A couple of years back I wrote up some book recommendations for a 13-year-old boy, a friend of mine. It's time to update that list! Some of these are books that I have read in the meantime, others are old favorites that I've kept in my personal library.
As usual, you can click on the covers of these for more details. If you shop through the links, I earn a small commission.
The Letter for the King
by Tonke Dragt. Originally published in the Netherlands in 1962, but not published in the USA until 2015, this book is an old-fashioned hero's journey of the best kind. The Lettter for the King is realistic historical fiction. I loved it, and I think fans of The Hobbit and Crispin would enjoy it, too. In it, a young squire is about to be knighted when a secret mission literally knocks on the door.
by David Almond. This book earned a Printz Honor in 2000, and when I first read it I was completely blown away. The Printz is like the Newbery for an older age group. Skellig is short and very atmospheric. It had so much suspense in it. In it a boy and a girl in the same neighborhood discover a man who might be part bird.
by Gene Luen Yang. This is actually two books, but they're meant to be read together: first Boxers, then Saints. It tells the story of the Boxer rebellion in China from both sides of the conflict. These two graphic novels surprised and educated me. I reviewed them here.
by Nancy Farmer. I originally read this book in college, because it was being taught in a children's lit class. It tells the story of Mateo Alacran, who has to figure out why he is respected and feared, guarded and living a life apart. I won't spoil it for you, but I'll say that I like it even better than The Hunger Games. It's dystopian YA lit, but it was written before Hunger Games. As you can see it got lots of awards.
by Jon Allison. This series is like my new Calvin and Hobbes. It follows 6 British middle-schoolers as they solve crimes with a supernatural twist. Somethign about the way the author makes me laugh and mixes humor kids will like with jokes parents will appreciate makes me love these books.
by Orson Scott Card. A classic choice for sci-fi lovers, regardless of age. In this book, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin is recruited to battle school where he quickly rises through the ranks, depite being the youngest person ever admitted. His size and age are an issue with his peers, and he has to overcome constant challenges.
Bonus! Tonight I talked with a 13-year-old boy, Joseph, who likes to read. I'm one of the leaders for our church's youth group, and asked Joseph for his top book recommendations. I'll list them here for you.
The Animorphs series by K. A. Applegate - I have fond memories of reading these when I was young! Now they're being released with new covers.
The Warriors Series by Erin Hunter - I haven't read any of these, but my younger siblings really like them, too.