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139 Best Books for Kids Age 11

A book club with nearly a million members put together this list of outstanding books that are perfect for kids age 11 and other middle-grade readers.

Eleven seems to be that age in a child’s life where they are ravenous readers and run out of books to read faster even than they outgrow clothes (and that’s mind-bogglingly fast enough!).

Having kids who love to read is a good problem to have, of course, but it can be a real challenge for parents to think of what books to give them next.

We asked for recommendations from a book lovers’ club with nearly a million members – consisting of parents, teachers, librarians, and other lifelong readers, all of whom were, of course, kids themselves once upon a time – and from their suggestions we put together this list of books that kids age 11 and thereabouts can immerse themselves into.

There are the classics that almost every parent will know, such as the Chronicles of Narnia and the Lord of the Rings, and even newer “classics” like Harry Potter. There are also books that the average parent may or may not have heard of: hidden gems from years past, works with cult followings, or titles published fairly recently.

We divide the 139 recommendations into a top 5, a list of 10 honorable mentions, and an easy-to-scan list of the other 124. When we say top, we don’t necessarily mean that these are the best books among all those in the list; rather, these are the ones that may not be worldwide phenomena — and you probably don’t have a copy of — yet but show a lot of promise and are therefore worth spotlighting.

Happy reading!

Top 5 Books

1. Adventures on Trains

Eleven-year-old Harrison “Hal” Beck and his Uncle Nat, a travel writer, are on the last journey of the Highland Falcon, the most famous steam train in Britain, when a precious jewel goes missing. They find themselves in the middle of the investigation and try to solve the mystery before the train reaches its last destination. Other adventures on other trains – in California, South Africa, Germany, Australia, and the Arctic Circles – follow in this modern series by MG Leonard and Sam Sedgman.

Books in the series:

  1. Highland Falcon Thief
  2. Kidnap on the California Comet
  3. Murder on the Safari Star
  4. Danger at Dead Man’s Pass
  5. Sabotage on the Solar Express
  6. The Arctic Railway Assassin

2. Circle of Magic

In the first book of the Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce, four young misfits – a young girl of noble descent, a trader, a former thief, and a merchant’s daughter – are brought together to learn how to use their newly discovered magical abilities. They have “ambient magic” as opposed to “academic magic”: power with plants, power of fire and heat, power of earth and weather, and power to weave magic itself. There are four books in the series, with each book highlighting one of the four main characters. Another quartet of books, The Circle Opens, takes place four years later and features the four young mages mentoring others.

Books in the series:

  1. The Magic in the Weaving (Sandry’s Book)
  2. The Power in the Storm (Tris’s Book)
  3. The Fire in the Forging (Daja’s Book)
  4. The Healing in the Vine (Briar’s Book)

3. The FunJungle Collection

In this fun series by Stuart Gibbs, middle schooler Teddy Fitzroy moves into the country’s biggest zoo with his scientist parents. However, mysterious things keep happening at the zoo: the unexpected death of a hippopotamus, a missing koala, a pregnant rhinoceros seemingly being hunted for her horn, a disappearing giant panda, a lion being framed for the murder of a famous dog, a rare dinosaur skull that vanishes into thin air, endangered bison and a bear named Sasquatch, and a whale that washes up dead on the beach…then explodes. It’s up to Teddy to investigate!

Books in the series:

  1. Belly Up
  2. Poached
  3. Big Game
  4. Panda-monium
  5. Lion Down
  6. Tyrannosaurus Wrecks
  7. Bear Bottom
  8. Whale Done (coming)

4. Ranger's Apprentice

It’s Choosing Day in the Kingdom of Araluen and 15-year-old orphan Will and his friends face either becoming an apprentice to a craftmaster or having to work in the local farms. Will gets chosen to be the apprentice of Halt, a Ranger, one of a group of skilled trackers, archers and warriors who have mastered the art of staying unseen. Friendships are tested and danger arrives as the Rangers receive word that vicious creatures under the control of a vengeful exiled baron have entered Araluen. There are twelve books in the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan, all featuring prevailing themes of courage, loyalty, friendship, endurance, and the eventual triumph of good over evil.

Books in the series:

  1. The Ruins of Gorlan
  2. The Burning Bridge
  3. The Icebound Land
  4. The Oakleaf Bearers / The Battle for Skandia
  5. The Sorcerer of the North
  6. The Siege of Macindaw
  7. Erak’s Ransom
  8. The Kings of Clonmel
  9. Halt’s Peril
  10. The Emperor of Nihon-Ja
  11. The Lost Stories
  12. The Royal Ranger

5. The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

Fifteen-year-old Josh is working at his summer job in a bookstore when a man named John Dee arrives and tries to steal an ancient book called The Book of Abraham the Mage, also known as the Codex. Dee engages the store owner, Nick Fleming, in a magical battle and successfully carries off the Codex, but John is able to keep hold of two of the Codex’s most important pages. Nick Fleming confesses that he is actually the famous French alchemist Nicholas Fleming, and that he and his wife Perenelle are kept alive by an elixir whose recipe can only be found in the pages of the Codex. The recipe changes every month and cannot simply be memorized. It turns out that John Dee is planning to use the Codex to restore his masters, the Dark Elders, to life. Meanwhile, Nicholas believes that Josh and his twin Sophie are the ones mentioned in a prophecy in the Codex and that the fate of the world depends on their being able to fully awaken their magical abilities. The completed six-book series by Michael Scott follows Sophie and Josh as they try to master magic, defeat John Dee, and rescue Perenelle (whom Dee has kidnapped), along the way enlisting the help of characters from history and mythology.

Books in the series:

  1. The Alchemyst
  2. The Magician
  3. The Sorceress
  4. The Necromancer
  5. The Warlock
  6. The Enchantress

10 Honorable Mentions

The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids is about a group of kids at Bailey Elementary who encounter everyday characters – such as a teacher, camp counselor, custodian, and scientist – who may or may not be mythical creatures. Titles (there are over 50) include Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots, Mummies Don’t Coach Softball, Angels Don’t Know Karate, Mermaids Don’t Run Track, and Werewolves Don’t Go To Summer Camp. The books are written by Marcia T. Jones and Debbie Dadey.

Al Capone Does My Shirts is about a 12-year-old boy named Moose Flanagan who moves to Alcatraz Island with his family when his father accepts employment as an electrician and guard in the famous prison. When his sister needs help to get into a school for people with special needs, Moose asks for help from the legendary criminal Al Capone, who works in the prison’s laundry. His sister gets accepted and Moose finds a note in his newly laundered shirt with the underlined word, “Done.” There are four books in the series so far and author Gennifer Choldenko is reportedly working on a fifth installment.

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston is about a 13-year-old girl who never stops believing that her missing brother Quinton is still alive. A series of events leads her to discover that she is a powerful magician and she joins a magical training camp, all in the hopes of finding her brother.

Bazil Broketail is the first book in the Dragons of the Argonath series by Christopher Rowley. It follows the adventures of Bazil, a leatherback dragon who serves in one of the legions of the Argonath empire. His companion is Relkin, a quiet orphan boy from a small village who wishes most of all to finish his service and retire to a farm. The pair eventually become one of the most feared and admired fighting teams in Argonath.

The Charlie Bone series, properly known as Children of the Red King series, starts with the book Midnight for Charlie Bone, in which 10-year-old Charlie discovers that he can hear the thoughts of people in photographs. He gets sent to Bloor’s Academy where he meets other characters “endowed” with powers such as moving objects with their mind, controlling water, bewitching clothing, talking to animals, calling up spirit ancestors, bringing stone statues to life, summoning storms, and turning into a bird.

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke tells the story of Firedrake, a young silver dragon who lives with other dragons in a hidden valley in Scotland. When Firedrake learns that humans intend to flood their home valley, Firedrake enlists his brownie friend Sorrel and a human boy named Ben in a quest to find the Rim of Heaven, a mythical part of the Himalayas that they hope will become a safe haven for all dragons.

Fablehaven is the first in a five-book fantasy series written by Brandon Mull. When their parents go on a cruise, 13-year-old Kendra and 11-year-old Seth are sent to stay with their grandparents. After solving a complex puzzle involving six keys and a locked journal, they discover that Fablehaven is actually a secret sanctuary for all sorts of mythical creatures – creatures of both light and dark – and that their grandparents are the caretakers. Throughout the series, Seth and Kendra face challenges such as defeating a witch and demon, defending the sanctuary from an evil society, stopping a plague, and protecting the world from demons.

In The Giant Under The Snow by John Gordon, Jonquil “Jonk” Winters explores the woods and finds an old buckle. She is then attacked by a large black dog and rescued by a woman named Elizabeth Goodenough who possesses magical powers. They soon learn that the dog’s master is a stone-faced ancient warlord who needs the buckle to regain his powers. Jonk and her friends need to defeat the warlord and keep him from getting hold of the buckle.

Hoot by Carl Hiassen is about a 12-year-old boy named Roy Eberhardt who moves to Florida, attracts the attention of a bully, and makes friends with another boy who is trying to stop the construction of a pancake house in order to save the family of endangered burrowing owls living on the site. Roy gets his classmates to join his protest and together they are able to stop the construction, with the pancake house owners promising to create an owl sanctuary instead.

Redwall is a series of books by Brian Jacques that chronicle the adventures of the animals living in Redwall Abbey and the surrounding countryside of Mossflower Wood. There are a total of 22 books in the series and although there are a few recurring characters, most of the titles are standalone books and can be read in any order. The best book to begin with, though, would be the one that was published first, Redwall, for which the entire series is named. In this starting story, a young mouse named Matthias serves as a novice monk at Redwall Abbey but dreams of adventure and following the footsteps of the abbey’s founder, Martin the Warrior.

124 other great books worth looking into for your eleven-year-old reader

  1. The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths
  2. The 39 Clues series by a collaboration of authors such as Rick Riordan
  3. Adventurers Wanted series by ML Forman
  4. Alanna: The First Adventure and the rest of The Song of the Lioness series, as well as other books by Tamora Pierce
  5. Alex Rider (YA) series of spy novels by British author Anthony Horowitz
  6. The Amulet of Samarkand (YA) and the rest of the Bartimaeus trilogy of fantasy books by Jonathan Stroud
  7. Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
  8. The Baseball Box Prophecy by Bruce Newbold
  9. Beautiful Creatures (YA) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  10. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  11. The Belgariad series by David and Leigh Eddings
  12. The Beyonders by Brandon Mull
  13. Books of Abarat series by Clive Barker
  14. Brotherband Chronicles by John Flanagan
  15. Children of the Lamp by PB Kerr
  16. Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver
  17. Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
  18. Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander
  19. City of Truth by James Morrow
  20. The Copernicus Legacy by Tony Abbott
  21. Crow Boy by Philip Caveney
  22. Daniel X series by James Patterson
  23. Daxton Tanner and The Eleagons by AR Hoff
  24. A Deadly Education and the rest of the Scholomance trilogy by Naomi Novik
  25. The Declaration (YA) by Gemma Malley
  26. Deltora Quest series by Emily Rodda
  27. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  28. Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voight
  29. Dog Man by Dav Pilkey
  30. Dragonwatch series by Brandon Mull
  31. The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
  32. Eragon and the rest of The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
  33. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
  34. Everlost (YA) and the rest of the Skinjacker trilogy by Neal Shusterman
  35. The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp by Rick Yancey
  36. Gallagher Girls (YA) spy series by Ally Carter
  37. Gangsta Granny and other books by David Walliams
  38. The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry
  39. The Great Brain series by John Dennis Fitzgerald
  40. Gregor the Overlander and the rest of The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins
  41. Hank the Cowdog series by John R. Erickson
  42. The Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon
  43. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
  44. Hatchet (YA) wilderness survival novel and the rest of the Hatchet series by Gary Paulsen
  45. The Heir Chronicles (YA) series by Cinda Williams Chima
  46. The Hero’s Guide To Saving Your Kingdom and the rest of the Hero’s Guide series by Christopher Healy
  47. Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan
  48. Hidden Talents by David Lubar
  49. His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman
  50. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
  51. Hollow Earth by John Barrowman and Carole Barrowman
  52. Horrible Histories by Terry Deary
  53. Houdini Club Magic Mysteries series by David A. Adler
  54. How to Train Your Dragon series by British author Cressida Cowell
  55. I Survived Series by Lauren Tarshis
  56. Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke
  57. Jack and the Geniuses series by Bill Nye and Gregory Mone
  58. Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
  59. Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan
  60. Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
  61. Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix
  62. Knife and the rest of the Faery Rebels series by RJ Anderson
  63. The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer
  64. The Last Dragon Chronicles series by Chris d’Lacey
  65. The Last Kids on Earth series by Max Brallier
  66. The Legend of Hooper’s Dragons by Gary Darby
  67. The Legends of Eerie-on-Sea series by Thomas Taylor and Tom Booth
  68. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
  69. The Lost Whale by Hannah Gold
  70. The Lost Years of Merlin and the rest of the Merlin Saga by TA Barron
  71. The Mad Scientists’ Club by Bertrand R. Brinley
  72. The Magisterium Series by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
  73. Magnus Chase series by Rick Riordan
  74. Maximum Ride series by James Patterson
  75. May Bird and the Ever After (YA) and the rest of the May Bird series by Jodi Lynn Anderson
  76. Michael Vey series by Richard Paul Evans
  77. Middle School series by James Patterson
  78. Mortal Engines (YA) and the rest of the Mortal Engines Quartet by Philip Reeve
  79. Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
  80. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
  81. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
  82. Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene
  83. National Geographic Kids’ Explorer Academy by Trudy Trueit
  84. Nevermoor series by Jessica Townsend
  85. Old Charlie by Clyde Robert Bulla
  86. The Outsiders and the rest of the Gods and Warriors series by Michelle Paver
  87. Pegasus series by Kate O’Hearn
  88. Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
  89. Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
  90. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  91. Planet Omar series by Zanib Mian
  92. Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren
  93. Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
  94. The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
  95. The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch (Raphael Simon)
  96. Secret Zoo series by Chick Bryan
  97. Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima
  98. Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage
  99. A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
  100. Seven Wonders series by Peter Lerangis
  101. Shadow Children series and other books by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  102. Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley
  103. Skydragon and other books by Anh Do
  104. Spellslinger Series (YA) by Sebastian de Castell
  105. Spiderwick Chronicles series by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
  106. Star Wars Jedi Academy series by Jeffrey Brown, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Amy Ignatow
  107. Story Thieves by James Riley
  108. Swarm Rising by Tim Peake and Steve Cole
  109. The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler
  110. Theodore Boone series by John Grisham
  111. Timmy Failure series by Stephan Pastis
  112. Treasure Hunters series by James Patterson
  113. Trials of Apollo series by Rick Riordan
  114. Tristan Strong series by Kwame Mbalia
  115. The Twinkie Squad by Gordon Korman
  116. The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons by Barbara Mariconda
  117. Warrior Cats series by Erin Hunter (Kate Cary and Cherith Baldry)
  118. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and other children’s fantasy novels by Alan Garner
  119. Wildwood by Colin Meloy
  120. Wings of Fire series by Tui T. Sutherland
  121. Wise Child by Monica Furlong
  122. Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen
  123. A Wrinkle in Time and the rest of the Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle
  124. Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by Xiran Jay Zhao

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