20 Hand-Picked Books for 12-Year-Old Kids in 2023

Twelve is the age that is sometimes a time changer, as it is a significant physical and emotional change for kids. So, reading novels at this age is very relevant and could help the kids learn about the outside world and how they could live a good life ahead.

The kids who are 11 or 12 years old experience emotional mood swings along with many physical changes that lead to an increased feeling of self-consciousness, so these kids just read books and even choose the book according to their mood. 

20 Hand-Picked Books for 12-Year-Old Kids in 2023

Kids could read any novel of their interest, but the genres that are mostly loved by 12-year-old kids and inspire them include the following:- 

  • Fantasy, Magic, and Horror as it provides kids with tech-free escapism, and they enjoy being travelled to another world during illusions, ghosts, etc. 
  • Mystery and adventure as kids love to imagine themselves as the story’s main characters and books of this genre help them gain tremendous confidence.  
  • Inspired by history, kids need to be aware of history, and fiction books bring history to life through their dynamic characters and plots. 
  • Coming of age, by reading this genre, kids will be able to connect the struggles of their daily life with it and develop a sense of empathy and understanding while growing up. 

10 to 12 is also the age when kids blindly follow whatever they see and are influenced by their friends, which could result in many different wants, such as more independence, buying a car or bike, and much more.

Hence, it is essential to improve the thinking abilities of the kids so that they can not only learn well but also provide them with entertainment, and the best source of all the combined capabilities is reading good books.

So, here we have mentioned 20 hand-picked books that are loved by kids aged 12 and older.

20 Must-Read Books for 12-Year-Old Kids: Hand-Picked Recommendations for Young Readers

The ultimate list of 20 good books for 12 year olds begins.

1. The Night Diary 

The Night Diary

Written by Veera Hiranandani, The Night Diary is a beautifully written story that will give your kid the best kind of chills.

In simple words, it’s a story of courage and will teach your child a lot about the history of the world. This novel revolves around the story of a young girl, Nisha, who is half Muslim and half Hindu.

It was so because her family faced the partition of India. After her mother’s death, she always tried to maintain a connection with her by writing letters to her in a diary. 

2. Percy Jackson Series

Percy Jackson Series

Written by Rick Riordan, the Percy Jackson series is an addictive series about Percy Jackson; he was the one who became a hero on par with Harry Potter.

This novel revolves around the story of a 12-year-old boy plunged into the world of demigods, where he has to discover his strength, power, and courage. He learns that he is the son of Poseidon.

The boy is flawed but has a cool character and struggles a lot to fit in. These books contain the complete series, which your kids will surely love. 

Favorite quote from the Percy Jackson series:

“Knowing too much of your future is never a good thing”

– The Lightning Thief

It’s for sure that after completing the Percy Jackson series, you won’t be able to vanish the story and characters from your mind for at least weeks, but there are few books like Percy Jackson which can help you to continue the thrill. 

3. Harry Potter Series

Harry Potter Series

Harry Potter is one of the kids’ favorite characters. The serious tone of the book might be too grim for younger children, as 12-year-old kids can process the more advanced themes. Longer books enthrall kids of 11 to 12 years, and they find them easy enough and exciting.

The seven books of the Harry Potter series make the children happy and excited to know more as Harry’s journey from an ordinary orphan to the world’s savior is in a league.

One of my favorite Harry Potter Quotes:

“When in doubt, go to the library.”

— Ron Weasley

Like the Percy Jackson series, if you want to continue the thrill even after completing the Harry Potter series, go for books like Harry Potter and roam around the world of wizards.

4. Mostly the Honest Truth

Mostly the Honest Truth

Written by Jody J. Little, Mostly The Honest Truth is an excellent choice outside of fantasy. Your kid may feel the novel’s premise to be sad, but it is not; the novel is very beautiful, heartwarming, and inspiring. This story revolves around Jane, whose father was sent to rehab.

Jane arrived at her newest foster home and was determined to see her father again, and as time passed, Jane came to know that family can be so much more than blood.

By reading this novel, your 12-year-old kid will learn a lot about home and many such lessons about love and kindness.

5. All of me

All of me

Written by Chris Baron, All of Me is a novel that would help your kid if they are struggling with loving the body they are in. This is the story of a boy named Ari, who was bullied for being overweight even though his mother insisted he goes on a diet.

Even after all these complications, Ari finds new friends who make him think of a new and positive way to view his body. This book could provide tremendous help to your child and could be enjoyed by children and their loving parents. 

6. Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers

Strange Birds - A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers

Strange Birds, written by Celia C. Perez, is a story of girl power, and your daughter will love Aster, Laine, Kat, and Ofelia.

It is a story in which four girls with unique and ethnically diverse characters become friends and band together to defend birds against their local scout group. This novel is packed with adventure and will teach your child the importance of bonding and friends. 

7. Guts


Written by Raina Telgemeier, Guts is an award-winning graphic novel that follows an anxious girl and her life. It is a comic book that shows anxiety’s psychological and physical effects on her.

This novel will let your child learn ways to deal with anxiety while also enjoying the graphic novel, so your child need not miss out on an amazing pick. 

8. Sal and Gabi break the universe

Sal and Gabi break the universe

Written by Carlos Hernandez, Sal and Gabi Break the Universe is a fantastic story in which Sal is always troubled, and Gabi is a goody-two-shoes.

This novel revolves around the story when Gabi realises Sal has magical powers, and the two become friends. This story teaches everyone the value that one should not be overconfident in any of their powers or skills in the same manner that Gabi does not treat Sal differently. 

9. The Hobbit

The Hobbit

Written by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit is the best novel that can’t be left off the list. This novel presents commentary on greed and revolves around Bilbo Baggins, the eponymous character who has been whisked away on the adventure of his life.

Bilbo was left with no choice when a team of dwarves showed up at his door, which led him on a perilous journey to reclaim gold guarded by a vicious dragon. If still confused about whether the book will be worth reading or not, You can read the summary of The Hobbit book to get a better idea.

Favorite Quote from The Hobbit Book:

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

10. Genesis begins again

Genesis begins again

Written by Alicia D. Williams, Genesis Begins Again is a story of self-love. At the story’s start, Genesis hates her dark skin and always dreams of being lighter-complexioned.

Her self-loathing was not helped by the harsh criticism of her grandmother and father. Still, after they moved to a new neighbourhood and joined the choir there, she started feeling worthy. 

11. Coop knows the scoop

Coop know the scoop

Written by Taryn Souders, Coop Knows the Scoop is a novel about a small-town mystery in which you will see that Coo loves his small town in Georgia. It is so because, according to him, nothing ever went wrong over there until now.

This story revolves around the condition where his gramps gets blamed for what’s buried under the playground and how he and his friends get to the bottom of this mystery. If your child loves small-town charm, this novel is ideal for them. 

12. City Spies

City Spies

Written by James Ponti, City Spies is the best middle-grade spy story and revolves around the story of Sara Martinez and a strange man.

According to the novel, Sara Martinez is a hacker in the New York foster care system who gets into trouble along with her awful foster parents.

Still, a strange man not only rescues her but also recruits her to join four other spy kids. This novel is an adventurous thrill that will surely hook your 12-year-old kid. 

13. The Smartest Kid in the Universe

The Smartest Kid in the Universe

Written by Chris Grabentein, The Smartest Kid in the Universe is a fun sci-fi that revolves around the story of twelve-year-old Jake, who is bummed about his middle school closing, but there doesn’t seem to be much that he and his friends can do about it.

But one day, when he finds and eats some jelly beans at his mom’s workplace, he gets an idea. So, it is shown in the story that eating jelly beans turns out to be like ingesting the ingestible information developed by a scientist.

In this way, Jake becomes the smartest kid in the universe, but the government is searching for him because the pills weren’t tested.

14. Starfish


Written by Lisa Fipps, Starfish is simply a story of body image. This is the story of Ellie, who was buried for being fat. Even her mom doesn’t support her as she constantly restricts Ellie’s diet and takes her to the doctor’s clinic to get weighed.

Thanks to Ellie’s father and her best friend, who were supportive and helped her get a therapist who supported her, after taking some therapies, Ellie could stand up to bullies and take her stand.

This novel will teach your 12-year-old kid to be confident, accept their bodies as they are, and handle bullies with grace.

Favorite Quote for Starfish Book:

DNA doesn't make you family. Love does. Actions do

“DNA doesn’t make you family. Love does. Actions do.”

― Lisa Fipps, Starfish

15. Linked


Written by Gordon Korman, Linked is a novel that your kids will love as it is a funny and realistic middle-grade book with a serious twist. This novel revolves around the story of three kids, Link, Dana, and Michael, who are upset because of a swastika found on their school’s walls.

More swastikas keep popping up in their school, but no one has figured out who is drawing them. This story is motivating and will teach your kid about history, tolerance, and forgiveness.

16. Spirit Hunters

Spirit Hunters

Written by Ellen Oh, Spirit Hunters is a middle-grade horror novel, so if your child loves to read horror books, then it’s their go.

The Spirit Hunter series is the pick for those who are big fans of getting terrified in a fun way. This story revolves around haunted houses and ghosts. If your child is a horror fiend or is new to the horror genre, we wouldn’t recommend this book to them. 

17. The Someday Birds

The Someday Birds

Written by Sally J. Pla, The Someday Birds is the story of Charlie, who is autistic but used to face some challenges in processing the neurotypical world around him.

An occurrence that has strained him and his family is that his father has been injured in Afghanistan. His family takes a road trip from California to Virginia to make his father avail himself of the best medical treatment.

On this road trip, Charlie was trying to find all the birds he and his father had planned to see together. This novel is filled with sibling drama and hijinks, so if your child loves road trips, you must make them read this amazing book. 

18. As brave as you

As brave as you

Written by Jason Reynolds, As Brave as You is a story that will teach your 12-year-old kid to be courageous. Brave as You is the honest story of two young brothers who leave their comfort zone to spend the summer vacation with their loving grandparents.

The brothers were too brave to handle everything and stop at nothing, but everything backfired and led them into a world of trouble.

This novel will let your child explore serious themes like disability, growing up, and boundaries.

19. The Goldfish Boy

The Goldfish Boy

Written by Lisa Thompson, The Goldfish Boy is a high-stakes mystery novel that balances its central position with exploring the struggles faced by a boy with OCD.

Matthew Corbin was forced to stay home all day because of his OCD. Still, he might be the only one who knows what happens to a toddler missing from his neighborhood, and to save the day, he will have to expose his condition and should step out of his comfort zone. Your kid will surely love this light-tone novel. 

20. New Kid

New Kid

Written by Jerry Craft, New Kid is an honest novel that revolves around the story of Jordan, who was in a prestigious private school and was one of the few kids of colour in his whole grade.

Due to all this, he begins to feel the cultural divide between his black neighbourhood and an upscale private school.

This novel is an excellent example of representation, showing how Jordan deals with the microaggressions people of colour face. If your child loves graphic novels, then this novel is for them. 

Last Lines 

At the age of 12, the child should be able to read novels that are somewhere similar to the set of skills that adults have.

At this time, their curiosity is at its peak, and it’s easy for them to make sense of it adult concepts. Reading books provides kids with unforgettable and unbelievable experiences that inspire and motivate them from the very start and educates them in their growing age.

Some of the hand-picked best books for 12-year-olds are mentioned above, but ultimately, what themes you want them to explore are up to you. 


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