Books for 12 year olds – a panel of educators from schools around the country asked 12 year olds to name their favourite book, and these are the results. For more details about how these books were selected, please see our Children’s Favourites article which explains the survey process. This list includes titles by authors including Michael Grant, Sarah Crossan, Rick Riordan, Taran Matharu, A.F. Steadman, Erin Hunter, Malala Yousafzai, Hajime Isayama, Faridah Abike-Iyimide, Christopher Edge, John Boyne and Alice Oseman.
Books for 12 year olds – favourites chosen by children
(In randomised order)
Gone by Michael Grant
The first of a popular series, Gone thrusts readers into a puzzling world where, in an instant, all the adults vanish, leaving teens to navigate a tricky world without phones, internet, or law and order. As hunger looms and ominous powers emerge, societal divisions grow. Grant spins a riveting narrative, capturing the disturbing feel of a world-changing event.
Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman
This graphic novel – the first of a series – is a poignant exploration of love and friendship. At Truham Grammar School, Charlie and Nick’s relationship unfolds with unexpected emotions and relatable struggles. LGBTQ+ Readers will empathise with the characters and situations. Also a Netflix hit, the instantly recognisable illustrations and easy-to-read style will make this a hit with reluctant readers. A must-read.
Escape Room by Christopher Edge
This gripping adventure blends puzzles, danger, and teamwork into a page-turning save-the-world thriller for 12-year-olds. Ami and her diverse team must race against time to solve a series of dangerous and tricky challenges in this fast-paced story that twists until the final page. It’s a non-stop ride that will have a wide appeal.
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
This inspiring autobiography tells Malala Yousafzai’s courageous journey from escaping the Taliban in remote Pakistan to becoming the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The book advocates for girls’ education and sheds light on the lasting impact of global terrorism. 12-year-olds will find this account both relatable and inspirational.
Warrior Cats series by Erin Hunter
Captivating 12-year-olds with its thrilling tale of four clans of wild cats, readers will enjoy this extensive series that blends adventure, friendship, romance, mystery, and fantasy. Addictively enjoyable with fast-paced plots and relatable characters, this is a great set of books to help get early secondary students hooked on reading.
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
With a compelling message and unique writing style, Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s thriller tackles racism in a dystopian private school where money and privilege dominate. Dark secrets are bubbling beneath the surface when anonymous texter, Aces, exposes two students – and a powerful plot is set in motion. Readers will be stunned by the savage twist ending. Popular with students who enjoy thought-provoking reads.
Toffee by Sarah Crossan
Allison, a girl who is trying to escape her past, hides in the shed of Marla, an elderly woman with dementia, in this poignant exploration of identity and connection. When Marla mistakes Allison for an old friend, Toffee, a unique bond forms. Unravelling themes of home, family, and growing up, this powerful verse novel explores domestic violence and the healing power of friendship. Toffee is an lingeringly good read for 12 year olds.
Attack on Titan series by Hajime Isayama
Attack on Titan is a compelling and wildly popular manga series set in a dystopian world. Giant Titans rule over a fearful humanity, but no one knows where they came from or what they are planning. With skilful world-building, depth of characters, and powerful illustrations, this series will resonate with 12-year-olds who like to become immersed in complex, yet easy-to-read, fantasy stories.
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas John Boyne
This modern fable explores the unlikely friendship between Bruno, the son of a German officer and Shmuel, a Jewish boy – on opposite sides of a fence in a WW2 concentration camp. The story’s stark simplicity belies provocative and thought-provoking questions of morality and the twist ending will cause readers to think deeply about the atrocities of war. Themes of innocence, friendship, and consequences make this an interesting text to discuss in book groups.
Skandar series by A.F Steadman
Skandar Smith dreams of becoming a unicorn rider on the Island. But his Hatchery exam doesn’t go to plan and a thrilling adventure with sky battles, wild unicorns and a dark villain ensues. This gripping high-octane fantasy series is a fast-paced comfort read that will appeal to 12-year-olds who are in danger of falling out of love with books or have become disinterested in dull curriculum English set texts in KS3.
These books received a very high number of votes in some schools but did not make the top 10 overall.
Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan
Jason, Piper, and Leo are introduced to readers in Rick Riordan’s latest Greek and Moman myth-tinged action, humour, suspense, and mystery series. Diverse characters, superpowers, multiple perspectives, cliffhangers and a breakneck pace make this a popular choice with 12-year-olds of all reading abilities. It’s a good book series to help promote reading for pleasure with early secondary-aged students.
The Summoner series by Taran Matharu
Fletcher is a blacksmith’s apprentice who can summon demons. With a gripping plot, themes of warfare and weapons, a compelling fantasy world and surprising twists, this trilogy will appeal to more mature twelve-year-old readers who enjoy quick yet immersive reads. If your 12 year olds child likes Warhammer, they will probably love these books.
Books for 12 year olds – buy the set or order in bulk
Click the buttons below to purchase all of the books in this books for 12 year olds list, as well as class sets of any of these books and many more, from Bookshop.org UK. Or buy the titles in this list from Amazon – ideal for gifts or your classroom library.
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