50 best books for 9 – 12-year-olds

These books for nine, ten, eleven and twelve-year-olds are sure to keep readers captivated and inspire more independent reading.

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. 

If you're looking for more great recommendations for kids, discover our list of the best new children's books for every age, or for readers that are a little older our edit of the best YA books is full of this year's must-reads.

Books for 9+ year olds

The Ice Children

by M. G. Leonard

Book cover for The Ice Children

The Ice Children is an exciting, modern, magical mystery adventure inspired by classic fairy tale 'The Snow Queen'. On a cold December dawn, young Finn Albedo is inexplicably frozen at a park, yet he remains alive. His situation appears to be tied to a vanished enchanting book. Finn's sister, Bianca, grows alarmed as more 'Ice Children' cases come to light. With time running out, Bianca navigates a dangerous winter world, which deceives with its beauty. Can Bianca unravel the truth and rescue the Ice Children, including her brother, from their freezing fate?

The Missing Sword

by Melissa de la Cruz

Book cover for The Missing Sword

Set in Never After, a land where fairy tales are not quite what they seem, The Missing Sword is perfect for fans of all things fantasy. Join Filomena as she embarks on a quest to the legendary land of Camelot to find the sword Excalibur and save her mother from wicked Olga’s evil clutches in the fourth book in Melissa de la Cruz’s best-loved Never After series.

The Boy With Wings

by Sir Lenny Henry

Book cover for The Boy With Wings

Comic Lenny Henry has written a suitably laugh-out-loud adventure story for readers of 9 to 12 years, with dazzling illustrations throughout by Keenon Ferrell. Tunde has some problems with the school bully, but when he sprouts wings and realises his true mission is to save the Earth, school becomes the least of his problems. Flying high in the face of danger, Tunde is the boy with wings.

The Umbrella Mouse

by Anna Fargher

Book cover for The Umbrella Mouse

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.


The Highland Falcon Thief

by M. G. Leonard

Book cover for The Highland Falcon Thief

and Sam Sedgman

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 Breakfast Club Adventures

by Marcus Rashford

Book cover for The Breakfast Club Adventures

The first novel by everyone's favourite international footballer, child food-poverty campaigner and #1 bestselling author. Written with Alex Falase-Koya, Marcus Rashford tells a story strongly influenced by his own childhood. Something odd is happening at school . . . When twelve-year-old Marcus boots his  football over the school fence, he knows it's never coming back. But the next morning Marcus gets a mysterious note inviting him to join the Breakfast Club Investigators, and fun and adventure beckons in a bid to reclaim the ball.

The Book of Legends: What if all the stories were real?

by Sir Lenny Henry

Book cover for The Book of Legends: What if all the stories were real?

From comedy legend Lenny Henry comes the story of two ordinary kids who are about to go on one extraordinary adventure! Bran and Fran love living with their mum, who is the storyteller at the Once Upon a Wow bookstore in their small Midlands town. But when mum goes missing and her stories turn out to be a portal to another world, they're going to have a huge, magical adventure on their hands. Luckily, they have Wilma, the Wizard's Wife, and Zack, the wisecracking Zebracorn, to help them on their journey . . .

The Cloud Horse Chronicles: Guardians of Magic

by Chris Riddell

Book cover for The Cloud Horse Chronicles: Guardians of Magic

This is the first illustrated book in Chris Riddell’s magical adventure series The Cloudhorse Chronicles. The Guardians of Magic are three children who have no idea how powerful they really are. In their world, enemies of magic are working together to destroy it. Can Zam, Phoebe and Bathsheba believe in the impossible and fight back? If they don’t, soon magic and the mysterious cloud horses will be gone forever. 

A Dinosaur Ate My Sister

by Pooja Puri

Book cover for A Dinosaur Ate My Sister

Illustrated by Allen Fatimaharan

A Dinosaur Ate My Sister is the first book selected in the Marcus Rashford Book Club.

Esha Verma, her snotty apprentice Broccoli and his cunning pet tortoise have a dream. They are going to win the legendary Brain Trophy – the ultimate inventing prize. This year's entry: A TIME MACHINE. But the day before the competition, Esha's IGNORAMUS big sister hijacks the time machine and gets lost in the Cretaceous age. With help from a new recruit for The Office of Time, Esha and Broccoli will have to face hungry dinosaurs, mysterious black holes and malfunctioning inventions to get them back in time . . .

Peanut Jones and the Twelve Portals

by Rob Biddulph

Book cover for Peanut Jones and the Twelve Portals

Some legends are born, some are drawn . . . This second title in the funny, exciting adventure series for boys and girls of 8 to 12 fizzes with magic, danger, friendship and art. Famous works of art are disappearing from all over the world, and Peanut Jones and her friends suspect it might have something to do with the magical world of Chroma and the wicked Mr White's plot to wipe out colour, art and creativity. It's time to head back to the Illustrated City and help the resistance fight back.

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. 

Coming to England

by Floella Benjamin

Book cover for Coming to England

Illustrated by Joelle Avelino

Floella Benjamin was just a young girl when she, her sister and two brothers arrived in England in 1960 to join their parents, whom they had not seen for fifteen months. They had left their island home of Trinidad to make a new life in London – part of a whole generation of West Indians who were encouraged to move to Britain and help rebuild the country after the Second World War.

With a foreword by the author and some additional historical information, this is the incredible story of Floella's journey from Trinidad to London, as part of the Windrush generation, to the House of Lords. It is gloriously illustrated throughout by Joelle Avelino, perfect for readers aged nine years and over.

Noah's Gold

by Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Book cover for Noah's Gold

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.

Book cover for The Magician's Daughter

The Magician's Daughter

Caryl Lewis

Book cover for Stitched Up

Stitched Up

Joanne O'Connell

Book cover for Eowulf: Of Monsters and Middle School

Eowulf: Of Monsters and Middle School

Mike Cavallaro

Book cover for Summer School and Cyborgs

Summer School and Cyborgs

Steven Camden

Books for 10+ year olds

You Have the Power

by Leah Williamson

Book cover for You Have the Power

Leah Williamson, captain of the England women's football team, encourages us to be leaders and follow our dreams in You Have the Power. In 2022, Leah led the Lionesses to victory in the European Championships. Now, she shares her positive guide for life to show you really can achieve anything you put your mind to – both on and off the pitch. Filled with stories from Leah's own life as well as practical and helpful advice, this is the perfect read for any child looking to be empowered by a brilliant female role model. 

Northwind

by Gary Paulsen

Book cover for Northwind

Another compelling read from Gary Paulsen, the bestselling writer of Hatchet. Leif is an orphan who lives in a small fishing village, on a wild coast where the seas rage. When a plague approaches, he leaves in a cedar canoe, heading north along the fjords and paddling from one peril to the next. And as he journeys, Leif discovers his authentic self, connecting to the heartbeat of the sea itself. This is a wonderful historical adventure, which conjures up Norse myths and legends.

Joyful, Joyful

by Dapo Adeola

Book cover for Joyful, Joyful

Joyful, Joyful is a book to sing about: a colour-illustrated collection of stories and poems celebrating joy, showcasing forty talented Black writers and artists from across the world. Beautifully illustrated with artwork from an array of talented illustrators, alongside stories and poems by the likes of Malorie Blackman, Alex Wheatle, Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé and Dorothy Koomson, Joyful, Joyful is perfect for readers age 8-11, but can be enjoyed by all ages.

Greenwild: The World Behind The Door

Book cover for Greenwild: The World Behind The Door

An extraordinary fantasy book with an environmental twist and a mystery at its heart. Daisy Thistledown has escaped from boarding school and is trying to find her missing mother. Her search takes her across London and through a hidden doorway into a world bursting with plants and magic: the Greenwild. But it soon becomes clear that all is not well. Can Daisy revive the Greenwild, save our world, and solve the mystery of her mother's disappearance? A botanical genius, a boy who can talk to animals and cat with an attitude are on-hand to help. 

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! 

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. 

The Orphans of St Halibut's

by Sophie Wills

Book cover for The Orphans of St Halibut's

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.

You Are A Champion

by Marcus Rashford with Carl Anka

Book cover for You Are A Champion

'There is no finish line when it comes to your dreams.'

You Are A Champion will empower young people to develop positive thinking, build mental resilience, learn how to navigate adversity and, ultimately, achieve their full potential.

Written with journalist Carl Anka, You Are A Champion is the empowering and life-changing first children’s book from Marcus Rashford MBE. It is full of practical advice and engaging illustrations and infographics, including input from performance psychologist Katie Warriner.

Wave Riders

by Lauren St John

Book cover for Wave Riders

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.

My Big Mouth

by Steven Camden

Book cover for My Big Mouth

Illustrated by Chanté Timothy

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?

Return to Wonderland

by Various

Book cover for Return to Wonderland

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.

Book cover for Heroes

Heroes

Marcus Rashford

Book cover for Out There in the Wild

Out There in the Wild

James Carter

Book cover for The Arctic Railway Assassin

The Arctic Railway Assassin

M. G. Leonard

Book cover for Aya and the Star Chaser

Aya and the Star Chaser

Radiya Hafiza

Books for 11+ year olds

The Shadows of Rookhaven

by Pádraig Kenny

Book cover for The Shadows of Rookhaven

in the long-awaited sequel to The Monsters of Rookhaven, shadows are gathering over Rookhaven. It is the time of The Great Configuration, a once in a hundred years event. Family and monsters descend on Rookhaven from all over the country to take part. But amid the guests there is an interloper. One who is disguised and has an eye on their destruction. Meanwhile Mirabelle – part human, part monster – discovers that to those from outside Rookhaven she is not considered family at all . . .

Owl and the Lost Boy

by Amy Wilson

Book cover for Owl and the Lost Boy

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. 

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. 

The Marcus Rashford You Are a Champion Action Planner

by Marcus Rashford

Book cover for The Marcus Rashford You Are a Champion Action Planner

An interactive guide, packed full of fun and engaging activities and challenges as well as brilliant advice, The Marcus Rashford You Are a Champion Action Planner is the perfect way to get kids reading and empower them to achieve their dreams. Having already inspired millions of children around the world with his guide for life, You Are a Champion, this new book cements Marcus Rashford's place as the ultimate role model for young readers. 

The Swallows' Flight

by Hilary McKay

Book cover for The Swallows' Flight

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.

Books for 12+ year olds

Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret

by Judy Blume

Book cover for Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret

There's nothing like the shock of recognition, and relief, that comes from realising that you're not the first or only person who feels the way you feel. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret is a bold, empathetic exploration of what it's like being a teenage girl who feels that they don't quite fit in. Originally published in 1970, it's a timeless YA classic, and is now a major film starring Rachel McAdams (Mean GirlsThe Notebook) and Abby Ryder Fortson (Ant-Man).

Book cover for Forever

Forever

Judy Blume

Book cover for Deenie

Deenie

Judy Blume

Book cover for Tiger Eyes

Tiger Eyes

Judy Blume

Book cover for Just as Long as We're Together

Just as Long as We're Together

Judy Blume

Vega Jane and the End of Time

by David Baldacci

Book cover for Vega Jane and the End of Time

Bestselling storyteller David Baldacci wraps up his epic fantasy adventure series with this fourth book centring on Vega Jane. She has tried to escape and elude her enemy, but now the showdown Vega Jane has feared is finally upon her: with her ragged group of friends and fighters, she must stand up against a fully trained army. This is a fast-paced breathtaking tale, illustrated throughout in black and white.

Journey to the River Sea

by Eva Ibbotson

Book cover for Journey to the River Sea

Maia, an orphan, can't wait to reach her distant relatives a thousand miles up the Amazon. She imagines a loving family with whom she will share great adventures. Instead she finds two spiteful cousins who see the jungle as the enemy and refuse to go outdoors. But the wonders of the rainforest more than make up for the hideous twins and their parents. And when Maia meets a mysterious boy who lives alone on the wild river shores, she begins a spectacular journey to the heart of an extraordinary and beautiful new world.

Unraveller

by Frances Hardinge

Book cover for Unraveller

In a world where anyone can cast a life-destroying curse, only one person has the power to unravel them. Kellen does not fully understand his unique gift, but helps those who are cursed, like his friend Nettle who was trapped in the body of a bird for years. She is now Kellen's constant companion and his closest ally. But the Unraveller carries a curse himself and, unless he and Nettle can remove it, Kellen is a danger to everything – and everyone – around him . . .

Book cover for Island of Whispers

Island of Whispers

Frances Hardinge

Book cover for Our Cursed Love

Our Cursed Love

Julie Abe

Book cover for I Wish You All the Best

I Wish You All the Best

Mason Deaver

Book cover for The Restaurant at the End of the Universe Illustrated Edition

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe Illustrated Edition

Douglas Adams

Book cover for American Born Chinese

American Born Chinese

Gene Luen Yang

Book cover for Lunar New Year Love Story

Lunar New Year Love Story

Gene Luen Yang

Book cover for Friends With Boys

Friends With Boys

Faith Erin Hicks

Book cover for Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong

Prudence Shen