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10 Wonderful & Unknown Children’s Books for 12 Year Old Boys

At the age of 12 boys are really started to develop their own reading identity and will enjoy books that are more challenging, intricate and sophisticated. We’ve selected 10 children’s books that are packed full of adventure, spirit, action, thrills and intricate stories. From books that challenge prejudice such as ‘Heart of a Samurai’, to captivating adventure stories such as ‘The Door That Led to Where’ – every 12 year old boy will find it impossible to put them down.

The Start of a Whole New Adventure in Literature

After the first year of high school, homework, exams and literacy all seem to double in importance. Reluctant readers often find that this is a particularly difficult time. By sharing the right books for 12 year olds with your sons, you can engage them with literature and show them the wealth of fascinating characters, enticing worlds and intense drama that is to be found within the pages.

10. ‘Masterminds’ (Gordon Kormon, 2015)

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“What happens next is so shocking, so bizarre, that I’m sure I’m imagining it, delirious with pain. A loud, rhythmic roar swells around Randy and me, and strong winds whip down on us…”

Life for Eli Frieden is pretty idyllic, he knows that hardship exists in the world but it never affects the residents of Serenity, the pristine town in New Mexico where he lives. Life is perfect until Eli cycles too close to the city limits and sees a glimpse of something dark and dangerous.

After further investigation, Eli and his friends discover some shocking revelations and the flawless face of Serenity is not what it seems at all. What can they do and who can they turn to? Especially since their own parents seem to be caught up in the tangled web of deceit.

This is a gripping story that will reel you in from the start. The characters are full of life and humour, and there is a beautiful poignancy to the book without it being sentimental. A frank look at the human condition without being preachy or condescending.

An action-packed adventure of one boy’s shocking discovery.

9. ‘Secrets of The Terra-Cotta Soldier’ (Ying Chang Compestine & Vinson Compestine, 2014)

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“He struggled to conceal his excitement: A life-size clay torso lay among the clay arrowheads and disembodied clay limbs…”

This is a coming-of-age story with a difference, this book is rammed full of fascinating insights into Chinese history as well as a riveting tale that is set in the 1970s. When Ming’s father is convinced that Emperor Qin’s tomb is hidden in the nearby hills, he has to prove himself before he is taken to a hard labour camp.

This moving and engaging tale is enriched by anecdotes from Chinese history, communist photos from the 1970s, photos of the Great Wall and the terracotta soldiers themselves. It even includes a recipe that is mentioned in the story.

A unique and engaging novel that brings a fascinating time in history to life.

8. ‘Loot’ (Jude Watson, 2015)

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“No thief likes a full moon. Like mushrooms and owls, they do their best work in the dark…”

March’s father’s last dying words were “Find jewels!” which seemed like good advice, considering he was a professional cat burglar. However, he was talking about Jules, the twin sister March never knew he had. When the pair of them are sent to a horrendous orphanage they decide to break out and make their own living. Following their father’s pattern they embark on the most ambitious heist of all time, but will they get away with it? A funny and exciting story with a gentle and heart-warming message.

This is a vibrant, sassy and highly original novel that your children will find hard to put down. Fans of Watson’s books will be delighted to know that she also writes for young adults under the name Judy Blundell, so there are plenty more of her imaginative tales to explore once you’ve exhausted the Jude Watson collection.

Raging with personality and slick prose; a modern crime thriller with plenty of twists.

7. ‘Bulletcatcher’ (Chris Bradford, 2015)

“He was always shy in front of girls, even girls reading retro comics on a Saturday morning in Terminus City’s grand mall…”

This book is aimed at reluctant readers and those with dyslexia. It benefits from a beautifully compelling story which fuses the rich fantasy world with elements of bleak reality. When Troy’s parents are killed in a terrorist attack he has to adjust quickly. The world around him is dangerous, he is now an orphan and dealing with the immense weight of grief and he has suddenly discovered that like the superheroes in the comic books that he loves, he has his own super power. Troy is immune to bullets.

A suspenseful thriller that is packed with action, drama and snappy prose.

A dyslexia-friendly book that is brimming with excitement and action.

6. ‘Heart of a Samurai’ (Margi Preus, 2012)

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“A barren rock face loomed ahead of them, without a hint of green anywhere. Worse, boulders rose out of the water like sharp claws ready to tear the boat to pieces…”

This magical story pivots around the world of 14 year old Manjiro, a Japanese boy who is stranded at sea but rescued by a passing American ship. Set in 1841, a time when the Americans were terrified of Japanese people, Manjiro is adopted by the ship’s captain but faces a great deal of prejudice and hatred. He dreams of returning to Japan, and this hopeful quest eventually become his reality. However, back home he is met with mistrust and suspicious and cast into jail.

This is a fascinating book, Manjiro’s adventures on board the boat are beautifully chronicled with rich vivid imagery. The novel deals with important themes such as cultural differences, prejudice, holding on to a sense of hope and the constant quest for finding a place where you belong.

A mysterious and intriguing tale with an important message.

5. ‘The Door That Led to Where’ (Sally Gardner, 2015)

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“Mr Groat half closed his eyes so that only a slit of white could be seen. He looked like the prehistoric lizard…”

This book benefits from an intricate plot and a wonderfully imaginative take on time travel. It is full of exhilarating twists, surprises, plenty of humour and a welcome amount of pathos. When AJ fails all but one of his GCSEs his future looks pretty bleak, but he soon chances across a mysterious discovery that is set to change his life.

AJ is the beautifully flawed, real and so easy to relate to. This is the perfect book for children who struggle with academia and school, and want a little reassurance that there is a wider world out there. Heartfelt, earnest and immensely engaging.

A flawed and unlikely hero wins over the readers of this mysterious adventure tale.

4. ‘All Sorts of Possible’ (Rupert Wallis, 2015)

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“The fingers of his free hand bobbling over rock and trying to grab hold, the nails burning at their nubs…”

After the terrifying car accident that killed his father, life for Daniel has changed significantly. How did he miraculously survive the ordeal? Is he a real life Saint, like people are suggesting? Where did his physic abilities suddenly spring from? Is Daniel safe from the evil Mason who wants to exploit his supernatural talents?

A chilling and delightful read.

A captivating tale about love, loss and acceptance.

3. ‘Survivor’ (Tom Hoyle, 2015)

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“No-one persecutes the lion because he kills. I’m the LION. Even the cute little robin kills worms. Stick that on your Christmas cards: THIS ANIMAL IS A KILLER…”

After a chance encounter leads to fifteen year old George saving a baby’s life, he realises that things are going to be very different for him. Being awarded a place on the prestigious Ultimate Bushcraft Challenge seems like a wonderful way for his bravery to be recognised.

Yet when members of the group start dying in mysterious ways, it starts to become clear that someone or something is out to get them all.

Told from multiple perspectives of a variety of characters, from George, the people around him and the perpetrator. This is a hugely interesting novel which is racked with intrigue.

An intelligent and powerful action-thriller novel.

2. ‘Homeroom Diaries’ (James Patterson, 2014)

“His family owns the local funeral parlor. They specialize in Vegas-glitz coffin interiors, and Digger’s dad will-for an extra two hundred bucks-dress up as Elvis and sing “Love Me Tender” at your beloved’s interment…”

When sixteen year old Cuckoo’s mum walks out on her, she falls to bits and spends a short time in a psychiatric hospital. Her diary entries start just after this and discuss in liberal and colourful prose just what she feels, thinks, sees and does during that time. Full of witty anecdotes, sharp observations and beguiling characters, this is a sharp and deliciously sarcastic account of life as a teen.

Quirky cartoon-style illustrations bring the book to life and the diary format is perfect for anyone who likes short chunks of text and wants to really get under a character’s skin.

A hilarious, spirited and heartfelt account of life as a teenager.

1. ‘Undertow’ (Michael Buckley, 2015)

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“She smiles at me. It’s a crumpled thing, too small for her face. I remember when it used to shine like a star, fuelled by her endless joy, but now it’s running on fumes…”

When Lyric’s small town turns into a military zone her whole life is thrown into disarray. Everyone is out to destroy the Alphas, the race of unique warriors who live in the ocean, but what is Alpha aren’t the real enemy after all? What if something much more sinister is out to destroy them all?

A beautiful and honest portrayal of the horror of war, combined with moments of tender humanity. Romance, adventure, action and terror reign together in this well-woven story that is full of complex characters, snappy dialogue and exquisite prose.

The perfect action-adventure book; a gripping story told with a luminous soul.


Developing a Strong Character alongside Strong Reading Skills

Through reading we can not only open up our vocabulary, grammar skills and use of language, we can expand our minds in all sorts of ways. The books on this list have been chosen because they are fearlessly imaginative and they offer all sorts of strong inspirational role models.

Offering a variety of characters from all walks of life, these books address real issues and focus on the importance of self-belief and striving for what you believe in. These are wonderful books for kids age 12 to help shape them as they grow into impressionable young adults.

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