If you are reading aloud to your 12-year-old, great work! If not, you can still start! And they will love the extra time spent with mom or dad (or granny, gramps, etc......). The wonderful thing about these books to read aloud to 12 year olds is that they offer up so many juicy talking points!
When you discuss these stories with your kids you will gain insights into how your child thinks and sees the world without having to ask annoying, prying questions which cause them to shut-down as is their pre-teen way!
This list of read aloud books for older kids contains a huge variety of genres and themes. So whether you want epic adventures, fantasy, contemporary realism, humor or poetry, you will find a book to suit!
In addition, I've included several shorter novels for families who want a quick win instead a read aloud that takes several weeks to finish. Happy reading!
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Gilgamesh the Hero
by Geraldine McCaughrean
If your kids love myths and legends, introduce them to Gilgamesh with this wonderful oversized book filled with illustrations. It's perfect for reading aloud to older kids. The Epic of Gilgamesh dates back to c. 1600 BCE but McCraughrean's rendition makes it utterly readable for modern audiences. It is a heroic tale of friendship and glory. It may not have been on your radar as a read aloud for 12 year olds, but now it is, so check it out!
The Real Thief
by William Steig
Not all read alouds have to be long novels. This novella by Steig may seem like something you might read with your 8 or 9 year old, but the story of Gawain, a loyal guard of the royal treasury falsely accused of stealing, will best be appreciated by a more sophisticated audiences. It is an intriguing and though-provoking story about truth, false accusations and making honorable choices.
The Wednesday Wars
by Gary D. Schmidt
12-year-olds and their parents (or other caregivers) will truly appreciate reading aloud this hilarious book. Holling Hoodhood always seems to be getting into scrapes, but his father appears to be mostly concerned with how Holling's antics affect his business reputation. On Wednesday afternoons, most of his classmates head off to Catholic or Jewish religious education classes. However, the Hoodhoods are Presbyterian, so Holling stays behind at school where his teacher introduces him to Shakespeare. Holling's antics at school, his involvement in a Shakespeare production and the general mayhem he creates wherever he goes make for lots of laughs from a master storyteller.
A Story Like the Wind
by Gill Lewis
A Story Like the Wind is great choice for parents looking for a short but sophisticated read aloud. Lewis's tale of refugees is gorgeously illustrated by Jo Weaver. Rami and other refugees are in a bleak situation. They have no oars or motor and the tide is menacingly rising. But Rami has a violin and he begins to play and tell a story that offers hope. An astounding book that will give you and your children plenty to appreciate and talk about.
When You Trap a Tiger
by Tae Keller
Lily, her brother and mom move in with her Korean grandmother. Halmoni (her grandmother) used to tell her bedtime stories based on Korean folklore and now Lily is seeing a magical tiger. Halmoni is in poor health and Lily makes a bargain with the tiger so her grandmother can heal. Marvelous and magical.
Mulan: Before the Sword
by Grace Lin
Grace Lin has written an engaging prequel to Disney's Mulan, purposely timed so you can read it before you see the new live action movie that comes out later this month. For families who enjoy myth and fantasy, it makes a wonderful book to read aloud, especially if there will be younger tweens listening in at story time. Lin has woven traditional tales throughout the larger narrative in which Mulan works with the Jade Rabbit to find a cure for her sister who was poisoned by a spider bite.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon
by Kelly Barnhill
The Protectorate has always sacrificed a baby to keep the witch in the forest at bay. Little do they know the witch has been saving the babies all these years. One year the witch decides to raise the baby herself, and inadvertently fills her with a fierce and strong magic. As the girl grows older and comes into her magic, a man in the Protectorate vows to find and vanquish the witch, revealing the truth about both the Protectorate and the witch.
Other Words for Home
by Jasmine Warga
This free-verse novel begins in Syria around the start of the Arab Spring. Jude and her pregnant mother decide to emigrate to live with her uncle in America. Her older brother, caught up in the protests against the government, stays behind with their father. In America, Jude meets new friends and discovers an interest in theater. With unflinching honesty and a keen perception, Jude describes the transition from Syria to her experiences adjusting to living in America. A splendid book.
by Jacqueline Woodson
Six diverse kids are put together in a room at school as a place where they can talk about the issues they are facing in their lives. Their burdens are as diverse as their backgrounds; incarceration, racial profiling, possible deportation are just a few of the subject the middle schoolers need and want to talk about with each other. Woodson's prose is gorgeous, almost poetic and the reader will come to care for all of the teens as they tell their stories.
Nooks & Crannies
by Jessica Lawson
Do you love doing voices? Then this is the book for you! A philanthropist countess sends out six mysterious invitations to of six children. The eclectic group of children, including our heroine, Tabitha Crumb, arrive at the mansion to discover that one of them is believed to be the countess's long lost grandchild. However, things are not always as they seem–neither the people involved nor the house–and the children (or at least the good children) must work together to unravel the mysteries of the house. The cast of characters here is delightfully kooky and weird, with inept and neglectful parents, both spoiled and erudite children, and disguise-wearing servants.
More book lists to love:
I am in the middle of reading When You Trap a Tiger to my 12 year old right now! So good. I’m also glad I read Harbor Me out loud to her, it started some necessary conversations. As always, your lists are amazing, and I will check out some of these others- some are ones I’ve been meaning to get to ❤️ Thank you
Both are wonderful books! Thanks for sharing your experience!