Top 20 YA Books Recommended for Your Tween Girl (Mother Approved)
Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renée Russell:
Dork Diaries is an international bestselling children’s series about Nikki Maxwell and her fun-filled diary. Book One she battles her mom for an iPhone, makes friends, deals with a mean girl and has her first crush. Recommended for preteen ages 8-11 and even older too (Dork Diaries 10 book set is a deal!).
The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall:
This is the new generation’s version of Little Women. Four sisters, each with their own unique personality, can’t seem to stay out of trouble. This series is inspired by the kind of books the author read growing up. Perfect for ages 8 and up (The 4 book boxed set).
Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M.M. Blume:
Grade level 3-7; Beautifully written, great discussion topics — economic disparity, racism, the caste system, as well as exposing kids to multiple ways of life. It is slow to get into in first 2 chapters, but stick with it and you don’t want to put it down.
Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski:
Grade level 3-7; New York Times bestselling series offers a fresh, modern spin on classic fairy tales! When the magic mirror in their basement transports them into classic fairy tales, siblings Abby and Jonah accidentally mess up the stories . . . and they have to find a way to set things right (6 book boxed set).
CupCakes Series by Lisa Schroeder:
Age range 8-12. A feel good book, filled with great characters all living in the same small town. An inspirational story of a with a girl with a dream to travel the world who feels stuck and eventually finds that living your dreams it’s not all about where you want to go, but who you are with and how much you enjoy where you are. A lot of fun and will make you hungry for cupcakes!
Inkworld series by Cornelia Funke (Inkheart 1st book):
Age range 8-12. A girl’s life is quickly upended when she realizes her and her dad can bring characters from books to life (3 book series). The characters that come alive prove villainous, and the plot centers around their quest to destroy them. (This may be a little scary for sensitive young ones)
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson:
For the girl who likes historical fiction, this spellbinder covers the life of a girl living in Philadelphia in the summer of 1793 when mosquitoes and widespread fever hit. One reader first read this book in 5th grade and names it one of her favorites still. Age range 10+
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead: Age range 8-12.
A sixth grade girl’s life is transformed when she begins receiving life altering notes that predict the future. The book has three storylines woven into one: her best friend not talking to her, her mother going on a game show, and the appearance of a laughing man.
This story is a hoot. It’s about the “new girl at school” Amy Flowers and covers the queen bees and wannabes dichotomy experienced by many a middle school girl (4 book set).
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry:
Age range 10-12 years. The story of a girl and her family who risk their lives to save her best friend in Nazi Germany. This book packs a powerful punch.
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park:
Age range 10-12 years. An orphan infatuated with pottery breaks a famed potters work and is indebted to work for him for 9 days. He transforms into an artist from an apprentice and makes the trip to the royal court to show off another potter’s work.
Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Book 1):
Age range 8-12 years. In a country where families are allowed only to children, to be the third child is a death sentence. This series chronicles the third children kept hidden from view so they can stay alive.
The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin (Book 1):
Age range 8-12 years. This series is still around for a reason. This classic covers the lives of preteen babysitters and the ins and outs of girlhood friendships (for the box set).
Age 12+. A Newbery Honor Book, the story revolves around the murder trial of a thirteen year old girl and a gang of pirates. Perfect for an adventurer.
The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare (Book 1):
Age range 12+. The escapades of a shapeshifting teenage orphan. This series does include vampires and does have some violence but is interwoven with positive messages about creating a better world.
If you’ve heard of the Divergent movies, I hope you’ve familiarized yourself with the books. If not, they’re wonders of their own (four book series)
The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer:
Age range 10 and up. This book covers the life of a preteen girl pushed into a gypsy lifestyle as her mother and her bounce from place to place. When her mother dies suddenly, she goes to live with a grandmother she’s never met before.
First Love series by Beverly Cleary (Book 1):
I don’t care how old these books are. The way they cover old school love and relationships is perfection (complete series).
Smile by Raina Telgemeier:
Age range 8-12. Raina Telgemeier’s #1 New York Times bestselling, Eisner Award-winning graphic memoir based on her childhood. She wants to be a normal sixth grader but injures her two front teeth on a Girl Scouts trip. The saga of fixing her teeth follows, along with boy confusion, girl drama, and an earthquake.