15 Favorite Kids and Teen Books of 2012

15 Top Books for Kids and Teens 2012

15 Top Books for Kids and Teens 2012

By Noelle, Librarian Extraordinaire

2013 is upon us and the year is wrapped up at last. It is always a challenge to find the best new books for kids. Most of the time, you end up with whatever the Scholastic Book Fair at school is selling (not to say that those are necessarily poor choices) or maybe there’s been some word of mouth surrounding a title or two. What else is there out there besides the latest Diary of Wimpy Kid or the new James Patterson clone book?

You are in luck because that’s my job! I read reviews and I read the titles myself and here are some fabulous suggestions that were published in 2012 that will make the life of your little readers that much happier.

Picture Books

Extra Yarn

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett. My favorite picture book of the year features a girl living in a drab town (black and white). She finds a box of colorful yarn with which she makes a sweater for herself and her dog.  Surprisingly, she finds she has extra and she discovers she can change her world, one sweater at a time.

This Is Not My Hat

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen. You’ve got to have a slightly twisted and dark sense of humor for this one. This follow up to I Want My Hat Back features a fish who steals a hat…and has to deal with the consequences. Brilliant (in that twisted way).

Boy + Bot

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman. Pretty simply, a boy and a robot become best friends, although at first, they don’t quite get that the other isn’t their own kind. Funny and sweet at the same time.

Pete The Cat

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin. All the Pete the Cat books are groovy and this is no exception.  It is a song, it is a book about counting (and subtraction), it’s got rhythm and all in all, it’s a trip. You can see and hear a taste of it here: http://youtu.be/M2YwCgtvnNg


Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems. We all know Mo Willems is a genius. Here he takes the traditional tale and inserts an earlier stop for Goldilocks with dinosaurs who may or may not be expecting her. Very tongue in cheek and kids who know the original story will laugh.

Chapter Books

One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. (Grade 4 and up). Based on a true story, Ivan is a gorilla living in a mini-zoo inside a mall. Told from his point of view, Ivan makes the best of his life, until a new baby elephant arrives to join the group and he realizes he needs to change things for her sake. A really moving and fast-paced read that will touch the soul and make kids think about how we treat animals.

Three Times Lucky

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage. (Grade 4 and up). Found in a river after a hurricane, Mo is being raised in the tiny town of Tupelo Landing. Her focus is always on finding her real lost mother, but when a murder rocks the inhabitants, Mo and her best friend turn private detective. Charming, funny and a good mystery to boot.

Starry River

Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin. (Grade 3 and up) This companion to the excellent Where the Mountain Meets the Moon blends together a runaway rich boy, a missing moon, a mysterious wailing, Chinese folk tales, and a message that kindness and friendship will lead you to do what’s right. Magical!

The Lions of Little Rock

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine. (Grade 4 and up) Everyone knows about the Little Rock Nine, but few know that Little Rock chose to close all of its high schools for a year rather than let them be integrated. This story focuses on that lost year, a very shy girl named Marlee, and her friend Liz who turns out to be black but is light skinned enough to pass. Marlee learns to find her voice as she recognizes the need to stand up for civil rights in her city. Lots of tension in this one!

The Incorrigible Children

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Unseen Guest by Maryrose Wood (Grade 4 and up). This is the 3rd book in the series and if your kids aren’t sucked into it yet, they should be. It is hilarious, tongue in cheek and filled with over the top action and adventure.


The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. (Grade 7 and up) Mix up psychics, ley lines, the search for an ancient buried king, murder, ghosts and private prep schools, and you have a small taste of this plotline. Set in the modern day with great characters and it is the first in a series.  Did I mention trees that speak Latin?


Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. (Grade 8 and up) A dark fantasy where dragons can take on the appearance of humans. There’s been a truce between humans and dragons, but some would like that to end. Seraphina is a music mistress in the palace and finds herself–and her dark secret–embroiled in discovering a political plot. Intense and very, very good.

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. (Grade 9 and up)  Who would have thought a story about teens living with cancer could be so funny? Fantastic characters, a brutally honest vision about what having cancer is like, and a tearjerker ending (of course) all add up to a brilliant book.

Days of Blood and Starlight

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor. (Grade 9 and up) The follow up to Daughter of Smoke & Bone is even better. There’s an epic love story (tarnished in this installment), angels versus chimaera, war, resurrection, parallel universes.  An inventive and involving fantasy that is hard to tear yourself away from.

A Million Suns

A Million Suns by Beth Revis. (Grade 9 and up) Book 2 in the Across the Universe trilogy continues the science fiction adventure of a ship that left Earth hundreds of years ago on the way to colonize another planet. Elder is the ship’s young new leader, Amy got pulled out of stasis early. The pair combine to find out the truth behind the ship and its purpose, which is a shocking mystery, while slowly developing a romance. A real pageturner. You MUST read Across the Universe first.

NoelleNoelle has been a children’s librarian for over 15 years. She’s also been a student teacher, worked as an online account manager, worked in a pet shop and as a supermarket checkout clerk, and as a dishwasher and fry cook. She is the proud mom of a beautiful daughter. You can read more of Noelle’s book reviews at Rave Reviews Log

Noelle can be reached at “Noelle @ DadDoes.Com”

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