20 Books Your Pre-Teens Will Love This Summer
It’s that time of year again when the schools close and you’re faced with 6 long weeks of entertaining your kids, again. For some, that’s easy. Throw them in the garden, give them some toys, and BAM, their kids are entertained. For others, it can be a struggle. It can be a struggle if your kids aren’t really kids anymore and are no longer satisfied by another Tracy Beaker story, or Horrid Henry. They need books with substance, with excitement, but not books found in the young adult section, not yet. Books are always our favourite way to keep kids entertained during the long summer months, but pre-teen books that your kids will love are harder to find than you might think.
Think of it from their perspective. Being 11 or 12 is a difficult age. There’s so much going on in their life, with a lot of physical and emotional changes taking place, sometimes it can be hard to keep a track of it all. They feel self-conscious, being cool is at the top of their priority list, and all they want is that escapism that can only be found in a good book. A book that understands them and doesn’t patronise them.
As parents of pre-teens, you just want your kids to have the best possible summer they can, before heading to secondary school in the autumn. You probably want the books to be educational, right? With a combination of adventure and coming-of-age tales that your growing hero/heroine can relate to and learn from. You want them to feel confident and brave when the new school year comes around, and what better way to do that than with the best pre-teen books available this summer?
That’s why we’ve compiled this list, to help you out during the long summer ahead. On it, you’ll find adventure books, books set in faraway lands, time travel books, horror books, coming-of-age tales and fantasy novels that’ll capture your pre-teen’s imagination. There’s truly something for everyone on this list. There’re also quite a few series on this list for the ultimate reading marathons. All that’s left is for you to pick your favourites and to have the best (and most relaxing) summer you can possibly have.
20 Books Your Pre-Teens Will Love This Summer
1. Doll Bones by Holly Black
One of the more horror-esque books on this list, Doll Bones is truly like no other kid’s book. It’s the quest of a lifetime to return a haunted doll back to its originally owner, that happens to be dead. Definitely give this book a chance, as it’s an endearing tale of children growing up like no other.
2. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
This is an excellent fantasy series for your kids to enjoy this summer. A farm boy named Eragon finds a mysterious stone in the mountain, which soon reveals itself to be a dragon egg, and thus begins an epic adventure. For those that loved Harry Potter.
3. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
A fantasy trilogy for those who love magic, mystery and wonder. Follow Lyra and her daemon as they try to uncover the forbidden mystery behind ‘Dust’, whilst trying to save their friend Roger from “The Gobblers”. Truly fall into the world of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Material trilogy this summer, you won’t regret it.
4. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Not for the faint of heart, this book is for those pre-teens that are super confident with their reading and aren’t afraid of some complicated language. Be warned: Your kids won’t be able to put the book down once they begin, with Bilbo Baggins at the helm of this epic adored by fans around the world.
5. Space Case by Stuart Gibbs
Another series for those where one book just won’t cut it, but this one’s a little different. It’s a murder mystery novel set in space. That’s right, you heard me correctly: space. Set on the moon, this comical but suspenseful space adventure will keep your kids entertained long after the stars come out and when they should be asleep. But that’s what summers are for, right?
6. Pax by Sara Pennypacker
This is one of those books that’ll stick with you, and the summer will be remembered as that-summer-where-we-read-Pax. It’s the moving story of the friendship between a boy and his fox and their journey to be reunited. A lovely book to share with your kids and to treasure the importance of friendship.
7. Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
Set in 1943, this is a great introduction to historical fiction. Narrated by 12-year-old Annabelle McBride, it’s a story of the truth, and how powerful that can be. She lives on a farm with her family in Pennsylvania, when a new girl, Betty Glengarry, moves to the town. Betty confronts Annabelle one day before school, for no reason, threatening her. What ensures is a plot of twists and turns that will keep your child engrossed until the very end.
8. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
These series of stories are great for those who love fantasy books with a real-life twist. What’s unique about this series is that Ransom Riggs has included real vintage photographs that ‘depict’ the characters in his story. A great series for those that don’t feel like they necessarily “fit-in”.
9. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
Now, this is a bit of a throwback book for you. Written in 1973, Susan Cooper’s fantasy novel is definitely one that every child who loves magic and adventure needs to read. On his 11th birthday, Will Stanton discovers that he’s one of the Old Ones, a guardian of The Light. He now must learn about who he is and battle the forces of The Dark. Over a series of 5 books, follow Will as he fights the forces of evil. Based on Arthurian legends and Celtic mythology, this would be a great book to begin with before reading The Hobbit.
10. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
What pre-teen book list would be complete without Harry Potter? I’m sure you all know (and love) the Harry Potter films, but what better time to introduce the world of witches, wizards and muggles to your children and read the series than this summer? You never know, they might just receive a letter on their 11th birthday.
11. The Explorer by Katherine Rundell
This is the true jungle adventure story. A group of kids crash-land in the Amazon and must learn to survive. But, what’s this? They might not be alone? Such a good book that’ll be the perfect staycation summer holiday read.
12. The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley
Now, this is an adventure with a twist! And such a great story with themes of family, identity, and friendship that any pre-teen will instantly connect with. When Charlie’s brother is born with a heart condition, Charlie runs out the hospital and into the woods. Here, he finds a boy drowning in a river and saves him. They try to return to the hospital, but that’s when they discover that time has flown backwards and they’re now in the Stone Age. This is a big-hearted adventure to return to what Charlie loves most: his family.
13. The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty
Bronte’s parents have just been killed by pirates. That’s okay though, as she lives with her aunt, and she hasn’t really seen her parents since she was a baby. One day however, her parent’s will arrives, and it instructs Bronte to partake in an epic adventure of a lifetime: she must visit her 10 other aunts.
14. Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
This is the classic tale that every child/pre-teen should read. One of the most beloved children’s books of all time, don’t let this summer pass without visiting Tom’s midnight garden.
15. Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth
This is literally the most perfect book for pre-teens about to join secondary school. Follow Tash and her friend Sam as they journey from Tibet to India in search of the Dalai Lama in order to save Tash’s parents from Chinese soldiers. This is a thrilling read about love, courage, and friendship.
16. The Peculiars by Kieran Larwood
Follow this band of misfits, known as The Peculiars, who by night are a Victorian sideshow, but by day solve the crimes no one else cares about – like why the poor children of London are being snatched and stolen from the banks of the Thames…
17. Slow Down by Rachel Williams
Now, this is a slightly different book than the others on our list. It’s a collection of 50 (yes, 50) stories about nature than you can read, and watch, unfold in your own garden, or from a window. It’s the perfect book for little garden explorers and nature-lovers, and a great introduction to appreciating the world outside.
18. Terry Pratchett Books
Terry Pratchett books are perfect for that awkward reading ages of 11 – 12. Filled with wonder and fantasy, they’ll be brought to life by your kid’s imagination. It’s probably best to stay away from the Discworld series for now, which is still a kid’s series, but generally more suited to older children. Great books to begin with would be The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, or Johnny and the Dead. Any Terry Pratchett book is amazing though, so maybe have a browse and explore.
19. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase Joan Aiken
An old, but fantastic tale. Loved by many, this is the story of when England was overrun with wolves. Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia, however, must face a troublesome danger closer to home, in the form of their evil governess.
20. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
This is the award-winning coming-of-age-tale that every kid must read before they’re a kid no more. This is a fairy-tale like no other. There’s a witch. There’s magic. And there’s a volcano. The people of the village are afraid of the witch who lives in the woods, so every year they give her a baby in the hopes that it’ll protect their town. What they don’t realise is that she’s a nice witch, who feeds the baby’s starlight and rehomes each one with a loving family on the other side of the woods. One year though, she feeds a baby moonlight, which leads to an epic tale of extraordinary powers.
What did you think of our list? Do you have any other suggestions that could be useful for parent’s struggling? If any of the books above took your fancy, don’t hesitate to let us know and we can order it in within the next couple of days – just in time for the summer break. It’s easy and quick and your kids will love to have some new reading material to entertain them during the summer months ahead. We hope you have a fantastic summer, and don’t forget to pop into the shop to let us know how’re you’re getting on!