Skip to Content

Top books for Tweens ages 8-12 to encourage a love of reading

This is not a sponsored post. The links within may be affiliate links, but no compensation was received to include any of these books in our Top books for tweens list. All books included are truly what we love and use for our top books list for our tweens and teens.

Top books for Tweens ages 8-12 to encourage a love of reading 

If you’ve been around our site before you know how passionate I am that our kids love reading books. We emphasize the need for kids to not just read and be proficient in reading, but also having a love for reading. The part that builds a love of reading is making sure your kids have access to a variety of books that they can enjoy and read just for fun. Not because it’s an assignment. This has brought me to build a top books list for kids at each age. These are books I keep on record to offer when my kids ask for another book to read. I can go through the list and see which one they would be ready for, and also offer the suggestions for them, tell them what the books are about and then let them pick from the list. And now I’m sharing this top books for tweens list with you!

Top Books for Tweens

These are books that are excellent for kids ages 8-12 ideally. Depending on your child they may enjoy these a little earlier or even continue to love them into their teenage and young adult age. I know I still love quite a few of the books on this list too. But these are our top books for tweens to help get you started offering your kids books to love reading.

1. Fablehaven by Brandon Mull- This is a five book series that follows the adventures of two siblings. A boy and girl. The girl discovers she has a special power as a faerie kind. And it’s the adventures they travel through learning about their families heritage and combating the evil in the stories. This is the series both the husband and I have read and enjoyed enough that we purchased the books right off. It is an easy read and a quick paced story. It keeps you entertained near the entire time so it is a definite add to our top books list.

Top books for Tweens ages 8-12 to encourage a love of reading

2. The Candy Shop War book 1 and book 2 by Brandon Mull- Yes, we love this author. Here is another super fun story line of kids in the tween age. There are currently two books in this series and both are quite fun. The kids discover the candy store in their town actually has magical properties. Rock candy that makes you weightless. Jawbreakers that make you unbreakable. Chocolate balls that make you a master of disguise. Danger unfolds as the four youngsters discover that the magical strangers have all come to town in search of a legendary, hidden treasure; one that could be used for great evil if it fell into the wrong hands. The kids, now in over their heads, must try to retrieve the treasure first.

Top books for Tweens ages 8-12 to encourage a love of reading

3. Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan. There are five books in this series. It follows the story of a young boy who discovers he is actually the son of Poseidon and learns there are other half blood god children in the world. And the evils are after them. Most of you probably already know this story, as they have been made into two motion picture movies thus far. But the books are quite enthralling and adventurous. Even better than the movies. My 9 year old has already read books 1-4 and absolutely loves them. The husband and I have already read this series completely, and were quite entertained. Obviously if they are making movies about the books, they are definitely a good addition to our top books for tweens list.

4. The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan. Yes, another repeat author. You just can’t help but love authors that create multiple book series that are fun for the full family to enjoy. He is one of the rare authors that we know we can just buy any new book from him and we all will enjoy it. So basically anything from Rick Riordan would make this top books for tweens list. But this series specifically is a lot of fun, though a lot less well known than Percy Jackson. Currently this is a four book series named The Red Pyramid, The Throne of Fire, Serpent’s Shadow, and House of Hades.

Carter, 14, and Sadie, 12, have grown up apart. He has traveled all over the world with his Egyptologist father, Dr. Julius Kane, while Sadie has lived in London with her grandparents. Their mother passed away under mysterious circumstances, so when their father arrives in London and wants to take them both on a private tour of the British Museum, all is not necessarily what it seems. The evening ends with the apparent destruction of the Rosetta Stone, the disappearance of Dr. Kane, and the kidnapping of Carter and Sadie. More insidiously, it leads to the release of five Egyptian gods, including Set, who is their mortal enemy. Carter and Sadie discover the secrets of their family heritage and their ability to work magic as they realize that their task will be to save humanity from Set, who is building a destructive red pyramid inside Camelback Mountain in Phoenix.

5. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowlings. Seriously who hasn’t heard of this series? I don’t think much description is needed. Although some parental guidance should be used. The first four books are absolutely perfect for the tween years. But books 5-7 should be proceeded with caution. This really needs to be left to your parental discretion. We absolutely love the Harry Potter series. And while the 9 year old is mature enough and would really love books 1-4; I don’t think he is quite mature enough to handle the issues that are addressed in the final books. So this series we are actually holding off for our kids until they are a little older and mature enough to handle what they will face in the final books. Seeing how quickly the 9 year old goes through books, he will not mature enough to handle the final books by the time he gets through with books 1-4. Again, you should read the story first, and gauge this decision based on your individual child and their maturity level. But again, highly recommend this book series when the child is mature enough to handle the final books.

6. Adventures Wanted by M.L. Forman We quickly discovered this is not a very well known series, but it is definitely one of the husband and my all time favorite book series. Notice that, all time favorite! Let’s just say they are an amazingly easy read that keeps you entertained the entire time. There aren’t a lot of slow parts in this series. But it doesn’t go too quick either. And it is truly full of adventure. It’s a story of a seemingly ordinary young boy, Alex, who stumbles across a sign in a book store saying, “Adventures Wanted apply within”. Before he knows it, he is in a new realm with Elves, Dwarves, Wizards and more on an adventure to find the dragon Slathbog and acquire his gold. Along the way, Alex and his new friends must battle dangerous trolls and bandits, face undead wraiths, and seek the wisdom of the Oracle in her White Tower.

There are currently four books in the Adventures Wanted book series; Slathbog’s Gold, The Horn of Moran, Albrek’s Tomb, The Sands of Nezza. Each book is a completely new adventure, and full of entertainment.

Top books for Tweens ages 8-12 to encourage a love of reading

7. Ancient wonders the lighthouse of Alexandria by Michael Bone. This is a brand new book. This is book 1 of the series. The Author just recently visited our kid’s school. And my son literally could not stop talking about it. We recently purchased the book and my son has not been able to put it down. I want to read it, but I can’t pry it away from the 9 year old! So I know it must be good. The 8 year old is impatiently waiting his turn to read this book too. So I may have a while to wait to read it myself. It comes highly recommended to us by our kid’s teachers and principal as a fun book the kids can really enjoy. If a Principal and teachers are recommending a book, it’s easy to include it on a top books list.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria, describes the time travel adventure of Wesley Teach and his quest for a scythe fragment that will save Wesley’s father and return the world to the Golden Age–a period void of war and death. Only the scythe will restore Kronos to his supremacy over the gods and end the violent battle in which Blackbeard is entangled

Top books for Tweens ages 8-12 to encourage a love of reading

8. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. I’ll say right now, I have not yet read this book series, but I really want to! There are 12 books in this series that I know of. I could be mistaken, our library isn’t always the most organized. But this book has been highly recommended to our list by not only multiple family members and friends with tweens and teenagers, but also has made the best selling lists, awards and more!

Just twelve years old and already he’s a criminal genius, plotting to restore his family’s fortune with a spot of corruption and kidnapping.

Kidnapping a fairy for ransom, to be precise.

Artemis Fowl has discovered a world below ground of armed and dangerous – and extremely high-tech – fairies. But he may have underestimated their powers. They will fight back. Is the boy about to trigger a cross-species war?

9. Septimus Heap by Angie Sage. This is a 7 book series. And yet again, one on my personal to read list. This is also highly recommended by multiple family members and friends. Everyone that has read it that I know personally absolutely loves this book series. It is one I can’t wait to read and then offer to my own kids.

Septimus Heap, the seventh son of the seventh son, disappears the night he is born, pronounced dead by the midwife. That same night, the baby’s father, Silas Heap, comes across an abandoned child in the snow — a newborn girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take her into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus?

10. Goosebumps by R.L. Stein. I can’t even tell you how many books there are in the Goosebump Series. It is over 50 though! This is a book series that I remember very clearly when I was a Tween; all of my guy friends were reading at the time. While I was in love with Sweet Valley High and the Baby Sitters Club, the boys were all reading the Goosebumps stories. My 9 year old just completed the first book and he absolutely loved it and can’t wait to get another one! The 8 year old now wants me to recheck out the book 1 so he can start reading them now. They are a timeless classic for tweens.

Top books for Tweens ages 8-12 to encourage a love of reading

11. Chronicles of Narnia by C.L. Lewis. Do I even need to say much about this? I think everyone has heard of and knows about the Chronicles of Narnia. They are classic, timeless and perfect for readers young and old and it would be a crime if it wasn’t on our top books list. I think everyone needs to read this series multiple times in their life! Starting in the tween ages.

12. Wrinkle in Time series by Madeleine L’engle. This is another series that has been highly recommended to us by multiple family members and friends and very high on my “must read” list. It is a Newbery Award winner and deemed a classic for young readers.

When the children learn that Mr. Murry has been captured by the Dark Thing, they time travel to Camazotz, where they must face the leader IT in the ultimate battle between good and evil—a journey that threatens their lives and our universe.

Top books for Tweens ages 8-12 to encourage a love of reading

13. Rivers and Lakes both by Brett Beyer. This is a shameless plug for one of our authors here on JadeLouise Designs. Brett is an amazing self published author. His first book Rivers was written as a way to help his 3 boys understand and deal with the death of their 7 year old sister. And Lakes continues the story. I (this is Amber here) have personally read them both and found them quite fantastic. That’s why I am thrilled to have Brett as one of our Authors here on JadeLouise Designs. They approach tough subjects in a way that younger kids can understand. They are a very easy read, and definitely recommend them both.

Top books for tweens recommended by our Readers

There are so many books out there that are fantastic for tweens to read that could easily make our top books list. And in my little bubble in Idaho, I don’t always get exposed to them all. So I took this same question to our fans on our social media sites. I asked them what their top books for tweens are. And these are their top books recommendations. Titles with ** next to them were recommended multiple times by multiple people, so you can see just how popular they are.

  • Gregor the Overlander** by Suzanne Collins (yes, the Hunger Games Author)- I have read multiple books in this series. They are quite fun and I recommend them. But with the violence level, I would recommend this more as a teenaged book than a tween. But it all depends on the maturity of your child.
  • Hank the Cow Dog by John Erickson
  • Dork Diaries
  • Diary of a Wimpy kid
  • Warriors
  • Guardians of Ga’ Hoole
  • Helga returns
  • James saves the moon
  • The Pendragon series by DJ MacHale.**
  • Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series
  • The Penderwicks series
  • Dragon Slayer Academy**
  • Erie canal cousins by Dorothy Dmochowski Stacy
  • Chronicles of Prydain
  • Christy Miller series (for girls)
  • Stormbreaker
  • the Hardy Boys
  • Animorphs
  • Redwall series
  • The Seventh Tower series
  • The Secret Garden

For even more amazing books to add to your “to read list” check out the Top Ten books my Children will read, books to read before Adulthood by Brett Beyer. This is a fantastic book list of classics that everyone should read at least once in your lifetime.

What are your top books for Tweens?

Did your favorite Top Books make our list?


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Mel Cole

Thursday 31st of October 2013

What a fantastic list of books! I like that Wrinkle in time book :)

Kate, aka guavalicious

Thursday 31st of October 2013

Great list! I worked in a children's bookstore 15 years ago and it's cool to see that Goosebumps are still popular! We could barely keep them in stock, kids liked them so much.


Thursday 31st of October 2013

These sound like a great selection for that age range. My kids love to read but they enjoy reading on their own time and not being forced upon like the school tries to do.


Thursday 31st of October 2013

i hadn't heard of many of these before. my kids are younger but time does fly!

Michelle H

Thursday 31st of October 2013

Thank you for this list. It makes me sad that so much of what kids read now is fantasy and science fiction, but I appreciate a list that at least points out the best of them. My husband wants to start reading Harry Potter to our 6-yr-old and your review has firmed up my opinion that he's not old enough yet. And thanks for including the L'engle classics, tooS!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.