Life After 'Harry Potter': Fantasy, Mystery & Adventure Books for Tweens

by Didi Engel
Oct 11, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. ET
Life After "Harry Potter": Fantasy, Mystery & Adventure Books for Tweens
Image: Amazon, Getty Images/Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows

My boys, ages 9 and 11, have read many of the Harry Potter books a dozen times — often just opening one up in the middle and diving in for a few chapters. We're still holding off on a couple of the later, darker books until we get past the kids' tendency to have nightmares, although many of their friends have already spilled details from the full series (for some reason, stories from other kids don't cause bad dreams?).

When I grew tired of my kids begging to read the next Potter book, I started a search for equally enthralling and captivating reads to offer as alternatives. I pulled together this playlist of adventure, fantasy, and mystery books that came highly recommended by moms of tweens — and I added a few that my kids just couldn't put down.

I'll admit: On a few occasions, I caught myself reading ahead after the boys were asleep. I hope you and the kids in your life enjoy these as much as we do.

See the complete playlist and save to your SmartFeed Library. Age recommendations in the link will guide you on maturity of content. 

1 /12: 'Alex Rider: Stormbreaker' by Anthony Horowitz

1/12 :'Alex Rider: Stormbreaker' by Anthony Horowitz

After teen spy-to-be Alex Rider’s uncle and guardian died under suspicious circumstances, Alex is recruited for a dangerous mission, one that has deadly consequences. This novel has been called a teenage James Bond adventure, which means lots of action, cool gadgets, martial arts, bad guys and English spies. This first book in the series will entice even the most reluctant reader. Bonus: There are 10 more books after this one. (Amazon, $7)

2 /12: 'Gregor the Overlander' by Suzanne Collins

2/12 :'Gregor the Overlander' by Suzanne Collins

Unexpectedly crashing into the Underland, a strange world under New York City, Gregor is drawn into a gloomy world inhabited by bats, rats and spiders. His arrival there reveals creatures divided and a quest that only Gregor can undertake. Notable is the anti-violence thread throughout the story. First in a series of five, this fantasy is engaging and well-written with strong characters and leaves the reader eager for a sequel. (Amazon, $7)

3 /12: 'The Lost Hero' by Rick Riordan

Fantasy, Mystery & Adventure Books for Tweens | 'The Lost Hero,' by Rick Riordan

3/12 :'The Lost Hero' by Rick Riordan

This series from Rick Riordan of Percy Jackson fame will not disappoint. Jason, Piper and Leo are the adventurous teens who find themselves on an epic quest soon after their arrival at the heroes' training camp. With a mix of Greek mythology and modern-day adventure, this tale is filled with ancient drama, a dragon or two, Greek gods and goddesses and a healthy dose of humor. (Amazon, $7.44)

4 /12: 'Septimus Heap, Book One: Magyk' by Angie Sage

4/12 :'Septimus Heap, Book One: Magyk' by Angie Sage

Magyk tells the adventure-filled story of protagonist Septimus Heap, who was presumed dead at birth, and his rise to the position of wizard apprentice. Filled with charms, spells, potions and evil villains, it takes the readers on a bewitching ride through a world of magic and fantasy. Fans of the Harry Potter books will enjoy this series just as much — and with a bit less dark content and violence. (Amazon, $7.41)

5 /12: 'The Book of Three' by Lloyd Alexander

5/12 :'The Book of Three' by Lloyd Alexander

First published in 1964, The Book of Three is the first of the fantasy- and adventure-laden series, The Chronicles of Prydain. Set in the legendary land of Prydain, the story revolves around the young hero Taran and his quest to vanquish the evil Horned King. This highly enthralling series has captivated adolescent minds for 50 years. Steeped in Welsh mythology, this tale is filled with enchanting elements that make for an excellent tween/teen read. (Amazon, $7.41)

6 /12: 'Mr. Lemoncello’s Library' by Chris Grabenstein

6/12 :'Mr. Lemoncello’s Library' by Chris Grabenstein

Twelve-year-old Kyle Keeley is over the moon with excitement when he gets one of 12 invitations to an overnight of fun and games at the new library created by the eccentric game designer Mr. Lemoncello. But the kids will have to work together and solve a secret puzzle if they want to get out. Middle-grade readers will enjoy this fast-paced, action-filled mystery caper. (Amazon, $6)

7 /12: 'The Hound of Rowan' by Henry H. N

7/12 :'The Hound of Rowan' by Henry H. N

Amazing magical powers, a secret school for gifted wizards and scary forces inside and outside the school that challenge our hero — does this storyline sound familiar? There are inevitable comparisons to the Harry Potter series here, but you should definitely make room on your bookshelf for this inviting magic/fantasy/adventure series by Henry H. Neff. (Amazon, $8)

8 /12: 'The Apothecary' by Maile Meloy

8/12 :'The Apothecary' by Maile Meloy

This fantastical novel manages to marry the 1950s Cold War with teenage angst, Russian spies and a sacred book of potions and spells. Two additional books in this series promise to be equally imaginative and captivating. (Amazon, $9)

9 /12: 'Animorphs' by Katherine Applegate

9/12 :'Animorphs' by Katherine Applegate

Animorphs is a sci-fi tale of five amazing 13-year-olds who are tasked with saving the world from mind-stealing aliens. Their newfound power to shapeshift into any animal they touch is the heart of the story. Over 20 years from its first printing and with 54 books in the collection, this favorite series continues to draw in and engage new readers. (Amazon, $5)

10 /12: 'Tesla’s Attic' by Neal Shusterman & Eric Elfman

10/12 :'Tesla’s Attic' by Neal Shusterman & Eric Elfman

After moving into inventor Nikola Tesla’s old home after a family tragedy, Nick discovers the famous inventor and scientist left an attic full of magical appliances and antiques. Unfortunately, a group of devious physicists wants to manipulate the powers of these precious items for evil. The first in a trilogy, this inventive and relatable story also shows the pain of losing to the bad guys (for now). (Amazon, $5)

11 /12: Pin it!

Image: Amazon/Getty Images/Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows

11/12 :Pin it!

Pin this for your kid's reading list — or your own.

12 /12: What is SmartFeed?

Fantasy, Mystery, & Adventure Books for Tweens: What is the SmartFeed Service?
Image: SmartFeed

12/12 :What is SmartFeed?

SmartFeed is a free family media resource to help parents find and organize books, movies, TV, podcasts and apps that are just right for each member of the family through an easy-to-use app and website. Our mission is to help parents access inspiring educational media that their kids will love. 
We offer savable, shareable playlists for families and communities. Titles are easily sortable by provider (e.g., Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, etc.), age and topic.