Finding good books for kids ages 8-13 can be a real challenge. Once they leave the beloved gagillion book series of the early chapter books, it can really be no-mans land. I am always looking for books that are challenging and thought provoking to them, but age appropriate. Here are a few suggestions I came up with in consultation with my resident experts.
*I would highly recommend all these books for adults, too — great, quick reads. I wanted to check out the books before suggesting them to my kids, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Series (I’m always so happy when I stumble upon a series they love — it lasts!)
Little House on the Prairie — This series gave me an appreciation for each material thing, and I loved seeing how things were done on the frontier. I really enjoyed rereading these as an adult, and they are great read out loud books.
Harry Potter — I feel silly including these as I’m sure it has occurred to every parent. The early books were wonderful “stretch reads” for precocious 1st and 2nd graders.
Percy Jackson — Having not read these myself, I’m not sure what age these are best. This is a top recommended series by and for boys. An action series.
The Indian and The Cupboard – The story of a boy in England who has a cupboard that turns his toys into real live (though still miniature) beings with real lives of their own. While being one of my very favorite series of all time, some of my kids just don’t see the beauty. Fascinating and heartfelt, definitely check it out. Another great read out loud.
My very favorites
These are great for boys and girls alike. I have
made encouraged all my kids to read them.
Out of my mind — a novel about a girl whose mind is sound, but body is disabled.
Me and the Pumpkin Queen — a middle school girl grows giant pumpkins for the State Fair, just like her mom did before losing her battle with cancer.
Esperanza Rising — after being threatened, a wealthy widow and her daughter leave their fortune in Mexico to come to America. They find work as farm laborers in California and the daughter learns to be happy despite her greatly altered circumstances.
Wonder — a novel about a boy with facial deformities who is entering school for the first time after being home schooled for over a decade.
When you reach me — I don’t even know where to begin. A slight sci-fi read about a middle schooler living in New York. This gets an enthusiastic recommendation from someone who actively avoids all books pretend (me)
Holes – A fun an original book about boys working in a desert, fate, and the things that bring us together
A Single Shard — A fable (?) taking place in ancient Asia. A homeless but hard working adolescent learns the value of handwork and grace.
The Secret Garden
Resident Expert Recommendations
The One and Only Ivan
Al Capone Does My Shirts
The Westing Game
Bud Not Buddy