It seems that moms are on a constant search for wholesome reading material for their girls. I assume part of the reason is that girls are typically known for being voracious readers and it’s a battle keeping up with the demand. But, I think there is another reason moms are always on the lookout for the best books for tween girls—there seems to be a dismal lack of reading material (particularly newer chapter books) that captures their attention, engages their imagination, and most importantly, is intentionally wholesome.
I have recently been struggling with the dilemma of finding good books for 9 to 12-year-old girls—so I reached out to the moms in The Joyful Life Community Group for some advice, and they came through with some fantastic suggestions that I’m excited to share with you!
THE BEST BOOKS FOR TWEEN GIRLS
I’ve compiled an epic list of books and book series both from the group’s suggestions as well as from our family’s personal library that our 10-year-old daughter has absolutely loved (and which also pass my pretty strict standards). This resulting enormous compilation of wholesome books for tween girls is the list I wish I had found when searching online. So, if you are a mom searching for inspirational books for tween girls or the best book series for tween girls—I am here to help!
Some are classics and some are more recently written books that may be new discoveries for you. However, all are books every tween girl should read. In total, there are over 185 books listed when including all the titles within the various series. Some are overtly Christian while others are just wholesome and entertaining.
Since book prices fluctuate on Amazon, I have not included the prices next to the series or the individual books listed, but I have made it convenient for you to shop on Amazon and other retailers by including links to every book or book series.
I’ve also made it easy to browse the titles by dividing the book list into three sections for you—chapter book series for tween girls, individual chapter books for girls, and just for fun books.
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CHAPTER BOOK SERIES FOR TWEEN GIRLS
1. THE GREEN EMBER SERIES — Complete 4 Book Set
This beautiful series of 4 riveting chapter books by S.D. Smith is a new read-aloud favorite! Fans of classic fantasy will enjoy the fast-paced storytelling and the engaging rabbit characters. Children and families will love reading the tales in each novel. The collection includes the following 4 books:
The Green Ember — Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world. Kings fall and kingdoms totter. Tyrants ascend and terrors threaten. How will they make their stand?
Ember Falls — The stage is set. Rise to war. Morbin Blackhawk, slaver and tyrant, threatens to destroy the rabbit resistance forever. Heather and Picket are two young rabbits improbably thrust into pivotal roles. The fragile alliance forged around the young heir seems certain to fail. Can Heather and Picket help rescue the cause from a certain, sudden defeat.
Ember Rising — A harrowing adventure inside enemy territory. Heather and Picket are plunged into the darkness of Morbin’s shadow, fighting to bear the flame of the cause and light the way for rabbit kind’s upright insurrection.
Ember’s End — Heather and Picket face off for the last time with their tyrannical foes in this final installment of the main Green Ember Series. The Mended Wood flickers dimly in the vision of the rabbits of Natalia, as they battle bravely for their survival and a hopeful future beyond.
2. THE BORROWERS SERIES — Complete 5 Book Set
An enchanting and enduring children’s classic, “The Borrowers” is the award-winning tale of three tiny people who are big heroes.
The Clock family—Homily, Pod, and their 14-year-old daughter Arrietty—are tiny people who live underneath the kitchen floor of an English manor. All their minuscule home furnishings, from postage stamp paintings to champagne cork chairs, are “borrowed” from the “human beans” who tromp around loudly above them. All is well until Pod is spotted upstairs by a human boy! Can the Clocks stay nested safely in their beloved hidden home, or will they be forced to flee?
The Borrowers — This captivating introductory book to the series is perfect for readers aged 6-11.
The Borrowers Afield — Driven from their home in the big house, Pod, Homily, and Arrietty take up life in a boot.
The Borrowers Afloat — Uprooted once again, the little people journey down a drain, live briefly in a teakettle, and are swept away in a flood.
The Borrowers Aloft — Imprisoned in an attic by a greedy couple who want to use them as performers, the Borrowers escape by balloon.
The Borrowers Avenged — Pod, Homily, and Arrietty escape from the Platters’ attic and set off to an old rectory to begin life anew.
3. THE SUGAR CREEK GANG SERIES — Set of the First Six Books
Although this is a series written with boys as the central characters, tween girls will find themselves completely engaged in the stories and adventures of this group of friends. They are also overtly Christian books for tweens and girls will be just as encouraged by them as tween boys.
For the sake of space, we are only highlighting the first 6 titles in the series, however, there is a full collection of 36 books available in the complete series.
The Sugar Creek Gang series chronicles the faith-building adventures of a group of fun-loving, courageous Christian boys. These classic stories have been inspiring children to grow in their faith for more than five decades. More than three million copies later, children continue to grow up relating to members of the gang as they struggle with the application of their Christian faith to the adventure of life.
The Swamp Robber — The Sugar Creek Gang discovers a “disguise” hidden in an old tree and learns a lesson about sowing and reaping.
The Killer Bear — The Gang learns to apply the lesson of forgiving seventy times seven in the face of great danger.
The Winter Rescue — The Gang receives a startling surprise and discovers the power of prayer.
The Lost Campers — The Gang has some startling encounters in the forest and experiences the meaning of being saved, both physically and spiritually.
The Chicago Adventure — The Sugar Creek Gang enjoys an action-packed trip to Chicago and learn again that the only way to heaven is through Jesus.
The Secret Hideout — Poetry’s pet lamb provides a helpful explanation of Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep.
4. CHRONICLES OF NARNIA SERIES — Complete 7 Book Set + Bonus Trivia Book
The perfect book set for family read-aloud sessions! C. S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” has captivated readers of all ages for over 60 years, enchanting them with fantastical talking creatures, epic battles between good and evil, and magical doorways into new lands.
This box set includes all seven titles in “The Chronicles of Narnia”—with the original black-and-white interior illustrations by Pauline Baynes and cover art by Cliff Nielsen.
This set also includes a bonus book full of fun trivia that will spark conversation with your tween! We highly recommend reading the entire series rather than stopping at one individual title as it is a beautiful and cohesive allegorical representation of Christ’s sacrificial love for us. If you choose to read just one title in the series, I would recommend “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.”
The Magician’s Nephew — Witness the creation of a magical land in “The Magician’s Nephew.” On a daring quest to save a life, two friends are hurled into another world, where an evil sorceress seeks to enslave them. But then the lion Aslan’s song weaves itself into the fabric of a new land, a land that will be known as Narnia. And in Narnia, all things are possible.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie—step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.
The Horse and His Boy — On a desperate journey, two runaways meet and join forces. Though they are only looking to escape their harsh and narrow lives, they soon find themselves at the center of a terrible battle. It is a battle that will decide their fate and the fate of Narnia itself.
Prince Caspian — The Pevensie siblings travel back to Narnia to help a prince deny his rightful throne as he gathers an army in a desperate attempt to rid his land of a false king. But in the end, it is a battle of honor between two men alone that will decide the fate of an entire world.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader — A king and some unexpected companions embark on a voyage that will take them beyond all known lands. As they sail farther and farther from charted waters, they discover that their quest is more than they imagined and that the world’s end is only the beginning.
The Silver Chair — Through dangers untold and caverns deep and dark, a noble band of friends is sent to rescue a prince held captive. But their mission to Underland brings them face-to-face with an evil more beautiful and more deadly than they ever expected.
The Last Battle — During the last days of Narnia, the land faces its fiercest challenge—not an invader from without but an enemy from within. Lies and treachery have taken root, and only the king and a small band of loyal followers can prevent the destruction of all they hold dear in this, the magnificent ending to The Chronicles of Narnia.
5. THE MAX AND LIZ SERIES — Epic Order of the Seven 8 Book Series
Wit, Whimsy, Heartache, Tragedy, Triumph, and Biblical Truth. A magical adventure of animals traveling worldwide and bringing the stories of the Bible to life in a unique and fun way that will captivate your child’s imagination.
The Ark, the Reed, and the Fire Cloud — Max, a Scottish terrier, takes his usual morning trot down to the loch where he hears a mysterious Voice humming in the reeds saying, “Come to Me…follow the fire cloud.” He embarks on an unknown journey from Scotland, meeting other animals along the way including Liz, a brilliant, petite black cat from France. Max and Liz become the brave leaders for their group, and eventually, for the entire ark.
The Dreamer, the Schemer, and the Robe — After saving Noah and family from the evil stowaway Charlatan aboard the ark in “The Ark, the Reed, & the Fire Cloud,” heroes Max and Liz, along with faithful mates Kate and Al, earn immortality and a directive from God to serve as His envoys for pivotal points in human history. They have waited for centuries for a word from the Maker; now they learn they are to work behind the scenes in the life of Joseph. Abounding in life lessons on struggle, enduring trials, forgiveness, and redemption, “The Dreamer, the Schemer, & the Robe” is a nonstop thriller filled with twists and turns, side-splitting humor, treachery and heartache, hope and forgiveness.
The Prophet, the Shepherd, and the Star — ”The Prophet, the Shepherd, and the Star” launches the Epic Order of the Seven series, picking up where The Amazing Tales of Max and Liz left off. The Maker has been building a team of animal friends for thousands of years to be his envoys for pivotal points of history. Experience the hardships of Mary and Joseph as they obediently accept their calling to parent Messiah. Joyfully watch God provide for their every need through a lovable Jewish rabbi who dares to believe them and an unlikely Roman soldier who protects them. The shepherds and the wise men never know their steps are guided by these small animals that lead them to baby Jesus. Relentless in his pursuit is the evil lion, who seeks to devour them and stop the unfolding events leading to Messiah’s birth.
The Roman, the Twelve, and the King — This will be their most important mission ever: to be with Jesus throughout His childhood, ministry, passion, and resurrection. This action-packed adventure opens in 1735 London when famous composer George Friedric Handel is upsettingly passed over by the King of England for the most important musical post in the world. Little does Handel know that God has a far greater assignment—the writing of the most important piece of music of all time: Messiah. In order to fully inspire Handel, the Order of the Seven revisits the life of Christ, working behind the scenes from Jesus’ childhood to adulthood when he begins his ministry. The team follows Jesus and His 12 disciples through the joy and controversy of Jesus’ ministry leading up to the painful purpose of His coming: the Passion.
The Wind, the Road, and the Way — Eleven terrified disciples cower in the Upper Room, wondering what is to become of them. Jesus is dead, crucified on a cruel Roman cross. It’s only a matter of time before the Jewish leaders come after them to crush what their self-proclaimed “Messiah” started with ‘The Way’ movement. Little do these men know that soon they will boldly turn the world upside down as they fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission. A self-righteous model Pharisee named Saul sets out on a zealous quest to arrest and murder as many followers of ‘The Way’ as he can, beginning with Stephen. Little does this Christian killer know, he’ll soon be stopped in his tracks on the road to Damascus to become the greatest Christian that ever lived. Through his pen he’ll prove that no one is beyond hope—if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. This heart-gripping, action-packed adventure begins a two-book saga that brings to life the events of Acts and the birth of Christianity while showing how each book of the New Testament came to be. “The Wind, the Road, and the Way” covers Resurrection morning through Paul’s second missionary journey.
The Fire, the Revelation, and the Fall — The events of Acts leading to Revelation come to life as the Order of the Seven animal team surrounds the early believers who are spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth-against all odds. Weep over the fall of Jerusalem, and cheer the miraculous rise of the Church against the backdrop of murder, persecution, and the majesty of imperial Rome.
The Voice, The Revolution, and the Key — Picking up where “The Roman, the Twelve, and the King” left off, with the 1743 London premiere of Handel’s Messiah, the Order of the Seven animal team must split up for their next mission: the birth of a new nation. Team leader Gillamon tells them, “Each of us will be witness to a unique point in history because of a unique generation of world leaders. Most of them are just children now or have not yet even been born. Take note of how important one generation of children can be. Marvel at each child and the power they have to change the history of the world for the good of all.”
The Declaration, the Sword, and the Spy — A spy in the Sons of Liberty threatens to crush the patriot cause on the eve of war, but who will fire the first shot at Lexington and launch the American Revolution? As Congress debates Independence, Thomas Jefferson pens a Declaration—but it will never see the light of day if the vote isn’t unanimous. The Epic Order of the Seven animal team must assist the Founding Fathers with espionage and numerous miracles to win this war for American Independence while a new, evil enemy seeks to slaughter the patriots and their commander in the field. But which will be the more dangerous—the enemy without or the enemy within?
6. ANNE OF GREEN GABLES — Complete 8 Book Set
11-year-old Anne Shirley has never known a real home. Since her parents’ deaths, she’s bounced around to foster homes and orphanages. When she is sent by mistake to live with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert at the snug white farmhouse called Green Gables, she wants to stay forever. But Anne is not the sturdy boy Matthew and Marilla were expecting.
She’s a mischievous, talkative redheaded girl with a fierce temper, who tumbles into one scrape after another. Anne is not like anybody else, the Cuthberts agree; she is special, a girl with an enormous imagination. All she’s ever wanted is to belong somewhere. And the longer she stays at Green Gables, the harder it is for anyone to imagine life without her.
Lucy Maud Montgomery’s series of books about Anne have remained classics since the early 20th century. Her portrayal of this feminine yet independent spirit has given generations of girls a strong female role model while offering a taste of another, milder time in history.
The boxed set consists of the following eight titles:
Anne of Green Gables
Anne of the Island
Anne of Avonlea
Anne of Windy Poplar
Anne’s House of Dreams
Anne of Ingleside
Rilla of Ingleside
7. THE MANDIE COLLECTION VOLUME 1 — Set of 5 Books
This five-books-in-one volume will help MANDIE fans—new and old alike—discover anew the charms of the impulsive Mandie Shaw as she faces the ups and downs of first losing her father and then finding her long-lost family in “Mandie and the Secret Tunnel.” In 1900, Mandie is searching her dead uncle’s mansion for a missing will when she finds the secret tunnel and strangers who claim to be her relatives. Many more mysteries follow for Mandie and her friends in “Mandie and the Cherokee Legend,” “Mandie and the Ghost Bandits,” “Mandie and the Forbidden Attic,” and “Mandie and the Trunk’s Secret.”
These 40 beautifully written books are available in individual 4 and 5 book volumes 1-11. If you find your daughter becomes a big Mandie fan—you may want to consider the entire 11 Volume Mandie Collection of all 40 individual books.
The 5 Book Volume 1 includes the following titles:
“Mandie and the Secret Tunnel”
“Mandie and the Cherokee Legend”
“Mandie and the Ghost Bandits”
“Mandie and the Forbidden Attic”
“Mandie and the Trunk’s Secret”
8. DREAM HORSE ADVENTURES — 4 Book Series
Even if you’ve never been enchanted by a horse, you’ll love the Award-Winning Dream Horse Adventures Collection. It’s engaging, inspiring, and full of angst and suspense plus exuberant joy.
Mary’s Song — A young artist falls in love with a foal that is lame, just like her. The expensive surgery the foal needs has little chance to correct the problem. Still, Mary plots and conspires to raise money to save the horse, even as time runs out. She sacrifices what she holds dear—the trust of her papa, to gain her heart’s desire. But she could lose everything in her struggle to save the foal.
Selah’s Sweet Dream — When an ordinary girl rescues a lost horse, she dreams of becoming an equestrian superstar. 12-year-old Selah trains with a fierce determination, but the mare is wild and defiant. Selah must gather her courage or watch her dreams gallop away.
Selah’s Painted Dream — Unless 13-year-old Selah can convince Grandpa she should live at the farm, her life is ruined. She’ll be forced to move hours from her horse and abandon her equestrian dreams. Determined to stay, Selah must distract Grandpa from his new sweetheart. She searches for a painted dream horse from Grandpa’s past. But, Selah finds his old equine partner neglected and near death.
Selah’s Stolen Dream — One girl’s victory is another’s tragic defeat. 13-year-old Selah’s perfect life unravels when her beloved horse is stolen. Then 10-year-old Emma buys the dream of a lifetime at a horse auction. When she learns the horse was stolen, even removing her hearing aid won’t drown out the voice telling her to make it right. But two girls can’t divide the horse they both adore. So will life surprise them with an answered prayer?
9. THE LITTLE HOUSE SERIES — 9 Volume Complete Boxed Set
It’s no wonder why this 9 book series has been beloved and cherished for generations. The timeless, heartwarming stories of the wholesome Ingalls family, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, take us back to a simpler time and give us a unique glimpse into life on the American frontier.
This nine-book paperback boxed set of the classic series features the classic black-and-white artwork from Garth Williams and includes the following titles:
Little House in the Big Woods — Meet the Ingalls family—Laura, Ma, Pa, Mary, and baby Carrie, who all live in a cozy log cabin in the big woods of Wisconsin in the 1870s. Though many of their neighbors are wolves and panthers and bears, the woods feel like home, thanks to Ma’s homemade cheese and butter and the joyful sounds of Pa’s fiddle.
Farmer Boy — As Laura Ingalls is growing up in a little house in Kansas, Almanzo Wilder lives on a big farm in New York. He and his brothers and sisters work hard from dawn to supper to help keep their family farm running. Almanzo wishes for just one thing—his very own horse—but he must prove that he is ready for such a big responsibility.
Little House on the Prairie — When Pa decides to sell the log house in the woods, the family packs up and moves from Wisconsin to Kansas, where Pa builds them their little house on the prairie! Living on the farm is different from living in the woods, but Laura and her family are kept busy and are happy with the promise of their new life on the prairie.
On the Banks of Plum Creek — The Ingalls family lives in a sod house beside Plum Creek in Minnesota until Pa builds them a new house made of sawed lumber. The money for the lumber will come from their first wheat crop. But then, just before the wheat is ready to harvest, a strange glittering cloud fills the sky, blocking out the sun. Millions of grasshoppers cover the field and everything on the farm, and by the end of a week, there is no wheat crop left.
By the Shores of Silver Lake — Pa Ingalls heads west to the unsettled wilderness of the Dakota Territory. When Ma, Mary, Laura, Carrie, and baby Grace join him, they become the first settlers in the town of De Smet. Pa starts work on the first building of the brand new town, located on the shores of Silver Lake.
The Long Winter — The first terrible storm comes to the barren prairie in October. Then it snows almost without stopping until April. With snow piled as high as the rooftops, it’s impossible for trains to deliver supplies, and the townspeople, including Laura and her family, are starving. Young Almanzo Wilder, who has settled in the town, risks his life to save the town.
Little Town on the Prairie — De Smet is rejuvenated with the beginning of spring. But in addition to the parties, socials, and “literaries,” work must continue. Laura spends many hours sewing shirts to help Ma and Pa get enough money to send Mary to a college for the blind. But in the evenings, Laura makes time for a new caller, Almanzo Wilder.
These Happy Golden Years — Laura must continue to earn money to keep Mary in her college for the blind, so she gets a job as a teacher. It’s not easy, and for the first time, she’s living away from home. But it gets a little better every Friday when Almanzo picks Laura up to take her back home for the weekend. Though Laura is still young, she and Almanzo are officially courting, and she knows that this is a time for new beginnings.
The First Four Years — Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder have just been married! They move to a small prairie homestead to start their lives together. But each year brings new challenges—storms, sickness, fire, and unpaid debts. These first four years call for courage, strength, and a great deal of determination. And through it all, Laura and Almanzo still have their love, which only grows when baby Rose arrives.
10. MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN TRILOGY — Complete Hardcover Boxed Set
Although the main character in this series is a boy, Sam Gribley, they are written in such a timeless, beautiful way that they will be sure to capture the attention and inspire the imagination of your tween girl.
In 1959, Jean Craighead George published “My Side of the Mountain.” This coming-of-age story about a boy and his falcon went on to win a Newbery Honor, and for the past 40 years has enthralled and entertained generations of would-be Sam Gribleys. The two books that followed—”On the Far Side of the Mountain” and “Frightful’s Mountain”—were equally extraordinary. Now all three books are available in one deluxe yet affordable volume for veteran devotees and brand-new fans alike.
My Side of the Mountain — Terribly unhappy in his family’s crowded New York City apartment, Sam Gribley runs away to the solitude and danger of the mountains, where he finds a side of himself he never knew.
On The Far Side of the Mountain — Two years ago, Sam ran away from New York City to live in the Catskill Mountains. Now his younger sister Alice has joined him and is quietly living in a tree house of her own nearby. Their peaceful life is shattered when a conservation officer confiscates Sam’s falcon, Frightful, and Alice suddenly vanishes. Sam leaves his home to search for Alice, hoping to find Frightful, too. But the trail to the far side of the mountain may lead Sam into great danger.
Frightful’s Mountain — Sam Gribley has been told that it is illegal to harbor an endangered bird, so when his beloved falcon, Frightful, comes home, he has to let her go. But Frightful doesn’t know how to live alone in the wild. She can’t feed herself, mate, brood chicks, or migrate. Frightful struggles to survive and learns to enjoy her new freedom. But she feels a bond with Sam that can never be broken, and more than anything else, she wants to return to him.
11. THE PRINCESS ACADEMY TRILOGY — 3 Book Series
Princess Academy — Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king’s priests have divined her village the home of the future princess. In a year’s time, the prince will choose his bride from among the village girls.
The king’s ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess. Soon Miri finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires. Winning the contest could give her everything she ever wanted—but it would mean leaving her home and family behind.
Princess Academy: Palace of Stone — Coming down from the mountain to a new city life is a thrill to Miri. She and her princess academy friends have come to Asland to help the future princess Britta prepare for her wedding. There, Miri also has a chance to attend school—at the prestigious Queen’s Castle.
But as Miri befriends sophisticated and exciting students, she also learns that they have some frightening plans for a revolution. Torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends’ ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city, Miri looks to find her own way in this new place.
Princess Academy: Forgotten Sisters — Miri has spent a year at the king’s palace, learning all about being a proper princess. But instead of returning to her beloved Mount Eskel, Miri is ordered to journey to a distant swamp and start a princess academy for three sisters, cousins of the royal family. Unfortunately, Astrid, Felissa, and Sus are more interested in hunting and fishing than becoming princesses.
As Miri spends more time with the sisters, she realizes the king and queen’s interest in them hides a long-buried secret. She must rely on her own strength and intelligence to unravel the mystery, protect the girls, complete her assignment, and finally make her way home.
12. THE TUTTLE TWINS BOOKS — 12 Book Series
My husband and I, along with our 10-year-old daughter, have loved these books and the rich discussion that has ensued from them. They are a valuable resource in teaching your children about a vast array of free-market topics that fundamentally matter while keeping them entertained and engaged throughout the process. They would also make a great supplement for homeschool families to teach their children the basics of civic and economics.
The Tuttle Twins are the only books that help children develop critical thinking skills about real-world concepts—sharing ideas with kids that most adults don’t even know!
Most children’s books teach very basic ideas if any at all and they tend to be full of fluff and silly stories. While these can be good to develop reading skills and phonetics, they typically don’t teach children important ideas that they can apply in their life.
The Tuttle Twins books recognize that the world is full of companies, people, and politicians who want to expose your children to ideas you do not support.
In the Tuttle Twins books, your children will learn:
- Why a free market economy is the greatest way to lift people out of poverty and allow people to trade with one another.
- How property rights allow us to decide what’s best for us and make decisions for our families.
- Why the world is a better place because of entrepreneurs who create businesses to help serve us and improve our lives.
- What socialism is and why it is so destructive to our freedoms and well-being.
- How the Golden Rule is so important to people getting along with one another, no matter where we live, what we look like, or what we believe.
- Why education is so important, and why children should be allowed to learn things they are interested in.
- What true laws are, and why the government should protect our rights…and so much more!
Each of their books comes with discussion questions at the end, helping parents have amazing conversations with their children about these rich ideas.
Your children can read these books on their own, or you can read along with them. The publisher also provides FREE activity workbooks to reinforce these new ideas your children will be learning.
INSPIRING CLASSIC CHAPTER BOOKS FOR TWEEN GIRLS
14. THE TWENTY-ONE BALLOONS — This is hands-down one of our family’s favorite read-aloud books! It is captivating, beautifully descriptive, hilarious, and full of adventure! It is somewhat of a hidden gem that I can not recommend enough!
Professor William Waterman Sherman intends to fly across the Pacific Ocean. But through a twist of fate, he lands on Krakatoa, and discovers a world of unimaginable wealth, eccentric inhabitants, and incredible balloon inventions. Winner of the 1948 Newbery Medal, this classic fantasy-adventure is now available in a handsome new edition.
15. THE PILGRIM’S PROGRESS — Often rated as important as the Bible as a Christian document, this famous story of man’s progress through life in search of salvation remains one of the most entertaining allegories of faith ever written. Set against realistic backdrops of town and country, the powerful drama of the pilgrim’s trials and temptations follows him in his harrowing journey to the Celestial City.
Along a road filled with monsters and spiritual terrors, Christian confronts such emblematic characters as Worldly Wiseman, Giant Despair, Talkative, Ignorance, and the demons of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. But he is also joined by Hopeful and Faithful.
An enormously influential 17th-century classic, universally known for its simplicity, vigor, and beauty of language, The Pilgrim’s Progress remains one of the most widely read books in the English language.
Best suited for ages 11 and up due to the reading level. If you have a younger child you would like introduced to this beautiful depiction of the Christian walk, I highly recommend “Dangerous Journey.”
16. DANGEROUS JOURNEY — One of the best-known and best-loved stories in the English language, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is retold here in modern language intended for children ages 7 and up. Beautifully done full-color illustrations by Alan Parry appear on every page. This is a splendid introduction to our favorite Christian classic!
17. WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS — Read the beloved classic that captures the powerful bond between man and man’s best friend.
Billy has long dreamt of owning not one, but two, dogs. So when he’s finally able to save up enough money for two pups to call his own—Old Dan and Little Ann—he’s ecstatic. It doesn’t matter that times are tough; together they’ll roam the hills of the Ozarks.
Soon Billy and his hounds become the finest hunting team in the valley. Stories of their great achievements spread throughout the region, and the combination of Old Dan’s brawn, Little Ann’s brains, and Billy’s sheer will seems unbeatable. But tragedy awaits these determined hunters—now friends—and Billy learns that hope can grow out of despair, and that the seeds of the future can come from the scars of the past.
18. ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY — Set in Mississippi at the height of the Depression, this is the story of one family’s struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice. And it is also Cassie’s story—Cassie Logan, an independent girl who discovers over the course of an important year why having land of their own is so crucial to the Logan family, even as she learns to draw strength from her own sense of dignity and self-respect.
19. CHARLOTTE’S WEB — Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spider web tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.
E. B. White’s Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come. Whether read aloud as a family, used for homeschooling, or independent reading, Charlotte’s Web is a proven favorite.
20. MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS — It was hard enough for Mr. Popper to support himself, Mrs. Popper, Bill, and Janie Popper. The addition of 12 penguins to the family made it impossible to make ends meet. Then Mr. Popper had a splendid idea—the talented penguins would be a sensation on the stage. And so they were… . A classic of American humor, this story of a gentle house painter and his high-stepping penguins has delighted children for generations.
21. THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN — The delightful classic by E. B. White is about overcoming obstacles and the joy of music.
Like the rest of his family, Louis is a trumpeter swan. But unlike his four brothers and sisters, Louis can’t trumpet joyfully. In fact, he can’t even make a sound. And since he can’t trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays absolutely no attention to him.
Louis tries everything he can think of to win Serena’s affection—he even goes to school to learn to read and write. But nothing seems to work. Then his father steals him a real brass trumpet. Is a musical instrument the key to winning Louis his love?
A classic illustrated novel that continues to speak to today’s readers. Whether you curl up with your young reader to share these books or hand them off for independent reading, you are helping to create what are likely to be all-time favorite reading memories.
22. AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS: 100th Anniversary Illustrated Edition — ”Around the World in Eighty Days: is a classic adventure novel by the French writer Jules Verne, published in 1873. In the story, Phileas Fogg of London and his newly employed French valet Passepartout attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80 days on a £20,000 wager (roughly £1.6 million today) set by his friends at the Reform Club. It is one of Verne’s most acclaimed works. The story starts in London on Tuesday, October 1, 1872.
Fogg is a rich English gentleman living in solitude. Despite his wealth, Fogg lives a modest life with habits carried out with mathematical precision. Very little can be said about his social life other than that he is a member of the Reform Club. Having dismissed his former valet, James Foster, for bringing him shaving water at 84 °F (29 °C) instead of 86 °F (30 °C), Fogg hires a Frenchman by the name of Jean Passepartout as a replacement.
At the Reform Club, Fogg gets involved in an argument over an article in The Daily Telegraph stating that with the opening of a new railway section in India, it is now possible to travel around the world in 80 days. He accepts a wager for £20,000 (equal to about £1.6 million today) from his fellow club members, which he will receive if he makes it around the world in 80 days. Accompanied by Passepartout, he leaves London by train at 8:45 P.M. on Wednesday, October 2, 1872, and is due back at the Reform Club at the same time 80 days later, Saturday, December 21, 1872.
A True Classic that Belongs on Every Bookshelf!
23. LITTLE WOMEN — One of the best-loved books of all time.
Lovely Meg, talented Jo, frail Beth, spoiled Amy: these are hard lessons of poverty and of growing up in New England during the Civil War. Through their dreams, plays, pranks, letters, illnesses, and courtships, women of all ages have become a part of this remarkable family and have felt deep sadness when Meg leaves the circle of sisters to be married at the end of Part I. Part II, chronicles Meg’s joys and mishaps as a young wife and mother, Jo’s struggle to become a writer, Beth’s tragedy, and Amy’s artistic pursuits and unexpected romance.
Based on Louisa May Alcott’s childhood, this lively portrait of nineteenth-century family life possesses a lasting vitality that has endeared it to generations of readers.
24. BLACK BEAUTY — Having been injured in early childhood, author Anna Sewell would have difficulty walking for most of her life. As such, she had to rely on horse-drawn carriages to get around. It was this experience that inspired her love of horses.
“Black Beauty” is a fictional autobiography told from the perspective of the horse. This use of an anthropomorphic protagonist was ground-breaking for its time. The novel follows the story of a young colt through his life, from his early carefree days with his mother on an English farm, to his difficult life pulling cabs in London, and ultimately to his happy retirement in the countryside. Black Beauty’s experiences are one of both cruelty and kindness as he passes from master to master.
The novel masterfully explores the relationship between men and animals and strives to impress upon the reader that all animals should be treated with kindness and compassion. An instant bestseller ever since its original publication, “Black Beauty” has inspired millions of readers with its endearing story and compassionate plea for the ethical treatment of animals.
25. THE WIZARD OF OZ — Everyone ‘knows’ the story, but so many children today have not ‘read’ this wonderful classic! Full of imagination, adventure, friendship, and life lessons about caring for one another, The Wizard of Oz is a book every child should read.
Dorothy thinks she is lost forever when a terrifying tornado crashes through Kansas and whisks her and her dog, Toto, far away to the magical land of Oz. To get home Dorothy must follow the yellow brick road to Emerald City and find the wonderfully mysterious Wizard of Oz. Together with her companions the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion whom she meets on the way, Dorothy embarks on a strange and enchanting adventure.
AND A FEW ‘JUST FOR FUN’ BOOKS FOR TWEEN GIRLS
26. ALPACA MY BAGS — When anxiety threatens to derail a homeschooled girl’s attempt to make new friends, she finds support in an unlikely source—a herd of adorable alpacas!
To some kids, Amelia’s life sounds like the ultimate fantasy. She and her brothers are homeschooled by their adventurous parents, and the family travels around the country in an RV, scaling mountains, rappelling down canyons, and skiing down double black diamond slopes. There’s just one problem—Amelia didn’t inherit the family’s daredevil gene. She’s terrified of heights and would give anything to be reading instead of careening down a mountain. She’s also desperate for the chance to attend a regular school and make real friends. So when her parents decide to temporarily move to Colorado, Amelia’s delighted by the chance to settle down.
However, starting at a conventional school is much harder than Amelia imagined, and her anxiety makes meeting new friends extra challenging. Everything about her feels wrong, from her clothes to her hobbies to her complete lack of pop culture knowledge.
So when Amelia’s given the chance to volunteer at an alpaca ranch, she’s delighted by the chance to do something she’s good at—take care of animals. And soon, the alpacas and their owners start to feel like real friends. But when a cruel classmate’s prank puts the alpacas in mortal peril, Amelia will have to summon strength she never knew she possessed to save the only place that’s ever felt like home.
27. PIGTURE PERFECT — 12-year-old Grace is desperate for a puppy. All she wants is someone to love—and to love her back. Someone who won’t disappear on her like her dad did. Someone who’ll make her new stepfather’s house feel like home.
Christmas morning, Grace springs out of bed hopeful that her dreams are about to come true. But the present that awaits her isn’t soft and furry. It doesn’t have padded paws. And instead of a dark, wet nose, there’s a flat, pink nose instead. It’s not a puppy at all—it’s a PIG.
Grace tries to make the best of the situation. She names the pig Bernard and dutifully learns how to care for him. But spending time with him is nothing like being with a dog. Bernard is awful at playing fetch and walking on a leash—in fact, he’s all around terrible at doing the things Grace dreamed of doing with a pet. But when a good friend lands in the hospital, Grace discovers that Bernard might have a special talent for making sick people feel better and that his calling might be as a certified therapy animal.
Grace loves the idea of visiting patients with Bernard and bringing a smile to their faces during an otherwise tough time. But can Grace convince her skeptical family to get on board? Or will she and Bernard both end up out in the cold?
28. GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE PUGS — The best part of Kat’s day is getting to walk her neighbor’s irresistible pug, Meatball. So when her parents insist she start an extracurricular this year, she makes her own, by turning her hobby into a business: a dog-walking business, that is.
She and her best friends, Taz and Lucy—as well as the cute new boy, Declan—try to get Four Paws Dog Walking into shape. But wrangling puppies and pleasing customers turns out to be harder than they thought! Can Kat keep taking care of the dogs she loves without hurting her friendships?
29. MY OTTER HALF — Oliver is a sea otter determined to prove that he’s not a momma otter’s boy. In an effort to show his bravery, he swims into Puget Sound where all the ships and humans are. That’s when disaster strikes: An oil spill threatens the local wildlife—and it traps Oliver in the harbor!
Franklin, an excitable dachshund puppy, is also lost. He’s been separated from his owner, Lucy, and he has no idea how to get back to her. Now Oliver and Franklin must journey through the Pacific Northwest wilderness in search of their families.
Along the way, they’ll discover exciting adventures and meet new friends―but will they be able to find their way home?
30. THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY — An inquisitive Labrador retriever, friendly bull terrier, and courageous Siamese cat set out through the Canadian wilderness to find their owner in this truly “incredible” adventure.
Instinct tells them that the way home lies to the west and together the three house pets face hunger, the natural elements, and wild forest animals as they make their way home to the family they love.
This beloved classic that inspired the movie “Homeward Bound” has captured the hearts of generations of readers. The lengths to which these three animals will go for each other and for their owner make for a thrilling and thoroughly unforgettable tale.
LET’S GROW THIS LIST TOGETHER!
I hope this list has been a blessing to you in your search for good reading material for your tween girl! Please pass the link along to your friends who have tween girls!
And, I would love for you to add your suggestions for books your 8-12-year-old girl has loved and that you have found to be wholesome and mom-approved in the comments below! Let’s grow this list for the moms who will discover this post down the road!
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Add The Wingfeather Saga to this wonderful list!! As with many of these books, they are a delight to girls and boys (and older folks too), with wonderful and growing male and female characters and themes of courage, hope, family, and redemption.
Thank you for the suggestion, Caryn! I’ve come across that series but had not heard anything about it. I’ll have to check that one out!
Amen to the Wingfeather Saga!
Thank you so much for this list! I am constantly on the look out for books that wholesome and fun that will grab my granddaughter’s attention.
Have you by chance, done a reading list for Middle School boys? 🙂
Thank you SOOO much for this list!!! I am always always looking for meaningful and safe books for my grand kids.
To add to the list:
Hinds Feet on High Places. By Hannah Hurnard, arranged for children.
What would Jesus Do, retold for children and the sequel, In His Hands.
I Love what Y’all are about! Thank you so much!!