50 Books Kids Should Read Before They Turn 12

book list for kids, reading, kids books

Reading is a wonderful hobby for children, encouraging them not only to lose themselves in new stories and magical lands, or befriend compelling characters along the way, but also encourages the development of enhanced vocabulary and literacy ability.

There are certain books that have shaped the generations of past and present that should be enjoyed by all kids as they are growing up. Here we have a list of the 50 best books recommended for all kids to read by the time they turn 12, from beautifully illustrated picture books to chapter by chapter page-turners.


  • Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction site – Sherry Dusky Winker
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus – Mo Williems
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
  • Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown
  • Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon – Crockett Johnson
  • The Cat in the Hat – Dr. Seuss
  • Madeline – Ludwig Bemelmans
  • Frog and Toad Are Friends – Arnold Lobel


  •  The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie The Pooh – A.A.Milne
  • Ramona the Pest – Beverly Cleary
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
  • Mercy Watson to the Rescue: Mercy Watson, Book 1 – Kate DiCamillio
  • Stuart Little – E.B.White
  • Ivy and Bean: Book 1 – Annie Barrows
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends – Shel Silverstein
  • Charlotte’s Web – E.B.White


  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K.Rowling (It can be worth buying the box set up front)
  • Coraline – Neil Gaiman
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 1 – C.S.Lewis
  • The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread – Kate DiCamillio
  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing – Judy Blume
  • Anne of Green Gables – L.M.Montgomery

anne of green gables

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
  • Big Nate: In a Class by Himself: Big Nate, book 1 – Lincoln Peirce
  • The Bad Beginning: A Series of Unfortunate Events, book 1 – Lemony Snicket
  • Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson
  • Diary of a Whimpy Kid – Jeff Kinney
  • Bud, Not Buddy – Christopher Paul Curtis
  • The Hobbit – J.R.R.Tolkin

the hobbit scene

  • The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, book 1 – Rick Riordan
  • A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle
  • Little House in the Big Woods – Laura Ingalis Wilder
  • Hold Fast – Blue Balliett
  • Esperanza Rising – Pam Munoz Ryan
  • I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up For Education and Changed the World – Malala Yousafzai, Patricia McCormick
  • Inside Out and Back Again – Thanhha Lai
  • My Side of the Mountain – Jean Craighead George
  • Revolution is Not a Dinner Party – Ying Chang Compestine


  • Walk Two Moons – Sharon Creech
  • Wonder – R.J.Palacio\
  • Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
  • The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R.Tolkien
  • Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
  • Legend, Book 1 – Marie Lu
  • The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins (see the movie to decide if this one is appropriate for your pre-teen)
  • March, book 1 – Andrew Aydin, John Lewis
  • To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  • The Outsiders – S.E.Hinton

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