The best books for 9 – 12 year-olds

With their exciting escapades and daring adventures, these fiction books for nine, ten, eleven and twelve-year-olds are sure to keep even the most reluctant readers captivated.

by Sam Book
09/12/2020
3 minutes to read

With new schools, friendships and their growing independence to navigate, the pre-teen years can be a challenging and exciting time for kids and parents alike. If you're looking for book recommendations for the middle-grade reader in your life, check out our edit of the best books for nine, ten, eleven and twelve-year-olds. With tales of magic, mystery and adventure, there's a book on the list every kid is sure to love. 

My Big Mouth

by Steven Camden

Book cover for 9781529010992

When Dad leaves, ten-year-old Jay has questions.

Where has he gone?

Why did he go?

When no one can give Jay the answers he needs, he makes up his own stories, setting off a chain reaction that sees regular old Jay go from just another face in the crowd, to the centre of attention. But being the coolest kid in school comes at a cost. And as things spiral out of control, can the most unlikely person help him learn the most important lesson of all?

Wave Riders

by Lauren St John

Book cover for 9781509874248

Twins Jess and Jude Carter live a dream life sailing from one exotic destination to the next with their guardian, Gabriel. But after Gabe vanishes and a storm smashes up their lives, they’re left penniless and alone. When a wealthy, glamorous family offer them a home, everybody tells them they’re the luckiest children in the world. But the Blakeneys’ stately mansion is full of secrets – secrets that seem entangled with the twins’ own fate. As they race to uncover the truth, Jess and Jude must confront their deepest fears.

The Deadly 7

by Garth Jennings

Book cover for 9781509887644

An illustrated chapter book by the writer and director of Sing, The Deadly 7 is the first in a series of hilarious and sometimes spooky monster adventure books. With a protagonist that readers will love in eleven-year-old Nelson, this is a series perfect for nine-twelve year olds who like their fiction laugh-out-loud funny. Once they've finished the first book, they can move on to the next two books in the series, The Good, the Bad and the Deadly 7 and The Curse of the Deadly 7.

Discover the best funny books for kids. 

The Umbrella Mouse

by Anna Fargher

Book cover for 9781529003970

A Second World War story with a difference: in this timeless middle-grade tale, we meet Pip Hanway, a young mouse whose world is turned upside down when a bomb destroys her home. This story of courage, resistance and friendship will teach children about the impact of war, while taking them on a journey with a lovable cast of furry characters. Pip returns for more adventures in the sequel Umbrella Mouse to the Rescue.


Noah's Gold

by Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Book cover for 9781529048261

Packed with mystery, adventure and laughs, Noah's Gold is the exciting new novel from the bestselling author of Millions and Runaway Robot, Frank Cottrell-Boyce. Eleven-year-old Noah sneaks along on his big sister's geography field trip, but everything quickly goes wrong, and six kids end up marooned on an uninhabited island - disaster! Until Noah discovers a treasure map and the gang goes in search of gold.

The Highland Falcon Thief

by M. G. Leonard

Book cover for 9781529013061

The first book in a new mystery series for middle-grade readers, The Highland Falcon stars Harrison Beck, who, while on a seemingly dull train journey through Scotland, finds himself on the trail of a priceless missing brooch. This intriguing locked-room mystery is sure to keep young readers guessing as they try to help Harrison identify the thief and save the day. The adventure rolls on with the rest of the books high-speed series: Kidnap on the California Comet, Murder on the Safari Star and Danger at Dead Man's Pass.

The Lotterys Plus One

by Emma Donoghue

Book cover for 9781509803200

The Lotterys Plus One is the first children's book from bestselling author Emma Donoghue. With its colourful cast of characters, this charming and funny book for nine to twelve-year-olds will show children that every family is unique and special, no matter their makeup. 

Return to Wonderland

by Various

Book cover for 9781529006858

Enjoy a twist on Lewis Caroll's Alice in Wonderland with this collection of contemporary short stories, each based on the classic tale. Young readers will love finding out what would have happened if Alice hadn't fallen down the rabbit hole, whether the Mad Hatter still goes for tea, and if Tweedledum and Tweedledee ever solve their argument.

The Swallows' Flight

by Hilary McKay

Book cover for 9781529033335

From the Costa Award-winning author Hilary McKay, The Swallows' Flight is a moving WWII story of family and friendship on opposite sides of a devastating conflict. Erik and Hans are German boys. Ruby and Kate are English girls. They grow up in worlds that would never meet, until war tumbles their lives together. This clever and compassionate story is the stunning companion novel to The Skylarks' War.

The Monsters of Rookhaven

by Pádraig Kenny

Book cover for 9781529050509

When young monster Mirabelle's real identity is revealed to the human world, life suddenly seems a whole lot less safe, but way more exciting. Pádraig Kenny's beautifully written children's book, which features illustrations from bestseller Edward Bettison, explores themes of empathy and difference through the story of Mirabelle and her unusual family.  

Owl and the Lost Boy

by Amy Wilson

Book cover for 9781529037845

Owl and the Lost Boy is the follow up to Amy Wilson's hugely popular middle-grade fantasy novel, A Girl Called Owl. A sparkling tale of friendship, this charming and magical story will be loved by children who are captivated by nature and the great outdoors. 

The Orphans of St Halibut's

by Sophie Wills

Book cover for 9781529013375

With stolen cakes, massive explosions, and interfering Inspectors to hide from, life is certainly never boring for The Orphans of St Halibut's. This chapter book, which is the first in a new series from Sophie Willis and David Tazzyman, will have kids and adults alike laughing out loud as the crew of crafty kids try to outsmart the nosy adults and save their home.

The Girl of Ink & Stars

by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Book cover for The Girl of Ink & Stars

Kiran Millwood Hargrave creates a mythical fantasy world filled with intriguing characters, incredible detail and tons of adventure in The Girl of Ink and Stars. This award-winning book for nine to twelve-year-olds is perfect for young readers who are intrigued by all things magical and dream of embarking on their own mythical adventures. 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

by J.K. Rowling

Book cover for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

The book that inspired millions of children to become avid readers – as well as launching Hollywood smash-hit movies, theme parks and an annual day to celebrate its protagonist's birthday (July 31st) – needs no introduction. Perfect for more confident readers to read alone, or for you to enjoy together as a family (the audiobook, read by Stephen Fry, is fantastic too): every child aged nine to twelve should have a copy on their bookshelf. 

Dragon Mountain

by Katie Tsang and Kevin Tsang

Book cover for Dragon Mountain

Expect mythical beasts, brave adventurers and lots of peril in Dragon Mountains, the first book in Katie and Kevin Tsang's new fantasy series. Young readers will love this brilliant new fantasy story's brave characters, epic dragon battles and mountainous Chinese setting. 

Matilda

by Roald Dahl

Book cover for Matilda

No list of the best books for children aged nine to twelve would be complete with Roald Dahl's Matilda. Children will be delighted to discover Matilda's magic powers, Miss Honey's kindness and Miss Trunchbull's wicked ways for the very first time. And parents will enjoy taking a walk down memory lane – and hoping they didn't end up like the grown-ups in the story!