20 favorite chapter books for girls: ages 8-12

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 Oh, how I love to read, and have since I was a small child.  I was lucky to be surrounded by a lot of good books, and a mom that was willing to take me to the library.  A lot.  I’ve always been a fast reader, so those 10 books that I was allowed to check out on my junior library card only lasted a couple of  days during the summer.  I just couldn’t get enough! The tooth fairy even brought books to our house instead of money–and I LOVED it. By the time I was nine or ten I had read dozens of the classics, and some of my favorite books were Little Women, David Copperfield, Jane Eyre, and Oliver Twist. That love of getting lost in a book has remained with me to this day, and I wish I could still curl up and read all day long–even just sometimes!

There are SO SO many good books, and as a young girl, I had my favorites. I read them over and over again, and still love them to this day.   My girls are now seven years old, and also love to read, and I’m just SO excited that I get to share all my favorites with them.  I have compiled a list of twenty of my favorite chapter books for girls, and several of them are actually a part of a series. I love when I  find a really good series, because I can stretch out my love of the character even farther!  These books are geared toward girls that are 8-12–some on the lower end of that range, and some toward the upper range.  My girls (age seven) started with Betsy & Tacy–one of my absolute favorites–and lower on the age range scale. They are all wonderful for independent reading, and if your child isn’t quite ready to read these on their own, they all make excellent read-aloud books, perfect for bedtime reading, or anytime! Actually, even if they can read them on their own, it’s still fun to read aloud…together.

favorite chapter books for girls | simplykierste.com

 I have so many books that I love, it was HARD to narrow it down to only 20 (way more though, if you include all of the books in the series), but these are my absolute favorites, and bring back the most memories of my childhood reading. Most of them I read as a young girl, but there are a couple on this list that I’ve added since then.

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1. Betsy & Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace

Betsy and Tacy are best friends growing up in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and this series follows them as they grow up. It’s a delightful series, and you can’t help but fall in with these girls (and their friend Tib, who is introduced later)!

2. All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

LOVE this series!  It tells the story of a family with stair-step girls, who live in the Lower East Side of New York City at the turn-of-the-century.  They live above their father’s store, and the stories of their life are rich with everyday adventures and their Jewish faith.

3.  Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney

This is the first book in a series about the Pepper Family, who live in the Little Brown House.   There are five children who live with their widowed mother, Mamsie, and it’s their story of how they face all the challenges that come their way. It’s extremely heartwarming, and the unexpected conclusion is the perfect ending!

4.  Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Oh, well, what more can you say about Little House one the Prairie? It’s an iconic series that tells the tale of Laura Ingalls and her family and their pioneer life beginning in this book in 1871.  It’s utterly charming, and she and her family will draw you in and want to keep reading more!

5.  Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

I’ve read these books so many times I have them memorized! There are eight Anne books, starting her story of going from orphan to Anne of Green Gables.  My copies are tattered, the corners bent, and the pages yellowed, but I wouldn’t have it any other way–my girls will read these same books!

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About Simply Kierste Design Co.

Kierste is a blogger who shares her love of all things DIY. She is the mother of six, and focuses on simple ideas and projects to make a house a home! When she's not chasing around two sets of twins, a teenager, and a baby, she's working on a project, training for her next race, reading one of her favorite books, or baking something with chocolate in it.

26 thoughts on “20 favorite chapter books for girls: ages 8-12

  1. You’ve included some of my childhood favorites! My grandparents got me into Anne of Green Gables after they visited Prince Edward Island. They bought me the 1st book there, and had it signed by a descendant of LM Montgomery. I also have good memories of The Boxcar Children. My 5th grade teacher read the series to our class at the end of each day. My girls are only 2 and 4, so I will keep this list pinned for the future!

    1. I’ve always wanted to visit Prince Edward Island, and how cool to have a book signed!!! I started reading some of these books to my girls when they were 4-5, and they loved listening to them even at that age. They make great bedtime books!!! xoxo

  2. I couldn’t stop smiling while looking at your list – you have listed some of my absolute favorite childhood books!!! I have saved my Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden collections for my daughter who is now 8. And being a Minnesota girl – Little House and the Betsy-Tacy books are very close to my heart. So many memories with all the books – the Boxcar Children series is one of her current favorites. Funny memory – when I first saw “Five Little Peppers and How They Grew” on our bookshelf as a child – I thought it was a book about gardening! It ended up being one of my favorite books! Thank you for the wonderful list! Stay warm! (It is currently about 20 below here with a 37 below windchill – no school today!)

    1. You are so welcome! Isn’t it amazing how books can bring back a childhood so quickly? And LOL about Five Little Peppers…

  3. You’ve listed so many of my favorite books from childhood – I especially loved the Boxcar Children series when I was a younger reader. Caddie Woodlawn is also a great one, I had the student in my class read it for a literature circle and even the boys enjoyed that one. Another favorite of my 5 & 6 graders was So B. It by Sarah Weeks…even my most reluctant readers couldn’t put this one down.

    1. Books are so wonderful, aren’t they! I’m sure as a teacher you love to see your students really enjoy reading, especially the reluctant ones!!!!

  4. My girls and I read all the books (except for the 1st three) of your list. Since I homeschooled them, we read all the time. We would even make up our own mysteries or have a meal like the Ingalls. Awesome list of books. Like you said, there are so many great books it is hard to narrow them down. I would also add the Beverly Cleary series.

    1. Crystal, those first 3 are so amazing–definitely worth reading! The first 3 are also part of series so you might get hooked a few more of each.

  5. I would put almost any Louisa May Alcott book within a top 10 list! Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys, Jack & Jill, etc. are all delightful stories that should not be missed (and all of those have been read to both boys and girls at our house).

    1. I definitely agree, and they are all on my favorites list–but since they are at the uppermost part of this age range, I didn’t include them. They will absolutely be on my YA and adult lists though–they’re the best!

  6. Excellent list Kierste. My daughters are 8 & 10 and they are avid readers. They especially like for me to read to them before bedtime, and their absolute favorite books for me to read to them are anything by Kate Dicamillo…Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane…all of her stories have such heart. We find ourselves laughing one minute, then crying the next. We also love a fairly new series called The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. These are sure to become classics. Thanks for the great post!

    1. Yes! I love those books too!!! I haven’t read The Penderwicks yet–it’s on my list, so thank you for recommending it!!

    1. Yes! My girls love the American Girl books too–the mysteries are some of their favorites!

  7. I read some of the Molly mysteries…they are good…I need to get back into reading and less time on the computer…can’t wait to see your boy chapter book list :)

    1. Lol! That darn computer!!! :) I think my boy list will come out in the next week or so…I’m excited, because it’s even more books I love!!!!

  8. Love Anne of Green Gables and The Princess Academy! I was always more of a fantasy fan, though, so I tried to read some series about horses and stuff, but became bored. haha SO for those with children who are fantasy fans-a tamer fantasy book is The Little White Horse, which is one of my favorites for this age range and of course, The Chronicles of Narnia. I also love Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Prydain, but they have a bit darker themes.

    1. April, I’m so glad you mentioned some great ones in the fantasy genre. I know everyone has their own interests when it comes to books, and I didn’t come to appreciate fantasy until I was older. :) I do love The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter. Have you read the Fablehaven series? It’s one of my favorites, and great for this age too!

  9. What a great list! We loved The Hundred Dresses! One we loved and you should read is Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Such a great story and I loved it as much as my daughter did!

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