This summer (and who knows exactly what this summer will look like?) I plan to do a book club with my 12-year-old son. We’ve done this a couple of summers in a row, where I make a list of books we can choose from, often with his input, and we take turns choosing from it and then discussing the books, usually over a frappucino or a snack.

This time, I’d love some suggestions from you on books you think would go well on my list. Matthew loves to read, but prefers action and plot-driven books to meandering stories about world-building and internal politics. He enjoys humor but will read any sort of book, and likes nonfiction as well as fiction, especially if it’s about sports. He has read Harry Potter one meelion times. (As one does.) He is very willing to try new things.

Books that have been especially successful in the past: Kwame Alexander’s Crossover and Booked, The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz, A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, and the Hunger Games books.

I’m so looking forward to your suggestions! Have at it in the comments!

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20 Responses to Suggestions?

  1. Swistle says:

    My 12-year-old boy has recently finished a The Unwanteds kick, and is now on a Terry Pratchett kick.

    • Jenny says:

      I hadn’t heard of The Unwanteds and we’ve got a big stack of Terry Pratchett, so both of these are excellent! Thank you!

  2. Jeanne says:

    I made the “middle school” section my book list for preschoolers to young adults when my own son was twelve
    I particularly recommend the Anderson, Card, Chabon, Colfer, Cooper, Doctorow, Gray, Green, Heinlein, de Larrabeiti, LeGuin, Rex, Riordan, Sachar, and Schusterman for 12-year-old boys.

    • Jenny says:

      Thank you, these are perfect, as he as already read and enjoyed about half of them and I didn’t know or hadn’t thought about the other half. I was considering some Heinlein juvenilia for this summer already, like maybe Have Space Suit, Will Travel, and I was also considering Hitchhiker’s Guide. You are a gem, thank you Jeanne.

  3. Lory says:

    My son (now 13 1/2) has enjoyed books by Carl Hiassen (Hoot, Chomp, Flush, etc…) and the Spy School series by Stuart Gibbs. I haven’t read any of those but he devoured them. Also the Prydain series — one of my own childhood faves — though I have a hard time getting him interested in more Lloyd Alexander. I kept trying to get him to read Terry Pratchett and he’s only just now finished one (Dodger). Hope he’ll read more. Enjoy your choice whatever it is!

    • Jenny says:

      Matthew’s read Lloyd Alexander but I haven’t convinced him to try the Hiaasen yet. He’d enjoy that style of humor. Great suggestions, thanks!

  4. Heather says:

    Definitely Diane Duane’s Young Wizard series. Came long before HP, and the magic is much cooler and more complicated. (Don’t get me wrong, I love HP, but Young Wizards is great, too, and I think I like the magic better).

    • Jenny says:

      I’ve never heard of that series. It sounds great! I’ll put it on my list to investigate. Thank you!

  5. Glynis says:

    I’d recommend Monstrous Devices by Damien Love, a cross between Raiders of the List Ark and Toy Story. A great plot with action moving between London, Paris and Prague.

    • Jenny says:

      That sounds amazing! Talk about lots of plot and action — that would hold anyone’s attention! Thanks for the suggestion.

  6. Brona says:

    I have a couple of older ones to recommend – The Silver Sword by Ian Serralier (it may have a different title in the US) and I Am David by A Holm – both WWII books. And have you read The Hobbit together yet?

    • Jenny says:

      Oh gosh, I must have read I Am David fifteen times when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure my sister got our shared copy. I’ll look up the other one as well. And Matthew has read and enjoyed the Hobbit. I tried to get him interested in The Fellowship of the Ring this summer, but he got bogged down in the Council of Elrond, so we may try again a bit later.

  7. Konna @ The Reading Armchair says:

    For the international children’s books day, I had compiled a list of children’s book, divided by age groups. I think that you could find some interesting and action-packed series in the age groups 9-11 and 12-14 (many series like Harry Potter begin in the 9-11 group).

  8. indiefan20 says:

    Some suggestions…
    1. Percy Jackson
    2. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
    3. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
    4. Chronicles of Ancient Darkness (my brother LOVED this series when he was about that age)
    5. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (one you should preview first, IMO)
    6. Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander
    7. Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
    8. Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi
    9. Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson
    10. Matilda, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, or James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

    Hope this helps! :)

    • Jenny says:

      This list is like Jeanne’s — about half books that Matthew has already read and loved, and half books I haven’t read at all. Thanks very much for the great suggestions!

  9. Anne Simonot says:

    Hmmm… what about Rosemary Sutcliffe? They’re older & can have some slow, sentimental parts, but Eagle of the Ninth in particular is also full of action, and chase scenes. Blood Feud too is very good. Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. Watership Down. Antonia Fraser’s Robin Hood is excellent! John Christopher’s Tripods series. The Stones of Muncaster Cathedral by Robert Westall. Also by him, Urn Burial. Shade’s Children by Garth Nix.
    Sorry.. obviously I tend toward the classics in children’s literature, but I too prefer plot & action, and I think a lot of these would meet that definition.

  10. Anne Simonot says:

    Oh, just thought of one more! The Young World, by Chris Weitz. I think it’s a series but I’ve only read the first. Definitely plot/action oriented. Also maybe Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory. It’s YA and quite enjoyable.

  11. Theresa Born says:

    Our kids really enjoyed the Mysterious Benedict Society series (Trenton Lee Stewart).

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