15 Fantasy Books for 12-year-olds
by Anca Antoci
Fantasy is my favorite genre to escape reality and explore unbelievable adventures. But as much as I love reading as an adult, I absolutely hated it as a child. Looking back, I realize that it wasn’t reading that I hated, but the fact that I was forced to read by parents and teachers and their literature of choice was boring to me. That is why I made this list of books for 12-year-olds, that are anything but boring.
As a mom, I try to inspire my daughter to read by suggesting stories that would appeal to her more than what she has to read for school. She reluctantly started reading at around 12-years-old. Fortunately, the stories were intriguing enough that she kept reading. Mission accomplished!
Several of the books I reviewed on Summon Fantasy are appropriate for middle-grade readers and you can read the reviews to decide if they are something your child would enjoy reading. Such books are:
So here are 15 Fantasy Books for your 12-year-old kid, to keep them entertained while expanding their imagination and vocabulary. Some of them are classics, some are hidden gems, and some are coming out this year!
1. Warrior Cats Collection by Erin Hunter
This is the series that convinced my daughter that reading is fun. She has read all the books and is waiting for more. I can’s recommend this series enough. So if you have a 12-year-old or even a teen who thinks reading is boring, suggest they give this series a try.
Warriors: The Prophecies Begin Volume 1 to 6:
INTO THE WILD:
When ‘kittypet’ Rusty strays into the forest beyond his owner’s garden and is ambushed by a wild cat, life as he knows it is over.
FIRE AND ICE:
The second of six titles, set in a thrilling world of wild cat clans. Firepaw, the warrior brave, is now Fireheart, warrior cat.
FOREST OF SECRETS:
Allegiances are shifting among the Clans of warrior cats that roam the forest.
Fireheart’s traitorous enemy Tigerclaw has been vanquished and exiled.
Battles for honor and territory continue as Fireheart takes over the ThunderClan in this dramatic adventure.
THE DARKEST HOUR:
ThunderClan’s darkest hour is upon them, as Tigerstar’s quest for power plunges all the Clans.
2. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
This is a series that any child who enjoys fantasy worlds should read. They are big, heavy books, especially for their tiny hands, but once they get into the story, they won’t be able to put them down.
These books come in a collectible trunk-like box with sturdy handles and privacy lock. Each boxed set includes bonus decorative stickers.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone starts the series of magical adventures.
Turning the envelope over, his hand trembling, Harry saw a purple wax seal bearing a coat of arms; a lion, an eagle, a badger and a snake surrounding a large letter ‘H’.
Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle.
Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!
3. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
The Golden CompasLyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal–including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world.
Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want–but what Lyra doesn’t know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other.
4. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of NarniaJourneys to the end of the world, fantastic creatures, and epic battles between good and evil—what more could any reader ask for in one book?
The book that has it all is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, written in 1949 by Clive Staples Lewis. But Lewis did not stop there. Six more books followed, and together they became known as The Chronicles of Narnia.
For the past fifty years, The Chronicles of Narnia have transcended the fantasy genre to become part of the canon of classic literature. Each of the seven books is a masterpiece, drawing the reader into a land where magic meets reality, and the result is a fictional world whose scope has fascinated generations.
This edition presents all seven books—unabridged—in one impressive volume.
Deceptively simple and direct, The Chronicles of Narnia continue to captivate fans with adventures, characters, and truths that speak to readers of all ages, even fifty years after they were first published.
5. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Lightning ThiefPercy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse – Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him.
When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe.
She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena – Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.
6. A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
A Tale Dark and GrimmIn this mischievous and utterly original debut, Hansel and Gretel walk out of their own story and into eight other classic Grimm-inspired tales.
As readers follow the siblings through a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind (and beyond) the bread crumbs, edible houses, and outwitted witches.
Fairy tales have never been more irreverent or subversive as Hansel and Gretel learn to take charge of their destinies and become the clever architects of their own happily ever after.
7. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
The Girl Who Drank the MoonEvery year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town.
But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle.
She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest.
One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic.
8. Nightbooks by J.A. White
NightbooksA boy is imprisoned by a witch and must tell her a new scary story each night to stay alive. This thrilling contemporary fantasy from J. A. White, the acclaimed author of the Thickety series, brings to life the magic and craft of storytelling.
Alex’s original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping the witch Natacha happy, but soon he’ll run out of pages to read from and be trapped forever.
He’s loved scary stories his whole life, and he knows most don’t have a happily ever after. Now that Alex is trapped in a true terrifying tale, he’s desperate for a different ending and a way out of this twisted place.
9. The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag
The Witch BoyIn thirteen-year-old Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines will be exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted . . . and he’s still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.
When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help — as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself.
10. The Witches of Willow Cove by Josh Roberts
The witches of Willow CoveIt’s not easy being a teenage witch. Seventh grader Abby Shepherd is just getting the hang of it when weird stuff starts happening all around her hometown of Willow Cove. Green slime bubbling to life in science class. Giant snakes slithering around the middle school gym. Her best friend suddenly keeping secrets and telling lies.
Things only begin to make sense when a stranger named Miss Winters reveals that Abby isn’t the only young witch in town. Also, that Willow Cove is home to a secret past that connects them all. Miss Winters, herself a witch, even offers to teach Abby and the others everything she knows about witchcraft.
But as Abby learns more about Miss Winters’ past, she begins to suspect her new mentor is keeping secrets of her own. Can Abby trust her, or does Miss Winters have something wicked planned for the young witches of Willow Cove?
11. Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia
Paola Santiago and the River of TearsSpace-obsessed 12-year-old Paola Santiago and her two best friends, Emma and Dante, know the rule: Stay away from the river. It’s all they’ve heard since a schoolmate of theirs drowned a year ago.
Pao is embarrassed to admit that she has been told to stay away for even longer than that, because her mother is constantly warning her about La Llorona, the wailing ghost woman who wanders the banks of the Gila at night, looking for young people to drag into its murky depths.
Hating her mother’s humiliating superstitions and knowing that she and her friends would never venture into the water, Pao organizes a meet-up to test out her new telescope near the Gila, since it’s the best stargazing spot. But when Emma never arrives and Pao sees a shadowy figure in the reeds, it seems like maybe her mom was right. . . .
Pao has always relied on hard science to make sense of the world, but to find her friend she will have to enter the world of her nightmares, which includes unnatural mist, mind-bending monsters, and relentless spirits controlled by a terrifying force that defies both logic and legend.
12. Seekers of the Wild Realm by Alexandra Ott
Seekers of the Wild RealmFablehaven meets How to Train Your Dragon in this action-packed fantasy about a young boy and girl who become reluctant allies when caring for a baby dragon!
Twelve-year-old Bryn has always dreamed of becoming a Seeker, just like her dad. Only the Seekers are allowed to journey from their small village into the fantastical, untamed wilderness of their island known as the Wild Realm.
Once there, they obtain magical items for the village and use magic to protect and heal the incredible creatures native to the Realm.
When one of the elderly Seekers retires, leaving a vacant position, Bryn knows this may be her chance. There’s just one problem: Only boys have ever been Seekers. And the training master makes it clear he will not be training a girl.
But then Bryn’s biggest rival for the Seeker position, a boy named Ari, shows up at her door. He reveals the baby dragon he’s been hiding, and the two strike a deal. If Bryn helps care for the dragon, Ari will share all his training with her.
Even as the two bond over their love of magical animals and their secret trips into the Wild Realm, Bryn doesn’t completely trust Ari’s motives. Especially as she suspects Ari may know more than he’s letting on about the enemy clan stirring up unrest in their village.
When all these secrets come to a head and the stakes are at their highest, Bryn realizes it’s up to her to save her family…and the Realm.
13. Story Magic by Laurel Gale
Story MagicA feminist-tinged middle grade fantasy about finding your voice and the magical power that exist in storytelling.
Girls are forbidden to practice story magic. Only bad things happen when they do. Everyone knows this, but that doesn’t stop twelve-year-old Kaya A’Dor from learning the basics from her older brother Hob.
The trick is to sense a listener, one of the magical beings that inhabit the world, and tell it a story. If the listener is pleased and likes the story, it will allow the storyteller to work magic.
Although Kaya knows the risks, she attempts a little story magic to impress Hob.
When Hob is taken prisoner in Prima, the faraway capital city, Kaya is convinced it’s her fault, either because someone discovered what she was doing or because the bad luck has found her.
Desperate to save her brother, Kaya will do anything to make it to Prima, including story magic. With each story she tells her ability to wield story magic grows and she soon begins to wonder if her brother’s imprisonment was really her fault or something else entirely. Each story brings her one step closer to finding Hob and leaving everything she’s ever known behind.
14. The Lost Scroll of the Physician by Alisha Sevigny
The Lost Scroll of the PhysicianIn her search for answers, Sesha must find a priceless scroll for the pharaoh.
Sesha and Ky, children of the pharaoh’s royal physician, are left charming snakes and stealing food to survive after a brutal fire takes their parents.
Unsure of whom to trust, the pair are found and brought back to the palace, despite misgivings that the royals are somehow involved in their parents’ deaths. Sesha is tasked with finding the rare and valuable medical document her father was transcribing for the pharaoh, who needs it urgently for his upcoming campaign.
Befriended by another scribe and a young princess, Sesha must navigate palace intrigue and temple treachery while desperately seeking the priceless scroll. It not only has the power to reveal the circumstances around her parents’ death and mitigate any casualties of battle, but may also be the only thing that can save her brother’s life.
15. The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman
The Evil Wizard SmallboneIn a hilarious tale reminiscent of T. H. White, a lost boy finds himself an unlikely apprentice to the very old, vaguely evil, mostly just grumpy Wizard Smallbone.
When twelve-year-old Nick runs away from his uncle’s in the middle of a blizzard, he stumbles onto a very opinionated bookstore. He also meets its guardian, the self-proclaimed Evil Wizard Smallbone, who calls Nick his apprentice and won’t let him leave, but won’t teach him magic, either.
It’s a good thing the bookstore takes Nick’s magical education in hand, because Smallbone’s nemesis—the Evil Wizard Fidelou—and his pack of shape-shifting bikers are howling at the borders.
Smallbone might call himself evil, but compared to Fidelou, he’s practically a puppy. And he can’t handle Fidelou alone.
Wildly funny and cozily heartfelt, Delia Sherman’s latest is an eccentric fantasy adventure featuring dueling wizards, enchanted animals, and one stray boy with a knack for magic that your child might enjoy.