We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: books make the best gifts!
A good book is so much more than words and pictures printed on a page – it’s a whole experience, one that the reader can relive again and again. Books really are the gift that keeps on giving.
Plus, they’re small, easy to wrap and letterbox-friendly, which is going to be more important this Christmas than ever before!
There have been some fantastic books for kids published this year, but with libraries closed and bookshop visits few and far between over the last eight months, you might not have had a chance to browse the bookshelves.
With that in mind, here’s our guide to some of the best new chapter books for kids aged 8 to 12 that we think should be on everyone’s Christmas shopping list this year:
Perfect for animal lovers
My Life as a Cat by Carlie Sorosiak
On their three-hundredth birthday, every alien from Leonard's home galaxy gets to spend a month in the body of an Earth Creature. Now he's stuck as a stray cat, but luckily for Leonard, he meets a young human called Olive - and together they set out on a journey to find home.
Heroes and legends
Dragon Mountain by Katie & Kevin Tsang
12-year-old Billy Chan arrives at a summer camp in middle-of-nowhere China. There he meets fellow campers Dylan, Charlotte and Ling-Fei and together they stumble upon an age-old secret: four powerful warrior dragons, hidden deep within the mountain behind the camp.
Perfect for history fans
The Midnight Guardians by Ross Montgomery
When Col’s childhood imaginary friends come to life, he discovers a world where myths and legends are real. Accompanied by his guardians – a six-foot tiger, a badger in a waistcoat and a miniature knight – Col must race to Blitz-bombed London to save his sister.
A Super Weird Mystery! Attack of the Haunted Lunchbox by Jim Smith
Melvin, Rhubarb and Yoshi are on the hunt for a new mystery to write about in the Daily Donut newspaper, but little do they know, it’s right under their nose . . . there’s something spooky in the sandwiches!
Perfect for adventurers
Wonderscape by Jennifer Bell
Gaming and time travel collide in this exhilarating middle-grade adventure. Lost in the year 2473 in the Wonderscape, an epic in-reality adventure game, three friends must call on the help of some unlikely historical heroes, to play their way home before time runs out.
Map of Leaves by Yarrow Townsend
Orla lives alone, isolated from her community with only her garden for company. When her beloved plants are blamed for a mysterious sickness, she must find a cure and uncover some terrible truths to save her garden. Our subscribers loved this book and you can purchase the book and accompanying activity pack here.
Family & friendship
The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead
When Bea's dad and his wonderful partner, Jess, decide to marry, it looks as if Bea's biggest wish is coming true: she's finally (finally!) going to have a sister. But as the wedding day approaches, Bea makes discoveries that lead her to a possibly disastrous choice.
Perfect for fantasy fans
A Clock of Stars by Francesca Gibbons
With all the magic of Narnia and the humour of Mary Poppins, and illustrated by the brilliant Chris Riddell, this is a future middle grade fantasy classic - and the beginning of an unforgettable journey...
Fairy tales with a twist
Zombierella by Joseph Coehlo
Crawl out of the grave and step into your mushroom carriage for this haunting and humorous adventure of the undead girl searching for her happily ever after, written in verse by award-winning poet Joseph Coehlo.
Perfect for detective fiction fans
Anisha Accidental Detective by Serena Patel
Anisha Mistry is all set to be a bridesmaid at her Aunty Bindi's wedding tomorrow...until disaster strikes. With best friend Milo and some super sleuthing skills, it's up to Anisha Mistry to save THE big Indian wedding of the year.
The Cure for a Crime by Roopa Farooki
Twins Ali and Tulip have grown up with a surgeon mother and so have picked up lots of knowledge of first aid, medicine, and the ways of the hospital - they even know where the secret biscuit draw in A&E is. When their mother becomes unnaturally sleepy and forgetful, they become suspicious of her new boyfriend. With help from their mysterious wheelchair-bound gran, they set out to crack the mystery. Featuring a great cast of characters this book was a hit with subscribers and we have a few past packs available here.
The Castle of Tangled Magic by Sophie Anderson
13-year-old Olia discovers a land tangled by magic, where hope is lost, and a scheming wizard holds all the power. Soon Olia learns that she is destined to save this land, but with time running out, she must search for the magic within herself - to save everything and everyone she loves.
Perfect for graphic novel fans
When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohamed
A heart-wrenching true story about life in a Kenyan refugee camp that will restore your faith in real-life happy endings. This book perfectly depicts life in a refugee camp for 8-12-year-olds.
Last but not least … my book of the year
A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll
11-year-old Addie campaigns for a memorial in memory of the witch trials that took place in her Scottish hometown. She knows there's more to the story of these 'witches', just like there is more to hers. Can Addie challenge how the people in her town see her, and make her voice heard? A story about friendship, courage and self-belief.
Looking for more inspiration? Browse all our books and gift subscriptions here.