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Best Reads for Older Children – 10 Top Book Ideas

Are you trying to encourage a reluctant reader in your life? Do they not want to read? Read my 10 recommendations for great reads for children aged 8 to 12. 10 of the best books that have been tried and tested and professional reasons why I recommend them. #reading #giftideas #bestreadsforchildren

It’s a tricky task, with modern technology and games to distract children away from the joy of books. Fabulous reads for older kids are out there but how do you convince your children to read them? Are they not enthralled by the thought of reading? In addition, are you worried your children aren’t reading enough at home? Or are you searching for a gift to give at any time of year?

Here are a few of my personal suggestions, for transforming slightly reluctant readers from 8 years old upwards, into avid readers.  So here they are: the best reads for 8 to 12 year olds right now. 

This post contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, but rest assured, I only promote products I believe in and trust.

 ‘The Ice Monster’ by David Walliams

Why is it so good?

On one of best fun reads for older children, that you can buy, is a David Walliams book. The great thing about Walliams is that the writing is easy enough for reader, who finds reading a challenge, to get through easily. But, for more able readers, Walliams presents a fun set of books, with modern themes, that allow children to relax into reading. Children have commented that they find his books particularly funny! The Ice Monster, is  the latest book. 






Other books in the series that have been a hit with boys and girls alike are: Ratburger and  Mr. Stink

Are you trying to find a list of great quality reads for children aged 8+? Read my guide to exceptional classic children's books and
Are you trying to find a list of great quality reads for children aged 8+? Read my guide to exceptional classic children's books and


Match of the Day Annual 2019 

The MOTD Annual will be a true hit with the boy in your life  – it is packed with a mega amount of facts that will keep them discussing with their friends for hours. This could also encourage boys who don’t want to read. 

Amazon Blurb 

Footy fun? Bring it, bro … 

From the UK’s number 1 football magazine, the very best footy annual is back!

Crammed full with fun football trivia, quizzes, games, puzzles, top 10s, cartoons and more, this is the only annual fans of the beautiful game will need. This year’s annual will also include a section covering the key moments, best goals and much more from the FIFA World Cup. 


Featuring Gary and all of the MOTD presenters, Paz, Ketch, and the planet’s top teams and players, Match of the Day Annual 2019 is the best around. 


Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway (book 12) by Jeff Kinney

Why is it so good? 

These books are laid out so that you have some text and this is spaced out by illustrations that make the book look like a diary. It’s on the best reads for older children list because kids can’t seem to get enough of these, wherever I have been. They have liked ‘The Getaway’. They say that they can really relate to these books, because a lot of the things that happen, have happened in their experience. The new book, The Meltdown (book 13) is also now available to buy now. 





Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Why is it so good? 

To be honest, I would sincerely recommend any of these books as one of the best reads for older children, since they build imagination and vocabulary, without the child even realising they have done it! The stories start with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I would recommend only buying this and Chamber of Secrets, until you know for sure your child is into this type of magical book. 

The books chart Harry Potter’s journey, from a lonely orphan having to live with his cruel relatives, to the only magician in the world who stands a chance of defeating the evil ‘Voldemort’. The stories have stayed with me as inspiration and will delight youngsters who love a magical story. They also contain strong female characters like Hermoine, so are inspirational to all the girls out there! Best of all, you could watch the films together also! 


Tom Gates 15: What Monster? Liz Pichon 

Why is it so good? 

Tom Gates has transformed reluctant readers into avid readers in front of my eyes! What Monster is the latest book in the series. This takes some doing – I asked them what it was about Tom Gates that they liked so much and it seemed to be the fact that they are funny, a little bit rude around the edges (cheeky characters). They liked the layout, which is similar to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid I mentioned previously. If your child is reluctant to read, this could be an idea. On the whole, girls seemed to prefer these books, more than boys.



Quick Blurb from Book (taken from Amazon)

The bestselling, fully illustrated Tom Gates series is back!Winner of the ROALD DAHL FUNNY PRIZE. This book contains: – MONSTERS – MYSTERY – A MUSIC FESTIVAL – MISSING stuff – ME and Marcus (Not necessarily in THAT order). AND a very strict supply teacher – but don’t let that put you off!

5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything!)

What better way to explore facts about the world as an alternative to screen time? Kids everywhere I have taught have always loved a fact book.
5,000 Awesome Facts offers loads of facts for children to share with whoever will listen! It’s also a great vocabulary builder. Fab especially if they need a wider reading experience, as preparation for their SATs (but without realising it!)




Exceptional Quality Story Books

This next section, are books I personally recommend given my teaching experience in key stage 2, and particularly in year 6. I hope this is useful for any parents out there. 

Skellig by David Almond

Why is it so good?

Skellig is a truly superb book about Michael, who moves to a new house and finds a strange character living in his garage. This bizarre creature, along with Michael’s baby sister, who is hanging onto life, provide the background story to a truly magical modern fairy tale.

This book is great for imagery, and reading between the lines about people’s feelings and why they do the things they do. Inference and retrieval of information is a big part of the SATs reading test. This book is superb preparation and gives plenty of opportunity for discussion about what is going on that the author doesn’t explain. 
Basically children can interpret the story and what happens in an individual way. 

Age: 10+

Summary of Plot (taken from Amazon)

When a move to a new house coincides with his baby sister’s illness, Michael’s world seems suddenly lonely and uncertain.

Then, one Sunday afternoon, he stumbles into the old, ramshackle garage of his new home, and finds something magical. A strange creature – part owl, part angel, a being who needs Michael’s help if he is to survive. With his new friend Mina, Michael nourishes Skellig back to health, while his baby sister languishes in the hospital.

But Skellig is far more than he at first appears, and as he helps Michael breathe life into his tiny sister, Michael’s world changes for ever . . .Skellig won the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children’s Book Award and is now a major Sky1 feature film, starring Tim Roth and John Simm. David Almond is also winner of the 2010 Hans Christian Andersen award.

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Best reads for older children 10 recommendations






















Stormbreaker (Alex Rider) by Anthony Horowitz


Why is it so good?

This series of books begins with ‘Stormbreaker’, where we are introduced to Alex Rider, who becomes a spy when his uncle dies. It has echoes of James Bond, but is convincing enough for the ideas to still hold up. Children love these because they start to imagine themselves in the role of a spy. A thoroughly gripping read – boys were especially engaged. 

Age: 9+ 


Synopsis (

They told him his uncle died in an accident. He wasn’t wearing his seatbelt, they said. But when fourteen-year-old Alex finds his uncle’s windshield riddled with bullet holes, he knows it was no accident. What he doesn’t know yet is that his uncle was killed while on a top-secret mission. But he is about to, and once he does, there is no turning back. Finding himself in the middle of terrorists, Alex must outsmart the people who want him dead. The government has given him the technology, but only he can provide the courage. Should he fail, every child in England will be murdered in cold blood.

Wonder by R J Palacio

Why is it so good?

If anything children can relate to, it is bullying at school. ‘Wonder’ is an absolute gem, as it tracks August’s new chapter in his life – as he prepares to start school. The only issue is that he is petrified of what children will say about his appearance. It is so refreshingly honest – you will find your child will struggle to put it down! Many children rave about how compelling this story is. 

Text wise, it isn’t a difficult read. 

Age 8+



Brief Summary of the Plot (Amazon)

‘My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.’

Auggie wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things – eating ice cream, playing on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside. But ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids aren’t stared at wherever they go.

Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all?

WONDER is a funny, frank, astonishingly moving debut to read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Why is it so good?

Artemis Fowl is one of my favourite children’s fantasy books and has produced many enthralled readers. The tales are so imaginative and Artemis finds himself in many fixes that he needs to solve. This best read for older children is a mixture of a fairy tale and sci-fi. Brilliant for boys and girls alike. There is a whole series of the books available. Readable but also contains a great amount of higher level vocabulary needed to sustain adequate vocabulary development. 

Review from the Guardian 

Eoin Colfer’s riotous imagination gives life to farting fairies and hi-tech gizmos in this fantastic and original fantasy. Cunning Artemis Fowl is a criminal mastermind; his ambition is to get his hands on fairy gold. The plan is simple – Artemis will kidnap a fairy and demand the gold as a ransom. The kidnap goes to plan, but Artemis hadn’t bargained on the particular ways of fairies and especially not on the fairy in question, Holly Short. Somehow the fairies weave a magic over Artemis Fowl, who discovers that he may not be as cold-hearted as he had always thought. 

Ages 9+

I hope this has been useful to you today. Has it given you renewed inspiration for encouraging a boy or girl who doesn’t like reading? Has it made you consider what your child could be interested in reading? Or have you been able to sort out a book gift that could potentially be the catalyst to a long love of reading? 

Interest, I firmly believe, is the key starting point to developing a love for reading. Also the awareness that reading can be fun, which is why I have included some relaxing fun books. Good luck with this, and as always feel free to add your ideas or comments to help us all with this topic. 




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  • Abby says:

    These were some really books. And, I would like to add two books that are perfect for this list.

    The first one is; The Giver, which is written by Lois Lowry, who has written more than 40 children books. Although it is for children, this book has some level of sophistication which will intrigue even the adults. That is why it is perfect for older kids.
    And the second book is The Wonder by Emma Donoghue, it is quite similar to The Giver, in the sense that small kids, as well as adults, will enjoy is equally.
    Abby recently posted…30+ Award winning toys for 5 year oldsMy Profile

    • Helen says:

      Thanks Abby for the feedback on the list, and for the inspirational suggestions for reading for older children here. I like the idea of adult-child participation on different levels within the same book – I will be sure to get copies and try them out.

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