Skip to content
Al Capone Does My Shirts

Good Books for 12 & 13 Year Olds

The tween years are full of excitement, change and looking forward to the future. Leaving childhood behind can be a scary prospect, but there are some wonderful books to take along on this journey. Check out these great reads for tweens.


Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
Jenny D. Says: Al Capone Does My Shirts
Amazon Says: Moose Flannagan moves with his family to Alcatraz so his dad can work as a prison guard and his sister, Natalie, can attend a special school.  But Natalie has autism, and whe more...
Amazon Says: Moose Flannagan moves with his family to Alcatraz so his dad can work as a prison guard and his sister, Natalie, can attend a special school.  But Natalie has autism, and when she's denied admittance to the school, the stark setting of Alcatraz begins to unravel the tenuous coping mechanisms Moose's family has used for dealing with her disorder. When Moose meets Piper, the cute daughter of the Warden, he knows right off she's trouble.  But she's also strangely irresistible.  All Moose wants to do is protect Natalie, live up to his parents' expectations, and stay out of trouble.  But on Alcatraz, trouble is never very far away. Set in 1935, when guards actually lived on Alcatraz Island with their families.  Choldenko's second novel brings humor to the complexities of family dynamics and illuminates the real struggle of a kid trying to free himself from the "good boy" stance he's taken his whole life. less...
Amazon


Jenny D. Says: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Amazon Says: A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a kno more...
Amazon Says: A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be. less...
Amazon


Jenny D. Says: Artemis Fowl
Amazon Says: Artemis Fowl is going straight. As soon as he pulls off the most brilliant criminal feat of his career. At least, that’s the plan when he attempts to sell his C Cube, a sup more...
Amazon Says: Artemis Fowl is going straight. As soon as he pulls off the most brilliant criminal feat of his career. At least, that’s the plan when he attempts to sell his C Cube, a supercomputer built from stolen fairy technology. When his efforts to broker a deal for the Cube with a powerful businessman go terribly wrong, his loyal bodyguard and friend Butler is mortally injured. The only thing that will save him is fairy magic, so once again he must contact his old rival, Holly Short.  It’s going to take a miracle to save Butler, and Artemis’s luck may have just run out. less...
Amazon


Jenny D. Says: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Amazon Says: Berlin 1942 When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must more...
Amazon Says: Berlin 1942 When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance. But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences. less...
Amazon


The Circuit by Francisco Jiménez
Jenny D. Says: The Circuit
Amazon Says: "'La frontera'...I heard it for the first time back in the late 1940s when Papa and Mama told me and Roberto, my older brother, that someday we would take a long trip north, c more...
Amazon Says: "'La frontera'...I heard it for the first time back in the late 1940s when Papa and Mama told me and Roberto, my older brother, that someday we would take a long trip north, cross la frontera, enter California, and leave our poverty behind." So begins this honest and powerful account of a family's journey to the fields of California -- to a life of constant moving, from strawberry fields to cotton fields, from tent cities to one-room shacks, from picking grapes to topping carrots and thinning lettuce. Seen through the eyes of a boy who longs for an education and the right to call one palce home, this is a story of survival, faith, and hope. It is a journey that will open readers' hearts and minds. less...
Amazon


Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Jenny D. Says: Counting By 7s
Amazon Says: A New York Times Bestseller. An AMAZON Best Book of the Year 2013.  A Kids' Indie Next List Top Ten Book-- #4, Best Books of Autumn 2013.  B.E.A. Buzz Book Award 201 more...
Amazon Says: A New York Times Bestseller. An AMAZON Best Book of the Year 2013.  A Kids' Indie Next List Top Ten Book-- #4, Best Books of Autumn 2013.  B.E.A. Buzz Book Award 2013.  A Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee 2014-2015 Master List.  A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year.  An E.B. White Read Aloud Honor Book. A Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award Nominee. In the tradition of Out of My Mind, Wonder, and Mockingbird, this is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family. Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn't kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.   Suddenly Willow's world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read. "In achingly beautiful prose, Holly Goldberg Sloan has written a delightful tale of transformation that's a celebration of life in all its wondrous, hilarious and confounding glory. Counting by 7s is a triumph."--Maria Semple, author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette "Holly Goldberg Sloan writes about belonging in a way I've never quite seen in any other book. This is a gorgeous, funny, and heartwarming novel that I'll never forget."--John Corey Whaley, author of Where Things Come Back "Willow Chance subtly drew me into her head and her life, so much so that I was holding my breath for her by the end. Holly Goldberg Sloan has created distinct characters who will stay with you long after you finish the book."--Sharon Creech, Newbery Award-winning author of Walk Two Moons   less...
Amazon


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Jenny D. Says: The Graveyard Book
Amazon Says: In this Newbery Medal-winning novel, Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place—he's the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, wer more...
Amazon Says: In this Newbery Medal-winning novel, Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place—he's the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians' time as well as their ghostly teachings—such as the ability to Fade so mere mortals cannot see him.Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead? And then there are being such as ghouls that aren't really one thing or the other.The Graveyard Book won the Newbery Medal and the Carnegie Medal and is a Hugo Award Winner for Best Novel.Supports the Common Core State Standards less...
Amazon


The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Jenny D. Says: The Hobbit
Amazon Says: THE GREATEST FANTASY EPIC OF OUR TIME Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who wanted to be left alone in quiet comfort. But the wizard Gandalf came along with a band of homeles more...
Amazon Says: THE GREATEST FANTASY EPIC OF OUR TIME Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who wanted to be left alone in quiet comfort. But the wizard Gandalf came along with a band of homeless dwarves. Soon Bilbo was drawn into their quest, facing evil orcs, savage wolves, giant spiders, and worse unknown dangers. Finally, it was Bilbo–alone and unaided–who had to confront the great dragon Smaug, the terror of an entire countryside . . . This stirring adventure fantasy begins the tale of the hobbits that was continued by J.R.R. Tolkien in his bestselling epic The Lord of the Rings. less...
Amazon


Jenny D. Says: Holes
Amazon Says: 10th Anniversary Edition Louis Sachar received great recognition for his groundbreaking story of Stanley Yelnats – a boy with a history of bad luck. As School Library Jou more...
Amazon Says: 10th Anniversary Edition Louis Sachar received great recognition for his groundbreaking story of Stanley Yelnats – a boy with a history of bad luck. As School Library Journal predicted in their starred review of the book when it was first published, “Kids will love Holes.” A decade later, the book is still quenching young readers’ thirst for a gripping story about a far-reaching family curse, friendship, adventure, endurance, and, finally, a generous helping of good karma.  Celebrate with this special 10th Anniversary Edition, which includes portraits of the author as a little brother (by his big brother), as a husband (by his wife), and as a father (by his daughter), along with photos and Louis Sachar’s 1999 Newbery acceptance speech. Vladimir Radunsky, who created the original iconoclastic cover illustration, has made new art from the familiar images. Wrapped in an acetate jacket, this edition is an appealing package that will be equally welcome in public, school, or home libraries.  Holes is a 1998 New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of the Year and the winner of the 1998 National Book Award for Young People's Literature, the 1999 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Fiction and the 1999 Newbery Medal. less...
Amazon


Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt
Jenny D. Says: Homecoming
Amazon Says: The iconic start to the timeless, Newbery-winning series from Cynthia Voigt is repackaged with a fresh new look. “It’s still true.” That’s the first thing Jam more...
Amazon Says: The iconic start to the timeless, Newbery-winning series from Cynthia Voigt is repackaged with a fresh new look. “It’s still true.” That’s the first thing James Tillerman says to his older sister, Dicey, every morning. It’s still true that their mother has abandoned the four Tillermans in a mall parking lot somewhere in the middle of Connecticut. It’s still true that they have to find their own way to Great-aunt Cilla’s house in Bridgeport. It’s still true that they need to spend as little as possible on food and seek shelter anywhere that is out of view of the authorities. It’s still true that the only way they can hope to all stay together is to just keep moving forward. Deep down, Dicey hopes they can find someone to trust, someone who will take them in and love them. But she’s afraid it’s just too much to hope for....  less...
Amazon


Jenny D. Says: Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key
Amazon Says: Joey Pigza can't sit still. He can't pay attention, he can't follow the rules, and he can't help it -- especially when his meds aren't working. Joey's had problems ever since more...
Amazon Says: Joey Pigza can't sit still. He can't pay attention, he can't follow the rules, and he can't help it -- especially when his meds aren't working. Joey's had problems ever since he was born, problems just like his dad and grandma have. And whether he's wreaking havoc on a class trip or swallowing his house key, Joey's problems are getting worse. In fact, his behavior is so off the wall that his teachers are threatening to send him to the special-ed center downtown.Joey knows he's really a good kid, but no matter how hard he tries to do the right thing, something always seems to go wrong. Will he ever get anything right? less...
Amazon


The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
Jenny D. Says: The Lions of Little Rock
Amazon Says: Two girls separated by race form an unbreakable bond during the tumultuous integration of Little Rock schools in 1958 Twelve-year-old Marlee doesn't have many friends until more...
Amazon Says: Two girls separated by race form an unbreakable bond during the tumultuous integration of Little Rock schools in 1958 Twelve-year-old Marlee doesn't have many friends until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Liz is bold and brave, and always knows the right thing to say, especially to Sally, the resident mean girl. Liz even helps Marlee overcome her greatest fear - speaking, which Marlee never does outside her family. But then Liz is gone, replaced by the rumor that she was a Negro girl passing as white. But Marlee decides that doesn't matter. Liz is her best friend. And to stay friends, Marlee and Liz are willing to take on integration and the dangers their friendship could bring to both their families. less...
Amazon


The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Jenny D. Says: The Little Prince
Amazon Says: Few stories are as widely read and as universally cherished by children and adults alike as The Little Prince. Richard Howard's translation of the beloved classic beautifully more...
Amazon Says: Few stories are as widely read and as universally cherished by children and adults alike as The Little Prince. Richard Howard's translation of the beloved classic beautifully reflects Saint-Exupéry's unique and gifted style. Howard, an acclaimed poet and one of the preeminent translators of our time, has excelled in bringing the English text as close as possible to the French, in language, style, and most important, spirit. The artwork in this edition has been restored to match in detail and in color Saint-Exupéry's original artwork. Combining Richard Howard's translation with restored original art, this definitive English-language edition of The Little Prince will capture the hearts of readers of all ages. This title has been selected as a Common Core Text Exemplar (Grades 4-5, Stories). less...
Amazon


Oddballs by William Sleator
Jenny D. Says: Oddballs
Amazon Says: The author of The Spirit House recounts his humorous childhood antics with his siblings--Vicky, Danny, and Tycho--as the four mischievous children concoct amusing schemes, s more...
Amazon Says: The author of The Spirit House recounts his humorous childhood antics with his siblings--Vicky, Danny, and Tycho--as the four mischievous children concoct amusing schemes, such as the time Bill and Vicky rig the neighborhood piano recital. less...
Amazon


Jenny D. Says: The Race to Save the Lord God Bird
Amazon Says: The tragedy of extinction is explained through the dramatic story of a legendary bird, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, and of those who tried to possess it, paint it, shoot it, s more...
Amazon Says: The tragedy of extinction is explained through the dramatic story of a legendary bird, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, and of those who tried to possess it, paint it, shoot it, sell it, and, in a last-ditch effort, save it. A powerful saga that sweeps through two hundred years of history, it introduces artists like John James Audubon, bird collectors like William Brewster, and finally a new breed of scientist in Cornell's Arthur A. "Doc" Allen and his young ornithology student, James Tanner, whose quest to save the Ivory-bill culminates in one of the first great conservation showdowns in U.S. history, an early round in what is now a worldwide effort to save species. As hope for the Ivory-bill fades in the United States, the bird is last spotted in Cuba in 1987, and Cuban scientists join in the race to save it. All this, plus Mr. Hoose's wonderful story-telling skills, comes together to give us what David Allen Sibley, author of The Sibley Guide to Birds calls "the most thorough and readable account to date of the personalities, fashions, economics, and politics that combined to bring about the demise of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker." The Race to Save the Lord God Bird is the winner of the 2005 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Nonfiction and the 2005 Bank Street - Flora Stieglitz Award. less...
Amazon


Jenny D. Says: The Ruby in the Smoke
Amazon Says: In search of clues to the mystery of her father's death, 16-year-old Sally Lockhart ventures into the shadowy underworld of Victorian London. Pursued by villains at every turn more...
Amazon Says: In search of clues to the mystery of her father's death, 16-year-old Sally Lockhart ventures into the shadowy underworld of Victorian London. Pursued by villains at every turn, the intrepid Sally finally uncovers two dark mysteries--and realizes that she herself is the key to both. "In Dickensian fashion, Pullman tells the story of 16-year-old Sally Lockhart, who becomes involved in a deadly web of events as she searches for a mysterious ruby. The novel is a page turner, peopled with despicable hags, forthright heroes, and children living on the underbelly of 19th-century London. The story's events are exciting, with involved plotting. Settings and characterizations are exquisitely drawn. The first entry in a planned trilogy."--(starred) Booklist. Reading level: 6.7.   less...
Amazon


Shug by Jenny Han
Jenny D. Says: Shug
Amazon Says: SHUG is clever and brave and true (on the inside, anyway). And she's about to become your new best friend. Annemarie Wilcox, or Shug as her family calls her, is be more...
Amazon Says: SHUG is clever and brave and true (on the inside, anyway). And she's about to become your new best friend. Annemarie Wilcox, or Shug as her family calls her, is beginning to think there's nothing worse than being twelve. She's too tall, too freckled, and way too flat-chested. Shug is sure that there's not one good or amazing thing about her. And now she has to start junior high, where the friends she counts most dear aren't acting so dear anymore -- especially Mark, the boy she's known her whole life through. Life is growing up all around her, and all Shug wants is for things to be like they used to be. How is a person supposed to prepare for what happens tomorrow when there's just no figuring out today? less...
Amazon


Skellig by David Almond
Jenny D. Says: Skellig
Amazon Says: David Almond’s Printz Honor–winning novel is a captivating modern classic. Ten-year-old Michael was looking forward to moving into a new house. But now his baby sister is more...
Amazon Says: David Almond’s Printz Honor–winning novel is a captivating modern classic. Ten-year-old Michael was looking forward to moving into a new house. But now his baby sister is ill, his parents are frantic, and Doctor Death has come to call. Michael feels helpless. Then he steps into the crumbling garage. . . . What is this thing beneath the spiderwebs and dead flies? A human being, or a strange kind of beast never before seen? The only person Michael can confide in is his new friend, Mina. Together they carry the creature out into the light, and Michael’s world changes forever. . . . less...
Amazon


Slob by Ellen Potter
Jenny D. Says: Slob
Amazon Says: Twelve-year-old Owen Birnbaum is the fattest kid in school. But he?s also a genius who invents cool contraptions? like a TV that shows the past. Something happened two years a more...
Amazon Says: Twelve-year-old Owen Birnbaum is the fattest kid in school. But he?s also a genius who invents cool contraptions? like a TV that shows the past. Something happened two years ago that he needs to see. But genius or not, there is much Owen can?t outthink. Like his gym coach, who?s on a mission to humiliate him. Or the way his Oreos keep disappearing from his lunch. He?s sure that if he can only get the TV to work, things will start to make sense. But it will take a revelation for Owen, not science, to see the answer?s not in the past, but the present. That no matter how large he is on the outside, he doesn?t have to feel small on the inside. With her trademark humor, Ellen Potter has created a larger-than-life character and story whose weight is immense when measured in heart. less...
Amazon


Son by Lois Lowry
Jenny D. Says: Son
Amazon Says: They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vesse more...
Amazon Says: They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive?  She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice. Son thrusts readers once again into the chilling world of the Newbery Medal winning book, The Giver, as well as Gathering Blue and Messenger where a new hero emerges. In this thrilling series finale, the startling and long-awaited conclusion to Lois Lowry’s epic tale culminates in a final clash between good and evil. less...
Amazon


Sounder by William H. Armstrong
Jenny D. Says: Sounder
Amazon Says: Set in the Deep South, this Newbery Medal-winning novel tells the story of the great coon dog, Sounder, and the poor sharecroppers who own him. During the difficult years of t more...
Amazon Says: Set in the Deep South, this Newbery Medal-winning novel tells the story of the great coon dog, Sounder, and the poor sharecroppers who own him. During the difficult years of the nineteenth century South, an African-American boy and his poor family rarely have enough to eat. Each night, the boy's father takes their dog, Sounder, out to look for food and the man grows more desperate by the day. When food suddenly appears on the table one morning, it seems like a blessing. But the sheriff and his deputies are not far behind. The ever-loyal Sounder remains determined to help the family he loves as hard times bear down on them.This classic novel shows the courage, love, and faith that bind an African-American family together despite the racism and inhumanity they face. Readers who enjoy timeless dog stories such as Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows will find much to love in Sounder.Supports the Common Core State Standards less...
Amazon


Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
Jenny D. Says: Stormbreaker
Amazon Says: They told him his uncle died in an accident. He wasn't wearing his seatbelt, they said. But when fourteen-year-old Alex finds his uncle's windshield riddled with bullet hole more...
Amazon Says: They told him his uncle died in an accident. He wasn't wearing his seatbelt, they said. But when fourteen-year-old Alex finds his uncle's windshield riddled with bullet holes, he knows it was no accident. What he doesn't know yet is that his uncle was killed while on a top-secret mission. But he is about to, and once he does, there is no turning back. Finding himself in the middle of terrorists, Alex must outsmart the people who want him dead. The government has given him the technology, but only he can provide the courage. Should he fail, every child in England will be murdered in cold blood. The first in a thrilling new series by British writer Anthony Horowitz, Stormbreaker will have pulses racing from start to finish. less...
Amazon


Jenny D. Says: The Wall
Amazon Says: A NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER “I was born at the beginning of it all, on the Red side—the Communist side—of the Iron Curtain.” Through annotated illustrations, journal more...
Amazon Says: A NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER “I was born at the beginning of it all, on the Red side—the Communist side—of the Iron Curtain.” Through annotated illustrations, journals, maps, and dreamscapes, Peter Sís shows what life was like for a child who loved to draw, proudly wore the red scarf of a Young Pioneer, stood guard at the giant statue of Stalin, and believed whatever he was told to believe. But adolescence brought questions. Cracks began to appear in the Iron Curtain, and news from the West slowly filtered into the country. Sís learned about beat poetry, rock ’n’ roll, blue jeans, and Coca-Cola. He let his hair grow long, secretly read banned books, and joined a rock band. Then came the Prague Spring of 1968, and for a teenager who wanted to see the world and meet the Beatles, this was a magical time. It was short-lived, however, brought to a sudden and brutal end by the Soviet-led invasion. But this brief flowering had provided a glimpse of new possibilities—creativity could be discouraged but not easily killed.   By joining memory and history, Sís takes us on his extraordinary journey: from infant with paintbrush in hand to young man borne aloft by the wings of his art. The Wall is a 2007 New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year, a 2008 Caldecott Honor Book, a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year, the winner of the 2008 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Nonfiction, and a nominee for the 2008 Eisner Award for Best Publication for Kids. less...
Amazon


Watership Down: A Novel by Richard Adams
Jenny D. Says: Watership Down
Amazon Says: A phenomenal worldwide bestseller for more than forty years, Richard Adams's Watership Down is a timeless classic and one of the most beloved novels of all time. Set in Englan more...
Amazon Says: A phenomenal worldwide bestseller for more than forty years, Richard Adams's Watership Down is a timeless classic and one of the most beloved novels of all time. Set in England's Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage, and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of brothers, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society. less...
Amazon

Print

Comment about this page...