40 YA Books for Tweens (+ 25+ MG books that feel like YA)

40 YA Books for Tweens (+ 25+ MG books that feel like YA) | allisontait.com
Posted on June 1, 2018

40 YA Books for Tweens (+ 25+ MG books that feel like YA) | allisontait.comAside from ‘what to read after Harry Potter?’, the most frequent question that come up in the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook group is this one: ‘Can anyone suggest YA fiction suitable younger readers?’

While there is an entire ‘middle-grade’ (8-12) section of the bookshelf available, many younger readers (tweens), particularly advanced readers, want to move up. They want to read what older kids are reading and, often, they’ve read the library dry of the books deemed appropriate for their age group.

They’re hungry readers, and parents are often at a loss as to what to give them to read next – because, let’s face it, just because you can read a book, doesn’t necessarily mean that now is the best time to read it. It’s not just that YA fiction can feature themes and subject matter that’s just not suitable for tweens, but that books are best enjoyed when you’re ready for them.

Go in too early with a book that you love and your young reader may put it aside after a chapter or two, and never, ever pick it up again.

So, because I am the helpful sort, I have canvassed not only the YKNR group members (made up of nearly 4000 parents/booksellers/librarians/publishing professionals/teachers/grandparents/authors), but other interested parties (authors, booksellers, librarians) to come up with this list* of YA books that they would recommend for tween readers.

I’ve cheated a bit (not really but it sounds intriguing, right?) by splitting the list into two sections – what I would call Proper YA (aimed at readers 14+) and then a section that is Technically Middle-Grade But With A YA Feel. It might be that your younger tween is just looking for something in the latter category that feels more grown-up than what they’ve been reading. Proper YA has been divided into categories,  but other than that there’s no particular order.

As with any book recommendation, you know your child best, so be sure to read the book’s description closely to make sure it will be suitable for your particular reader – as noted below, some series get darker as they progress, so look beyond book #1, and check with your local bookseller or librarian regarding any themes or storylines you may be wondering about!

Good luck – and do join us over in Your Kid’s Next Read if you have any questions about these or other books for your young readers! 



The Other Side Of Summer by Emily Gale “Had some mature themes but nothing inappropriate for the younger readers.” – YKNR Member

Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Spurt by Chris Miles

Shooting Stars by Brian Falkner

How To Hang A Witch by Adriana Mather (Kid review)

The Wonder Of Us by Kim Culbertson (Kid review)

The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish

From The Cutting Room of Barney Kettle by Kate De Goldi

Dandelion Clocks by Rebecca Westcott

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Blueback by Tim Winton

The Moonlight Dreamers by Siobhan Curham (Suggested by Una (12))

Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil

Pink by Lili Wilkinson


I Am Not Esther by Fleur Beale

Two Wolves by Tristan Bancks

The Fall by Tristan Bancks

Missing by Sue Whiting (Kid review)

A little bit romantic

Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood

Two Summers by Aimee Friedman. “A really good book that provides a gentle intro to this theme.” – YKNR Member

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell “Is sweet… Some more serious stuff touched on but not too heavy.” – YKNR member (Kid review (mini))

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Unrequited by Emma Grey

Fantasy/Sci Fi

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (series)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (series)

The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson (series)

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (series)

Obernewtyn by Isabelle Carmody (series)

Tiffany Aching by Terry Pratchett (series)

Arkanae by Lynette Noni (series) “Recommended for tweens/teens done with Harry Potter. The themes get darker as it progresses but not too much that they cause problems. It’s not overly romantic and has a great focus on adventure and friendship.” – YKNR member (Kid review)

Contagion by Teri Terry “I’ve read the first book in the series. I loved her ‘Slated’ series too but it got darker by the third book.” – YKNR member

Pandora Jones by Barry Jonsberg

The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby

Little bit scary

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Kid review)


The Other Side Of Truth by Beverley Naidoo

Salt To The Sea by Ruta Septys “Perfect intro to World War Two – historical fiction without language or storylines that are too advanced.” – YKNR member

Once series by Morris Gleitzman. ‘It’s in hot demand with the Year 6s at my primary school library – girls and the boys.” – YKNR member

Technically middle-grade but might be just what your YA-seeking tween is looking for

The Secrets We Share by Nova Weetman “The sequel to Nova Weetman’s brilliant The Secrets We Keep – Clem starts high school in this book.” – YKNR Member

My Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg

Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur

Quincy Jordan by Jen Storer

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Lily Alone by Jacqueline Wilson

Dizzy by Cathy Cassidy

Stay Well Soon by Penny Tangey

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Being Miss Nobody by Tamsin Winter

Survival Strategies Of The Almost Brave by Jen White

Drama by Reina Telegemeier

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes “Deals with a first realised crush that doesn’t turn out the way she hopes.” – YKNR Member

Parvana by Deborah Ellis

A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay

The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill

The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon “The next level up for Lemony Snicket fans.” – YKNR member

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

The Timeslip series by Belinda Murrell

Pennies For Hitler by Jackie French “Really opens up tricky themes in sensitive ways.” – YKNR member

The Family With Two Front Doors by Anna Ciddor “There’s lots to talk/think about from an historic and a feminist perspective.” – YKNR member

A Night Divided by Jennifer A Nielsen

Nevermoor (The Trials Of Morrigan Crow) by Jessica Townsend

The Girl Who Brought Mischief by Katrina Nannestad

Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai

I am Malala (Young Readers Edition) by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick

AL Tait cartoon by Mick Elliott

Image Credit: Mick Elliot

Are you new here? Welcome! If your middle-grade reader loves epic adventure stories, be sure to check out my two series: The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher – click the title links to find out more.

Tweens who like mystery stories will love my brand new series, the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. Check out book #1 THE FIRE STAR here.


Other booklists you might also find useful:

24 books for tween boys with ‘nothing to read’

31 books for tween girls with ‘nothing to read’

21 tried-and-tested books for 13/14-year-old boys

100+ great books for your young reader

YKNR: Recommended reading lists for kids 10+, 12+, YA for Tweens

Jazzy’s Diamond Dozen (12 favourite reads from a kid book reviewer)

*As with all my book lists, if you click on the title it will take you to online bookstore Booktopia, where you can read the blurb and purchase the book if you like the sound of it (disclosure: this will result in a small commission to me at no extra charge to you). International visitors will find most of these titles in either paperback or ebook form on Amazon. Australian authors are denoted with a •

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, and a new ‘almost history’ detective series called the Maven & Reeve Mysteries (you’ll find book #1 THE FIRE STAR here), which is perfect for girls 10-14.

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.


  1. Zewlan Moor

    Good job Allison! Don’t worry if you don’t get to it, but Brian Falkner (Shooting Stars) is A Gold Coast author:)

    • Allison Tait

      Thanks Zewlan – sorry, I did some research and thought Brian was an NZ author! Will fix.

      • Kimberley Atkinson

        This kiwi says he is a kiwi – born in Auckland….

      • Kimberley Atkinson

        this kiwi says he IS a kiwi – born in Auckland!

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