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Top 30 Children's Books for 9-12 Year Olds & Middle Schoolers

Embark on riveting literary journeys for middle schoolers & 9-12-year-olds. Explore enchanting, must-read children's tales tailored to tween interests

Explore a curated list of top children's books suitable for middle schoolers and 9-12-year-olds. I will recommend the children's literature ages 9-12 in this article, which is based on my in-depth study and extensive research in this field. 

This article was written by Muhiuddin Alam on the book recommendations and reviews site, ReadingAndThinking.com.

Over the years as a leading authority on literary expertise, I've created numerous articles on the topics of Parenting and Children's Reads, many of which can be found on this site. I'm also a regular contributor to other websites and publications.

I have received many requests to recommend some of the must-read children's literature for young readers and middle schoolers. In response, I'm pleased to offer my expert recommendations in this article.

Some unforgettable reads for middle schoolers and the 9-12 age range include here: Kay's Marvellous Medicine, The Great Dream Robbery, The Primrose Railway Children, Pony, Daughter of the Deep, and Frostheart, Unlocking the Universe, Becoming, To the Lighthouse, The Catcher in the Rye.

These aren't the only children's literature curated for the tween and preteen audience on this topic. Below, you'll find 10 stories designed for readers in the middle school age group with detailed descriptions of each of these outstanding resources, helping you make well-informed decisions for young minds in the middle school grades.

These resources can help parents, educators, and young readers discover engaging and popular books for middle schoolers and 9-12-year-olds.

So, when I suggest this children's literature is perfectly suited for the middle school and preteen years, it's because I've read a lot and want to share the best ones with you. I'm all about making your reading experience awesome. Trust in a guide deeply immersed in the literary books and stories. I love books just like you do! 

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1. Kay's Marvellous Medicine by Adam Kay & Henry Paker

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The brand-new, hilarious book from bestselling, record-breaking author Adam Kay.

The olden days were pretty fun if you liked wearing chainmail or chopping people's heads off but there was one TINY LITTLE problem back then . . . doctors didn't have the slightest clue about how our bodies worked.

It's time to find out why Ancient Egyptians thought the brain was just a useless load of old stuffing that might as well be chucked in the bin, why teachers forced their pupils to smoke cigarettes, why hairdressers would cut off their customers' legs, and why people used to get paid for farting. (Unfortunately, that's no longer a thing - sorry.)

You'll get answers to questions like:

  • Why did patients gargle with wee?
  • How did a doctor save people's lives using a washing machine, a can of beans, and some old sausages?
  • What was the great stink? (No, it's not what doctors call your bum.)

If you're sure you're ready, then pop a peg on your nose (there was a lot of stinky pus back then), pull on your wellies (there was a lot of poo there too), and wash your hands (because they certainly didn't) and explore this gross and gruesome history of the human body!

2. The Great Dream Robbery by Greg James, Chris Smith & Amy Nguyen

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Radio 1 broadcasters and bestselling authors of KID NORMAL - Greg James and Chris Smith - are back with a mind-bending adventure you won't want to wake up from . . .

Have you ever had a really strange dream? Maya Clayton definitely has. Last night she dreamt that her dad, the brilliant but slightly odd Professor Dexter, had been trapped in a nightmare by his evil boss Lilith Delamere!

But it's not just a dream - it's real and Maya and her new friends the Dream Bandits must rescue the Professor before it's too late! All they need is a bit of courage and a LOT of imagination.

3. The Primrose Railway Children by Jacqueline Wilson & Rachael Dean

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Phoebe Robinson loves making up stories - just like her wonderful, imaginative Dad.

When he mysteriously disappears, Phoebe, Perry, Becks, and their mum must leave everything behind and move to a small cottage in the middle of nowhere.

Struggling to feel at home and missing her Dad terribly, Phoebe's only distraction is her guinea pig, Daisy. Until the family discovers the thrilling steam trains at the railway station and suddenly, every day is filled with adventure.

But Phoebe still can't help wondering, what is Mum hiding, and more worryingly is Dad okay?

4. Pony by R. J. Palacio

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Twelve-year-old Silas is awoken in the dead of night by three horsemen, who arrive unannounced to take his father away. Silas is left shaken, scared, and alone, except for the presence of his companion, Mittenwool . . . who happens to be a ghost. 

But when a pony shows up at his door, Silas knows what he has to do. He will set out on a perilous journey across a vast American landscape to find his father—a journey that will ultimately connect him with his past and future, and the unfathomable mysteries of the world around him.

R. J. Palacio spins a harrowing yet distinctly beautiful tale about the power of love and the ties that bind us across distance and time. 

For readers who love the poignant depth of War Horse and the singular voice of True Grit, this is one of those rare books for readers of all ages with the makings of a modern classic.

5. The Christmasaurus and the Naughty List by Tom Fletcher & Shane Devries

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The Christmasaurus is back! Get ready for the magical NEW festive adventure from bestselling author, Tom Fletcher!

You know about the Naughty and Nice List, right? Santa's top-secret tracker that he ALWAYS checks twice? Well, this year, the Christmasaurus is on a mission to track down children who have found themselves on the Naughty List to help them put wrongs to rights, naughty to nice!

This is a story about mischievous kids learning the error of their ways, but it's also about sharing the true spirit of Christmas and realizing that sometimes things aren't quite as they first appear...

6. Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan

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Ana Dakkar is a freshman at Harding-Pencroft Academy, a five-year high school that graduates the best marine scientists, naval warriors, navigators, and underwater explorers in the world. 

Ana's parents died while on a scientific expedition two years ago, and the only family she's got left is her older brother, Dev, also a student at HP. Ana's freshman year culminates with the class's weekend trial at sea, the details of which have been kept secret. 

She only hopes she has what it'll take to succeed. All her worries are blown out of the water when, on the bus ride to the ship, Ana and her schoolmates witness a terrible tragedy that will change the trajectory of their lives.

But wait, there's more. The professor accompanying them informs Ana that their rival school, Land Institute, and Harding-Pencroft have been fighting a cold war for a hundred and fifty years. Now that the Cold War has been turned up to a full boil, the freshman is in danger of becoming fish food. 

In a race against deadly enemies, Ana will make amazing friends and astounding discoveries about her heritage as she puts her leadership skills to the test for the first time.

7. Frostheart: Rise of the World Eater by Jamie Littler

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After escaping the towering city of Aurora and fighting for the safety of Solstice--the secret sanctuary of misunderstood Song Weavers--Ash has the battle of a lifetime ahead of him. A battle for his freedom. 

For the freedom of Song Weavers in every Stronghold. And even for the leviathans, the giant beasts that lurk under the snow, but who may be just as poorly understood as the Song Weavers who can communicate with them.

But a battle is the last thing Ash wants ever since he's come face to face with the person he has been tirelessly searching for his mother. 

And yet the two of them are up against a common enemy, the largest, most ferocious ancient leviathan called the Devourer, known by local legend as the World Eater for the way it consumes anything and everything in its path.

In a fight that will take the pathfinders, yeti, Song Weavers, and even Leviathans working together, how can Ash get them all on the same side when he and his mother can't even agree on how to defeat this beast? 

If Ash and his ragtag crew of friends aboard the Frostheart can't stop the Devourer, Ash's family reunion will be short-lived.

8. Unlocking the Universe by Stephen & Lucy Hawking

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Although the introduction of "Unlocking the Universe", is positioned as a "popularization model of advanced theoretical physics", for most adults (such as me) and children, opening this book really requires courage. 

But as an ordinary child who is interested in time and space, "Unlocking the Universe" is really friendly. In fact, as an adult, I can also get the knowledge I want to know from it. . If you are like me, then my choice is "recommended".

We all know that Hawking's "Unlocking the Universe" is generally incomprehensible, but this children's version of "Unlocking the Universe", in which he collaborated with his daughter Lucy and more than a dozen of the world's top scientists, is much more friendly, not only contains many Reflections on the universe, time, also adds genetics, parallel universes, and new articles on black holes. 

In addition to maintaining a consistent scientific nature, a lot of philosophical thinking has also been added.

       

9. The Extremely Embarrassing Life of Lottie Brooks by Katie Kirby

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Lottie Brooks is 11 ¾ and her life is already officially over - not only is she about to start high school without any friends or glamorous swooshy hair, she's just discovered she's too flat-chested to wear A BRA!

She might as well give up now and go into hibernation with her hamsters Sir Barnaby Squeakington and Fuzzball the Third.

Lottie navigates the many perils of growing up in this fantastically funny new illustrated series for a 9-12 audience, filled with friendship, embarrassing moments, and plenty of lols.

Hilarious, relatable, and full of heart, for fans of funny and chaotic family stories.

10. Becoming: Adapted for Younger Readers by Michelle Obama

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I have been thinking about this book a lot over the past year, especially the time before the author graduated from law school to the White House. It was very moving.

Impressive points:

First, Michelle never thought that she would give up her career as a lawyer before she met Obama. If she hadn't met him, she might have been a successful female partner who achieved a class transition step by step. 

It can be said that Obama's words and actions influenced her, made her think about what she and others were going through, and ultimately changed the trajectory of her life and career. Michelle spent a whole year looking for a job in her last year at the law firm, and some of her inner thoughts are very real and sincere.

The second is Obama, the Obama in Michelle's writing/or eyes, even if he didn't become president, in the end, the young man who "walks around in peace and detachment, but never far from a stronger sense of responsibility" is really charming. 

As the president of magna cum laude and HLR, he was originally a SCOTUS clerk, but obviously, his firm self-confidence and political enthusiasm led him to another path: he declined many job offers after graduation, wrote a book, and then I went directly to the nonprofit law firm. 

It seems that the two of them have lived in a small apartment that Michelle rented (?) for many years. Michelle said that Obama often escaped into a small room and read a lot of books day and night. Book.

The third is when Obama worked in the community and participated in local elections. According to Michelle, he has failed many times, and not many people know him outside that small place. Before the last election, Michelle said that he couldn't be so poor anymore. 

If he couldn't make a name for himself this time, he would go to work for the foundation. What he did was still meaningful, and at least he could earn some money. Obama said yes. Fortunately, this time it did not fail, and then it started to take off. These conversations, these struggles, are all too real.

The CEO of Goldman Sachs said in his speech that he likes to read biographies the most because the most attractive thing about biographies is that the characters in the book at the beginning of his life, that is, in the first fifty pages, would not know that he/she will be in the first 50 pages. It was successful at three hundred pages.

11. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf 

"The Great Modernism and Feminism of the 20th Century"

"To the Lighthouse" is a quasi-autobiographical stream-of-consciousness novel describing the life of Professor Ramsays' family and a few friends on vacation on an island in Scotland after the First World War.

In this novel with a very simple plot, the author attempts to explore the meaning of life and the nature of the self, pointing out that the "self" may escape the clutches of time and remain immortal regardless of death.

Woolf, the author of this book, is one of the representative writers of British stream-of-consciousness literature, a feminist, and considered to be one of the greatest novelists of the twentieth century.

She is widely regarded as a pioneer in guiding the trend of modernism, and her literary achievements are still very influential today.

"To the Lighthouse" is very artistic in terms of creative perspective, psychological description, or stream-of-consciousness techniques. It is Woolf's perfect work and has made an outstanding and far-reaching contribution to the history of literature.

The book is also a landmark modernist novel, ranked 15th on the list of the "Top 100 English Novels of the 20th Century", and on the BBC's "25 Greatest British Novels" list.

12. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger 

"After reading Salinger, Youth is the real beginning"

Once published, The Catcher in the Rye quickly became popular among teenage readers for its themes of adolescent anxiety.

Holden, the protagonist in the book, is a complex and contradictory teenager who gives the most intuitive impression of being anti-bones and disliking any "hypocrisy".

His experiences and ideas resonated so strongly with teens that every young man felt like Holden.

Because of the unique charisma of the protagonist, this book is still widely read after more than 70 years and has influenced generations of American youth.

It has sold 70 million copies worldwide, and countless middle schools regard it as a must-read item, it has been included in the book lists of many famous schools around the world.

One of the 100 literary classics recommended by Time magazine and the Book of the Century selected by the New York Public Library.

Haruki Murakami, Bill Gates, Woody Allen, and people from all countries and industries love it.

Some people say that from the end of World War II to today's contemporary American literature, two novels have stood the test of more than three decades and have been considered "modern classics": one is the black author Ralph Ai Lisson's "The Invisible Man" is a book. 

As soon as the novel was published, it was warmly welcomed by American teenagers because it spoke their hearts out. 

For a while, Holden, the protagonist of the novel, was imitated everywhere on the campuses of American colleges and high schools wearing trench coats and red caps upside down in the big winter, learning Holden's speech and actions. 

To this day, "Wheat Field" has influenced generations, as it allows the questioning, doubts, and escapes of teenagers to be properly acknowledged and vented, an epic of youth, a manifesto against the adult world.

13. To Kill a Mockingbird by Nelle Harper Lee 

"A growing textbook on courage and justice, An upbringing book that affects 50 million families around the world"

"To Kill a Mockingbird" is based on the perspective of a 6-year-old girl, Scout Finch, to describe what happened around her and expose the problems of racial persecution and racial discrimination in American society.

The little girl's father, Atticus Finch, is morally upright in the book, a model of upright lawyers and the most enduring fictional image of racial justice.

Although the subject matter of the story involves serious issues such as racial discrimination, the author's writing style is still warm and funny. Truman commented: "This person's insight into life is so vivid, and her humor is so warm and real."

The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, and the film adapted from the novel won three Oscars at the 25th Academy Awards.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" has never ceased to be printed. It is the designated reading for American high school students. A survey in 2008 showed that it was read most frequently in grades 9-12 in the United States.

It has been translated into more than 40 languages ​​and sold 50 million copies worldwide, making it a well-known literary classic. 

14. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin 

"Judging One of the Most Influential Books on Racism in America"

Next Time Will Be Fire is a non-fiction book consisting of two articles.

The first, a letter from author James Baldwin to his 14-year-old nephew, discusses the central role of race in American history; the second, which occupies the bulk of the book, deals with the relationship between race and religion.

The author of this book, James Baldwin, was an important partner and traveler of Martin Luther King, Jr., and he was called "the irreplaceable conscience of American literature in the 20th century".

This book is one of the most influential books on judging American racism, leading readers to understand the background of the American era and explore American historical issues.

The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times gave this book high praise, and it has influenced generations to explore faith and think about racial discrimination.

15. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen 

"A must-read book for psychology majors, Oscar-winning original film"

Light in the Refrigerator is a memoir by Susanna Kaysen about her experiences in an American mental hospital after she was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in the 1960s.

Through the description of her own experience, she leads readers to the lives of marginalized people, giving the public a new understanding of their behavior.

The psychological problems written by the author may be encountered by each of us when faced with the pressure of the real world, and we must learn to persuade and reconcile ourselves.

Eight weeks after its publication, this book has been on the bestseller list and is a must-read and factual book for psychology majors.

It was later adapted into the film "The Girl Who Moved Soul", which won the Academy Award.

16. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

"A tale of how words feed the human soul"

"The Book Thief" is an anti-war novel. The story takes place during World War II. It is narrated in the first person by the god of death. It tells how a lonely little girl uses the power of reading to get through difficult times in her life.

She found that the temptation of books was more difficult to resist than food, so she couldn't help but start stealing books. She also began to read for the Jews hiding in the basement and the neighbors who took refuge in the bomb shelter, comforting those anxious hearts.

Words can make you overcome loneliness and fear.

The novel shows the beauty of human nature between reading and stealing, between mutual aid and killing.

This book has been on the New York Times bestseller list for more than 10 years, won the Commonwealth Writers Award, and was selected as the Book of the Year by School Library Magazine and Publishers Weekly Book of the Year.

17. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr 

"Don't Die While You're Alive"

"All the Lights We Can't See" is a novel set in the Second World War. It tells the story of two young boys and girls in hostile countries who struggle to survive and intertwined fates in World War II, which resonates with readers around the world.

The language of this book is beautiful, with poem-like words and phrases, and the arrangement of the plot is also very distinctive and highly readable.

This ten-year-old work has topped the New York Times bestseller list since its publication was recommended as Book of the Year by more than 30 mainstream media and bookstores and won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Author Anthony Doerr is an American novelist who has won the O'Henry Prize for fiction three times for his short stories. He was also highly recognized by the Barnes & Noble Bookstore Rookie Award, the Roma Award, and the New York Public Library Cub Literary Award.

18. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond 

"A masterpiece by a professor of sociology at Princeton University, Reveals America's Deep Social Problems"

Sweeping the House is a non-fiction work set in impoverished Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and tells the stories of eight families struggling to pay their landlords during the 2008 financial crisis.

This book is a successful anthropological work, bringing us an up-close look at the existential plight of bottom-tier renters, showing their pain and struggles.

It highlights the problems of extreme poverty, affordable housing, and economic exploitation in American society.

The author, Matthew Desmond, is a professor of sociology at Princeton University. In 2015, he won the MacArthur "Genius Award" and in 2016, he was named "one of the fifty people who have influenced political issues in the United States."

The book was selected as one of the ten best books of 2016 by The New York Times, won the 2016 National Book Critics Award, and was the 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning nonfiction book.

19. Educated by Tara Westover 

"Girls who never went to school until the age of 17, How to become a Ph.D. at Cambridge University? "

"When You Fly Like a Bird to Your Mountain" is author Tara Westover's debut novel. Through her poignant narrative, she tells how education can lead a person to change and grow.

Before reading it, many people think that this is a chicken soup-style autobiography, but after reading it, you will find that it is not inspirational or bloody, but full of embarrassment, self-doubt, and depression.

However, readers can feel her sense of belief in the author's study experience. She thinks about the pain itself, and constantly knows herself, discovers herself, and defines herself.

In 2019, the author was named "Influential Person of the Year" by Time Magazine because of this book. In 2020, the author ranked among the top three best-selling books on Amazon's annual Kindle reading list. Yu Zhou.

It has sold millions of copies in the United States, has been translated into 37 languages, and swept the world.

It's Bill Gates' annual special recommendation: "This book everyone will love, it's better than you've heard."

20. Normal People by Sally Rooney 

"It may not be contemporary, but it is a future classic."

"Normal," tells the story of the complex friendship between two teens, Connell and Marianne.

The author uses her excellent psychological description and delicate writing to explore the subtle class relationships, family relationships, first love, friendship, vulnerability, and crisis, injecting new energy into contemporary novels.

"The Guardian" commented: "The novel may not tell about the youth of contemporary people, but a further step, the youth and love of any era and anyone. It may not be contemporary, but it is a future classic."

After its publication, the book sold 64,000 hardcover copies in just 4 months, was translated into 46 languages and became a global bestseller.

The book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, the Dublin International Literary Award, and the British Women's Literary Award was named Book of the Year by Waterstone Bookstore and was reviewed by dozens of institutions and media such as the New York Public Library, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Book of the Year.

The author of this book, Sally Rooney, was named "the first great writer of the millennial generation" by The New York Times.

21. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini 

This book is so famous that Obama bought it for his daughter to read. The story takes place in an ancient and mysterious country - Afghanistan. "Kite competition" is a kind of game popular in the childhood of the majority of Afghan children. 

Whoever flies the highest kite, persists to the end, and defeats all other opponents is the winner. The whole book shows that the life we don't know well is the exotic life we don't know, but the friendship, betrayal, the family love between father and son in the gully, and the innocence and complexity of feelings are what we have experienced or experienced. 

In short, this is a story about spiritual redemption; a story about childhood; a story about family affection and betrayal; and a story about love and friendship.

22. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe 

An immortal masterpiece in the treasure house of world literature. The first realist novel in the history of English literature. One of 100 books that influenced the course of history.

An education expert once said that the first book a teenager should read on his growth path is Robinson Crusoe because this book with the most reprints besides the Bible will teach us How to survive.

23. Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder 

"Sophie's World" is a very enlightening book for our middle school students. It will awaken everyone's deep admiration for life and concern and curiosity about the ultimate meaning of life. 

Moreover, in the form of a novel, this book teaches philosophy knowledge to a girl named Sophie through a philosophy tutor. It is very interesting, and it is perfect for our middle school students.

24. The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

The novel describes the experience and feelings of progressive youth towards the crude German society at that time, and expresses the author's reaction to the feudal moral hierarchy and his strong demand for the liberation of individuality: 

the young Werther fell in love with a girl named Lotte, and the girl has Others are engaged...it is the most read of Goethe's works by his contemporaries.

25. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan 

Thirty-nine Steps is one of the most important works of British writer John Buchan. 

In this novel, Richard Hanney, a mining engineer who has returned to Britain from southern Africa, engages in a thrilling battle with German spies to prevent top-secret defense documents from falling into German hands. 

The writing of the novel is popular and delicate, the storyline is ups and downs, the suspense is full of suspense, and the thrilling moments are dizzying. It is worthy of being a well-known thriller novel.

26. Childhood by Maxim Gorky 

"Childhood" is the first in a trilogy of autobiographical novels created by Soviet writer Maxim Gorky based on his own experiences. 

His childhood life vividly reproduced the living conditions of the lower-class people in the Soviet Union in the 1870s and 1880s and wrote Gorky's understanding of suffering and his unique views on social life...

27. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 

"Anna Karenina" is a novel written by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. The book uses the heroine Anna's pursuit of love and tragedy, and Levin's reform and exploration in the face of the crisis in the countryside. 

depicting a vast and colorful picture of Russia from Moscow to the provincial countryside is a social encyclopedia.

28. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki  

This book is a must-read for introductory financial knowledge accumulation. Many parents don't pay much attention to the education of financial quotient. 

So many people are eager to make more money when they grow up, but they are very unfamiliar with the management of money. 

This book shows us the different views of wealth and money between the poor and the rich. I believe this book will benefit us a lot.

29. Lord of the Flies by William Golding 

This book is the representative work of William Golding, a master of English literature. It is recognized as one of the greatest literary masterpieces of the twentieth century, and it is also a must-read fable for American children and middle school students. 

The story takes place in an imaginary World War III. A group of children between the ages of six and twelve is trapped on a deserted island due to a plane crash on the way to their retreat. 

They can live in harmony at first, but later because their evil nature swells, they become entangled. Killing each other with tragic results. The characters, scenes, stories, images, etc. in the book are deeply symbolic, and it is a good book worth reading and thinking about.

30. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell  

This is an adventure story about a girl who has lived through hardships for 18 years on an isolated island shaped like a dolphin. It is another novel that has won the honor of "10 Greatest American Children's Literature". 

The text is concise, the storyline is not dragged at all, and children can easily understand it. Although the plot is similar to Robinson Crusoe, the mood is much higher. 

Children have to read books that are conducive to the cultivation of independent consciousness, learning to understand things, and overcoming themselves.

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