While I often ask my friends with older girls what books their girls’ loved, I’m often asked the same thing. So I thought I’d put together a list of books for tween girls that BabyGirl has read that she thinks other tween girls would enjoy too. This, of course, is in addition to the list of 8 books every tween should read that I suggested last year.
BabyGirl is a voracious reader. She’ll easily read 20 books in the summer. It’s one of the reasons we got her an eReader of her own long ago. It made it easy to always have a book. Some days, the back seat of the car makes me feel like I’m driving around in a bookmobile. Once I went to get the car washed and there were 12 books back there!
I do a lot of research to find her books that she’ll like. She’s a very advanced reader, but with that comes the fact that many adult books are inappropriate for a tween. As a tween, her interests have matured beyond the traditional children’s book. But I don’t need her reading about mature relationships or even unhealthy relationships. Since I’m often asked about books that BabyGirl likes, I thought I’d put together this list of books (along with affiliate links to Amazon where you can buy the book) that she’s recently read and those on her list for the summer.
16 Fantastic Books For Tween Girls
Tuesdays at the Castle (Jessica Day George) – 11-year old Princess Celie adores the castle and spends her time exploring and mapping it. As alluded to in the title, Tuesdays at the castle are extraordinary. When the kingdom is attacked, Celie’s knowledge of the ins and outs of the castle are needed to save the kingdom.
The Book Thief (Markus Zusak) – A New York Times #1 Bestseller and a motion picture, the story of a young girl named Liesel has captured many hearts. Set in World War II Germany, a young girl gets by stealing something she loves, books. Narrated by Death himself, the story is one of hope as the young girl learns to read and shares her books with the Jewish people hiding in her basement. A powerful Holocaust story that captivates its readers.
Shipwrecked!: The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy (Rhoda Blumberg) – A thin book jam-packed with history and adventure, this book tells the story of 14-year old Manjiro who was rescued by an American after a shipwreck. He goes to America and gets an education and eventually becomes a hero in Japan. A well known story among the Japanese, this story brings new perspective on Japanese culture of the early 19th century to a new generation.
Sideways Stories from Wayside School (Louis Sachar) – From the writer of Holes, comes this humorous series about a school built 30-stories high with one classroom on top of the other. Considering this strange layout, no one is surprised by the funny and odd things that go on at Wayside School. This is the first book in a series.
The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank) – First published nearly 70 years ago, this memoir of sorts is a peek into the life of a teen girl faced with the challenges of physical maturity and the stark reality of what was going on around her in Amsterdam as her family hid from the Nazis. While the content is mature for many young readers, these diary entries provide a glimpse into a life few lived to tell about.
The Middle Moffat (Moffats) (Eleanor Estes) – Part of a series, this book is just one of the many books Ms. Estes wrote about this quirky family. Jane, the middle child, doesn’t like being in the middle. So, she sets out to be anything but ordinary. From zany adventures, to laugh-inducing craziness, kids will love this. Written for the younger tween, this 250+ page book is also very entertaining for older kids.
13 Gifts (Wendy Mass) – What kid doesn’t love a story about birthdays? But this one is a little different. After getting in to trouble in an effort to become part of the cool-kid crowd, Tara is sent to stay with her aunt, uncle, and cousin while her parents go on vacation. In an effort to fit in, Tara befriends an elderly woman who has a plan to give Tara the adventure and excitement she’s been seeking. Well written, and developed characters are key to this being a big hit among tween and teen readers.
My Summer of Pink & Green (Lisa Greenwald) – A sequel to My Life in Pink & Green, Lucy is back. Written for an early tween, this book touches on a number of issues girls face growing up. And while every young girl isn’t trying to manage a huge family business project, it’s relatable and has the reader hoping for the best for Lucy.
The Phantom Tollbooth 50th Anniversary Edition (Norton Juster) – First published about 55 years ago, this classic still engages young people. A boring life becomes very interesting for Milo when he mysteriously finds a tollbooth in his bedroom. Not unlike the tardis in Dr. Who, this tollbooth takes Milo on journeys he’ll never forget. Lucky for us, Mr. Juster takes the reader on these crazy adventures Milo experiences while playing with the tollbooth.
The Borrowers (Series by Mary Norton) – Did you see the movie Arrietty? BabyGirl and I loved it! It was based on this book series about a family of tiny people who lived under the floor in an English manor who would go into the house at night or when no one was around to get the things they needed to live. A darling story of survival, adventure, parenting, and friendship this series takes the reader on an adventure into a world that we sometimes may think really exists. Written for the older tween, girls (and boys) will love the spunkiness and curiosity Arrietty has for the world beyond the one typically reserved to Borrowers.
Welcome to Dog Beach: The Seagate Summers Book One (Lisa Greenwald) – The first in a new series from Lisa Greenwald, Welcome to Dog Beach explores common experiences tweens have as they get older. Life events happen that change the routine, friends change, places change. But it’s not always easy, as 11-year old Remy find out. That doesn’t stop her from trying to recapture the magical experiences she had in Seagate, where she spent her summers.
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson (Bette Bao Lord) – Young girls will understand the struggles of making new friends. This humorous but poignant story about a young girl from China who moves to Brooklyn in the late 1940s is a thoughtful story about trying to fit in while staying true to your values. Shirley (her American name) just wants to fit in but she knows very little about American culture, making it more difficult for her. Her interest and love of baseball becomes the common ground.
Hana’s Suitcase (Karen Levine) – A unique perspective of the Holocaust that many tweens will find captivating. The book is not just another story about a girl who died in the Holocaust. Instead, it’s a story of a Japanese woman’s effort to find out who Hana was when the suitcase arrives in Tokyo to be part of the new Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Center.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children) (Ransom Riggs) – Part photography, part novel, Mr. Riggs creates a story kids will find captivating. An adventure tale with twists and turns, the books uses quirky photos to draw in the reader and stories to keep them in the stories of the children shown in the photos. When Jacob ends up on the island his grandfather grew up on, he finds the children in the photos despite them having died many years ago. For kids who like fantasy and stories that keep them entertained and wanting more, this book will fit the bill. Once they’re done with this one, they’ll likely want Hollow City (The second novel about Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children).
Wonder (R. J. Palacio) – In her debut novel, Palacio not only tells the story of Auggie, a 5th grader who enters pubic school for the first time after being homeschooled because of his parent’s concern over how he looks, but that of others who meet Auggie for the first time. For tweens trying to navigate the challenges of late elementary this gives them an insight about themselves and others they may not have considered.
The Tail of Emily Windsnap (Liz Kessler) – How many girls have thought of being a mermaid? Emily has a secret and she has to figure out how to deal with it while trying to figure out why she has this special affliction. It’s an entertaining, light read although the characters are somewhat one-dimensional. This is a book that most adults don’t rate well but tween girls love it! Sometimes there’s more to a book than perfect grammar and believable situations.
I hope your kids find these books entertaining and interesting. Many of them would be great for tween boys too. But since I only have a girl, I’ll stick with what I know. Keep in mind that some may have themes or imagery that may not be for every child. I’m always looking for new books for BabyGirl, so feel free to leave a comment with your suggestions!
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