Gifts for Kids Ages 9 to 12

Some older children love a good read; some enjoy ripping the paper off an exciting toy during the holidays; others love books and toys equally. Here are our picks for the “big kid” in your life.

Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, by Rick Riordan and John Rococo (Illustrator)
Percy Jackson, the “halfblood” son of Poseidon, is routinely called upon to save the world in Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. Now he’s back in a beautiful, fully illustrated book that tells the story of the gods and goddesses as only he can: irreverently. Funny asides and clever observations make this introduction to Greek mythology a blast to read for any age, and the beauty of the volume will make it a valued part of your child’s library for years to come. The Barnes & Noble exclusive edition includes a full-color Greek gods family tree.

The Long Haul (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #9), by Jeff Kinney
Everyone’s favorite wimpy kid, Greg Heffley, is heading off on a road trip with his family—and any reader who loves the Heffleys knows disaster can’t be far behind. Whether it’s a pack of rogue seagulls or a fender bender, this family trip will be full of exciting incidents…and it may well turn out to be an adventure they’ll never forget.

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio
This tale of tolerance is a must-read for both parents and kids. It follows the first public-school year of Auggie, a fifth-grade boy with a severe facial deformity that keeps many people from getting to know the person behind the appearance. The book speaks from Auggie’s perspective as well as those of his family and classmates, weaving an unforgettable argument against bullying that will arm a young reader with the best kind of survival tools: empathy and understanding. This Barnes & Noble exclusive edition includes a letter from the author, fan responses, and more.

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate and Patricia Castelao Costa
Ivan is a grownup gorilla who barely remembers his life before he became a tourist attraction in an American shopping mall. But when he meets a baby elephant who, like him, was taken from her family in Africa, he starts to remember his old life—and to long for rescue from his new one. Ivan expresses himself through art and through spare, poetic prose that will make young readers eager both to meet him and to set him free.

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling
“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” Read the first sentence of the book that kicked off worldwide Pottermania, and just try not to read on. If you know a young reader who hasn’t yet met Harry Potter, consider yourself lucky: you get to make the introduction. There are few stories so magical, few casts of characters so beloved, few fantasy worlds as soundly built and utterly compelling as Rowling’s. No child should be without this book, and the others in the series.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
This gorgeously illustrated Caldecott-winning book introduces readers to Hugo Cabret, an orphan living inside the clockworks of a Parisian train station—in between dodging a cruel station master and doing what he must to keep the clocks running following the death of his father, their keeper. When he meets a strange young girl and her unhappy grandfather, his fortunes change, transforming his life and illuminating its mysteries in ways he couldn’t have imagined. The book’s 2011 film adaptation, Hugo, is a perfect companion gift.

The Giver, by Lois Lowry
Lowry’s dystopian classic, recently adapted for the big screen, is the kind of timeless book that never gets outdated. Twelve-year-old Jonah is in training to take over as his community’s Receiver of Memory. Everyone else in his world is obsessed with “Sameness,” trading emotional depth for eternal calm. Released in 1993, this novel has been a staple of school reading lists for years, and belongs on the shelf of any child who loves The Hunger Games—and anyone who appreciates great storytelling that will stick with you for life.

Tales from a Not-So-Happily Ever After (Dork Diaries #8), by Rachel Renée Russell
In the eighth installment of the wildly popular Dork Diaries series, bubbly heroine Nikki Maxwell gets a bump on the head in gym class after an April Fool’s Day prank goes awry. It knocks her right into a fairy-tale-inspired dreamland, in which she and her classmates each take the role of a classic character—but Dork Diaries fans will be glad to know Nikki is just as much her goofy self in her dreams as she is in everyday middle school.

Electronic Snap Circuits
For some kids, electricity is as magical and fascinating as a great storybook. For those kids, Electronic Snap Circuits will be a never-ending source of satisfaction and fun. This kit makes it possible for a child to create over 300 working electric circuits, made with snap-together parts that require no soldering.

nanoblocks Titanic
For the artistic LEGO lover who longs to make even more-detailed creations, we present nanoblocks. These teensy pieces come together to create 3D sculptures including the 1,800-piece Titanic replica contained in this kit. Kids will love building an ultra-impressive model they can hold in one hand.

Craft-tastic String Art Kit
This string art kit gives your favorite crafty kid three designs to work on—a heart, a peace sign, and a “hi”—while also giving them the option to ignore the patterns altogether and dream up their own string art creations on the patterns’ flip side. The art is created using push pins and vibrantly colored strings on foam boards, and budding artists will be proud to display the results on their walls.

Gravity Maze
Your child will learn spatial reasoning the fun way with this fascinating gravity maze. It can be configured into 60 different challenges, requiring young players always to think a step ahead of their marble as it moves through the colorful, movable stacks of the maze. It’s a brain teaser that can be customized for any level of play.

Essential Drawing Kit
This fully loaded kit will give your favorite young artist all he needs to sketch, color, and blend his way through winter, including a sketch pad, posable mannequin, loads of drawing tools, and a beautiful wooden case to pack it in.

Timmy Failure: We Meet Again, by Stephan Pastis
Timmy Failure doesn’t let his name stand in the way of starting a detective agency called, unpromisingly, Total Failure, and he doesn’t let his obvious terribleness at sleuthing dissuade him from taking on cases large and small. Readers will crack up at Timothy’s blithe indifference to his failings, and wonder whether his silent polar-bear best friend, Total, is a figment of his imagination or a very real best sidekick ever. In his third adventure, he’s willing to do any dirty deed to get a good grade—the only thing standing between him and total world domination.

Harry Potter Illuminating Wand
Did you know that Harry Potter’s wand is made of holly wood, with a phoenix feather core? You may not, but we’re betting a young Potter fan you know and love does. This plastic-and-metal replica has a light-up tip, and will have your favorite wannabe Hogwarts student wingardium leviosa-ing right alongside everyone’s favorite Gryffindors.

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