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Great Books Guide 2020: For readers aged 12+

Plastic Sucks! You Can Make a Difference

Here's a round-up of new books from the last year (2020), which we think young readers aged 12+ will enjoy.

We think these fantastic titles are a great way to keep young people reading as they head into their teenage years.

Discover the full Great Books Guide

  • A Pocketful of Stars

    Author: Aisha Bushby
    Publisher: Egmont
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Safiya must uncover the truth of her mother’s history to help her survive the present. A beautifully written and page-turning read, set in London and Kuwait, that deals with changing friendships, family dynamics and learning how to say goodbye. 

  • A Throne of Swans

    Author: Katharine & Elizabeth Corr
    Publisher: Hot Key Books
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 12+

    If you love Melinda Salisbury’s royal politics and treacherous courts, you’ll love this brilliant Game of Thrones-esque fantasy. Tons of intrigue, mystery, family drama, glamorous gowns and hidden swords.

  • Bearmouth

    Author: Liz Hyder
    Publisher: Pushkin
    Interest age: 9+
    Reading age: 10+

    Newt has been living and working in the horrendous conditions of Bearmouth mine from an early age.  Any kind of way out isn’t even contemplated until Newt meets Devlin. This story is exciting, ambitious, unpredictable and breathtakingly brilliant. 

  • Deeplight

    Author: Frances Hardinge
    Publisher: Macmillan
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 12+

    Hark and his best friend Jelt spend their days on a strange island hunting for magical "godware". But everything is about to change for them in this breathtaking, richly imagined story, full of heart and soul and incredible world-building. 

  • Fearless! How to be your true, confident self

    Author: Liam Hackett Illustrator: Mike Perry
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 9+
    Reading age: 10+

    A self-help guide for youngsters struggling with self-esteem, peer pressure or ‘fitting in’.

  • Invisible in a Bright Light

    Author: Sally Gardner
    Publisher: Zephyr Books (imprint of Zeus)
    Interest age: 11-14
    Reading age: 10+

    A mysterious and riveting fantasy thriller, with elements of horror, that will especially appeal to readers who enjoy puzzles and problem-solving. It will keep you pinned to your seat for hours. 

  • Plastic Sucks! You Can Make a Difference

    Author: Dougie Poynter
    Publisher: Macmillan
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    Plastic is one of the problems of our age, but what can we do about reducing how much we use? There’s a great mix here, from advice to learning about eco-entrepreneurs and experts. An excellent guide for older primary kids that is useful and timely.

  • Pumpkin Heads

    Author: Rainbow Rowell Illustrator: Faith Erin Hicks
    Publisher: Macmillan
    Interest age: 12-16
    Reading age: 10+

    A story of friendship and romance told in a funny and inclusive graphic novel that celebrates the joy and diversity of Halloween traditions in the USA. 

  • The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling

    Author: Wai Chim
    Publisher: Allen & Unwin
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 12+

    Anna's Ma hasn't got out of bed for weeks and it's up to Anna to take care of her family. But when Ma finally leaves her room, things don't exactly go as Anna had planned. This beautiful book takes a nuanced and sensitive approach to a loved one experiencing a mental health problem, and highlights the importance of our own emotional wellbeing. 

  • The Crossover: Graphic Novel

    Author: Kwame Alexander Illustrator: Dawud Anyabwile
    Publisher: Andersen Press
    Interest age: 9+
    Reading age: 9+

    Dynamically-illustrated graphic novel version of a bestselling, award-winning story of twin basketball players and their coming-of-age. 

  • The List of Things That Will Not Change

    Author: Rebecca Stead
    Publisher: Andersen Press
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 11+

    Bea’s dad is gay and he’s marrying his boyfriend Jesse, who Bea loves. Bea lives half of her week with mum, half of the week with dad. When Sonia, Jesse’s daughter, comes to stay, Bea is really excited about the prospect of a new sister, but it all feels strange to Sonia. Will Bea get the sister she’s always wanted?

  • The Starlight Watchmaker

    Author: Lauren James
    Publisher: Barrington Stoke
    Interest age: 9+
    Reading age: 8+

    A lowly, abandoned android thinks he has nothing in common with aristocrats, until he investigates a crime with one. A charming and funny story with a touch of satire and a tinge of steampunk, which can be read as a tale of friendship or a light romance.