Great Books Guide 2021: For readers aged 12+

Future Girl

Here's a round-up of new books from the last year (2021), 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.

  • Cardboard Cowboys

    Author: Brian Conaghan
    Publisher: Bloomsbury
    Interest age: 9-12
    Reading age: 10+

    One day, 12-year-old Lenny meets Bruce, a homeless man, and they strike up an unusual friendship. With the feel of a modern-day classic, this book will make readers cry but is also hysterically funny and life-affirming.

  • The Extremely Embarrassing Life of Lottie Brooks

    Author: Katie Kirby
    Publisher: Puffin
    Interest age: 12-14
    Reading age: 11+

    Lottie Brooks is just starting secondary school and she's just about ready to die of embarrassment - she hasn't got a bra, her hair is totally wrong, and the whole class has started calling her Cucumber Girl. Just how cringe can one year be? A hilarious tween diary from Katie Kirby.

  • Future Girl

    Author: Asphyxia
    Publisher: Allen & Unwin
    Interest age: 13+
    Reading age: 13+

    When 16 year old Piper, who is deaf, falls in love with Marley, she becomes captivated by the beauty and freedom of expression of sign language - she herself has used lip-reading and hearing aids all her life. However, this new world brings with it some challenging questions about identity.

  • Love Frankie

    Author: Jacqueline Wilson Illustrator: Nick Sharratt
    Publisher: Puffin
    Interest age: 12-14
    Reading age: 10+

    14 year old Frankie is having to grow up quickly to help her mum with her developing MS - and now that one of her bullies is starting to strike up an actual friendship with her, Frankie's starting to think it might be something a little more. A delicate exploration of teen sexuality and the difficulties of growing up by the inimitable Jacqueline Wilson.

  • Proud of Me

    Author: Sarah Hagger-Holt
    Publisher: Usborne
    Interest age: 9-13
    Reading age: 9+

    A beautifully written and everyday story of LGBTQ family life that’s perfect for any middle grade reader, especially for children who are just starting secondary school.

  • Rat

    Author: Patrice Lawrence
    Publisher: Oxford University Press/Barrington Stoke
    Interest age: 9-14
    Reading age: 10+

    Al's mum is back in prison again - and Al thinks it's their neighbour's fault, so he plots revenge with his beloved pet rats, Venom and Vulture. A moving insight into the world of a young boy affected by poverty, neglect and crime, who eventually earns to trust. 

  • Shades of Scarlet

    Author: Anne Fine
    Publisher: David Fickling Books
    Interest age: 12-14
    Reading age: 12+

    Scarlet's parents are going through a messy divorce - and no matter what Scarlet tries to do to help, she just seems to make it worse! A fabulously insightful and funny book for teens by Anne Fine.

  • Talking to Alaska

    Author: Anna Woltz Translator: Laura Watkinson
    Publisher: OneWorld
    Interest age: 10-13
    Reading age: 11+

    It only takes one day at their new school for Parker and Sven to become mortal enemies. Parker’s had a terrible summer and just wants to be invisible, while Sven is desperate to make an impression and be known as anything other than ‘that kid with epilepsy.’

    When Parker discovers her beloved dog Alaska – who she had to give away last year – now belongs to Sv…

  • The Humiliations of Welton Blake

    Author: Alex Wheatle
    Publisher: Barrington Stoke
    Interest age: 9-12
    Reading age: 9+

    Welton Blake's life goes from brilliant (Carmella's agreed to go out with him - YES!) to dreadful (broken phone, school bullies, and a really embarrassing dad) in the blink of an eye. How much humiliation can one kid take?

  • The Sad Ghost Club

    Author: Lize Meddings
    Publisher: Hodder
    Interest age: 12-16
    Reading age: 12+

    A sad ghost wants to go to a party, but his social anxiety keeps holding him back. When he meets another anxious ghost, he realises he's not alone. A charming graphic novel for older readers about depression, friendship, and finding a kindred spirit.

  • When Stars are Scattered

    Author: Omar Mohamed Illustrator: Victoria Jamieson
    Publisher: Faber and Faber
    Interest age: 12-14
    Reading age: 9+

    This is the true story of Omar Mohamed’s childhood in a refugee camp. Searing and poignant, with themes of equality, disability, and the value of education, it’s moving and sad and hopeful, all at the same time.

  • When the World Was Ours

    Author: Liz Kessler
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    Interest age: 12-15
    Reading age: 12+

    Elsa, Max, and Leo are three friends who live in Vienna - but as Hitler's rise to power begins to cast a shadow over Europe, they find themselves torn in different directions. This moving and well researched book about the holocaust is only suitable for readers 12+.