My oldest has always been a voracious and advanced reader. Over the years his love of reading has not diminished at all, in fact keeping my tween in books has become a challenge. He averages 2 novels a week right now and I’ve been searching high and low for new books for him. He loves fantasy, adventure, character driven plots, and goofiness. If a book can make him giggle, it will always earn at least one reread! But finding books is a constant challenge. I know I can’t be the only one facing this, so I’ve put together a list of over 150 books for tweens that love adventure!
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Some of these books are ones we have already read. Others are on our “to be read” pile. I still like to read many of the novels before my son for a couple of reasons. The first is that I want to look for themes or concepts that might bring up discussions. This allows me to prepare but also understand the context for how those ideas were shared in the stories. The second reason, many of these are great books! When we have both read a book, we can have our own little book club of sorts and discuss the characters, plots, writing styles and more. This makes it a much more enriching experience for both of us.
NOTE: I haven’t read all of these books. Many are on our “to be read” list. If you have concerns about certain themes or concepts in your book choices for your tween, I recommend you read the books yourself before giving them to your child.
Parent survival tip: I have discovered for those that have voracious readers, look for books that are in a series. A good long series can give me a whole month of reading for my son. Which is fantastic!
Here is our epic list of over 150 books for tweens that love adventure!
No list of books for tweens would be complete without mentioning Harry Potter. For my son, this series was his first successful leap into big, lengthy books. The last few were so long and heavy he struggled to hold them. I had to load the stories onto my Kindle so he could read the ebook version. The series has been reread three times now, by both myself and my son. And if the world of Hogwarts captivates your child, the reading doesn’t stop there. The Hogwarts textbooks are available, along with screenplays and short stories. Lots of reading in this fascinating world, plus some wonderful movies.
We are in the middle of this series right now, having just finished the third book. It took a while for my son to warm up to this series, but once he dove in, he came to love the characters, especially Halt. He is anxiously waiting for me to get him the rest of the books. There are 12 in all plus 2 more prequel books! Enough reading to keep kids going for a while.
Fablehaven & Brandon Mull
My son LOVED these books. We started with this book series from Brandon Mull and my son loved it so much he went on to read all of Brandon Mull’s books. It was after my son read all of Mull’s books that I noticed my son is really drawn to “real world fantasy.” I’m not sure if that is the correct term, but it’s stories that involve ordinary, every day people, in our world, going on fantastic adventures involving secrets only a few know. They are stories that are highly character driven, rather than world driven. If you know of any great tween or teen books like this that I’ve missed on this list, let me know in the comments!
There are five books in the Fablehaven series, along with two supplemental books and a spin off new series that Brandon Mull called DragonWatch. He also has the Candy Shoppe stories (my son’s favourite of all Brandon’s books), plus Five Kingdoms and Beyonders. In total 17 books with more coming!
Candy Shoppe Wars
This is my son’s favourite books by Brandon Mull. He loves the idea of candy that can give him super powers!
This series has been hit and miss with my son. Although he has read them, he struggled to really love them. This surprises me to be honest. I really thought the mythology themes would capture him, but something about this series has fallen a little short for my son. It is still on our list, because it was a good book series that we know many love. It just didn’t illicit the excitement and imagination and passionate discussions other books have in our home.
The Trials of Apollo
At some point I still expect my son will become excited about Greek and Roman Mythology, and the Percy Jackson series may experience a renewed spark of interest. If it does, Rick Riordan is currently writing a new series that spins off of Percy Jackson, The Trials of Apollo. There will be five books in this series when he is finished. He also has a five book series Heros of Olympus.
We love our Vikings around here, so one books series that is on our “to be read list” is Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase series. My son has reservations, as I said, he wasn’t crazy about Percy Jackson, but I’m hoping like the Ranger’s Apprentice, once he starts reading, he will fall in love. I know I’m really looking forward to reading this one and I think the with the popularity of Norse Mythology right now it a great pick for tweens.
His Dark Materials
I’m a huge fan of this series. I read it as a tween/teen, then again as an adult… two or three times, and my son now has this series on his shelf ready to go. Phillip Pullman writes such compelling stories. They pull you in and take you on the most amazing adventures. This series is about Will and Lyra it will have your child asking a lot of philosphy questions, so make sure you read them first. The discussions you will have due to this book will be amazing! Even before reading the books, and just familiarizing himself with the concepts, my son is wondering what form his daemon would take. We’ve had some great discussions already!
A new series set in the same world, The Book of Dust, is in the works. The first installment is being published in October 2017. You can preorder it now.
Royal Institute of Magic
This series was recommended to me by another mom of a voracious reader. It looks interesting and has definitely been added to our “to be read” pile. While doing research for this article I did discover that the author died last fall while writing the final book in the series. His family still plans on publishing the final book, but I was unable to find any updates on when this might happen.
The Land of Stories
These stories have been on my radar for a while. My biggest concern is that I don’t know if my son will like the fairy tale themes. Although we have briefly read most fairy tales over the years, he has never really shown an interest in them (which seems sooo wrong to me!). When most kids were interested in reading about Fairy Tales, my son was obsessed with non-fiction books. That said, the stories look interesting and definitely earn a spot on our library hold list! Maybe he will just be a latecomer to his love of fairy tales. Book 6 is available for preorder now.
The Last Dragon Chronicles
My son loved these books! He read them even before he read Harry Potter, and these are big, thick books. That said, he got to the third book and lost interest. He said it became confusing, and since he was only in grade 2 at the time, I figured they were just a bit too advanced for him at that age. We still have most of these books on the shelf and I expect my son will return to the series soon now he is older. There are seven books in total.
Chronicles of Narnia
When it comes to books for tweens, Narnia is one that comes to mind for many of us. I think everyone reads the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at least once in their life. Many go on to read the whole series. It’s a classic. I’ve read the whole series and found it interesting. We did read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe as a read out loud in our homeschool, but I have left the rest of the series for my son to read on his own.
This series has been recommended to us by so many people! It’s on our to be read pile, but I’m a little worried my son might already be past this book series. The one thing I keep reading in the reviews is that it is geared to a younger audience with a Harry Potter crossed with Hunger Games type of vibe. I’ll grab the first one from the library and we will see how far we dive into this series!
This famous and classic series is best known for the first book, A Wrinkle In Time. Although everyone insists I must have read this book at some point in my life (I’ve always been a voracious reader like my son), since it’s a classic book for tweens, I honestly don’t remember reading it if I did. The concept looks like something both my son and I will love reading with it’s focus on characters, especially misfits finding their way through amazing adventures in time. Kind of sounds like a Doctor Who episode!
Dealing with Dragons
I love dragons. I’m obsessed with them. If there was one mythological creature I wish I could conjure into existence it’s the dragon. I’m a Dragons of Pern girl and my son has read some of Anne McCaffrey’s stories, but I’m always on the look out for great dragon stories. On my quest for dragons I came across this series and it looks promising. Perhaps a little on the young side, but definitely worth checking out.
This series was recommended to me by my son’s school when he was in grade 2. At the time the book was of zero interest to my son. He looked at it as if the book was poisoned (so much drama!), but now I think he might be more inclined to give it a go. It’s the story of Peter Pan before he met Wendy. I think if he enjoys the Land of Stories series, then this one will work for him too.
Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy
After hearing my husband and I, plus all our friends, talk about this book, quote it and generally treat it like a right of passage that everyone must go through, it’s no wonder our son can’t wait to read these novels! In our world this goofy space opera is a must read book for all! To be honest it has been so long since I read the books I’m going to grab them to read myself first before I let my son dive in. I know he is going have lots of questions and want to discuss everything, and I need to reacquaint myself with this beloved space opera! That’s one of the best things about having a son who is a voracious reader, I get to reread some of my favourite books from when I was a tween!
The Zodiac Legacy Series
Stan Lee, a pop culture legend and creator of Spiderman, helped pen this series with two other authors and Disney! I originally bought the first book for myself, but after I was done, my son snapped it up and devoured it. It sparked a great interest in the Chinese Zodiac for him. It’s a wonderful story about an unlikely hero and the quest for magical superpowers. This year they have released two more books in the series.
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
My son tried to read the Hobbit by himself when he was 7 years old and it was a bit much for him at the time. Eventually we decided to read it out loud as part of our homeschool program. Now my son is 11 years old, I think he is ready to tackle the Hobbit on his own and then The Lord of the Rings. When I think of books for tweens or teens, this series is one of the first that comes to mind. Even my parents have read these books, which gives my son a series he can talk to his grand parents about. Now that is cool. These books are iconic, a part of our culture and I look forward to sharing in this journey with my son.
Sea of Trolls Trilogy
Written by a Newbury Award winning author (three times over), this adventure series is aimed at middle grade students and has wonderful reviews. I’m looking forward to checking it out.
The Mysterious Benedict Society
When I was researching books for my tween aged son I knew I hit the jackpot with this series. It’s filled with riddles and the readers get to test their wits along with the characters. It’s a story about gifted children, where wit and intelligence is sought above all else. Winning isn’t about brute force, but about the mind. Perfect for my kid!
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
I’ve heard wonderful things about this book from my fellow STEM enthusiasts. It promotes scientific thinking, evolution, intelligence, inquiry and so much more. I’m looking forward to diving into this award winning book and it’s sequel.
I read the first book in this series when all the hype was around about the movie. I enjoyed it but not enough to start seeking out the sequels. Then one day my son picked up the first book and start reading. He LOVED it and went on to read the whole series except the last one he keeps asking to pick up… better get on that!
When I asked around about book suggestions for tweens who love fantasy and adventures, this series was mentioned many times. With 7 books in this fantasy world, and wonderful reviews, it has definitely earned a spot on our list of books to check out.
Phew! Now if I’ve counted correctly, after removing box sets that is 150 books for tweens that love adventures! That should keep even my kid going for a little while! Some of these are books for tweens we have already read, loved and cherished, others are new to us and on our ‘to be read’ list. We can’t wait to dive into more adventures!
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