot and gets abused by her mother.
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley delivers a compelling narrative of the 10-year-old Ada in this book. Her victory in a world where war, the Nazis, and constant chaos ensues is a heartening tale of resiliency. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“It had been awful, but I hadn’t quit. I had persisted. In battle, I had won.”Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, The War That Saved My Life
Follow Peppi Torres as she tries to survive middle school. She has the rules down and plans to follow them. But she accidentally trips and gets labeled as Jaime Thompson — the nerd’s — girlfriend. The novel’s title, Awkward, perfectly describes the tension between the lead characters.
This sweet and cute book is only the first part of Svetlana Chmakova’s Berrybrook Middle School Series. The book series continues with Brave, Crush, Enemies, and Time Capsule — all with their own merits and adorable drawings. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Penelope? Thank you. For not leaving me alone to deal with this . . . when things got hard. other people would have. You’re a true friend.”Svetlana Chmakova, Awkward
20. Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
Lauren Wolk’s talent shines in Wolf Hollow. At the very start, the narrator tells the readers that the story is about losing one’s childhood naivety. It’s set in World War II, where 11-year-old Annabelle enjoys a relatively peaceful rural life, with all things considered.
That’s until Betty arrived. She’s cruel, and her meanness only escalates. One day, she vanishes. The prime suspect? A World War I Veteran and Annabelle’s friend — Tobias.
This stimulating tale dives into more serious topics, such as bullying and justice based on social status. It’s a bold criticism against bias and calls for the start of dissecting crucial issues that happened then and are still happening now. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“If my life was to be just a single note in an endless symphony, how could I not sound it out for as long and as loudly as I could?”Lauren Wolk, Wolf Hollow
21. Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Nic Stone held nothing back in her debut novel, Dear Martin. Rightfully heralded as one of the 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time by Time Magazine, this literature pounces on the troubling issues of racism and injustice.
It tells the story of justice and the police and the media’s biased treatment of his case. Through his devastation, Justyce held on to one hope: Martin Luther King Jr.’s teachings. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“You can’t change how other people think and act, but you’re in full control of you. When it comes down to it, the only question that matters is this: If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?”Nic Stone, Dear Martin
22. Alex Rider Adventures by Anthony Horowitz
Tweens who are after the adrenaline of spy novels would love Alex Rider Adventures. With 14 great books keeping the series alive, fans would enjoy a thorough and extended reading. Apart from the main books, the Alex Rider franchise has graphic novels, supplementary books for kids, and short stories.
The writers of the novel, Anthony Horowitz and Amie Kaufman, keep a fast-paced, exciting plot line for the series. It centers around the missions MI6 gives an experienced spy despite not being a full grown-up. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“He had followed the trail left by a dead man. It was only now that he realized it might lead only to a grave.”Anthony Horowitz, Alex Rider Adventures
23. The Laura Line by Crystal Allen
The Laura Line is a chucklesome depiction of a young girl torn between keeping up appearances and protecting an important family treasure. As a child, Laura Eboni Dyson thinks nothing is more important than being accepted at school and recognized by her crush. An unexpected field trip to her grandmother’s property will jeopardize her reputation, though. So, she comes up with a plan.
This realistic fiction masterfully weaves a 13-year-old’s thoughts, language, and decisions. It’s a great novel where readers can reflect on themselves and their heritage via Laura’s character. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“I am Laura Eboni Dyson, the youngest member of the Laura Line, and I can do anything.”Crystal Allen, The Laura Line
24. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead
My Side of the Mountain is the epitome of survival in the literal sense. It’s the account of a 12-year-old boy who fled home and decided to live in the mountains. His determination to learn skills and make it through each day is a heartening tale of independence, fearlessness, and maturity.
It’s a slow-paced novel that lets readers feel the drag of the boy’s days in the mountains. It also demonstrates how nature can help children cope with stress. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Fortunately, the sun has a wonderfully glorious habit of rising every morning.”Jean Craighead – George, My Side of the Mountain
25. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Bud Caldwell’s search for his father after his mother’s death is well-represented in Bud, Not Buddy. As a 10-year-old orphan during the Great Depression, Bud is not just challenged by the few leads he has of his origin. He also lives in a time of poverty with no means to support himself.
Despite being in and out of foster homes, Bud remains optimistic and intelligent. This novel is a testament to a child’s resolve and strength. Read it on Amazon; click here.
“Family isn’t always about blood. It’s about who’s there for you when you need them.”Christopher Paul Curtis, Bud, Not Buddy
Eager to check out other books for young adults? Check out the best authors like Sarah J. Maas for your next fantasy romance story.