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 surefire, 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

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus Book Poster Image
Silliness that appeals to preschoolers.
By Mo Willems
(2004)
(2004)
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Charming bedtime book is magic for truck lovers.
By Sherri Duskey Rinker
(2012)
(2011)
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Ultimate going-to-bed book has stood the test of time.
By Margaret Wise Brown
(2004)
(1947)
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The Very Hungry Caterpillar Book Poster Image
Carle brings humor to caterpillar's development.
By Eric Carle
(2003)
(1970)
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Classic all-ages masterpiece has a wild imagination.
By Maurice Sendak
(2001)
(1969)
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Harold and the Purple Crayon Book Poster Image
Imagination reigns in timeless classic about drawing boy.
By Crockett Johnson
(2012)
(1955)
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Beatrix Potter's first and one of her best.
By Beatrix Potter
(2003)
(1902)
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A kids' classic that put Dr. Seuss on the map.
By Dr. Seuss
(2003)
(1957)
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Engaging stories spotlight charming, relatable characters.
By Arnold Lobel
(2003)
(1970)
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Madeline Book Poster Image
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Rhyming classic is a sure winner with kids.
By Ludwig Bemelmans
(2003)
(1977)
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Beloved, classic stories and poems in one volume.
By A. A. Milne
(2007)
(1996)
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Funny, silly pig story great for early readers.
By Kate DiCamillo
(2006)
(2005)
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Classic morality tale is wildly entertaining.
By Roald Dahl
(2005)
(1964)
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Friendship tale a sure hit with kids starting chapter books.
By Annie Barrows
(2007)
(2007)
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Stuart Little Book Poster Image
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Excellent bridge from chapter books to novels.
By E.B. White
(2003)
(1945)
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Where the Sidewalk Ends Book Poster Image
Irresistible collection of clever, hilarious poems.
By Shel Silverstein
(2012)
(2004)
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Charlotte's Web Book Poster Image
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Gentle, much-loved barnyard classic delights all ages.
By E.B. White
(2006)
(1952)
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Classic view of pioneer life through a little girl's eyes.
By Laura Ingalls Wilder
(2007)
(1932)
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Ramona tale helps young kids build empathy.
By Beverly Cleary
(2003)
(1992)
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Strange, surreal tale sure to creep kids out.
By Neil Gaiman
(2004)
(2004)
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Magical start of the fantastic boy-wizard series.
By J. K. Rowling
(2005)
(1998)
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Classic Narnia tale has exciting battles, Christian themes.
By C.S. Lewis
(2005)
(1950)
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Brave mouse adventure a modern classic; great read-aloud.
By Kate DiCamillo
(2004)
(2004)
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A classic that both adults and kids love.
By Lewis Carroll
(2003)
(1865)
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Beloved classic features lovable, imaginative heroine.
By L.M. Montgomery
(2011)
(1908)
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A cliff-hanging orphan adventure wrapped in black humor.
By Lemony Snicket
(2004)
(1999)
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Milder than Wimpy Kid and a sure hit with boys.
By Lincoln Peirce
(2010)
(2010)
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Honest, moving story of friendship and loss.
By Katherine Paterson
(2006)
(1977)
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Well-crafted tale of an orphan's search for home.
By Christopher Paul Curtis
(2004)
(1999)
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Laugh-out-loud-funny series start tucks lessons in stories.
By Jeff Kinney
(2007)
(2007)
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Brilliantly written, inventive pre-LOTR tale.
By J.R.R. Tolkien
(2011)
(1937)
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Greek myths meet fast-paced adventure in boy-demigod tale.
By Rick Riordan
(2005)
(2005)
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Toddler antics bug brother, amuse readers in 1st Fudge book.
By Judy Blume
(2011)
(1972)
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Classic sci-fi story still inspires and gets kids thinking.
By Madeleine L'Engle
(2003)
(1962)
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Historical fiction at its best in story of '30s farmworkers.
By Pam Munoz Ryan
(2011)
(2000)
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Touching story of resourceful girl solving a family mystery.
By Blue Balliett
(2013)
(2013)
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Inspiring memoir of teen Nobel laureate shot by Taliban.
By Malala Yousafzai, Patricia McCormick
(2014)
(2014)
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Inspiring, educational immigrant story told in free verse.
By Thanhha Lai
(2011)
(2011)
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My Side of the Mountain Book Poster Image
Gripping, inspiring wilderness-survival adventure.
By Jean Craighead George
(2012)
(1959)
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Gripping story, great intro to China's Cultural Revolution.
By Ying Chang Compestine
(2008)
(2007)
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Dramatic, complex tale has rich characters, emotional depth.
By Sharon Creech
(2010)
(1994)
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Inspiring wartime journal reveals teen's inner life.
By Anne Frank
(2011)
(1947)
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Moving tale of facially different boy with inner beauty.
By R.J. Palacio
(2012)
(2012)
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Boy genius trains to crush alien invasion in sci-fi classic.
By Orson Scott Card
(2005)
(2005)
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Spectacular fantasy classic is where Frodo's journey begins.
By J.R.R. Tolkien
(2003)
(1954)
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Exciting, provocative tale of lethal reality show.
By Suzanne Collins
(2008)
(2008)
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Stylish dystopian thriller in a not-so-future Los Angeles.
By Marie Lu
(2012)
(2011)
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Powerful graphic novel captures spirit of desegregation.
By John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
(2013)
(2013)
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Story of ostracized kid a timeless fave of teens, preteens.
By S. E. Hinton
(2003)
(1967)
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To Kill a Mockingbird Book Poster Image
Stunning classic examines racism -- and justice.
By Harper Lee
(2004)
(1960)
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