Books for tweens and teens

Written by Kara Fleck, Simple Kids editor and Rockin’ Granola mama.

Earlier in the Summer my daughter Jillian and I asked you for your recommendations for books for tweens and teens.  Boy, did you come through for us!

Thanks to you, we have discovered a few new series that we are both hooked on (I like to read what she’s reading) and we rediscovered a few old favorites.  Thank you!

I know that many of you who have children in your lives around the same age frequently are on the hunt for good reading material for them as well, so today I’m rounding up some of your suggestions, plus a few that the tween reader in my house loves, to share with you today.

Books for tweens and teens

Here are a few of our favorites so far this Summer …

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place (series) – many of you mentioned this series to us so Jillian and I were curious.  We began with book one, The Mysterious Howling and have moved on to book two and are eagerly waiting the third book to come out in paperback so we can continue the adventures of Miss Penelope Lumley and the “three wild creatures” in her care.  Written by Maryrose Wood, we’ve found these books to be funny, thoughtful, and intriguing. Plus, as the older sister to three “wild creatures” Jillian finds herself relating to the governess in more ways than one.

The Mysterious Benedict Society (series) – by Trenton Lee Stewart.  Clever, with engaging characters, and a delightful mix of brain-busters, mystery, and drama this series has been neat to read in part because it has allowed for so many discussions between my child and I about social issues.  Plus, it is fun to see if we can work out the clues and brain-busters before the members of the society do.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians  (series) – written by Rick Riordan, this is a series that Jillian has read more than once (a compliment I’ve only ever known her to play to the Harry Potter series before now).  The series is about a boy who learns that he is a demi-god, and not only that, but there are other demi-god children as well.  A fun fictional series based on the Greek mythology.  Skip the movie and read the books instead.

Some more recommendations, including many from Simple Kids readers:

  • The 39 Clues (series) – she just started the first book, The Maze of Bones, but so far Jillian is enjoying it and my husband has been eager for her to finish it so that he can read it next.  I’ve got my place as third in line, but from what Jillian reports it will be worth the wait. My series loving child is excited because there are many books in this series, so she’s got a lot of reading ahead of her to be excited about.
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster  – this classic recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and is one that we read as part of homeschool last year that we both really enjoyed.
  • Red Sails to Capri by Ann Weil – short, engaging, and dialogue driven, one of our favorites so far this Summer from our homeschool reading list.  This book was the catalyst for some creative writing projects at our house and we find ourselves referring to the characters and wondering what they might think of certain situations in daily life from time to time.  A quick read with a lot of action and mystery packed into its pages.
  • Holes by Louis Sachar – a Newberry award winner that was highly recommend by Grandma (so we know it must be good).
  • Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys by Louisa Mae Alcott – I cannot wait to share these with Jillian, I know she’ll love them!  I think Little Women will be good to begin reading once the cooler days of Winter arrive.  It is good fireside and cocoa reading, don’t you agree?
  • Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson – written as a prequel to JM Barry’s Peter Pan, Jillian and I are both hoping to get our hands on this one soon after a Simple Kids reader suggested it.  It sounds like one we’ll both love.
  • The Hobbit – we’ve made a deal with Jillian that she can see the movie if she reads this Tolkien classic first.


  •  The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis – a reader was surprised we hadn’t read these yet and, frankly, so am I.  I plan to add these to Jillian’s book shelf very soon and hope she will love them as much as I did when I read them for the first time as a young adult.
  • Til We Have Faces – my favorite CS Lewis book, and one I’m planning on saving for just the right time.  This is one of those books that I think everyone should read and its story of love and faith is beautifully written.  A novel that stayed with me long after I read it for the first time and I’m looking forward to seeing if Jillian feels the same way some day.
  • The Search for Wondla and A Hero For Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi sound like just the series for my sci-fi loving daughter after a reader described it as, ” young girl raised by robot underground Earth chased above ground to discover she’s not on Earth (just the beginning of book).”

And that, my friends, should keep our library card busy for a little while.  Thank you for all of your suggestions. Jillian and I both really appreciate them. Happy reading!

Looking for more suggestions? Check out the comments in this post for a long, long list of ideas for kids ages 8 and up.

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at

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  1. What a great list! I love the Narnia books. I don’t have tweens or teens right now, but I am always looking for book recommendations regardless of age. Thank you for a great list! I haven’t read the Hobbit before, but have seen it mentioned a few places lately, I think I may pick it up.
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  2. Til We Have Faces is one of my all time favorite books. I don’t have teens or tweens either but am enjoying hearing the recommendations.
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  3. Yea! Love new suggestions. Many of these are our faves as well!
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  4. Great suggestions!
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  5. MG really likes the Riordon books, too.

    Author Bryan Davis has written several series, a few that MG has reada and loves – she calls them “the Billy and Bonnie” books: Children of the Bard, Oracles of Fire are the two I know she has read. They are officially Christian, but it’s not a beat-it-over-your-head kind of thing. But for her to read about the nephilim and stuff that’s in the bible? She was all over that. These are high fanstasy, if J is into that.

    She also LOVES the Paolini series, Inheritance. Again, fantasy – specifically dragons. These are big books, so J will get her exercise in totin’ them around!

    The Immortal Secrets of Nicholas Flamel series by Michael Scott (and you thought he just played with his toys in his office on The Office ) This weaves lots of fantasy themes with a whole hoot of history — from Joan of Arc to Virginia Dare! These folks pop up and do all kinds of things! There are a whole bunch in this series, maybe 6, and even Papa has gotten into them!

    I think most of these get really intense, far more than Harry Potter, so that’s something to consider, even the “Christian books.” I hope you can give these a try — I’d love to hear how she likes them! (and wouldn’t it be neat for J and MG and actually do that pen pal thing?)
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  6. Dragons in our Midst by Bryan Davis. That’s another series that I forgot to add.
    Artemis Fowl
    The Lost Years of Merlin (can’t speak to this one, but she is listing them for me :) )
    The Companions Quartet
    Sisters Grimm
    Children of the Lamp
    Warriors series (high fantasy with cats as the characters, personified) Erin Hunter, also Seekers – same idea, but bears
    Fablehaven series and Beyonders, Brandon Mull
    Septimus Heap
    the Lemony Snicket books
    (and apparently messed up the Nicholas Flamel title. oops.)

    So there are some more for ya :)
    —-notice the trend? MG has gone over the Fantasy edge, I tell you!
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  7. My 10 year old son is an avid reader and this summer he read Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus and Kane Chronicles series and loved them both!
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