Here you’re find more book reviews and suggestions for your 12 year olds (7th graders) in a variety of genres. The first list of book recommendations for 12 year olds is here. Or, for more challenging books, check out my Best Book for Teens list. For a bit easier books, read the Best Books for 11-Year Olds.
More Recommended Books for 12 Year Olds 7th Graders
Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull FANTASY
I endorse this series mostly. The last few books got a bit dull for me but I loved the first few. Two siblings visit their grandparents who they learn run a mythical creature refuge called Fablehaven. Of course, this kids not only discover this secret, but mayhem and adventure ensue.
Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier by Ying Chang Compestine and Vinson Composting HISTORICAL
If your kids aren’t interested in Chinese history, they will be after reading this novel. Ming lives in rural communist China with his father, who finds artifacts for the museum. A discovered terra-cotta soldier who comes to life and befriends Ming. They must work together to protect the soldiers and Emperor Qin’s tomb. I like how the authors wove in historical photos and information. It sounds like a silly premise for a story but it worked — and was very good.
Mark of the Thief by Jennifer A. Nielsen HISTORICAL / FANTASY
Set in historical Rome we follow the life of a slave abandoned by his mother in the mines. After he accidentally discovers Julius Cesar’s magical amulet and it’s protector griffin, he’s in constant danger. It’s an exciting adventure with an unexpected revelation that will have you eager for the next book. (Yes, it’s a cliff-hanger.)
The Menagerie by Tui Sutherland FANTASY
Stuck in a small town in Wyoming just after his mother disappeared, Logan’s life gets even more strange when he finds a griffin under his bed. Which he learns is connected to Zoe Kahn, a very strange girl in his class at school. Who tells him about their family’s menagerie for the protection of magical creatures. Soon the duo realize that the griffins didn’t escape, they were let out. Now they must find the culprit fast before the menagerie is shut down. A quick, fun read!
The Wells Bequest by Polly Schulman SCI-FI
I just started this book and can already tell that would be a good book for kids who love science and adventure. The hero, Leo, loves science and is researching for a school report (in a magical library of objects) when he stumbles on robots and other inventions from science fiction novels. It is up to him to journey through time to warn scientist Nikola Tesla about a dangerous invention. Second in The Grimm Legacy series.
Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, illustrated by Karl Kwasny ADVENTURE FANTASY
So you may know that I’m a scaredy cat but I did it – I read a slightly scary book. (It would only be scary to young kids I think.) And I was impressed! Not only is this story compelling and interesting, the symbolism and life lessons were stunning. So, the plot . . . Charlie’s dad has remarried and moved Charlie and his younger brother into the stepmother’s frightening purple mansion. There Charlie begins to have the most horrible nightmares — nightmares that blur between reality and dream. And when the witches steal Charlie’s brother into the nightmare world, he goes to rescue his brother. Charlie and his friends must learn to face their fears in order for the nightmare world not to have access to the real world.
Skulduggery Plesant by Derek Landy FANTASY
The Fog Diver by Joel Ross SCI-FI
Dystopian middle-grade! The world is covered by a deadly “fog” that kills humans so the humans live only on the highest mountain peaks. Our heroes, a band of scavenging orphans, are trying to find something in the world below that they can sell in order to travel to another city where they can treat the cloud sickness of their beloved mother-figure. I loved the suspense, the fascinating world, the characters, and the happily ever after. I couldn’t tell from the ending if there will be more books because thankfully there was no cliff hanger.
Took: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn GHOST
This author is who you want to read if you’re into ghosts and scary stuff. Took is a creepy tale of little girl kidnapping by an evil witch named “Old Auntie” who turns the girls into slaves. Daniel knows he can save his little sister and does with a little help from the witch’s descendant and new friends.
Reckless by Cornelia Funke FANTASY
Reckless begins a new series by one of my favorite authors of all time, Cornelia Funke, and is the last name of the main character, Jacob. I’ll leave it to you to decide if he is he appropriately named but I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to guess.
Jacob abandons his life in the real world for one behind an enchanted mirror in his father’s office. Jacob can only speculate why his father disappeared, he’s been gone for years, missing since Jacob was quite small.
In Mirrorworld, Jacob travels with Fox, a clever woman who prefers her fox skin to her human skin. When Jacob’s younger brother Will (who is actually an adult and so is Jacob) follows Jacob to Mirrorworld one day, he is attacked by a stoneman, a Goyl. Will’s wounds begin to turn him into a Goyl, only he will be made of jade.
The story is filled with Grimm fairy tales — fairies, a candy house, unicorns, a Tailor, magic, spells, dwarfs and such. I like Reckless. Mostly. It is much darker than her other books, I’m still trying to accept the shift and look forward to the next book in the series. (Read an excerpt here.)
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan HISTORICAL
The writing, plot development, and characterization are masterfully done but I honestly think this should have been a shorter novel. It’s broken up into three shorter stories because the three stories tie together at the end but wow it was long — almost 600 pages. I read it but can’t see many kids reading it. That being said, this book takes place during different years around the second world war time period. The thread that ties the characters together is a most magical harmonica. (I loved that!) I do recommend this book, it was lovely and very well-written.
Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke GHOST
The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford, illustrated by Kelly Murphy HISTORICAL FICTION MYSTERY
I LOVE this fantastically developed historical fiction story for several reasons – the girl-centric history is really interesting (and empowering), the characters are so well-developed you feel as if you know them, and the plot is a grand adventure! The author imagines a friendship between Ada Byron, genius daughter of Lord Byron and the world’s first computer programmer, and Mary Shelley, the world’s first science-fiction author who almost could have been friends in real life but for about a decade of years. Mary joins Ada to study with Ada’s tutor and the duo form a detective agency. In this first adventure, Mary and Ada learn about another historical figure who invented hypnotism and solve the case of a stolen heirloom.
Seven Dead Pirates by Linda Bailey ADVENTURE
Who would think that the pirate ghosts in his bedroom would help the quiet, shy Lewis find adventure and bravery? Well, maybe you the reader would. Seven Dead Pirates is an excellent pirate adventure about growing up and about getting the rowdy ghost pirates to behave, sneak to their ship in a museum so they can fight another ghost pirate crew for it and steal it.
The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands FANTASY
Christopher’s apprenticed to an apothecary whose just been murdered in the same way as many other apothecaries. He and his best friend decide to solve the puzzles and find new clues to find the culprits for these horrible crimes. They hope it’s not the dangerous cult they’ve been hearing about — and are as surprised as us when they find out what’s really going on. Part historical, part fantasy, and all adventure.
Seaborne: The Lost Prince by Matt Myklusch ADVENTURE
In this well-written, fantastic action and adventure novel, Dean Seaborne grows up on a pirate ship as their best spy and con-artist. But when he messes up the latest mission, he must pass himself off as the long-lost prince of the mysterious island of Zenhala. Once there, he must find and steal the treasure for the pirates. But strangely, Dean really might be the long-lost prince and he’s not sure he wants to rob the island anymore.
The Prisoner of Cell 25 (Michael Vey #1) by Richard Paul Evans (sci-fi, adventure)
A fantastic read about a boy with electrical powers, and an evil group who wants to control him and others like him.
The Girl with the Glass Bird by Esme Kerr MYSTERY
A lonely orphan named Edie is forced to leave her only known relative, and live at a strict boarding school in order to surreptitiously protect Anastasia, the Russian prince’s daughter. While she’s at it, she’s also supposed to discover what is behind all of Anastasia’s problems. Edie thinks there’s somethi fishy going on; that someone is trying to make Anastasia believe she’s going crazy. But, it’s not so easy to tell — it could be that Anastasia is lying. Then she learns that the headmaster knew her mother and was her mother’s sworn enemy. This is an engrossing mystery tangled with compelling characters and emotional resonance.
The Rig by Joe Ducie SCI-FI
Oh, this was a deliciously good action story. I loved how the author wove in the science-fiction elements with a realistic story of incarcerated kids who are mistrusting, and find that there are a few people in the world that they can trust. This detention center is on an oil rig in the ocean. But Drake is determined to escape — especially after he discovers what the Rig is really doing.
The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett HISTORICAL / FANTASY
This is a breathtaking story; a fable about life set in Nazi Germany. We follow three Gypsy siblings who have witnessed the capture of their family and friends. While walking and searching for food, they find an abandoned zoo, with talking animals. That’s all I’ll reveal. You NEED to read this beautiful story. It will change your life.
Jack Templar Monster Hunter: The Templar Chronicles: Book One by Jeff Guns (SERIES) FANTASY
I liked this first book of the series — when he’s attacked by monsters, more than once, Jack learns he’s a Monster Hunter who is now fair game to be hunted. It’s not as scary as it sounds, but is more of an adventure with monsters which happens to include zombies. (First book is free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.)
Red Blazer Girls by Michael Beil MYSTERY
Are these sleuths in school uniforms modern-day equivalents of Nancy, Harriet, or Scooby? Not really, they’re just three nice girls who decide to help out a weird lady, and end up hiding under tables, tackling word puzzles and geometry equations, and searching rather moldy storage rooms for “the stuff that dreams are made of” (that’s from an old detective movie). Oh, and there’s A Boy, who complicates things. As boys often do.
Undertakers: The Rise of the Corpses by Ty Drago (SERIES) SCI-FI
A great kids-must-save-the-world book with a unique zombie/alien twist. Aliens are taking over corpses and reanimating them. Only some kids can see the real zombie beneath the alien “masks” — our hero gets the zombie sight and is rescued by a group of zombie fighters called Undertakers. He convinces the Undertakers group to stop being defensive but to be more aggressive and determine how to kill the corpses. I liked this book a lot!! (Free on Kindle Unlimited.)
Crime Travelers by Paul Aertker (A Lucas Benes Novel) ADVENTURE
This action packed adventure of teenage spies proves that kids are totally capable, smart, and able to handle anything — even brainwashing, crime, and a stolen baby. All in Paris!
The Chess Queen Enigma A Stoker & Holmes Novel by Colleen Gelason HISTORICAL MYSTERY
I thoroughly enjoyed this 2nd book in the Stoker and Holmes series. The two compelling main characters, Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes, become entrenched in the mystery of a missing chess queen that is thought to unlock treasures and power.