15 new books for 12-14 year olds

15 new books for 12-14 year olds

I am super excited to be able to publish this excellent list of books for 12-14 year olds from best selling Australian author Allison Tait. As Allison notes below this is an age where kids can drop books for other activities. In my experience with kids and education, reading by far has the biggest impact on kids’ English and writing ability, so keeping them reading and engaged with books for as long as possible is critical.

We have had kids with varying degrees of love for reading in our family. Those who love reading and do it a lot have such an advantage when it comes to vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure, and ability to write. The older kids now themselves acknowledge this and I have used their social standing in the house to encourage the younger kids to keep on reading. I will now be off to reserve these books at the library!

Anecdotal evidence tells me that choosing books for readers in the 12-14 age group can be difficult. I get my evidence from the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community, which I co-host with teacher-librarian Megan Daley and author Allison Rushby, where questions about how to keep this age group reading – or get them reading again – are among the most common.

But I also have empirical evidence – even if it’s based on a clinical trial of two. 

My sons are now 16 and 13 and I have watched first-hand as they fall in and out of love with books, swing back and forth between comfort reads such as Wimpy Kid and more complex books, and generally battle the pull of screens, and friends and all of the other things that make up the busy early high school years (even, on occasion, homework…).

I think that all of these things were in the back of my mind when I was writing my new novel THE FIRE STAR (A Maven & Reeve Mystery). My characters a little older than in my previous series, they are more sophisticated, they’re dealing with some big problems – but at heart they’re still kids. 

Many readers in the 12-14 age group aren’t ready for the darker themes or full-blown romances that can be the hallmark of YA fiction, but they still want more. They want to dip their toes into being older without being confronted with some of the realities that might entail. 

I think it’s one of the reasons that fantasy is so popular with this age group – but it’s not the only option out there.

With a bit of help from the Your Kid’s Next Read Community, plus some expert input from teacher-librarian and book blogger Trish Buckley, I’ve put together a list of 14 new books for 12-14-year-old readers.

Hopefully you’ll find one that’s just right for your young reader. Books marked with * denote they are written by Australian authors.

*The Republic Of Birds by Jessica Miller

books for 12-14 year olds The-Republic-of-Birds

Inspired by Russian folklore, this middle-grade fantasy adventure tale stars Olga, who loves the stories of the old cartographers and their ancient books and maps. Sometimes she think she can even feel through the maps, as though by magic. But magic is banned in Tsaretsvo, ever since the war with the birds, and any young girl who shows signs of magic is whisked away to a life of unspeakable punishment. Then Olga’s sister is kidnapped… 

Buy online – The Republic Of Birds by Jessica Miller

*Monuments (duology) by Will Kostakis

monuments books for teens

When Connor Giannopoulos discovers a Monument – a god who has been buried for generations – under his high school, he doesn’t have any idea how much his life is going to change forever. It turns out that immortality and strength beyond his wildest dreams is a bit more responsibility than Connor bargained for.

Book #2, Rebel Gods, is out now.

Buy online – Monuments (duology) by Will Kostakis

*Aurora Cycle (series) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

aurora-rising books for teens

From the bestselling authors of the Illuminae Files series, comes a new sci-fi epic. 

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch . . .  NB: violence and romance.

Buy online – Aurora Cycle (series) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

*Ghost Bird by Lisa Fuller

ghost bird books for 12 - 14 year olds

Stacey Thomson is an aborginal girl from an outback town, who wants nothing more than to leave her world behind and escape to pursue her dreams.

But when her twin sister Laney goes missing, Stacey must find the strength to face the stories of her people, challenge her family’s ways and find her sister before it’s too late. NB: 14 for sensitive readers. CBCA Shortlist 2020 for Older Readers. 

Buy online – Ghost Bird by Lisa Fuller

*The Fire Star (A Maven & Reeve Mystery) by A.L. Tait

The-Fire-Star - books for teens

A maid with a plan. A squire with a secret. A missing jewel. A kingdom in turmoil.
Maven and Reeve have only just met, but they have three days to solve the mystery of the Fire Star. If they don’t, they’ll lose everything. This could be a complete disaster . . . or the beginning of a friendship.

Thoughts from our 14 year old who was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy – Nic – Interesting plot with a couple of cleverly written characters. The setting of the book was engaging and you got to have a deep understanding of where everything was and what it meant. Would be a great book for kids who like mystery style books.

Buy online – The Fire Star (A Maven & Reeve Mystery) by A.L. Tait

*Across The Risen Sea by Bren Macdibble


The latest novel from the award-winning author of How To Bee and The Dog Runner, this is an action-packed, compelling story set in a post-climate change landscape. 

Buy online – Across The Risen Sea by Bren Macdibble

*The Year The Maps Changed by Danielle Binks

the-year-the-maps-changed books for 12 - 14 year olds

Set in Sorrento, Victoria, in 1999, this is the story of Fred, whose family is a mess, and what happens when a group of Kosovar-Albanian refugees is brought to a government ‘safe haven’ not far from Fred’s home. A coming-of-age story inspired by true events.

Buy online – The Year The Maps Changed by Danielle Binks

*The Schoolmaster’s Daughter by Jackie French


It’s 1901 and Hannah and her family travel by ship to northern NSW, where Hannah’s father has a new post as the schoolmaster. When the family is rescued from shipwreck by Jamie, a Pacific Islander boy, it sets off a chain of events that could mean ruin, violence and possibly even death.

Buy online – The Schoolmaster’s Daughter by Jackie French

Wonderscape by Jennifer Bell

wonderscape books fro 12 - 14 year olds

When Arthur, Ren and Cecily investigate a mysterious explosion on their way to school, they find themselves trapped aboard The Principia – a scientific research ship sailing through hazardous waters, captained by one Isaac Newton.

Lost in the year 2473 in the Wonderscape, an epic in-reality adventure game, they must call on the help of some unlikely historical heroes, to play their way home before time runs out.

Buy online – Wonderscape by Jennifer Bell

The Unadoptables by Hana Tooke


In all the years that Elinora Gassbeek has been matron of the Little Tulip Orphanage, not once have the Rules for Baby Abandonment been broken. Until the autumn of 1886, when five babies are left in outrageous circumstances: one in a tin toolbox, one in a coal bucket, one in a picnic hamper, one in a wheat sack, and finally, one in a coffin-shaped basket. Twelve years on the children still have each other – until the fateful night a most sinister gentleman appears and threatens to tear them apart. The gang decides to make a daring escape…

Buy online – The Unadoptables by Hana Tooke

Where The World Turns Wild by Nicola Penfold

where-the-world-turns-wild books for teens

Juniper Greene lives in a walled city from which nature has been banished, following the outbreak of a deadly man-made disease. But she and her little brother Bear have always known about their resistance to the disease and dream of escaping into the wild. When scientists discover that the siblings provide the key to fighting the disease, the pair must flee for their lives. 

Buy online – Where The World Turns Wild by Nicola Penfold

*Red Day by Sandy Fussell

red-day books for 12 - 14 year olds

Set in Cowra, NSW, among the remnants of the Japanese POW camp, this is the story of Charlie. Charlie has synaesthesia and hence sees and hears differently: people have auras; days of the week are coloured; numbers and letters have attitudes. But when Charlie meets Japanese exchange student Kenichi, her senses intensify and she experiences flashbacks, nausea, and hears unfamiliar voices in her head pulling her back to the town’s violent past.

Buy online – Red Day by Sandy Fussell

Small Town Hero by Patrick Neate


Ever since his dad died in a shock accident, thirteen-year-old Gabe’s world has been turned upside-down and back to front. Literally: Gabe has discovered the ability to tell stories which take him into the past, or imagine an impossible version of the present or future that seems as real as real. Gabe has no clue what is going on. But the answers may lie with his mysterious uncle Jesse, an online game called Small Town Hero which seems to mirror Gabe’s own life, a long-lost grandmother, and the very fabric of time and the universe.

Buy online – Small Town Hero by Patrick Neate

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

dragon-pearl book for 12 - 14 year olds

Part of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, this space opera about Min, who comes from a long line of fox spirits, but is banned by her mum from using any fox-magic. When Min runs away from home to find her missing brother, she embarks upon a quest that will see her meeting gamblers, pirates and vengeful ghosts – and she’ll need to use more fox-magic than she ever dreamed of. A sci-fi adventure with underpinnings of Korean mythology.

Buy online – Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

The Rise Of The Remarkables: Brasswitch and Bot by Gareth Ward


Drawn into a world of prejudice, deceit and danger, Brasswitch Wrench must master her powers, knowing they offer her only hope for survival . . . if they don’t destroy the world first.

Buy online – The Rise Of The Remarkables: Brasswitch and Bot by Gareth Ward

A.L. Tait is the author of three series full of action, adventure and mystery for middle-grade readers, including The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher and The Maven & Reeve Mysteries. Find out more at

And visit Your Kid’s Next Read to find a huge and friendly community all ready to help you find the next great book for your young reader. 

If you are keen to see some other book lists on the blog, you might like to check these out:

What are you 12 – 14 year olds currently reading?

Some of the links contain affiliate links, which means at no extra cost to you, making purchases through them helps support this site. Thank you!