According to the American Psychological Association, one in three teenagers hasn’t read a single book for pleasure in the past year. Reading for pleasure can help with imagination, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary, as well as preventing cognitive decline, depression, and stress. It’s also been shown that those who read books for pleasure are likely to make more money.
So we can probably agree that reading for pleasure is really important, if not vital. Getting your tween into reading sets the stage for the rest of their life. Chances are, if they learn to love reading now, they’ll never stop. If not, they probably won’t read for pleasure again and won’t reap the benefits.
Though schools require their students to read, it’s not usually enough for students to learn to love it and want to do it on their own. Most school books are chosen for their historical value or commentary on social issues – and while that’s wonderful, children aren’t as inspired by that as we might hope. Children respond better to fun, funny, or adventurous books that feel like an escape from schoolwork rather than a continuation of it.
With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of our 14 favourite books for tweens. They’ve got great plots, loveable characters, and are age-appropriate. Books such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid are super easy and fun for new readers of any gender. It isn’t plot-heavy or hard to understand, which makes it perfect for all levels.
Picks such as Violets are Blue and Lily and Dunkin deal with difficult issues such as bipolar disorder and depression. While it might seem early to introduce these subjects, these books do it with grace in a way that’s easy for kids to understand.
We’ve also added a healthy amount of fantasy and dystopian books with a hint of romance, which we promise anyone will love. Even adults will enjoy giving these a shot, even though they’re geared more towards tweens and teens.
Finally, we’ve included some modern classics like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games because… duh!
Awkward kid Greg Heffley writes and illustrates the unfortunate but hilarious events that go on in his life as an average middle schooler.
In an alternate world, 15-year-old Tally can’t wait to turn 16, the age when she’ll undergo a process to turn her from “Ugly” to “Pretty” and get to live in a high-tech paradise with the other Pretties. But when the ugly truth of the Pretty world starts getting revealed, Tally goes on a journey to discover if being Pretty is really as great as she’d once believed.
Based loosely on Cinderella but set in a dystopian world, gifted mechanic Cinder is secretly a cyborg. Treated horribly by her stepmother, Cinder’s life suddenly changes when she becomes entangled with Prince Kai. As she and the Prince try to uncover sinister secrets about their world, she must find a way to keep her own secret or risk losing Kai forever.
Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy and you’re in eighth grade. Fellow eighth grader Dunkin Dorfman is dealing with his own problems: Bipolar Disorder, his recent move from New Jersey, and keeping a painful secret. When Lily and Dunkin meet, their lives change forever.
When society crumbled, a group of prodigies – humans with extraordinary powers – stepped up to establish peace among the chaos, and called themselves the Renegades. But those they stepped on to gain leadership, the Anarchists, vowed to get revenge. Years later, teenage Anarchist and prodigy Nova devises a plan to infiltrate the Renegades and take them down from the inside. Only she didn’t anticipate actually liking any of the Renegades, much less falling for one.
15-year-old Day is an infamous criminal, but he has his reasons for it. When he kills a young government officer, Metias, he doesn’t think too much of it – but June, Metias’s talented 15-year-old sister, does. She vows to get revenge on her brother’s mysterious killer, no matter what it takes.
Twelve-year-old Wren loves special effect makeup, especially because when it’s on, she can forget about things like her parents’ divorce and her new stepmom. When Wren and her mom move towns for a fresh start, things start looking up. However, when Wren’s mom starts taking a lot of naps, snapping at her randomly, and always seems to be sick, Wren starts to wonder if there’s something really wrong.
In this must-read classic, Harry Potter’s world is turned upside down when he’s told he is actually a wizard, and a famous one at that. He’s whisked off to Hogwarts, a school for young wizards like him, and goes on many wild adventures with his new friends.
In this spinoff of the Percy Jackson series, friends Jason, Piper, and Leo crash-land at Camp Half-Blood, a safe haven for the children of Greek Gods. The three friends are chosen for a terrifying quest and must embark on a great adventure.
Moose Flanagan and his family move to the island prison Alcatraz, which houses some of the most infamous criminals like Al Capone. When Moose comes up with money-making schemes based on his co-residents’ work, things get interesting.
Ember Hill is a young dragon hiding in human form, and she’s destined to fight the shadowy Order of St. George, a powerful society of dragonslayers. When she meets Garrett, who is secretly a devoted member of St. George, they’ll make each other question everything they once knew.
13-year-old Brian is the only passenger on a small plane to Canada when the pilot has a heart attack and dies. The plane crash-lands in a lake, and miraculously, Brian is able to swim to shore. Now, he’s got to figure out how to survive in the wilderness with only the clothes on his back and a hatchet his mom gave him.
In the future, twelve girls and twelve boys between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen at random to compete in a deadly reality TV show called the Hunger Games. The last person alive gets to leave and live a life of extravagance. Katniss, a skilled girl from the poorest district, is forced to enter the Hunger Games and must do whatever it takes to get back to her family.
When her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced the real cause was a rare jellyfish sting. When nobody believes her, she crafts a plan to prove it, even if it means travelling the world alone.