top of page

10 Children's Books For Reluctant Readers (aged 9 -12)

Updated: Jun 17

A "Harry Potter" book, wand and glasses

J.K Rowling once said, "If you don't like to read, you haven't found the right book" and this is certainly one reason why some children may be reluctant to read. However, there are also many others, such as dyslexia, ADHD, difficulties with reading comprehension or just more tempting distractions, such as screen time.

This list of 10 children's books for reluctant readers (aged 9 - 12) are just some of my favourite books for this age group (in no particular order). They have all gained critical acclaim and have a dedicated fan base...including my own children and many others I have taught.

However, it's not an exhaustive list and I'd also encourage you to investigate the wide range of books and authors which are also popular with this age group, such as "Dog Man" by Dav Pilkey, "The Brilliant World of Tom Gates" by Liz Pichon, the "Murder Most Unladylike" series by Robin Stevens or "The World's Worst..." books by David Walliams.

This post contains affiliate links which means that, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.

The "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series is a popular collection of illustrated children's stories which revolve around the humorous, relatable adventures of Greg Heffley, who shares his daily middle-school experiences and misadventures through his diary.

Its engaging storytelling, relatable characters, and humorous style has not only inspired a love for reading in many children but has also launched a variety of movies and merchandise.

A hand holding up two "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books in a library.

Presented in a unique format that combines written entries with doodles and handwritten notes, the diary style adds a distinctive charm and enhances the storytelling.

As Greg Heffley navigates middle schools and the challenges of friends and family, self-acceptance, school projects and growing up, his thoughts and actions often reflect the insecurities, aspirations and social pressures that many young readers face and make him a believable character.

Most people are familiar with the books and films which follow the adventures of the young wizard, Harry Potter and his friends as they attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Captivating millions of readers worldwide with its detailed magical world, memorable characters and exciting storylines, the seven books explore friendship, bravery, love and, overall, the battle between good and evil.

The 12 year old protagonist, Percy Jackson discovers that he is the son of Poseidon and a demigod which causes him to embark on a quest to prevent a war among the Greek gods.

"The Lightning Thief" is the first book in the "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series which has become immensely popular for combining Greek mythology with modern-day settings and its blend of mythology and action.

"Wonder" is a heart warming and thought provoking novel which focuses on a ten-year-old boy named August Pullman (Auggie) who was born with a facial deformity known as Treacher Collins syndrome.

It explores Auggie's experiences as he transitions from being home schooled to attending a mainstream school for the first time and, through multiple perspectives, showcases the challenges and triumphs of school life and society's perception of differences.

Addressing the issues faced by individuals with physical differences as well as the broader themes of friendship, bullying, kindness and empathy, this book has been widely praised for its heartfelt storytelling, relatable characters and ability to inspire empathy and understanding among readers of all ages. It is a popular choice for schools, has been adapted into a film and has has a significant impact on raising awareness about embracing differences and fostering a more compassionate society.

Based on a true story, this touching children's novel follows the life of Ivan, a silverback gorilla living in a shopping mall zoo, as he discovers his own voice and fights for his freedom.

Through Ivan's unique perspective, the book explores themes of friendship, freedom and the power of imagination and has received praise for its emotional depth,

beautiful prose, and its ability to provoke thoughtful discussions

about animal rights and captivity.

"Holes" is a captivating story that weaves together past and present narratives and tells the story of a young boy called Stanley Yelnats who finds himself at a juvenile detention centre.

Along with other boys, Stanley has to dig holes in the desert as a character building exercise but, as he digs, he unravels the mystery behind the camp and its connection to his family's history.

Exploring themes of friendship, fate, justice and the power of redemption, "Holes" has been praised for its clever storytelling, memorable characters and its ability to tackle serious themes in an accessible manner.

"The Giver" is a dystopia novel which has become a classic in young adult literature due to its thought-provoking narrative.

Set in a seemingly utopian society, the story follows Jonas, a young boy who is assigned the role of the Receiver of Memory, the person who receives and stores all the past memories.

However, as the story progresses, he begins to feel unsettled by what he discovers and starts to question the "sameness" and conformity of his community.

Through a young protagonist's perspective, "The Giver" explores complex moral and philosophical concepts and delves into themes of individuality, memory and the consequences of suppressing emotion

The classic fantasy series "The Chronicles of Narnia" that transports readers to a magical world has captivated readers of all ages for decades with its enchanting storytelling, memorable characters, and timeless messages about courage, faith and redemption.

The series consists of seven books, including "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," "Prince Caspian" and "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" and follows the adventures of various children who stumble upon the realm of Narnia, filled with adventure, talking animals and battles between good and evil.

Recruited by Mr. Benedict to go undercover and prevent an evil mastermind's villainous plans, a group of young, gifted children must work together to solve exciting, puzzling and dangerous mysteries and outsmart their adversaries.

"The Mysterious Benedict Society" combines themes of intelligence, teamwork, problem solving skills and individual talents and has been praised for its clever plot twists, engaging characters and for encouraging young readers to embrace their unique abilities.

Kyle Keeley is an avid game enthusiast and is excited about the opportunity to explore the new public library's state-of-the-art facilities, designed by the eccentric game-maker, Luigi Lemoncello.

However, things take an unexpected turn when he and the other children find themselves trapped inside the library and having to work together to solve a series of puzzles.

This is a fast-paced, funny and clever adventure which highlights the joy of reading as well as the importance of teamwork, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

A young child against a yellow background and peeping over the top of a grey book

Remember: this list is not exhaustive but, hopefully, one or two of the above titles will encourage your child to read and may even ignite a life-long love of books.

If not, don't give up! Talk to your child's teacher, research online and visit your local library or book shop until you find something which matches their interests and reading ability. If you know of other books which children in the 9 - 12 age group

may enjoy, please comment below or email me at

Headshot of the author of this blog post

About the Author

I’m a private tutor, a former qualified and experienced secondary school English Teacher and the founder of English Home Studies. In addition to offering 1:1 tuition sessions for students from 9 - 16 years old (Year 5 - Year 11), I create digital and printable revision guides and activity packs.

I often post advice and links to free and affordable English resources on the English Home Studies Facebook and Instagram pages but, if you have a child in KS3 or KS4, you might like to join one of my Facebook groups:

If you would like to find out more about my qualifications and experience, read some of the lovely reviews I've received from previous clients or have any questions, please have a look around my website or send me a message. Many thanks.

Recent Posts

See All


 English Home Studies logo of an adult sat at a desk next to a child, helping them with their studies.
bottom of page