Ages 10-12 are prime middle grade reading years and my favorite age group to recommend stories to. For this list of books for 10 year old boys, I rounded up some of my favorite stories featuring boys between the ages of 9-11 finding their way in the world. Some of these kids are learning to stand up for themselves, pursuing their passions bravely, going on global spy missions, taking eye-opening road trips, and dealing with difficult life situations. There’s a story for every reader!
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20 Exceptional Books for 10 Year Old Boys
Here are 20 fantastic books for 10 year old boys:
Lies I Tell Myself
Published: June 21, 2022
Raymond has always preferred to keep life simple and leave adventuring to other people. But then he’s sent across the country, against his will, to spend the summer before fifth grade with grandparents who think he’s “troubled” and needs to have playdates set up for him. Determined to show everyone how brave, confident, and untroubled he can be, Raymond hatches a three-step plan:
1) Learn to ride a bike. His mom never got around to teaching him before she left.
2) Learn how to swim.
3) Make friends. On his own.
But can Raymond really change, or is this whole plan just a bunch of lies he’s telling himself? With the help of his great-grandfather’s old journal, a feral chicken, and a possibly imaginary new friend, Raymond might just overcome his fears and figure out who he really wants to be.
Published: March 10, 2020
Sara Martinez is a hacker. She recently broke into the New York City foster care system to expose her foster parents as cheats and lawbreakers. However, instead of being hailed as a hero, Sara finds herself facing years in a juvenile detention facility and banned from using computers for the same stretch of time. Enter Mother, a British spy who not only gets Sara released from jail but also offers her a chance to make a home for herself within a secret MI6 agency.
Operating out of a base in Scotland, the City Spies are five kids from various parts of the world. When they’re not attending the local boarding school, they’re honing their unique skills, such as sleight of hand, breaking and entering, observation, and explosives. All of these allow them to go places in the world of espionage where adults can’t.
Before she knows what she’s doing, Sara is heading to Paris for an international youth summit, hacking into a rival school’s computer to prevent them from winning a million euros, dangling thirty feet off the side of a building, and trying to stop a villain…all while navigating the complex dynamics of her new team.
No one said saving the world was easy…
All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook
Published: March 1, 2016
Eleven-year-old Perry was born and raised by his mom at the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility in tiny Surprise, Nebraska. His mom is a resident on Cell Block C, and so far Warden Daugherty has made it possible for them to be together. That is, until a new district attorney discovers the truth—and Perry is removed from the facility and forced into a foster home.
When Perry moves to the “outside” world, he feels trapped. Desperate to be reunited with his mom, Perry goes on a quest for answers about her past crime. As he gets closer to the truth, he will discover that love makes people resilient no matter where they come from . . . but can he find a way to tell everyone what home truly means?
A Duet for Home
Published: April 5, 2022
It’s June’s first day at Huey House, and as if losing her home weren’t enough, she also can’t bring her cherished viola inside. Before the accident last year, her dad saved tip money for a year to buy her viola, and she’s not about to give it up now.
Tyrell has been at Huey House for three years and gives June a glimpse of the good things about living there: friendship, hot meals, and a classical musician next door.
Can he and June work together to oppose the government, or will families be forced out of Huey House before they are ready?
Published: January 7, 2020
How to Go on an Unplanned Road Trip with Your Grandma:
Grab a Suitcase: Prepacked from the big spring break trip that got CANCELLED.
Fasten Your Seatbelt: G’ma’s never conventional, so this trip won’t be either.
Use the Green Book: G’ma’s most treasured possession. It holds history, memories, and most important, the way home.
What Not to Bring:
A Cell Phone: Avoid contact with Dad at all costs. Even when G’ma starts acting stranger than usual.
Set against the backdrop of the segregation history of the American South, take a trip with this New York Times bestseller and an eleven-year-old boy who is about to discover that the world hasn’t always been a welcoming place for kids like him, and things aren’t always what they seem–his G’ma included.”
Published: May 10, 2022
Welcome to the world of Mirabelle, a young goldfinch who loves to sing and dreams of becoming a musical star. She lives with her family in the backyard of a piano teacher, and she is quickly intrigued by Mr. Starek’s newest pupil. Michael Jin is an eleven-year-old keyboard sensation, but lesson after lesson, he refuses to play. With the prestigious Chopin Festival looming at summer’s end, how will he be ready in time? Mirabelle is responsible for Michael’s breakthrough—to her own astonishment, she sings the Chopin piece he is beginning to play at the piano. It is their first duet.
Thus begins a secret adventure that will take Mirabelle and Michael further than they ever imagined—in music, in friendship, and in solving the mystery of a lost piano that could be worth millions. A house full of treasures holds the clues. There, Mirabelle, Michael, and their friend Emily will make an important discovery that links the great composer Frederic Chopin, the trailblazing author George Sand, and the French Romantic painter Eugene Delacroix.
Published: March 15, 2022
Isaac and Marco already know sixth grade is going to change their lives. But it won’t change things at home—not without each other’s help.
This year, star basketball player Isaac plans on finally keeping up with his schoolwork. Better grades will surely stop Isaac’s parents from arguing all the time. Meanwhile, straight-A Marco vows on finally winning his father’s approval by earning a spot on the school’s basketball team.
But will their friendship and support for each other be enough to keep the two boys from falling short?
Published: June 26, 2018
Stanley Yelnats’s family has a history of bad luck, so he isn’t too surprised when a miscarriage of justice sends him to a boys’ juvenile detention center, Camp Green Lake. But there is no lake―it has been dry for over a hundred years―and it’s hardly a camp: as punishment, the boys must each dig a hole a day, five feet deep, five feet across, in the hard earth of the dried-up lake bed. The warden claims that this pointless labor builds character, but that’s a lie. Stanley must try to dig up the truth.
One Kid’s Trash
Published: August 31, 2021
Hugo is not happy about being dragged halfway across the state of Colorado just because his dad had a midlife crisis and decided to become a ski instructor. It’d be different if Hugo weren’t so tiny, if girls didn’t think he was adorable like a puppy in a purse and guys didn’t call him “leprechaun” and rub his head for luck. But here he is, the tiny new kid on his first day of middle school.
When his fellow students discover his remarkable talent for garbology, the science of studying trash to tell you anything you could ever want to know about a person, Hugo becomes the cool kid for the first time in his life. But what happens when it all goes to his head?
How to Win a Slime War
Published: September 14, 2021
Alex Manalo and his dad have just moved back to Sacramento to revive their extended family’s struggling Filipino market. While Alex likes helping at the store, his true passion is making slime! He comes up with his own recipes, playing with ingredients, colors, and textures, which make his slime truly special. Encouraged by a new friend at school, Alex begins to sell his creations, leading to a sell-off battle with a girl who previously had a slime-opoly. Winner gets bragging rights and the right to be the only slime game in town.
But Alex’s dad thinks Alex should be focused more on “traditional” boy pastimes and less on slime. As the new soccer coach, Dad wants Alex to join the team.
Alex is battling on multiple fronts–with his new friends at school, and with his dad at home. It will be a sticky race to the finish to see who oozes out on top.
The Real Deal
Published: October 25, 2022
Not every friendship can be the real deal, but for Gabe and Oliver, that’s never been a question.
Until now. Things still feel the same on the surface—they’re even making a comic about their friendship—but lately Oliver’s acting like he might be hiding something.
And then there’s Reuben, the new boy who just moved to town. He doesn’t talk—not ever. The other kids say mean things and call him names behind his back. Gabe knows it isn’t right—but he and Oliver stay quiet, or worse, laugh along with the others just to keep from standing out.
Through the character he and Oliver create in their comic adventure, the experience they have babysitting twin toddlers, and with the help of a troublemaking seventh grader who gets sent to their sixth-grade class, Gabe begins to find his voice and become the realest-deal version of his own self. But if he does that—can he still hold onto his best friend, too?
The Colossus of Roads
Published: April 1, 2020
Rick Rusek’s stomach has a lot to say. It’s got opinions on tasty foods, not-so-tasty foods, and driving in traffic-jammed Los Angeles makes it roil, boil, gurgle, and howl. It’s doing the best it can. It never meant to earn its owner the nickname Carsick Rick or make him change schools for fifth grade.
And Rick’s stomach isn’t the only one dealing with terrible traffic. His family’s catering service, Smotch, is teetering on the verge of ruin after a rash of late deliveries and missed appointments. Fortunately, Rick has the solution. Unfortunately, no one wants to listen to a kid.
Absolutely certain that he could fix the constant, endless traffic snarls, Rick hatches a plan. But he’ll need help from his unicorn-loving Girl Scout neighbor, a famous street artist, and the best driver in L.A. Together they’ll take on the stream of stalled cars–and a secret conspiracy or two, too.
It’s going to be tough, but Rick won’t give up. If he can successfully move the 330,000 slow-moving cars standing in the way of his family’s future, maybe everyone will see that he’s not Carsick Rick. He’s one of the seven wonders of Los Angeles.
He’s the Colossus of Roads.
Take Back the Block
Published: January 26, 2021
Wes Henderson has the best style in sixth grade. That–and hanging out with his crew (his best friends since little-kid days) and playing video games–is what he wants to be thinking about at the start of the school year, not the protests his parents are always dragging him to.
But when a real estate developer makes an offer to buy Kensington Oaks, the neighborhood Wes has lived his whole life, everything changes. The grownups are supposed to have all the answers, but all they’re doing is arguing. Even Wes’s best friends are fighting. And some of them may be moving. Wes isn’t about to give up the only home he’s ever known. Wes has always been good at puzzles, and he knows there has to be a missing piece that will solve this puzzle and save the Oaks. But can he find it . . . before it’s too late?
Ms Bixby’s Last Day
Published: June 21, 2016
Everyone knows there are different kinds of teachers. The boring ones, the mean ones, the ones who try too hard, the ones who stopped trying long ago. The ones you’ll never remember, and the ones you want to forget. Ms. Bixby is none of these. She’s the sort of teacher who makes you feel like school is somehow worthwhile. Who recognizes something in you that sometimes you don’t even see in yourself. Who you never want to disappoint. What Ms. Bixby is, is one of a kind.
Topher, Brand, and Steve know this better than anyone. And so when Ms. Bixby unexpectedly announces that she won’t be able to finish the school year, they come up with a risky plan—more of a quest, really—to give Ms. Bixby the last day she deserves. Through the three very different stories they tell, we begin to understand what Ms. Bixby means to each of them—and what the three of them mean to each other.
Published: March 1, 2022
Elliott has been struggling since his closest friend moved away, and he’s not too sure where he fits into his own family, especially since his newly remarried dad and stepmom are expecting a baby. His grades aren’t too great, he’s always forgetting things, and he doesn’t really like sports. All together, the result is someone the complete opposite of his dad–a fact they’re both very aware of. Elliott’s only solace is cooking, where he can control the outcome, testing exciting recipes and watching his favorite cooking shows.
When he’s paired with the super smart and popular Maribel for a school-wide project, Elliott worries they won’t see eye to eye. But Maribel is also looking for a new way to show others her true self and this project could be the chance they’ve both been waiting for. Sometimes the least likely friends help you see a new side to things . . . and sometimes you have to make a few mistakes before you figure out what’s right.
A Place to Hang the Moon
Published: February 2, 2021
It is 1940 and William, 12, Edmund, 11, and Anna, 9, aren’t terribly upset by the death of the not-so-grandmotherly grandmother who has taken care of them since their parents died.
But the children do need a guardian, and in the dark days of World War II London, those are in short supply, especially if they hope to stay together. Could the mass wartime evacuation of children from London to the countryside be the answer?
It’s a preposterous plan, but off they go– keeping their predicament a secret, and hoping to be placed in a temporary home that ends up lasting forever. Moving from one billet to another, the children suffer the cruel trickery of foster brothers, the cold realities of outdoor toilets and the hollowness of empty stomachs.
But at least they find comfort in the village lending library– a cozy shelter from the harshness of everyday life, filled with favorite stories and the quiet company of Nora Müller, the kind librarian. The children wonder if Nora could be the family they’ve been searching for. . . . But the shadow of the war, and the unknown whereaouts of Nora’s German husband complicate matters.
Fly on the Wall
Published: September 15, 2020
Henry Khoo’s family treats him like a baby. He’s not allowed to go anywhere without his sister/chaperone/bodyguard. And he definitely CAN’T take a journey halfway around the world all by himself!
But that’s exactly his plan. After his family’s annual trip to visit his father in Singapore is cancelled, Henry decides he doesn’t want to be cooped up at home with his overprotective family and BFF turned NRFF (Not Really Friend Forever). Plus, he’s hiding a your-life-is-over-if-you’re-caught secret: he’s the creator of an anonymous gossip cartoon, and he’s on the verge of getting caught. Determined to prove his independence and avoid punishment for his crimes, Henry embarks on the greatest adventure everrr. . . hoping it won’t turn into the greatest disaster ever.
Last Gate of the Emperor
Published: May 4, 2021
Yared Heywat lives an isolated life in Addis Prime — a hardscrabble city with rundown tech, lots of rules, and not much to do. His worrywart Uncle Moti and bionic lioness Besa are his only family… and his only friends.
Often in trouble for his thrill-seeking antics and smart mouth, those same qualities make Yared a star player of the underground augmented reality game, The Hunt for Kaleb’s Obelisk. But when a change in the game rules prompts Yared to log in with his real name, it triggers an attack that rocks the city. In the chaos, Uncle Moti disappears.
Suddenly, all the stories Yared’s uncle told him as a young boy are coming to life, of kingdoms in the sky and city-razing monsters. And somehow Yared is at the center of them.
Together with Besa and the Ibis — a game rival turned reluctant ally — Yared must search for his uncle… and answers to his place in a forgotten, galaxy-spanning war.
Playing the Cards You’re Dealt
Published: October 5, 2021
SECRETS ARE ALWAYS A GAMBLE
Ten-year-old Anthony Joplin has made it to double digits! Which means he’s finally old enough to play in the spades tournament every Joplin Man before him seems to have won. So while Ant’s friends are stressing about fifth grade homework and girls, Ant only has one thing on his mind: how he’ll measure up to his father’s expectations at the card table.
Then Ant’s best friend gets grounded, and he’s forced to find another spades partner. And Shirley, the new girl in his class, isn’t exactly who he has in mind. She talks a whole lot of trash — way more than his old partner. Plus, he’s not sure that his father wants him playing with a girl. But she’s smart and tough and pretty, and knows every card trick in the book. So Ant decides to join forces with Shirley — and keep his plans a secret.
Only it turns out secrets are another Joplin Man tradition. And his father is hiding one so big it may tear their family apart…
A Million Views
Published: October 4, 2022
Brewster Gaines loves everything about making videos. The planning, the filming, the editing, and especially the feeling of watching his YouTube views tick up and up. So what if he doesn’t have friends to film with or parents who are home every night for dinner? He’s got a phone and a tripod and a lofty goal:
A million views.
But when he enlists the acting chops of charismatic new kid Carly for a ten-second video, he gets more than he bargained for. Her intimidating friend Rosa soon steps in with funding to produce an epic fantasy trailer, and before long, their tiny team is adding cast and crew. What started as a simple shoot mutates into a full-fledged movie production, complete with method-acting cosplayers, special effects, and a monster made out of a go-kart. That’s when Brewster realizes that getting to a million views may be harder than he ever imagined . . .
There they are: 20 of the best books for 10 year olds! Which of these books have you read and loved? What did I miss?