Best books for kids: 13 must-reads for 6-12 year olds

Can't decide what books to get your kids to read? Then let us help

Two kids sat on a book reading Best books for kids

Best books for kids are wide and varied. From picture books and graphic novels, to magical fantasy and family fun. The choices are endless.

As parents of kids you've moved on from best books for toddlers, and before you know it you'll be on to best books for teenagers in no time at all. And, if you really want to create lovely memories you could choose a personalised book.

Kirsty Ketley, an Early Years practitioner and Parenting Consultant tells us; "Picture books that are longer and chapter books are great introductions to 'more grown up' books. Also poetry books and non-fiction. A good variety of genres and authors will help develop their comprehension and vocabulary - Ben Miller, Jaqueline Wilson, Roald Dahl and Michael Rosen are all popular."

She adds; "Also be aware of books that may heavily stereotype or use negative language to describe the characters, such as their appearance as 'horribly fat' or 'awfully skinny' 'silly' 'stupid' or 'naughty' - children absorb and copy what they hear."

We've found 13 must-read books, they have the power to hook kids. Some are cultural touchstones that belong in every kid's library. Others open kids' minds to cultures beyond their own. And some are timeless classics; the kind that span generations and get passed around classrooms.

Whether you have a reluctant reader or a budding bookworm, consider these surefire, tried-and-true titles.


credit: Harper Collins

1. Gangsta Granny 

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Age suitability: 9-12 years | Paperback This beloved best seller is written by celebrity David Walliams and has a respectable 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon ratings, with over 8,500 people rating it. It's ultimately a funny story about prejudice and acceptance, in among silly words and funny lists. Mum-of-two, Carly says: “Not to spoil the ending but the story line does have cancer in it. I was reading it chapter by chapter with my eldest, we were in stitches. However, our tone changed we realised Granny had cancer and was going to die. We were both in tears. But, it did give us the opportunity to discuss illness in older people and death, and to say all the things we could ever need to say. Double edged sword, and be ready for the conversation.”


greenbook cover with gang of animated kids on front for best books for kids

Credit: Puffin

2. The Danger Gang 

Age suitability: 7-11 years | Paperback Great stinky worms, a weird town, superpowers and friendship, this number 1 best-seller has it all! Written by celebrity Tom Fletcher, it has 4.8 stars out of 5 on Amazon and over 4,500 raters. One reader wrote: “What a great story! Funny, plenty of toilet humour, sly references to McFly that made me giggle - all in all a great middle grade book. Shane Devries illustrations are perfect too and very amusing.


blue book cover with a boy in red stood on front.

Credit: Harper Collins

3. The 1000 year old boy 

Age suitability: 9-12 years | Paperback As best books for kids go, this is a story about someone who wants to stop. Alfie Monk is like any other nearly teenage boy - except he’s 1,000 years old and can remember the last Viking invasion of England. Obviously no one believes him.

So when everything Alfie knows and loves is destroyed in a fire and the modern world comes crashing in, Alfie embarks on a mission to find friendship, acceptance and a different way to live.

One Amazon reader rated it 5 out of 5 stars and said: “I really loved this book. It had all the emotions in, and because of that I was really drawn in an struggled to put it down. I love this story of heartbreak, sadness, death and love.”


dark book cover with wixard boy harry on front as part of best books for kids

Credit: Bloomsbury

4. Harry Potter 

Age suitability: 9-11 years | Paperback Currently sat at no3 in the Amazon book charts, Harry Potter is one of the most recognised books, globally.  The Philosopher’s Stone is one of seven books in a set. 

The young wizard has many adventures with friends Ron and Hermione, and the underlying message through all books is that with true friendship you can get through anything, it’s okay to ask for help, people can surprise you and bravery comes in many forms. They’re well rounded stories perfect for pre-teens and beyond. 


Light blue book cover with yellow font and a bike on the front

Credit: Puffin

5. Driftwood 

Age suitability: 9-12 years | PaperbackA story of friendship, bullying and navigating tricky times and tough decisions. Hannah's world is turning upside down. Can you rescue a friendship when it's drowning? Can you save a friend in trouble - if they don't want to be saved?

One Amazon rater said: “Cassidy does not fail to keep me hooked onto her books yet again! Driftwood is a lovely, touching story which explores the themes of bullying and who it affects through the point of view of an onlooker. I could definitely feel the "magic" that Cassidy mentions repeatedly throughout the story, and I managed to finish the book within a single sitting.”


Image of a book cover with mountains and trees

Credit: Picadilly Press

6. The Wild Robot 

Age suitability: 9-12 years | Paperback As best books for kids go, this heartfelt story for ages six-plus about how even the oddest of us can find friends. The language is rich and easy to read. From bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator Peter Brown comes a heartwarming and action-packed novel about what happens when nature and technology collide. By turns funny, moving, surprising and dramatic, this is a novel that is as thought-provoking as it is enchanting. 


Image of a blue cover with a tall giant anext to a small fitl

Credit: Jonathan Cape

7. The BFG 

Age suitability: 6-10 years | Paperback Another childhood classic. world-renowned author, Roald Dahl’s world of giants focuses on the BFG; the Big Friendly Giant. Full of outrageous humour and amazing fun words like Fleshplumeater , gruesome and guzzle. A great one to have fun with reading. With an underlying message of acceptance and standing up to bullies, no matter how big they are.


Bright blue cover with animated children on the white font.

Credit: Ladybird

8. Don’t hug Doug (He Doesn’t Like It!) 

Age suitability: 5-8 years | Paperback Doug doesn't like hugs. He thinks they're too squeezy, too squashy, too squooshy, too smooshy. However, Doug is a master of high fives (and low fives and side fives).

A story about consent, and teaching children that it’s their body and they don’t have to hug or kiss someone hello, no not even granny. One Amazon reader said: “My little girl isn't much of a hugger, and this helped normalize it for her so she knows she's not the only one. She packed her copy of Don't Hug Doug on our recent trip to visit in-laws, who happen to be *very* big huggers, and it helped them understand her boundaries better. It's also a really funny book with parts that make my daughter laugh out loud!”


Image of a blue cover with two shadow silhouettes of a man guiding a boy

Credit: Puffin

9. Goodnight Mr Tom

Age suitability: 9-12 years | Paperback This award-winning children's novel published in 1981. It tells the heart-warming story of a small boy, William Beech, who is evacuated to the country village of Little Weirwold just before the outbreak of the Second World War. He is placed with a withdrawn elderly widower Tom Oakley. Despite their differences, Tom comes to care for his young charge, who, it emerges, has been beaten and abused by his fanatically religious widowed mother.

An Amazon no1 bestseller, this story is a classic wartime novel.  superbly written and deeply moving. Showing that the most unlikely of people can become exceptional parents. 


Neon green cover with the image of an animated grown man on a skate board

Credit: Egmont

10. You’re a bad man, Mr Gum! 

Age suitability: 7-11 years | Paperback One of the best books for kids, Mr Gum is a complete horror who hates children, animals, fun and corn on the cob. This book’s all about him. And an angry fairy who lives in his bathtub. And Jake the dog, and a little girl called Polly. And there’s heroes and sweets and adventures and EVERYTHING.

You’re a Bad Man, Mr Gum! is the first book in the internationally best-selling series by Andy Stanton, which has won everything from the Blue Peter Book Award (twice) to the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and the Red House Children’s Book Award.

One Amazon rater said: “I bought this for my 8-year old grandson who loves reading. He read it in an afternoon and just adored it, especially the tease at the end of the book. My daughter in law said he kept reading bits out to her and really laughing. I have now ordered the box set for his birthday.”


blue cover with a young african american girl on the cover

Credit: Macmillan

11. Coming to England 

Age suitability: 9-11 years | Paperback Floella Benjamin was just a young girl when she, her sister and two brothers arrived in England in 1960 to join their parents, whom they had not seen for fifteen months. They had left the island paradise of Trinidad to make a new home in London – part of a whole generation of West Indians who were encouraged to move to Britain and help rebuild the country after the Second World War.

Reunited with her mother, Floella was too overwhelmed at first, as her new life began, she was shocked and distressed by the rejection she experienced. She soon realized that the only way to survive was to work twice as hard and be twice as good as anyone else.

One Amazon rater said: “Beautifully written informative story. I have bought this book for my son & most of the children I know so that they can read what life was like for that generation of our West Indian families during those times. I think this book should be read by all! Thank you Baroness Floella Benjamin, you are an inspiration.”


illustrated image of tiny people climbing normal sized human belongings

Credit: Puffin

12. The Borrowers Puffin 

Age suitability: 9-11 | Paperback A classic that has spanned generations of readers. The Borrowers are tiny people who live in secret places and exist on everything they borrow from humans. Sure to kick-start any kid’s imagination.

One reader declared it “Absolutely brilliant! Perfect to reading aloud to children too! Very happy!”.


red cover with gold title and animated kids

Credit: Harper Collins

13. The Parent Agency 

Age suitability: 9-12 years | Paperback

As best books for kids go, this book is a favourite. Disgruntled Barry Bennett wishes he had better parents (fun ones who let him do what he wants). Barry’s life is turned upside down when he gets his wish and finds himself in a world where kids choose their parents. Funny, smart and unpredictable.

One reader rated it 5 out of 5 stars and said: “This book was a joy to read with an element (a pretty big one two) of comedy. I enjoyed reading this book more than any other and it made me want to explode with laughter. David Baddiel should be proud of this marvellous book and the joy it has brought two children (me being one). I recommend this book for anyone (especially James Bond fans) aged 5+.”


Stephanie Lowe
Family Editor

Stephanie Lowe is Family Editor at GoodToKnow covering all things parenting, pregnancy and more. She has over 13 years' experience as a digital journalist with a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to all things family and lifestyle. Stephanie lives in Kent with her husband and son, Ted. Just keeping on top of school emails/fund raisers/non-uniform days/packed lunches is her second full time job.