Best new books for 8-12 year-olds
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.
The 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.
Deadly 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 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 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!
Diary 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 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.
Ripley'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 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.
Animalium - 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 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 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.
Rooftoppers - 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 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 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 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.
- Best new picture books for 0-3 year-olds
- Best new books for 4-7 year-olds
- Best new books for over-12s
- Mumsnetters' children's book reviews
- Visit our Children's Bookclub for more great recommendations
Last updated: over 3 years ago