The Ultimate Book List: 30+ Books for 12 Year Old Girls

Girl laying on her side on the couch, reading a book
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What are the Best Books for 12 Year Olds? Girl Edition!

Being a 12 year old girl comes with all sorts of life changes! New school, new friends and new things to worry about… like boys (or girls) and fitting in and maintaining good grades. Most importantly, 12 year old girls are at a stage where they are establishing their own views on the world. What’s so great about books written for girls this age is that they are oftentimes very relatable to the experiences most middle school girls have.

In this post, we have a GINORMOUS list of books for girls that will fulfill any book lovers longing for something relatable, heart-felt, and thought-provoking.

Girls at this age need books that have a strong female voice and themes that encourage them to reflect on their own world views and values.

These books seek to build girls’ confidence and act as a beautiful guiding hand as they navigate through major changes they are experiencing in real life.

What Books Should 12 Year Olds Read?

Middle grade books are written for children aged 8-12. These books have protagonists that are the same age as their reader making them relatable and relevant. To read more about what classifies as a middle grade book, read here.

What makes the middle grade books on this list for girls special is that each and everyone of them have a strong female protagonist. The characters in these books have very different experiences (as you can imagine) yet all of them attach to the value of love, friendship and family.

As I was curating this list, I made sure that, regardless of their genre, all of the themes of these middle grade books have an underlying message that says, 

“Follow your heart no matter what!”

Classic Books for 12 Year Olds (Boy or Girl)

Here is a brief list of good classic books for 12 year olds who may be in search of something a little more timeless, thought-provoking, or challenging. Classic books fit perfectly into homeschool curriculums or as additional reading for advanced readers. Boys and girls alike will love this list of classic books for 12 year olds.

Although most of these are part of a series, they are great standalones for beginners to classics, too!

Table of Contents

Popular Book Series for 12 Year Old Girls

What is so appealing about book series for 12 year olds is that they invite their readers into their complex world.

Book series authors cater to readers who love to invest their time living in their characters’ world. Book series carry with them deeper character development and more complex plots. This leaves more room for thrilling plot twists and satisfying resolutions.

Because this list of books could easily be made up of all books in a series, I thought I’d share a few of the most popular book series here.

What Parents Should Know about Reading at this Age (12+ years old)

Books like the ones on this list open up readers 12+ years old to a vast range of experiences and cultural values. Your child’s opinion may be affected or influenced by what they read. This is a beautiful thing as they begin developing their own opinions and beliefs of the world around them.

As your child begins building stronger reading habits, their ability to read critically and analytically also begins to expand. Children at this age are able to understand and compare different meanings and perspectives in what they read, all with an unbiased eye.

Books for 12 year old girls should offer the opportunity for them to explore the different types of genres as they begin to develop their own reading taste.

A Friendly Reminder about Books for 12 Year Old Girls

Just because this book list was created with a 12 year old girl in mind…  all of the books on this list can be read and enjoyed by anyone— preteens, teens, adults– no matter what gender you are! No doubt about it!

Click on any title in the table of contents to bring you directly to that title and its description or enjoy the scenic route! You are guaranteed to find the perfect middle grade book for your 12 year old heart.

Dan Gemeinhart

A 2019 Parents’ Choice Award Gold Medal Winner

Five years.

That’s how long Coyote and her dad, Rodeo, have lived on the road in an old school bus, criss-crossing the nation.

It’s also how long ago Coyote lost her mom and two sisters in a car crash.

Coyote hasn’t been home in all that time, but when she learns that the park in her old neighborhood is being demolished―the very same park where she, her mom, and her sisters buried a treasured memory box―she devises an elaborate plan to get her dad to drive 3,600 miles back to Washington state in four days…without him realizing it.

Tae Keller

Would you make a deal with a magical tiger? This uplifting story brings Korean folklore to life as a girl goes on a quest to unlock the power of stories and save her grandmother.

Some stories refuse to stay bottled up…

When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, a magical tiger straight out of her almoni’s Korean folktales arrives, prompting Lily to unravel a secret family history. Long, long ago, Halmoni stole something from the tigers. Now they want it back. And when one of the tigers approaches Lily with a deal–return what her grandmother stole in exchange for Halmoni’s health–Lily is tempted to agree. But deals with tigers are never what they seem! With the help of her sister and her new friend Ricky, Lily must find her voice…and the courage to face a tiger.

Also by Tae Keller

The Science of Breakable Things

Jennifer Chan is Not Alone (April 2022)

Mindy Thompson

It’s 1944 Sutton, NY, and Poppy’s family owns and runs, Rhyme and Reason, a magical bookshop that caters to people from all different places and time periods. Though her world is ravaged by World War II, customers hail from the past and the future, infusing the shop with a delightful mix of ideas and experiences.

Poppy dreams of someday becoming shopkeeper like her father, though her older brother, Al, is technically next in line for the job. She knows all of the rules handed down from one generation of Bookseller to the next, especially their most important one: shopkeepers must never use the magic for themselves.

Read more on Amazon.

L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables is a given when it comes to books for girls. This classic is one I keep near and dear to my heart. Anne’s whimsical imagination and sweet innocence is enough to make the real world feel so vibrant and colorful. This book can be enjoyed by any person at any age or stage in life. 

Anne, an eleven-year-old orphan, is sent by mistake to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm and proceeds to make an indelible impression on everyone around her.

A Reading A La Mode Favorite!

B.B. Alston

Amari and her journey into the Supernatural world captivated me from the very beginning. If you like Harry Potter and the idea of there being another world full of magic, Amari’s your girl. She lives at home with her single mom and her brother has been missing for months. She feels like an outcast at school because she’s black and lives in a poor neighborhood. When she receives an invitation, sent by her missing brother, to come be apart of a summer tryout for the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, Amari is more than confused. She recognizes this as her change to search for her brother, who she knows is still alive somewhere. Her journey and what she learns about herself along the way is just so good!

Synopsis: Amari Peters has never stopped believing her missing brother, Quinton, is alive. Not even when the police told her otherwise, or when she got in trouble for standing up to bullies who said he was gone for good.

So when she finds a ticking briefcase in his closet, containing a nomination for a summer tryout at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain the secretive organization holds the key to locating Quinton—if only she can wrap her head around the idea of magicians, fairies, aliens, and other supernatural creatures all being real.

Read more on Amazon.

Kiran Millwood Hargrave

This book has a Mulan/Moana vibe going on. You know the classic “warrior princess of a girl is unable to leave her home but something beckons her to break the rules for the better good of her people” trope that we all love so much! 

Legends say that the island of Joya was once a place where songbirds sang in every tree and the islanders were free to come and go as they pleased. That was before the harsh-ruling Governor arrived, and ravens drove out the native birds. Now there are no songbirds, and the people are forbidden to travel beyond the forest that separates them from the rest of the island.

But for Isabella, the legends of her island home have always seemed like more than just stories. And when a series of mysterious events shakes the community, it’s Isabella—daughter to the island’s only mapmaker—who will lead a party of explorers into the forest in search of answers. As the group ventures deeper and deeper into the island, dark secrets begin to surface, and the legends Isabella has listened to all these years show signs of coming to life.

Judy Blume

Margaret Simon, almost twelve, likes long hair, tuna fish, the smell of rain, and things that are pink. She’s just moved from New York City to Farbook, New Jersey, and is anxious to fit in with her new friends—Nancy, Gretchen, and Janie. When they form a secret club to talk about private subjects like boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret is happy to belong.
But none of them can believe Margaret doesn’t have religion, and that she isn’t going to the Y or the Jewish Community Center. What they don’t know is Margaret has her own very special relationship with God. She can talk to God about everything—family, friends, even Moose Freed, her secret crush.
Margaret is funny and real, and her thoughts and feelings are oh-so-relatable—you’ll feel like she’s talking right to you, sharing her secrets with a friend.

Jonathan Stroud

Scarlett McCain is a shoot-first ask-questions-later kind of outlaw. She scrapes by on bank heists, her wits—and never looking back.

She’s on the run from her latest crime when she comes across Albert Browne. He is the sole survivor of a horrific accident, and against her better judgement, Scarlett agrees to guide him to safety.

This is a mistake. Soon there are men with dogs and guns and explosives hot on their heels. Scarlett’s used to being chased by the law, but this is extreme. It was only a little bank she’d robbed . . .

As they flee together across the wilds, fighting off monstrous beasts, and dodging their pursuers, Scarlett comes to realize that Albert Browne is hiding a terrible secret. And that he may be the most dangerous threat of all.

Renee Watson

Jade believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother tells her to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. And Jade has: every day she rides the bus away from her friends and to the private school where she feels like an outsider, but where she has plenty of opportunities. But some opportunities she doesn’t really welcome, like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Just because her mentor is black and graduated from the same high school doesn’t mean she understands where Jade is coming from. She’s tired of being singled out as someone who needs help, someone people want to fix. Jade wants to speak, to create, to express her joys and sorrows, her pain and her hope. Maybe there are some things she could show other women about understanding the world and finding ways to be real, to make a difference.

Wendy Mass

Mia Winchell appears to be a typical kid, but she’s keeping a big secret—she sees color in numbers and sounds and words. She doesn’t want anyone to know about it. But when her secret is picked up by her school, Mia is forced to reveal her secret.  She is also forced to accept herself and embrace her God given ability, called synesthesia.

Kiera Cass

Ah, the introductory book into Young Adult Romance novels… This book comes highly recommended by a 12 year old student of mine.

Prepare to be swept into a world of breathless fairy-tale romance, swoonworthy characters, glittering gowns, and fierce intrigue perfect for readers who loved Divergent, Delirium, or The Wrath & the Dawn.

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape a rigid caste system, live in a palace, and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her, and competing for a crown she doesn’t want.

Then America meets Prince Maxon—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Siobhan Curham

Amber craves excitement and adventure. Instead, she’s being bullied at school for having two dads, and life at home isn’t much better. Inspired by Oscar Wilde, Amber realizes that among the millions of people in London, there must be others who feel the same as she does; other dreamers – moonlight dreamers. After chance encounters with Maali, Sky and Rose, Amber soon recruits the three girls to the Moonlight Dreamers. It’s high time they started pursuing their dreams, and how better than with the support of friends?

Lauren Wolk

After losing almost everything in the Great Depression, Ellie’s family is forced to leave their home in town and start over in the untamed wilderness of nearby Echo Mountain. Ellie has found a welcome freedom, and a love of the natural world, in her new life on the mountain. But there is little joy after a terrible accident leaves her father in a coma. An accident unfairly blamed on Ellie.

Ellie is a girl who takes matters into her own hands, and determined to help her father she will make her way to the top of the mountain in search of the healing secrets of a woman known only as “the hag.” But the hag, and the mountain, still have many untold stories left to reveal.

Historical fiction at its finest, Echo Mountain is celebration of finding your own path and becoming your truest self. Lauren Wolk, the Newbery Honor– and Scott O’Dell Award–winning author of Wolf Hollow and Beyond the Bright Seaweaves a stunning tale of resilience, persistence, and friendship across three generations of families.

Other Award-winning Books by Lauren Wolk

Laurie Halse Anderson

Like Echo Mountain, Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson is another historical fiction novel. Anderson has written beautiful books with strong female protagonists set in historical time periods including Chains and the rest of the Seeds of America book series.

During the summer of 1793, Mattie Cook lives above the family coffee shop with her widowed mother and grandfather. Mattie spends her days avoiding chores and making plans to turn the family business into the finest Philadelphia has ever seen. But then the fever breaks out.

Disease sweeps the streets, destroying everything in its path and turning Mattie’s world upside down. At her feverish mother’s insistence, Mattie flees the city with her grandfather. But she soon discovers that the sickness is everywhere, and Mattie must learn quickly how to survive in a city turned frantic with disease.

Stacy McAnulty

Lucy Callahan’s life was changed forever when she was struck by lightning. She doesn’t remember it, but the zap gave her genius-level math skills, and she’s been homeschooled ever since. Now, at 12 years old, she’s technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test–middle school!

Lucy’s grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that’s not a math textbook!). Lucy’s not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. She has everything she needs at home, where nobody can make fun of her rigid routines or her superpowered brain. The equation of Lucy’s life has already been solved. Unless there’s been a miscalculation?

Ann Braden

This book really struck my soul. I saw a piece of me in Zoey as I watched her put others before her. This is a great book for anyone who felt they had to grow up a little faster than everyone around them. 

Some people can do their homework. Some people get to have crushes on boys. Some people have other things they’ve got to do.

Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there’s Lenny, her mom’s boyfriend—they all get to live in his nice, clean trailer.

At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Her only friend Fuchsia has her own issues, and since they’re in an entirely different world than the rich kids, it’s best if no one notices them.

Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses.

Unfortunately, she’s not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way: her mom’s relationship with Lenny, Fuchsia’s situation, and her own place in this town of people who think they’re better than her. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she’s ever had?

Svetlana Chmakova
Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don’t get noticed by the mean kids.
 
Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.
 
On her first day at her new school, Penelope–Peppi–Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the “nerder girlfriend.” How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away!
 
Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can’t help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he’s a member of her own club’s archrivals–the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!
Peg Kehret
Thirteen-year-old Sunny runs away from her current foster parent in search of her twin sister, from whom she was separated ten years earlier. On the way, she’ll face a tornado, bullies, and a stray dog- and the fact that her sister may not be who Sunny hoped she would be.
Natalie Lloyd
Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck’s about to change. A “word collector,” Felicity sees words everywhere—shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog’s floppy ears—but Midnight Gulch is the first place she’s ever seen the word “home.” And then there’s Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity’s never seen before, words that make Felicity’s heart beat a little faster. Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she’ll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that’s been cast over the town . . . and her mother’s broken heart.

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Ten-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.

Jennifer L. Holm

Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer. Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far?

Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this gawky teenager really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?

Lynne Kelly

From fixing the class computer to repairing old radios, twelve-year-old Iris is a tech genius. But she’s the only deaf person in her school, so people often treat her like she’s not very smart. If you’ve ever felt like no one was listening to you, then you know how hard that can be.

When she learns about Blue 55, a real whale who is unable to speak to other whales, Iris understands how he must feel. Then she has an idea: she should invent a way to “sing” to him! But he’s three thousand miles away. How will she play her song for him?

Full of heart and poignancy, this affecting story by sign language interpreter Lynne Kelly shows how a little determination can make big waves.

Thanhhà Lai
Hà has only ever known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope—toward America. This moving story of one girl’s year of change, dreams, grief, and healing received four starred reviews, including one from Kirkus which proclaimed it “enlightening, poignant, and unexpectedly funny.”
Kate DiCamillo
Walking through the misty Florida woods one morning, twelve-year-old Rob Horton is stunned to encounter a tiger—a real-life, very large tiger—pacing back and forth in a cage. What’s more, on the same extraordinary day, he meets Sistine Bailey, a girl who shows her feelings as readily as Rob hides his. As they learn to trust each other, and ultimately, to be friends, Rob and Sistine prove that some things—like memories, and heartache, and tigers—can’t be locked up forever.
Erin Yun
Walking through the misty Florida woods one morning, twelve-year-old Rob Horton is stunned to encounter a tiger—a real-life, very large tiger—pacing back and forth in a cage. What’s more, on the same extraordinary day, he meets Sistine Bailey, a girl who shows her feelings as readily as Rob hides his. As they learn to trust each other, and ultimately, to be friends, Rob and Sistine prove that some things—like memories, and heartache, and tigers—can’t be locked up forever.
Barbara Dee

For seventh-grader Mila, it starts with some boys giving her an unwanted hug on the school blacktop. A few days later, at recess, one of the boys (and fellow trumpet player) Callum tells Mila it’s his birthday, and asks her for a “birthday hug.” He’s just being friendly, isn’t he? And how can she say no? But Callum’s hug lasts a few seconds too long, and feels…weird. According to her friend, Zara, Mila is being immature and overreacting. Doesn’t she know what flirting looks like?

But the boys don’t leave Mila alone. On the bus. In the halls. During band practice—the one place Mila could always escape.

It doesn’t feel like flirting—so what is it? Thanks to a chance meeting, Mila begins to find solace in a new place: karate class. Slowly, with the help of a fellow classmate, Mila learns how to stand her ground and how to respect others—and herself.

Caela Carter
Flora and her brother, Julian, don’t believe they were born. They’ve lived in so many foster homes, they can’t remember where they came from. And even now that they’ve been adopted, Flora still struggles to believe that they’ve found their forever home. Though Flora is trying her best to trust two new people, when she finds out that there will be a new baby, she’s worried that there won’t be enough love for everyone. So along with their new mother, Flora and Julian begin a journey to go back and discover their past—for only then can they really begin to build their future.
Grace Lin

In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life’s questions.

Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family’s fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer.
But the boys don’t leave Mila alone. On the bus. In the halls. During band practice—the one place Mila could always escape.

It doesn’t feel like flirting—so what is it? Thanks to a chance meeting, Mila begins to find solace in a new place: karate class. Slowly, with the help of a fellow classmate, Mila learns how to stand her ground and how to respect others—and herself.

Edited by Lilly Workneh
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic, edited by award-winning journalist Lilly Workneh with a foreword by #BlackGirlMagic originator CaShawn Thompson, is dedicated to amplifying and celebrating the stories of Black women and girls from around the world; features the work of over 60 Black female and non-binary authors, illustrators, and editors; is designed to acknowledge, applaud, and amplify the incredible stories of Black women and girls from the past and present; and celebrates Black Girl Magic around the world. Amongst the women featured from over 30 countries are tennis player Naomi Osaka, astronaut Jeanette Epps, author Toni Morrison, filmmaker Ava DuVernay; aviator Bessie Coleman, Empress Taytu Betul, journalist Ida B. Wells, and many other inspiring leaders, champions, innovators, and creators. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic is the fourth volume of the New York Times bestselling Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series which originally launched in 2016. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic is published by Rebel Girls, a global, multi-platform empowerment brand dedicated to helping raise the most inspired and confident global generation of girls through content, experiences, products, and community.
Jasmine Warga
Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives. At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

Other Books by Jasmine Warga

Sharon M. Draper
Stella lives in the segregated South—in Bumblebee, North Carolina, to be exact about it. Some stores she can go into. Some stores she can’t. Some folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less so. To Stella, it sort of evens out, and heck, the Klan hasn’t bothered them for years. But one late night, later than she should ever be up, much less wandering around outside, Stella and her little brother see something they’re never supposed to see, something that is the first flicker of change to come, unwelcome change by any stretch of the imagination. As Stella’s community—her world—is upended, she decides to fight fire with fire. And she learns that ashes don’t necessarily signify an end.

Also by Sharon M. Draper

Jacqueline Woodson
It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat–by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them–everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.