Good Books to Read Aloud to 8-12 Year Olds

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Reading out loud to older children can be very rewarding. Longer attention spans and more logical, introspective minds mean 8-12 year olds are likely to ponder over what they hear. You may find yourself exploring tortuous moral dilemmas, arguing the physics of a fantasy world or learning invented languages with your children once their interest is sparked by a really good book. Make sure to keep the book out of reach between sessions, though – 8-12 year olds can cheat and read ahead!

Good Books to Read Aloud to 8-12 Year Olds

Photo courtesy of Tony

Anne of Green Gables

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne series is definitely girl-oriented, but her canny depictions of human nature outweigh the occasional moment of sappiness. The series is fairly long – Chronicles of Avonlea and its sequel can be skipped out for children curious to read more about Anne and Gilbert. The film adaptations starring Megan Follows are very worthwhile, although not “The Continuing Story,” which entirely abandons the books’ storyline.

The Pushcart War

This book was written for children with a good sense of humour. Flip through The Pushcart War first to get a feel for the tone. Kids who “get it” will giggle throughout the whimsical tale of a war between pushcarts and trucks in New York City.

The Chronicles of Narnia

This one’s obvious – the Narnia books are as popular today as they have been for the last sixty years. Be aware that the books are heavily allegorical and Christian; they may also scare some more sensitive children.

The Hobbit

The Lord of the Rings is probably a bit heavy for the average 8-12 year old. The Hobbit, with its lighter tone, is a good introduction to Tolkien. If your kids like it, try them on some of Tolkien’s other children’s works such as Farmer Giles of Ham or The Father Christmas Letters.

The Phantom Tollboth by Norman Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth is another quirkily humorous book. Kids who are into English will enjoy the puns and plays on language in this short classic.

The Anastasia Books by Lois Lowry

If your children roll their eyes and gag at Anne of Green Gables, they might prefer Anastasia Krupnik. Lois Lowry is a Newberry Medal winner, and her Anastasia books are irreverent and hilarious. Parents might like to flip through first, as there is some mild discussion of topics like sex and death. Lowry’s other books, including Number the Stars and the heartbreaking A Summer to Die, are also well worth reading.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House Series

The Little House on the Prairie books are infamous for inspiring children to demand you teach them how to make sourdough bread, build a log cabin, cook johnny cakes and churn butter. If you’re up for the challenge, the books are a lovely way to learn about pioneer life. The books are fairly gentle, but you may need to discuss racism and counter the books with some Native American stories afterwards.

The Borrowers

The Borrowers and its sequels tell the tale of tiny Arrietty and her parents Pod and Homily, who live by “borrowing” items from humans.

Other great books for this age group include:

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Pippi Longstocking

Charlotte’s Web

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

What do you read to your “middle-aged” kids?

About Sarah Tennant

has written 24 posts in this blog.

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