Best new books for 8-12 year-olds

Girl reading book 

Christmas 2014

Seeking a Christmas present for an 8-12-year-old that doesn't have an on/off button? Keeping kids interested in reading at this age can be a challenge - so a book they can get stuck into over the holidays should go down a treat.


parent_trapThe Parent Trap/The Flying Classroom - Erich Kastner

This classic German novel by Emil and the Detectives author Erich Kastner has been overshadowed in recent years by the film adaptation that made a star of Lindsay Lohan. Thankfully the wonderful Pushkin Press have reissued the novel, translated in a beautiful publication that includes all the original images by Walter Trier. Kastner's The Flying Classroom has also been reissued by Pushkin.


steve_backshallDeadly Pole to Pole Diaries  - Steve Backshall

Deadly 60's Steve Backshall is a true star among children (and Mumsnetters who have marvelled at his moves on this year's Strictly). Pole To Pole charts his amazing 14-month voyage from the Arctic to the Antarctic via Alaska, California, Hawaii, Mexico and Brazil and more. Join Steve as he encounters animals from white whales and ice bears to crocodiles and snakes.


opal_plumsteadOpal Plumstead - Jacqueline Wilson

Following on from the stories of Hettie Feather, JW introduces a new hero to young readers, this time in the Edwardian era. Tackling some hard-hitting subjects; child labour, the Suffragette movement and the hardship of war, Jacqueline as ever writes with her trademark light touch guaranteed to have young readers laughing and crying. Opal Plumstead is Jacqueline Wilson's 100th book, and many young reviewers are heralding it as one of her best yet.


atlas_of_adventuresAtlas of Adventures - Lucy Letherland

Young adventurers will love this lavishly illustrated trip around the world. Taking in Hong Kong's lantern festival, the horse parade at Andalucia's Feria de Caballo and a baseball match in Central Park, this is a true celebration of the diversity of our planet. It also offers young readers more than 100 challenges and activities, which sets it apart from a standard atlas. Undoubtedly the largest book on the list, this will look pretty impressive under the tree!


wimpy_kidDiary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul - Jeff Kinney

With Jeff Kinney producing new books for the past seven years, Wimpy Kid has become the must-have Christmas read for fans. The latest installment sees Greg Heffley and family embark on a road trip - no mean feat. Kinney's characters and humour are suited to a range of ages, and the diary format and cartoon illustrations make them perfect for even the most reluctant reader.


five_childrenFive Children on the Western Front - Kate Saunders

Five Children on the Western Front is an epic follow-on from E Nesbit's Five Children And It stories. On the eve of the First World War, the sand fairy Psammead comes to life. Following the story of five children and the transformational impact of the Great War on their lives, Saunders transplants these beloved characters into the trenches with a heart-wrenching narrative.


believe_it_or_notRipley's Believe It or Not! 2015 annual - Robert Leroy Ripley

The Ripley's Believe It or Not! annual has firmly established itself as a Christmas must-have, and this year's edition encompasses a new compendium of strange but true facts, amazing animals, staggering achievements and fascinating stories. Inquisitive readers will be engrossed by a skateboarding mouse, a man who ate 25,000 light bulbs and more.


jet_the_rescue_dogJet the Rescue Dog - David Long

Jet the Rescue Dog and Other Extraordinary Stories of Animals in Wartime is a touching compilation of tales paying tribute to the silent soldiers of the Second World War. From household cats and dogs such as Jet, to birds, camels and elephants, these creatures saved thousands of lives with bravery and dedication. With beautiful black and white illustrations to complement the stories, this anthology makes a moving and unique gift.


animaliumAnimalium - Jenny Broom and Katie Scott

Animalium (Welcome to the Museum) grants admittance to your very own private, virtual museum. 'Curator' Jenny Broom (who studied fine art at the Slade), has created a truly unique concept, whereby you can pore over each 'room' and 'exhibit' at your leisure. With fascinating facts and beautiful illustrations by Katie Scott, Animalium is a must for any child with a love for the animal kingdom. You can check out the animated trailer here.


awful_auntieAwful Auntie - David Walliams

From bestselling author and much loved comedian David Walliams comes Awful Auntie. When Awful Aunt Alberta tries to cheat the young Stella Saxby out of her grand inheritance, a true adventure is on the horizon – with none other than lovable rogue ghost Soot on Stella's side to lend some laughter and mischief to the fray. Tying his comic genius into a warm and clever narrative, this laugh-out-loud book from Walliams will have children absorbed for hours.


a_child's_christmas_in_walesA Child's Christmas in Wales - Dylan Thomas

In time for the centenary of celebrated poet Dylan Thomas' birth, A Child's Christmas in Wales makes a classic gift this year. Nostalgically retelling tales of Christmas past, Dylan Thomas' classic poetry anthology has become a firm favourite over the years since its original publication in 1952. This beautiful work features new illustrations by Peter Bailey and will make Christmas truly magical with the poems of this Welsh wordsmith in a stocking.


rooftoppersRooftoppers - Katherine Rundell

Katherine Rundell's award-winning Rooftoppers has been hailed a children's classic in the modern literary canon. Following the story of supposed orphan Sophie and her search for her mother in Victorian Paris alongside the 'rooftoppers' (homeless street urchins who tightrope-walk in the skies above the chimney tops), this is a nailbiting adventure that will enthral and entertain. Will love conquer all to reunite Sophie with her long-lost mother?


timmy_failureTimmy Failure: We Meet Again - Stephan Pastis

Following the success of our June children's book of the month pick, Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, we had to include the third installment in the series in our list of Christmas must-haves. Described by author and cartoonist Stephan Pastis as "a detective who can take any mystery and make it more mysterious", Timmy Failure is a hapless yet lovable sleuth whose hilarious misadventures will have the children in stitches.


365_days_of_wonder365 Days of Wonder - R J Palacio

August Pullman stole the hearts of over a million readers in the best-selling Wonder. 365 Days is a beautiful companion to the novel: a collection of quotes and wise words for every day of the year. It includes funny, insightful, inspiring thoughts from the novel itself, as well as famous authors and personalities - from Roald Dahl and Paul McCartney to Anne Frank, Tolkien and Popey. A perfect gift for anyone who loved Wonder.


the_girl_who_walked_on_airThe Girl who Walked on Air - Emma Carroll

Described as "an adventure of old-fashioned charm" by the Sunday Times, Emma Carroll delivers an enchanting tale of a Victorian travelling circus and a young girl named Louie, who secretly practises tightrope-walking and dreams of being star performer. Filled with thrills, intrigue and learning the value of friendship and determination.


Last updated: over 3 years ago