“No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.” C.S. Lewis

This may seem like a regular post, but it’s not.  This is a community post, where I start the conversation and you jump in with your awesome two cents!

Summer Reading for Tweens and their parents! via lifeingrace

I LOVE talking books with you because you are the smartest, most thoughtful readers in the world.  I’ve included my best books for tweens list but by the end of the day, I hope to have a list just as large of books you love for your tweens.  I’ll add it below mine and link to you to give you credit!


The kids and I all headed down to the dock yesterday with one goal in mind—to sit by the water and read.  It was too windy for boating and we were too lazy for swimming, but the weather was perfect reading.  (I’m not sure if there’s bad weather for reading!) The best part?  Discussing our books at random intervals throughout the afternoon.  One of the best ways to spend your summer is inside the covers of great books.  Since my girls are on the cusp of being teens, my time to influence their reading is quickly disappearing.  But, for now, while they’re still here, this is one of the best ways I can teach them—by letting the great books teach them.

Here’s what I recommend with my whole heart—no matter what age your kids are, read aloud to them.  The sitting, the snuggling, the words, the birds chirping in distant trees?  It’s all magical and it doesn’t have end when they can read to themselves.  Absolutely the best memories I have with my kids (other than nursing them) is reading aloud with them.  If you haven’t been in the habit of this, it will seem awkward, both to you and your 13 year old.  But read on through the awkwardness and the magic will start to happen, I promise.  Here’s are some of my favorite books to read aloud to tweens…..

Now, that’s my starting list, but feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments.  My girls read lots of books (mostly popular fiction) besides these, but these are the ones that I have read or plan on reading aloud with them.  These are timeless stories that adults love as much as kids.  And with classics, everyone is getting an education in expert sentence structure and grammar.  For the WIN!



Now, it’s your turn.

What great books would you add to the list for the tweens among us?

Edited to Add:  Here’s the list I’ll be working on today, compiled by the stellar lifeingrace readers:  (I have linked to those that have blogs!)


77 comments on “Summer Reading for Tweens {and their parents}”

  1. Don’t just stop with Anne of Green Gables, go all the way through the 8 books about Anne Shirley, you won’t be sorry. These were my favorite books as a child. It took me two years of school days (but could be doable in summer) to get throught these.

  2. My teenage boy & I loved The Fault In Our Stars (new movie out this past weekend, but read the book first!) and The Book Thief. I loved reading To Kill A Mockingbird out loud to my son when he had a concussion, too. Your choices are great!!

    • I am curious about this. All the kids seem into this book and movie right now. But in the movie, they glorify sex before marriage. Obviously in my Christian eyes, not a good thing. Obviously in the eyes of Hollywood….a must for a movie seller. Is this how it is portrayed in the book too? And if so, how did you handle it with your teenager? So hard.

      • As a parent, I didn’t think that sex before marriage was “glorified” in the book. I admittedly have not seen the movie yet to defend it. I thought that the book handled that, as well as other topics, in a very mature and delicate way. Since my daughter (13) and I both read it, we were able to discuss it openly. Considering that the two characters have such a short time left, I felt like it was up to them (and the author who created them)to handle that. There would literally be no long term consequences since neither of them has a long term left to speak of. I really felt like my toes had been stepped on earlier this year when another parent called us out for not being parents if we let our kids read this, because of this ONE scene you reference. Like I said, we both read it and were able to discuss openly.

  3. Great picks, agreed! Also The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall, Meet the Austins by Madeline L’Engle, The Mysterious Benedict Society trilogy by Trenton Lee Stewart, Nancy Drew series, Hardy Boys series, Great Expectations and David Copperfield by Charles Dickens and Les Miserables by Victor Hugo and of course, all Jane Austen.

    • My kids loved all these. I seem to remember bawling my eyes out over Where the Red Fern Grows. I also really liked The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and Jacob Have I Loved. My daughters enjoyed The Midwife’s Apprentice~and all Karen Cushman’s other books. My son read all the H.I.V.E. books. Probably not classics, but he sure enjoyed them. (and books for teen guys are harder to find!)

  4. They aren’t classics but me and my girls loved reading The Hunger Games trilogy together. We also love Harry Potter and have re-read it several times. The Harry Potter books on tape are some of my favorite, the reader adds so much to the story.

  5. I second The Penderwicks series. I also really loved Code Name Verity although that is solidly a teen book not a tween book. Wonder is also a good one. Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan and anything by Rick Riordan were favorites of my son. The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins (of Hunger Games fame) is a middle grade series that my kids (boys and girls both) loved. Fablehaven is another good fantasy series featuring a brother and sister pair as well.

    I will also plug the audio versions of all of these books. Even if you are only riding around town or taking 30 minutes here or there, the minutes add up. The audio readers are wonderful, they are a good resource for reluctant readers, and help expand your child’s vocabulary. Besides all this, your kids will be quiet in the car!

    • Thought of some more: City of Ember books were thought provoking, Dealing with Dragons series has positive female roles in a princess book, loved the Aurora County All Stars/Every Little Bird That Sings series, Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is awesome on audio. I could go on and on!

  6. Please add the Emily of New Moon series, also by L.M. Montgomery. Fabulous stories that chronicle the triumphs and tribulations of sweet and stubborn Emily and her very interesting extended family! Incidentally, there’s a great DVD collection by the same name produced as a television series in Canada — but like any great story be sure to read the books, first!

  7. I second Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven. My kids are 11, 9 and 6 and we read to them every night. Some of my favorites: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane – Kate Dicamillo, The Sisters Grimm – Michael Buckley, HamishX. My girls are also reading tons of other books as well. There is a plethora of fabulous kids authors out right now. It a great time to be a reader.

  8. Miss Edie,

    I’m so thankful you are such a great supporter of C. S. Lewis for this generation. He has so much to offer old and young alike.

  9. The Saturdays, The Four Story Mistake, and Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright were some of my favorite books as a young girl, and I still read them every now and again at 50!

    Seconding the other LM Montgomery books and putting in a shout out to my darling Jane of Lantern Hill!. (Pat and Mistress Pat are my favorite of hers, even more so than Anne, but I do love Anne as well)

    Do you have An Old Fashioned Girl, by Ms Alcott? So perfect, even 150 years later.

    I read Christy by Catherine Marshall at their age, but I know nowadays people think kids are too young for things that I did/read at the same age.

    I enjoyed books about historical figures…Johnny Tremain, Molly Pitcher, Frances Marion the Swamp Fox, Justin Morgan Had A Horse, etc

    The Witch of Blackbird Pond

    White Ghost Summer (Shirley Rousseau Murphy)

    Harriet the Spy ( I know I loved this as a child, but all I can remember about it is that she loved tomato sandwiches!)

    Lastly, these aren’t children’s books per se, but Alan Bradley has a series of murder mysteries out with a ten year old heroine named Flavia de Luce. There is nothing violent about them at all, other than the necessary corpse, and I adore them.

    • I read Christy aloud to my younger daughter and skipped the parts she wouldn’t understand. She loved it.

      For boys, the Little Britches series of books by Ralph Moody are our favorite read alouds. My daughter and I loved them, too.

  10. They might not be as age appropriate (perhaps a little older) but the Miss Read books are so charming. I guess they aren’t really tween but might be read a louds.

  11. As mentioned, Christy by Catherine Marshall, is wonderful. I also love her book Julie. She did such a great job bringing historical events to life and relating them to a young girls perspective.

  12. along with The Secret Garden, try A Little Princess by the same author – really fantastic. My new favorites (and my 10 year old son’s as well!) are the Hunter Brown series by the Miller Brothers. They are Christian allegories and so well done. There are 3 books with a promise of a 4th.

  13. This is a stellar list, Edie. I would add Jane Eyre (which I fell in love with in 8th grade) and Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, which is a chilling read for any book lover.

  14. You have to read the Little Britches series by Ralph Moody! Boys and girls (young and old) love these books based on the author’s life. Also highly recommend Gene Stratton Porter’s books–especially A Girl of the Limberlost and Freckles. All are perfect read-aloud books. My grown kids say the best memories of their childhood are the afternoons we spent passing a book around sharing turns reading out loud!

  15. Edie, If you have a chance I would be interested in gender neutral recommendations for kids ages 5-7. Thanks so much!

    • I have a 5 year old boy and a 7 year old girl. We enjoy reading many of the same books together that have been listed. When my girl was 5, I started reading the first 7 Little House books to her and her brother. It took us over a year to finish. This year did The Secret Garden on audio book (Focus on the Family is the version we chose) and Anne of Green Gables (also Focus on the Family version). We also listened to their version of Chronicles of Narnia.
      We just finished reading aloud Faraway Summer by Hurwitz and today started The Mysterious Benedict Society. When we finish one book, I often browse book lists like this one to find a new book to read aloud.
      When we ran out of audio books at our library, we chose The Story of Our World vol. 1 to listen to. And we have repeated some of our favorite books on tape. Some of the ones we listened to are Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, Our Only May Amelia (I did skip a chapter of the story on this one), Pippi Longstocking, and A Faraway Island (Thor), and many of the American Girl books.
      I really like reading the books and we are always reading one at home, but getting to listen to some in the car is a good thing, too. We stop sometimes and talk about what happened or we’ll discuss it later on. I would like to read some of the ones that we listened to on tape aloud to them, and likely will at some point.
      I hope this list helped!

  16. Somehow my husband and I (who always have our nose in a book) have one child who finds reading difficult. We always sign up for our libraries summer reading program and I really appreciate all the great ideas.

    For girls I second the entire Anne of Green Gables series and for younger readers the “Little House” series.

    We are currently reading James Herriot’s series “All Creatures Great and Small”. Perfect for animal lovers. There is also a BBC series available on Netflix instant.

  17. Ha, ha. Great minds think alike. 🙂 I did a similar post this morning. Some of our favorite classic read alouds for summer. Also, other ways to have a fabulous summer with your kids. I guess we have been and always will be an eternal homeschool house. Funny that we bonded back in 2008 over the classical homeschool method and today our lists are quite similar. Love ya. Don’t work too hard this summer friend!

  18. Great list!! We’ve read most all of those you’ve listed. As for watching Pride and Prejudice, I recommend the A&E version, it goes almost exactly by the book. However, it is 5 hours long but worth every minute of it 🙂

  19. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, Call of the Wild, and I second the suggestion of The Secret Garden. And I am eagerly awaiting the day I can start read alouds of the Narnia series to my kiddos (my oldest is just now 7, so I think I might wait a year or two for that.) But it doesn’t mean I can’t re-read them for myself this summer : )
    Great suggestions here, Edie! Thank you!

  20. my kiddos adored ‘from the mixed up files of mrs. basil e. frankweiler’ by e.l. konigsburg as well as ‘little women’ by louisa may alcott. my girls spend the summer with their dad and his family over 1000 miles away from us and this year we are using our own ‘book club’ as a way of staying connected daily. read on, my friend!

  21. I love most of your list! I know there are always likes and dislikes ( you can’t please everyone, right?) especially with a bunch of book lovers, haha! With that said, I would caution readers to peruse The Giver for themselves before offering it to their youth. I wouldn’t say that I/m especially sensitive and it was highly disturbing to me. I know it could foster great conversation IF you are reading it together and are taking the time to converse about it, but if you aren’t, or have sensitive kids, I’d consider skipping this one.
    I tend to classics, so…
    I love all Austen, but Persuasion is my favorite of hers!
    Gene Stratton-Porter’s Freckles, A Girl of the Limberlost, and LAddie are all faves of mine as well.
    Anything LM Montgomery…especially her three series: Pat of Silver Bush, Anne of Green Gables, and Emily of New Moon.
    Swiss Family Robinson
    Cheaper by the Dozen
    Around the World in 80 Days
    The Hound of the Baskervilles
    Oliver Twist
    A Christmas Carol
    the Prince and the Pauper
    and on and on and on…

  22. Hurrah, you remembered!!!
    I’d second Little Britches – it’s a great read aloud. Also Watership Down by Adams is fantastic. Great conversation.

  23. Great list! I would add Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Vern, and Peter Pan by JM Barry. Yay for reading! 🙂

  24. In my former life as a teacher, my seventh-grade G/T students read Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli with me. Poignant and rich with life lessons. It’s perfect for kids who like historical fiction, especially holocaust-related stories.

  25. Love your list! My boys are not tweens yet (they are 8 and 6) but I have started reading to them the Mysterious Benedict Society series. My 8 year old is especially loving it! This summer I plan on reading to them from the Classic Starts series. We have already begun The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and after that we will move onto 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Treasure Island, Robin Hood, and King Arthur and His Knights. I love reading and I am really hoping that I can pass the love of it onto my boys!

  26. My girls love Little Women, Little House on the prairie, Anne of Green Gables, and the Secret Garden. My oldest loves Harry Potter. I’ve recently been adding books to my ‘tween’ board on Pinterest for my 11 year old-
    these suggestions will come in handy!

  27. I would add the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink, Charlotte’s Web by E.B.White, Earthsea series by Ursula K LeGuin,The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, and Grayson by Lynne Cox and Nancy Drew mysteries.

  28. I am reading the Little House on the Prairie series to my 10 year old. She loves it as do I! Definitely cherishing these times. 🙂 Can’t wait to read some of these great books listed here too!

  29. My boys loved My Side of the Mountain, Johnny Tremain and 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea. My daughter and I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Your selections are favorites as well.

  30. So many great works, so little time! Our list would also include The Cay by Theodore Taylor, Johnny Tremain, Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamilla, the Little House series, Little Women, The Children’s Homer, The Midwife’s Apprentice, A Wrinkle in Time, and Mrs. Frisbee and the Rats of NIMH. We are working our way through the list I posted on my blog the other day, and it has been the highlight of our summer. We were parched for some good literature!

  31. Have they read the Mysterious Benedict Society trilogy or the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series? And of course Lemony Snicket series. Each of these series has great audiobooks to go along, as does the Harry Potter series.

  32. “Daddy Long-Legs” by Jean Webster is utterly delightful … it’s a story told in letters, and in such an engaging narrative voice.

    Your girls may have already discovered the “Shoes” books by Noel Streatfeild; the best (in my opinion) are “Ballet Shoes” and “Dancing Shoes.”

    This is such a fun topic, by the way!

  33. The Adventure Series by Enid Blyton (Island of Adventure, Castle of Adventure,…)

    The Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins

  34. If you like The Secret Garden…you will love The Romeo & Juliet Code and Romeo Blue by Phoebe Stone. These books are mine and my daughters favorite and a joy to read aloud.

  35. My 9 year old son has been reading the Lemony Snicket series by himself and enjoying it. We have also read together the Prydain Chronicles, Wrinkle in Time, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (the children’s illustrated version) & Twenty One Balloons in the last year or so.

  36. We are reading “The Wingfeather saga” by Andrew Peterdon aloud, and we absolutely love it. I would highly recommend it if you’re a Lewis or Tolkein fan. We also love anything by Patricia St John (“tanglewood secrets” is our favorite). My girls love “all of a kind family”, “little princess”, “because of win Dixie”, “miraculous journey of Edward Tulane”, “Amos fortune free man”, and “wonder” and lots more but I’ll quit rambling. Thanks for this post 🙂

  37. I just left the library with my 3 boys ages 9,11 & 13. They are voracious readers but we left so stinkin’ frustrated. Our library needs a little work so finding what you are looking for gets discouraging. I could really use some help with suggestions for boys in this age range. We have done Chronicles of Narnia (LOVE. We actually read them once a year), Harry Potter (several times over, LOVE), Roald Dahl, are working on Tolkein. My boys have my curse (gift?) of contentedly reading a loved book over and over until we have to replace it due to use. I need to help them branch out. Any suggestions?

      • Chrystal I think my oldest has read those, I need to double check :). I know he has read everything ever written my Rick Riordan and the other two have all the Big Nate books and Diary of a Wimpy Kid…thank you for the suggestion!

    • I had some boy friendly suggestions above – City of Ember, Fablehaven, Gregor the Overlander, Ranger’s Apprentice, Percy Jackson books, Wonder.

      • Hatchet is also a good one – boy is lone survivor of plane crash in Canadian wilderness and figures out how to survive.

      • Susan we have read most of those but I think there are two we haven’t. thank you for the suggestions 🙂 I hadn’t thought about Hatchet, that’s a great one AND the oldest will be reading it for school so reading it now would be a bonus 🙂

    • Sabra, I have boys too – similar ages – and finding good reading material gets difficult. Look for N.D. Wilson. He has two book series – 100 Cupboards and Ashtown Burials, plus a few stand-alone novels. All excellent stories! Also Steven Lawhead has some books for tween boys, but not all his books are for teens. The Skin Map series is a good one by him and the Dragon King series. I love his other books too, but I think they are for older readers. One other series that we love is The Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. Fabulous!

      • Jenn, would love to hear your thoughts on Wilson’s “100 cupboards” series. My daughter read “leepike ridge” and loved it. She really wants to read his others but when I read reviews on 100 cupboards, grown adults were saying it was creepy and gave even them nightmares. She reads so fast I can’t read ahead of her and I am hesitant to just let her pick up a book and read that I don’t know a lot about. Thanks

  38. In addition to those mentioned above, I love The Wingfeather Series by Andrew Peterson (almost to the end of the last one 🙁 ), The Little Britches books by Ralph Moody, the books ‘Fiddler’s Gun’ and ‘Fiddler’s Green’ by A.S. Peterson (fun and imaginative stories of a girl sailor in the Revolutionary war), and and I am currently enjoying Spark Your Dreams by Candelaria & Herman Zapp (the true story of a young Argentinian couple who dream of quest to Alaska- quite an adventure). Good Stuff!

  39. I first read “Mandy” by Julie Andrews Edwards sometime around the third grade. It wasn’t until years later, when I tried to find it for my daughters that I discovered the author was THE ‘Julie Andrews’ of Mary Poppins and Sound of Music. My daughter initially refused to read it (just because her mother suggested it), but later admitted that it was one of her favorite books.

  40. “The Saturdays” and the other three in this series, by Elisabeth Enright. They’re really great for six through adults because the siblings are all those ages. Also, I didn’t look too hard at the existing list yet, but “Cheaper By the Dozen”… Excellent.

  41. Anything by E.L. Konigsburg, but especially “Jennifer, Hecate, MacBeth, William McKinley, and me, Elizabeth”, “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” and “The View from Saturday”.

  42. Circa Now by Tennessean, Amber McRee Turner. Her website with the story of why she wrote the book is a great place to start. (www.ambermcreeturner.com) Beautiful prose in Circa and a lovely dose of magical realism. (She’s my daughter but I’m completely unbiased, as all mothers are!) Edie, as I’ve read your words daily for a long time, I’ve thought how much you would enjoy hers.

  43. This post stirs up something inside of me that feels brimming to burst with joy! I am currently a Reading Specialist, but teaching 4th and 5th grade reading was my first love… There are SO MANY great books, and reading aloud was, is, and will always be my favorite part of the job. I highly suggest Where the Red Fern Grows… I cry every time! Of course, for something a bit more obscure, I would go with Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. It’s about a girl who has Cerebral Palsy and is nonverbal, yet the story is written through her thoughts and from her perspective. She is a dynamic character that the kids attach to, and it opens their eyes to different experiences and talents.

  44. Edie, your girls would love ‘Owls in the Family’ by Farley Mowat. In fact, I love most of his books. We read our kids Owls while camping by the river, and you can bet we spent the next days searching for owls’ nests! Actually, all of his books are good, give them a try!

  45. Loved perusing the recommendations above and will enjoy this post as a resource for myself and children, grandchildren! I would heartily recommend Cry the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton. I never read it in school, but I think it was on the high school reading list back in the 70’s. Written in 1948, it is a story of South Africa, a black Episcopal priest’s trip to Johannesburg to search for his missing son. The characters are beautifully expressed and compelling, the setting is a history lesson in itself, the story is tragic but hopeful and the faith and humility of the main character made my heart break.

  46. I see you listed The Giver. Did you know there are three more books, making it a series? I have read all but the last and they are wonderful. 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson is good too!

  47. Almost Super, Because of Mr Terupt, The Breadwinner, The Doll People, Inside Out and Back Again. So many awesome stories!

  48. DO HARD THINGS .. A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations… Read it with your kids… It will inspire you both to mark a difference, no matter what your age!….
    Kathy, a Sr. Rebelutionary

  49. Are you on goodreads? I have 6 daughters (one son) who are voracious readers and we have been keeping track of our reads for years. Some of our favorites that I didn’t see on your list

    Winter Cottage – Carol Ryrie Brink
    Silver Sword – Ian Serralier
    Red Scarf Girl-
    Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles -Edwards
    Mysterious Benedict Society – Stewart
    The Great and Terrible Quest- Lovett
    Children of the Covered Wagon- Coerr (??)
    Small Steps (the Year I got Polio)
    The First Chinese Daughter

    Really enjoying this thread! Thank you for initiating!

  50. There’s nothing like a good read-aloud! I teach 5th/6th grade and my students as well as my own kids at home LOVE these great-reads:
    How to Steal a Dog
    The True Confession of Charlotte Doyle
    The One and Only Ivan
    Out of My Mind
    Maniac Magee
    The Cay
    One for the Murphys
    A Long Walk to Water
    The Breadwinner
    Anything by Roald Dahl (The Witches & the BFG are favorites), Kate diCamillo, Jerry Spinelli
    …so many books…so little time…read to your kids as much as you can!!!

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