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21 fantastic books for older girls (picks by bestselling author AL Tait)

21 fantastic books for older girls (picks by bestselling author AL Tait)

AL Tait recently shared her top three tips to get girls reading books again. Go check them out because we’re certain something there will spark your own girl to pick up a book again. It can’t all be Tik Tok and Insta 24/7, can it? It’s time to halt the scrolling and the trolling and look for books older girls will like.

There are so many reasons why books are important for kids. Putting down the screens for a while is just one of them. For that reason, we asked AL Tait to recommend a list of books older girls will find engaging and fun. The kind of books a girl can get lost in.

For our older girls, it can be hard to find a nice balance between books that challenge them, suit their lifestyle and preferences and don’t feel too hard or daunting to read. We reckon AL’s list below will tick all those boxes.  Happy reading, girls!

21 books for older (age 10+)

These books are recommended by the Your Kid’s Next Read community or other experts. There’s a mix here of historical, contemporary, genre and age groups, but they’re all books that will draw girls in and hold their interest. Click each title to read more about the book or to buy it on Booktopia.

Ages 10+

When This Bell Rings by Allison Rushby


When This Bell Rings by Allison Rushby

In London’s Belgravia, Tamsin lives next door to Edie St Clair, famous author of the ‘London of the Bells’ series of graphic novels. With the series’ tenth and final novel overdue, Tamsin offers her idol help and discovers that Edie can literally draw herself into her stories. When Edie goes missing, Tamsin draws herself into the novel and lands in a world of unexpected danger. There, Tamsin discovers that Edie needs her more than she could have realised – only she has the power to write the perfect ending to this story. But the perfect ending will come at a great cost to all.

The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn by Kate Gordon

The Case Of The Missing Marquess: Enola Holmes #1 by Nancy Springer

The Unadoptables by Hana Tooke

The Unadoptables - a great book for older girls

In all the years that Elinora Gassbeek has been matron of the Little Tulip Orphanage, not once have the Rules for Baby Abandonment been broken. Until the autumn of 1880, when five babies are left in outrageous circumstances: one in a tin toolbox, one in a coal bucket, one in a picnic hamper, one in a wheat sack, and finally, one in a coffin-shaped basket.

Those babies were Lotta, Egg, Fenna, Sem and Milou, and although Gassbeek might think they’re ‘unadoptable’, they know their individuality is what makes them so special – and so determined to stay together. Twelve years on the children still have each other – until a fateful night threatens to tear them apart. The gang decide to make a daring escape, beginnning their adventure with only a scrap of a clue to guide them to their mysterious new home . . .

The Royal Ranger (series) by John Flanagan

Across The Risen Sea by Bren Macdibble

Sick Bay by Nova Weetman

Ages 12+

The Fire Star (A Maven & Reeve Mystery) by A. L. Tait

The Fire Star by AL Tait

A maid with a plan.
A squire with a secret.
A missing jewel.
A kingdom in turmoil.

Maven and Reeve have three days to solve the mystery of the Fire Star. If they don’t, they’ll lose everything. This could be a complete disaster . . . or the beginning of a friendship.

Click here for full review.

The Book of Chance by Sue Whiting

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

Dragon Pearl is one of our highly recommended books for older girls

Rick Riordan Presents Yoon Ha Lee’s space opera about thirteen-year-old Min, who comes from a long line of fox spirits. But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times.

Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.

When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name…

The Jane Doe Chronicles (series) by Jeremy Lachlan

Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal by Anna Whateley

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

Ages 14+

When The Ground Is Hard by Malla Nunn

When the ground is hard

Adele loves being one of the popular girls at Keziah Christian Academy. She knows the upcoming semester at school will be great with her best friend Delia at her side. Then Delia dumps her for a new girl with more money, and Adele is forced to share a room with Lottie, the school pariah, who doesn’t pray and defies teachers’ orders.

As they share a copy of Jane Eyre, Lottie’s gruff exterior and honesty grow on Adele, and together they take on bullies and protect each other from the vindictive and prejudiced teachers. When a boy goes missing on campus, Adele and Lottie must work together to solve the mystery, in the process learn the true meaning of friendship.

Ghost Bird by Lisa Fuller

Aurora Cycle (series) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Deep Water by Sarah Epstein

None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney

You Were Made For Me by Jenna Guillame

You were made for me

Katie didn’t mean to create a boy. A boy like a long-lost Hemsworth brother: six-foot tall with floppy hair and eyes like the sky on a clear summer’s day; whose lips taste like cookie dough and whose skin smells like springtime.

A boy who is completely devoted to Katie. He was meant to be perfect. But he was never meant to exist.

Stars Like Us by Frances Chapman

Everless (series) by Sara Holland


Packed with danger, temptation and desire – a perfect read for fans of The Red Queen. In the land of Sempera, the rich control everything – even time. Ever since the age of alchemy and sorcery, hours, days and years have been extracted from blood and bound to iron coins. The rich live for centuries; the poor bleed themselves dry.

Jules and her father are behind on their rent and low on hours. To stop him from draining himself to clear their debts, Jules takes a job at Everless, the grand estate of the cruel Gerling family.

There, Jules encounters danger and temptation in the guise of the Gerling heir, Roan, who is soon to be married. But the web of secrets at Everless stretches beyond her desire, and the truths Jules must uncover will change her life for ever … and possibly the future of time itself.

What books for older girls would you recommend?

A.L. Tait is the author of three epic and engaging series for readers aged 10-14, including The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher and The Maven & Reeve Mysteries. Find out more at

Read AL Tait's latest book - The Fire Star

Feature image by Daria Shevtsova; Cover images via publishers