50 Books All Kids Should Read Before They're 12


 

From picture books to graphic novels, fantasy to family fun, these must-read books have the power to hook both boys and girls. Some are cultural touchstones that belong in every kid's library. Others open kids' minds to cultures beyond their own. And some are modern releases that have the timeless quality of classics -- the kinds that get handed down to siblings and passed around classrooms. Whether you have a reluctant reader or budding bookworm, check out these sure-fire, kid-tested titles. (We've included a few rated best for 12 and up for the precocious readers out there!)

 

Want more? Check out the Essential Books Guide to build your kid's personal library.

 

Browse 50 Books All Kids Should Read Before They're 12

 
Silliness that appeals to preschoolers.
By Mo Willems
(2004)
 
Charming bedtime book is magic for truck lovers.
By Sherri Duskey Rinker
(2012)
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The ultimate going-to-bed book.
By Margaret Wise Brown
(2004)
 
Carle brings humor to caterpillar's development.
By Eric Carle
(2003)
 
Classic all-ages masterpiece with a wild imagination.
By Maurice Sendak
(2001)
 
Imagination reigns in timeless classic about drawing boy.
By Crockett Johnson
(2012)
 
Beatrix Potter's first and one of her best.
By Beatrix Potter
(2003)
 
A kids' classic that put Dr. Seuss on the map.
By Dr. Seuss
(2003)
 
Engaging stories spotlight charming, relatable characters.
By Arnold Lobel
(2003)
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Rhyming classic is a sure winner with kids.
By Ludwig Bemelmans
(2003)
 
Beloved, classic stories and poems in one volume.
By A. A. Milne
(2007)
 
Funny, silly pig story great for early readers.
By Kate DiCamillo
(2006)
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Ramona helps young kids build empathy.
By Beverly Cleary
(2003)
 
Classic morality tale is highly entertaining.
By Roald Dahl
(2005)
 
A sure hit with kids starting chapter books.
By Annie Barrows
(2007)
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Excellent bridge from chapter books to novels.
By E.B. White
(2003)
 
Irresistible collection of clever, hilarious poems.
By Shel Silverstein
(2012)
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Gentle, much-loved classic delights all ages.
By E.B. White
(2006)
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Strange, surreal tale sure to creep kids out.
By Neil Gaiman
(2004)
 
Magical start of bestselling Potter phenomenon.
By J. K. Rowling
(2005)
 
Classic Narnia chronicle has Christian themes.
By C.S. Lewis
(2005)
 
Brave mouse adventure a modern classic; great read-aloud.
By Kate DiCamillo
(2004)
 
A classic that both adults and kids love.
By Lewis Carroll
(2003)
 
Beloved classic features lovable, imaginative heroine.
By L.M. Montgomery
(2011)
 
A cliff-hanging adventure wrapped in black humor.
By Lemony Snicket
(2004)
 
Milder than Wimpy Kid, and a sure hit with boys.
By Lincoln Peirce
(2010)
 
Honest, moving story of friendship and loss.
By Katherine Paterson
(2006)
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Well-crafted tale of an orphan's search for home.
By Christopher Paul Curtis
(2004)
 
Laugh-out-loud-funny series start tucks lessons in stories.
By Jeff Kinney
(2007)
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Brilliantly written, inventive pre-LOTR tale.
By J.R.R. Tolkien
(2011)
 
Modernized Greek myths meet fast-paced adventure.
By Rick Riordan
(2005)
 
Classic view of pioneer life through a little girl's eyes.
By Laura Ingalls Wilder
(2007)
 
Toddler antics bug brother, amuse readers in 1st Fudge book.
By Judy Blume
(2011)
 
Classic sci-fi story still inspires and gets kids thinking.
By Madeleine L'Engle
(2003)
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Historical fiction at its best in book on '30s farmworkers.
By Pam Munoz Ryan
(2011)
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Touching story of resourceful girl solving a family mystery.
By Blue Balliett
(2013)
 
Inspiring memoir of teen Nobel laureate shot by Taliban.
By Malala Yousafzai, Patricia McCormick
(2014)
 
Inspiring, educational immigrant story told in free verse.
By Thanhha Lai
(2011)
 
Gripping, inspiring wilderness-survival adventure.
By Jean Craighead George
(2012)
 
Gripping story, great intro to China's Cultural Revolution.
By Ying Chang Compestine
(2008)
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Dramatic, complex tale has rich characters, emotional depth.
By Sharon Creech
(2010)
 
Inspiring wartime journal reveals teen's inner life.
By Anne Frank
(2011)
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Moving, uplifting tale of disfigured boy with inner beauty.
By R.J. Palacio
(2012)
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Boy genius trains to crush alien invasion in sci-fi classic.
By Orson Scott Card
(2005)
 
Spectacular fantasy classic is where Frodo's journey begins.
By J.R.R. Tolkien
(2003)
 
Exciting, provocative tale of lethal reality show.
By Suzanne Collins
(2008)
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Stylish dystopian thriller in a not-so-future Los Angeles.
By Marie Lu
(2012)
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Powerful graphic novel captures spirit of desegregation.
By Andrew Aydin, John Lewis
(2013)
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Story of ostracized kid a timeless fave of teens, preteens.
By S. E. Hinton
(2003)
 
Stunning classic examines racism -- and justice.
By Harper Lee
(2004)