Best Chapter Books for Kids Ages 5 to 12

Whether your child is a reluctant reader or literary aficionado, they won't be able to put down these chapter books, which were approved by our squad of junior reviewers.

An image of a dad reading with his daughter.
Photo: Getty Images. Parents.
01 of 10

Pawcasso

Pawcasso book
Courtesy of Henry Holt and Co. BYR Paperbacks

Written and illustrated by Remy Lai

A surprisingly sophisticated graphic novel with a unique title character (a dog who shops at markets by himself!) engrossed our kid reviewers. In the name of fitting in and making friends, the protagonist, Jo, passes the dog off as hers. Said one mom: "Though the circumstances in the book are unusual, this act of stretching the truth to impress people is extremely relatable to grade-schoolers."

Ages 8 to 12

02 of 10

Stamped (for Kids)

Stamped (for Kids) book
Courtesy of Brown Books for Young Readers

Adapted by Sonja Cherry-Paul from the book by Jason Reynolds and Parents advisor Ibram X. Kendi, illustrated by Rachelle Baker

The youth version of the best-seller Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You exposes elementary-schoolers to uncomfortable truths about U.S. history. "I was unaware that President Obama faced so much trauma when he ran for office," said a 10-year-old. Added another, "I learned that President Abraham Lincoln, who is known for abolishing slavery, had opinions that Black people are unequal."

Ages 6 to 10

03 of 10

Simon and Chester: Super Detectives!

Simon and Chester: Super Detectives! book
Courtesy of Tundra Books

Written and illustrated by Cale Atkinson

The first book in a new graphic novel series debuts on a whimsical note when a boy and a ghost try to uncover how a mysterious pug got into the kitchen. High jinks and witty illustrations cracked up our kid reviewers.

Ages 6 to 9

04 of 10

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey book
Courtesy of Greenwillow Books

Written and illustrated by Erin Entrada Kelly

Sensitive and anxious Marisol is an exceedingly relatable Filipino American heroine in this book that bridges early readers and middle grade. The journey to overcome her fears and climb a magnolia tree in her backyard is full of suspense and heart.

Ages 6 to 10

05 of 10

I'm On It!

I’m On It! book
Courtesy of Hyperion Books for Children

Written by Andrea Tsurumi

An entertaining way to learn about prepositions like through and under, this early reader puts a frog and a goat in hilariously tenuous positions.

Ages 5 to 8

06 of 10

That Thing About Bollywood

That Thing About Bollywood book
Courtesy of Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Written by Supriya Kelkar

With all the magic and heart of Bollywood, this book "deftly deals with the question: 'When your parents separate, can you still be a family?' " says librarian Liv Hanson. Adds a 12-year-old reviewer, "It's similar to the TV show Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, but way cooler."

Ages 8 to 12

07 of 10

The Chance to Fly

The Chance to Fly book
Courtesy of Harry N. Abrams

Written by Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz

With an über-appealing story line, this novel cowritten by a Tony Award–winning actor helps kids believe in their dreams. "If you've ever doubted yourself or had crush problems, and you love Broadway," said an 11-year-old reviewer, "this book about a character with physical limitations who wants to perform in Wicked is absolutely for you."

Ages 8 to 12

08 of 10

The Double Life of Danny Day

The Double Life of Danny Day book
Courtesy of Feiwel and Friends

Written by Mike Thayer

An intriguing premise—a charismatic 12-year-old who lives every day twice but only remembers the second time—enthralled our kid reviewers. They were fascinated by how Danny takes notes on his "do-over days" to deal with bullies, and heartened that he still manages to make friends. Said a 12-year-old reviewer, "The book made me think about the possibilities of getting to restart my day."

Ages 8 to 12

09 of 10

Sisters of the Neversea

Sisters of the Neversea book
Courtesy of Heartdrum

Written by Cynthia Leitich Smith

A suspenseful and beautiful retelling of Peter Pan, minus the kidnapping, sexism, and misrepresentation of Native Americans, is ideal for a family read-aloud.

Ages 8 to 12

Join author Cynthia Leitich Smith as she reads a chapter and answers questions from viewers on @Parents Instagram Live on December 4, 2021, at 2 p.m. (ET). Go to parents.com/BookClub for details and discussion questions.

10 of 10

The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy

The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy book
Courtesy of Walden Pond Press

Written by Anne Ursu

A mystery-fantasy mash-up with a feminist perspective drew in readers who longed for justice at the isolated boarding school where the main character has been sent as a punishment for practicing magic. "It's an amazing story about family, friendship, and finding the truth," said a 10-year-old reviewer. Lots of twists kept kids turning pages.

Ages 8 to 12

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