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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 kids of any gender. Some are cultural touchstones that belong in every kid's library. Others open kids' minds to cultures beyond their own. And some are recent releases that have the timeless quality of classics -- the kind that get handed down to siblings and passed around classrooms. Whether you have a reluctant reader or a budding bookworm, consider these surefire, kid-tested titles. (We've included a few rated best for 12 and up for the precocious readers out there!) For more great picks, check out our Best Book Series and Best Book Series for Early Readers.

Want more? Check out our Summer Reading List to build your kid's personal library.

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Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Poster Image
BOOK

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

age 2+

Silliness that appeals to preschoolers.

By: Mo Willems (2004)
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site Poster Image
BOOK

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

age 2+

Charming bedtime book is magic for truck lovers.

Goodnight Moon Poster Image
BOOK

Goodnight Moon

age 2+

Ultimate going-to-bed book has stood the test of time.

By: Margaret Wise Brown (1947)
The Snowy Day Poster Image
BOOK

The Snowy Day

age 2+

Classic captures a kid's delight in freshly fallen snow.

By: Ezra Jack Keats (1962)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Poster Image
BOOK

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

age 2+

Funny, colorful look at caterpillar's development.

By: Eric Carle (1970)
Where the Wild Things Are Poster Image
BOOK

Where the Wild Things Are

age 2+

Classic all-ages masterpiece has a wild imagination.

By: Maurice Sendak (1969)
Fry Bread Poster Image
BOOK

Fry Bread

age 3+

Lyrical tale shows role of special food in family, culture.

Harold and the Purple Crayon Poster Image
BOOK

Harold and the Purple Crayon

age 3+

Imagination reigns in timeless classic about drawing boy.

By: Crockett Johnson (1955)
The Tale of Peter Rabbit Poster Image
BOOK

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

age 3+

Beatrix Potter's first and one of her best.

By: Beatrix Potter (1902)
The Cat in the Hat Poster Image
BOOK

The Cat in the Hat

age 4+

The kids' classic that put Dr. Seuss on the map.

By: Dr. Seuss (1957)
Last Stop on Market Street Poster Image
BOOK

Last Stop on Market Street

age 3+

Tender story of Nana showing grandson city beauty via bus.

By: Matt de la Peña (2015)
Madeline Poster Image
BOOK

Madeline

age 4+

Rhyming classic is a sure winner with kids.

By: Ludwig Bemelmans (1977)
The Complete Tales & Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh Poster Image
BOOK

The Complete Tales & Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh

age 5+

Beloved, classic stories and poems in one volume.

By: A. A. Milne (1996)
Mercy Watson to the Rescue: Mercy Watson, Book 1 Poster Image
BOOK

Mercy Watson to the Rescue: Mercy Watson, Book 1

age 5+

Funny, silly pig story great for early readers.

By: Kate DiCamillo (2005)
Sofia Valdez, Future Prez Poster Image
BOOK

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez

age 5+

Girl takes on city hall in fun, diverse tale of persistence.

By: Andrea Beaty (2019)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Poster Image
BOOK

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

age 6+

Classic morality tale is wildly entertaining.

By: Roald Dahl (1964)
Ivy + Bean, Book 1 Poster Image
BOOK

Ivy + Bean, Book 1

age 6+

Friendship tale a sure hit with kids starting chapter books.

By: Annie Barrows (2007)
Stuart Little Poster Image
BOOK

Stuart Little

age 6+

Excellent bridge from chapter books to novels.

By: E.B. White (1945)
Where the Sidewalk Ends Poster Image
BOOK

Where the Sidewalk Ends

age 6+

Irresistible collection of clever, hilarious poems.

By: Shel Silverstein (2004)
Charlotte's Web Poster Image
BOOK

Charlotte's Web

age 7+

Gentle, much-loved barnyard classic delights all ages.

By: E.B. White (1952)