Books as Gifts: Recommendations for Kids Ages 10-13

Note: All the books on this gift list are at a 6th-8th grade reading level, but are so good they can be enjoyed by teens and even adults. I tried to include books for kids with all different interests including reluctant readers.

Fairy Tale Retellings:

Gail Carson Levine’s books (including Ella Enchanted, Two Princesses, Fairest, The Princess Tales)

Levine is the master of fairy tale retellings for middle grade readers. Her books are age appropriate and filled with strong characters, magic, and adventure.

Tales of the Frog Princess by E.D. Baker

The rollicking adventures of Esmeralda, the princess who turns into a frog.

The Wide Awake Princess (also by Baker)

What if sleeping beauty’s sister doesn’t fall asleep when everyone else does? What will she do (and what adventures will she have) to break the spell?

Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack by Shannon Hale

Graphic novels featuring Rapunzel, Jack (from the beanstalk) and a slew of other fairy tale characters in some very wild-west inspired adventures. These are great for reluctant readers.


Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Grouchy wizards, snarky talking fire, curses and adventure abound in the first book in Jones’ Castle series. Can be read as a stand alone.

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

A boy’s quest to save an imaginary land filled with dragons, talking creatures, and lots of adventure. It’s way better than the 80s movie that’s based on it, I swear.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Miri learns that there are more important things that becoming a princess, like making friends, saving people, learning awesome things, and being super cool.

Action/Adventure with fantasy elements:

The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black

A group of siblings move to a new home, find the mysterious old book, and get tangled up in some creepy adventures. With fairies. It’s scary in some parts so beware with sensitive readers.

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander

One of my favorite series of all time, these book have great characters (both male and female)  and lots of adventure. Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles… Ahem, what I’m saying is, I think the kids will stay awake for these. (Not nearly as creepy as Spiderwick but again, watch out for sensitive readers. Some character deaths.)

The Dark is Rising Series by Susan Cooper

You know, kids, chilling out, saving the world from evil. There are some Newberry medalists here, great series for young (and old) adventure fans. Please disregard the terrible movie that came out a couple of years ago.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

“If you are interested in stories with happy endings you would be better off reading some other book.” So begins this hilarious series about siblings Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. Try  not to steal these books from your kids.

General (usually with some  elements of adventure):

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

A boy’s plane crashes and he must survive alone in the wilderness. Great for reluctant readers.

Holes By Louis Sachar

Cursed with terrible luck, Stanley is sent to a camp for wayward boys where he finds himself in the middle of a mystery. And digging lots of holes. Thus the title.

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

A mystery, endangered species, bullys, new kids, and unlikely friendships in Hiaasen’s first book for kids. (Flush and Scat follow)

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President by Josh Lieb

I think the title speaks for itself on this one, but if I must: A (secret) child genius/billionaire/evil-potential-overlord-of-earth finds out running for class president may be harder than he thinks.

Don’t forget- it doesn’t have to be a female protagonist for a girl to like it or a male for a boy to like it. As long as they’re interested in the subject matter these books can typically work for most any child in the age range.

Tune in tomorrow for a really exciting announcement!!! About things!!! Things YOU can participate in!!! And helping others!


4 responses to this post.

  1. Great list of books!!


  2. […] Review Policy « Books as Gifts: Recommendations for Kids Ages 10-13 […]


  3. I agree with your book list 🙂


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