Great books for 8-12 year olds

If you’re anything like me, you like to buy or download books just for your holiday. There they sit, tempting you to just read the first few lines. If you succumb, they are somehow spoilt and you then have an overwhelming desire to get something brand new to replace it…well that’s me anyway.

With children, it can be just as perilous a decision – get the right book and they’ll be absorbed, captivated and put away all non-reading related electronic devices. Get it wrong and the book goes back in the travel bag and is there two weeks later as you unpack.

Below are some of the children’s books which have captured my imagination and which should remain firmly outside travel bags, coming home dog-eared and covered in sun cream!

Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver

(Adventure – first of the The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series)wolf_brother1-200x315

12 year old Torak and his adopted wolf-cub live 6,000 years ago in a world of clans and magic. They set off on a perilous journey to save their group and the world. If you like wolves, fantasy, magic and learning about the ancient world, you’ll love this story. There is lots of information and research and interesting detail.







Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Atemis Fowl(Crime and adventure with a character that children love. First in a series.)

Imagine being a 12 year old criminal. That’s Artemis Fowl! With his family’s fortune gone, Artemis and his butler plan to steal all of the gold in fairy land. A funny, exciting and imaginative adventure story.






Uncle Gob and the Dread Shed by Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen's Latest Book

Michael Rosen’s Latest Book

(Comedy with great illustrations)

 Michael Rosen tells the hilarious story of Malcolm, his mother Tess and the intensely irritating Uncle Gobb. Fed up with his bossy Uncle, Malcolm and his friend Crackersnacker plot to get rid of Uncle Gobb. If you like Michael Rosen’s wacky, fun style and enjoy great illustrations, this book is for you!






Bubble Wrap Boy by Phil Earle

bubblewrapboy(Being different. Finding your special skill)

Much smaller than the rest of his class, living above a Chinese takeaway, Charlie Han doesn’t have an easy life. He has an overbearing, overprotective mum and a silent, conciliatory dad. His only friend is Sinus (Linus) whose big nose also makes him an outcast. Charlie is clumsy and a regular participant of the school ‘walk of shame’ and this seems to be his lot until he finds something that he might be good at. The only problem is that his mum can never find out what it is…

The Bubble Wrap Boy is a story of secrets, dreams and forgiveness. It is funny, quirky, sad and thought-provoking and has made my children think about that one thing that they could be really good at!


Running on the Cracks by Julia Donaldson

Runningonthecrack(Multi-perspective story that deals with teenage issues)

Leo is a half-English, half-Chinese girl who is on the run. She is an orphan with an uncle who seems to have inappropriate ideas about her. Running away appears to be her only option. For young teenagers, Julia Donaldson deals with difficult subjects such as mental illness, friendships and trust in a sensitive and down to earth manner.






The Last Wild by Piers Torday

First book in Piers Torday's Trilogy(Fantasy/Action Adventure)

In a bleak world, where we believe no animals exist, we meet Kester, a 12-year-old boy who lives in a home for disturbed children. There are no natural food sources and a large corporation runs everything. Kester doesn’t really know why he’s been here for the past six years, but when a flock of pigeons and a cockroach start talking to him, he is convinced that he’s gone mad. With their help Kester escapes and is taken to the last surviving group of animals in the land. He must decide to help find a cure to the disease, which has wiped out most of the animal kingdom or use the animals to find his way home. This is an unusual, emotional, action-packed human tale, which will make children ask questions of themselves. It is the first part of a trilogy. The Dark Wild and The Wild Beyond complete the trilogy.




Skellig by David Almond


(Fantasy, magic and family)



The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

The-Subtle-Knife(Adventure and Fantasy. Second of a Trilogy)

Having been pulled along on the terrifying and break-neck speed adventures of 12 year old Lyra Belacqua in the first of Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy, The Subtle Knife takes over at just as fast a pace! This time the story is of Will who is on the run after killing a man. As he attempts to find his father, he discovers a different world with Lyra, her daemon and her quest to find the elusive Dark Matter. It’s a great story with lots of adventure, drama and peril. Lyra is one of my favourite characters in any book.



The Box & the Dragonfly by Ted Sanders

The Keepers


When Horace Andrews is sitting on the bus and sees his name on a sign, he decides to investigate. His curiosity leads him to discover an underground cellar of secrets, called the House of Answers – except Horace unearths more questions than answers! He meets Chloe and her dragonfly and they are soon catapulted into a world of magic that has some scientific basis. Despite its 544 pages, this book is hard to put down with real and familiar characters. Enjoyable for both children and adults.



The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone


This is the story of 12-year-old Moll, who lives in The Ancientwood with her adopted family. Moll isn’t sure of her past, but knows that someone or something is trying to control her dreams. In her gypsy camp home, she discovers that the drums, rattles and masks in her dreams, now exist in her daytime life. She doesn’t know that she is the only one who can beat the Dreamsnatcher as she and her wildcat companion, Gryff, are pulled into a face-paced, hair-raising adventure. Children will fall in love with the wild, but caring Moll and be right along side her and her friends Siddy and Alfie as they search for the truth. The next in the trilogy is The Shadowkeeper.




The Spy who loved School Dinners by Pamela Butchart


Winner of the Blue Peter Best Book award 2015, this is a diary-style, funny story with secret plans and crazy stunts. Izzy is delighted that she has been chosen to look after new French girl, Matilde. Izzy and her friends can’t wait to show her their secret den and give her their advice on how to avoid the ‘poison’ that is school dinners. However, when they discover that Matilde actually likes school dinners, they decide that she must be some sort of spy who is after all of their secrets. This is a fun, easy read for the lower end of the age range.




The Silly Book of Side-Splitting Stuff by Andy Seed



Winner of the Blue Peter Best Book with Facts award 2015, this is a perfect book to take on holiday with masses of laugh-out-loud silly facts, jokes, lists and true stories. For those who are not so keen on fiction, this book gives great information on silly animals, people, inventions, names, words and even suggests silly stuff to do! Andy Seed also gives some examples of silly pranks, sports disasters and awful predictions. A great book to pull out on a long car journey.


I always have a list of ‘books to read’ and will post reviews on these when I’ve had chance to read them (my holiday bag is full!). You may want to have a look at them and if you’ve any comments, drop me a line.

The Sword of Kuromori by Jason Rohan (Action)

Tinder by Sally Gardner (Mystical World)

The Winter Horses by Philip Kerr (World War II/ Horses)

Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen (Family Drama/ Sci-Fi Dystopia)

The Butterfly Club by Jacqueline Wilson (Friendship/ Confidence)

Wonder by R.J Palacio (Being Different)

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (Living with Dyslexia)

The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein (Books coming to life)