Best Books and Popular Authors for 12 Year Old Boys

In my opinion, reading is one of the most important activities in which a child can participate. After all, children who grow up with good reading skills often find it easier to excel in other school activities. All sorts of information can be gained from reading - after all, even extracting facts from the web requires the ability to read and research. Nurturing good reading skills in a child is something that will continue to benefit them into adulthood. Aside from that, escaping into another world and losing oneself in a book is a healthy and enjoyable way to ignite the imagination.

Many parents, of boys in particular, state that their children are not interested in reading. The attraction of books for boys often declines as the child grows older. Many times, reading is deemed as boring, especially when compared to gadgets such as games consoles, computers, iPads and iPod Touches. Even boys that used to like reading can go off it. But it is important to nuture a continued appreciation of books, right through childhood and into the teenage years.

My son has loved reading ever since he learned to do it for himself, when he was about six. He has read many authors and enjoyed many different series of books. Now he is twelve, however, he has become very specific about which books he will read. No longer does he find it easy to choose a book from the library - he usually has a very specific book and author in mind and nine times out of ten it's not on the shelves. The problem is, if there is no book out by a favourite author, then it is difficult to get him to read at all. He reads through a series quickly, and then is left waiting for the next book - for months, sometimes. Authors that he used to enjoy, only a couple of years ago, have been relegated to the 'boring' pile. Derek Landy's Skulduggery Pleasant, Charlie Higson's Young Bond and Anthony Horowitz' Alex Rider are all series that he used to love but has grown out of.

Knowing how difficult it can sometimes be to encourage boys to read, I thought I would write this article so that parents of twelve year old sons might inspire their children to try a new series or author. As I said before, my son might be fussy, but he is still an avid reader - below is a list of his favourite books and authors, of which he has given 5 stars. Of course, not all children will like the same stories or styles of writing - my son has never been interested in Harry Potter, for example. However, I do know that the books he has chosen are very popular within his peer group.

Escape From Furnace - Alexander Gordon Smith

The first Escape From Furnace book was published by Gordon Smith in 2009, but it is my son's latest discovery. He bought the first title, Lockdown, about three weeks ago, and now he is on the third in the series. We discovered these books when I dragged him into the book store one weekend because he hadn't been reading. He thought he had read all the books he was interested in and was happy to wait for a favoured author to release another title. Of course, that can take months. When he stops reading and thinks that sitting up in the evenings watching videos on the iPod Touch is the way to go, then I know I've got to inspire him to broaden his horizons.

My son rates the Furnace series right up there at the top of his list of favourite books. 'They're awesome,' he replied, when I asked him for his verdict. Furnace is a terrible prison, located beneath Hell. It is a place of nightmares, hideous beasts, evil wardens and death. Buried so deep below the Earth's surface, how can there be any way out?

There are several titles published in the Escape From Furnace series. The mark of a good series is undoubtedly the author's ability to keep the reader entertained throughout, without losing fans along the way. Sometimes, my son goes off a series after a couple of books because he declares them predictable and 'all the same'. Not so with Gordon Smith's Escape From Furnace. He looks forward to the next book and has finished it within a couple of days.

Cherub Series - Robert Muchamore

Muchamore's Cherub series is a long-time favourite of my son. He places it ahead of the Henderson Boys by the same author, simply because he prefers the more modern-day setting. It's a gritty series, which has introduced my son to a number of issues - I remember being rather surprised of his awareness of the problem of child glue sniffers in South America, and pressed him for the source of this information. 'It's in my Cherub book,' he told me.

I did not realise how worldly wise my son was becoming with his head stuck in a book, but it is not something that bothers me. After all, learning about issues from a moral point of view is positive. And we cannot shield our kids. Muchamore's books fight against the bad in the world, through the characters in 'Cherub' - a secret team of trained agents who are all under seventeen. Terrorism, global destruction, drug criminals.... all are targeted by Cherub members, who do not even exist, as far as the rest of the world is concerned.

Darren Shan - Any Series, Any Title

My 12 year old is a long time fan of the Master of Horror. I think he was about 9 when he first started reading Shan's books, and at the time I was inwardly horrified at the level of gore. Shan, however, has a huge fan base of both young and older readers. I once went to a talk and book signing hosted by the man himself - it was hugely entertaining, very interesting - and full of boys from about ten right up through the teenage years.


Shan is a prolific writer who churns out highly rated work at an impressive rate. Mostly, it is littered with beasts, gore and gruesome death. And sometimes vampires. At least, that's what my son tells me. Not exactly my own cup of tea, but that is what most boys seem to like. In our house, we have The Saga of Darren Shan (Cirque Du Freak), The Demonata and The Saga of Larten Crepsley (who appears in some earlier books). The first book of Shan's new series, Zom-B, is out this week, and is on my son's list of books to buy. My son enjoys all Shan's books from any series, except for the few titles which are directed purposefully towards adults (The City Trilogy).

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

I bought the Hunger Games trilogy for my son last Christmas, about six months before his twelfth birthday. He had not expressed an interest in reading these books - in fact, he was not even aware of their existence at that time. Rather, I was looking for an extra small gift and asked book store staff if they had any recommendations. I had another book in my hand at the time, but the assistant I spoke with suggested I swap it for the series by Suzanne Collins. I wasn't sure at first, mainly because the author was a woman (the writers my son usually favours are male). Also, a quick flick through told me that one of the key characters was a girl. 'Are these books more popular with girls?' I had to check. 'No, it's a mix,' replied the store assistant. 'Boys like them just as much.'

I bought the books and I was right to. My son told me later that they were the best books he had ever read. He told me a bit about the story line - set in the future, with a disturbing annual reality game, in which two young people from each district are chosen to enter and forced to compete in a show in which only one can come out alive. The storyline is somewhat shocking (especially because children and young adult are forced to kill one another in order to survive themselves), but it is well-written and compelling. A few months after he had finished the trilogy, the film came out. My son and I went together. His verdict was that the film was great, but the books are better. As is to be expected, although the film follows the storyline, some elements from the novel were missing from the movie.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Jeff Kinney

Jeff Kinney has been a favourite of my son's since he was nine years old. Now twelve, he can read these rather light books extremely quickly, yet the appeal has not waned. In fact, new title The Third Wheel is due to be released on 13 November and he is really looking forward to it.

My son might find it easy to skim through an entire Wimpy Kid book in a hour or two, yet that does not mean the books are not worth buying for an older child. Age-wise, 12 year olds relate very well to the characters in the books. Greg is a secondary school pupil facing all the obstacles of a young teen, from friendship problems, trying to be cool, disagreements with parents and the growing appeal of girls. Not only that, but my son has read the Wimpy Kid series over and over again. When he wants a light, entertaining read he very often opts for these, not particularly caring that he already knows the story. Wimpy Kid has definitely proven to be good value for money.

Just Some Ideas

The above are just a few ideas for anyone looking to engage a twelve year old boy in reading. Of course, children have differing tastes, just as adults do. All children like different themes - some like fantasty, some like action, some like gritty realism. But for any parent stuck for ideas, this list might just prove beneficial. It certainly comes highly rated from my own son.

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Comments 2 comments

daisyjae profile image

daisyjae 4 years ago from Canada

Thanks for this useful hub. My 11 year old is into the wimpy kid books and the hunger games. I have not heard of the others listed, but i will check them out.


Polly C profile image

Polly C 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi daisyjae, sounds like they enjoy the same kinds of books. Thanks for reading :)

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