Some of these twenty books, recommended for ages 8-12, brim with humor; others tackle more complex subjects. Even after children can read on their own, they still differ greatly in their ability and confidence level. Many can read well beyond their purported “grade level” (I’m not a fan of that concept) if they find a subject that interests them. On the other hand, there’s nothing shameful about picking up an easier, thinner book. To that end, I’ve included a range of subjects and readability on this list, in the hopes that the variety will encourage your child to think of reading as an adventure, and that books are to be picked up and put down, set aside if he or she doesn't click with a title, and also to encourage reading aloud together books that are slightly more challenging. As always, you know your child best, and it's a good idea, if you can, to read a book first yourself before you give it to your young reader. The paperback edition appears here because it's the most portable, but once it’s deemed a favorite, you may want a hardcover that will withstand the test of time, too.