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Books with a Child Protagonist

Whether you’re participating in the Lifetime of Reading Challenge, or simply interested in reading books with child protagonists, we’ve curated a diverse list of recommendations! 

Slanted Blue, Teal and Pink book covers

You can read all about the Lifetime of Reading Challenge, find links to book recommendations for the other age ranges, and download your free printable book tracker here.

What Kinds of Books are On This List

We know that every childhood experience is unique, so we’ve curated a diverse list of books with child protagonists. Each of these books, with a child as the main character, features a kid under 12. The list has a wide range of adult fiction recommendations, including both contemporary and historical fiction, mystery, adventure, and even a few classic works of children’s literature. Along with that variety, there will also be a mix of enjoyable light reads and deeper topics.

What is Bildungsroman?

Bildungsroman is a compound German word, combining the words for education and novel into a single new word for books in which the main character is growing as a person and figuring out who they are morally and psychologically. We love coming-of-age books when the characters are discovering the world around them and their unique place in it. While the books on our list with the youngest characters don’t all fit into this category, you’ll find plenty that do!

The Best Child Protagonist Novels

You are welcome to choose any book that you’d like to read for the challenge. We hope that our list of novels with a child protagonist will help you get started. As always, we’ve selected a combination of new books and older books that are usually available without a wait from your local library.



Angela & Melissa

The Book Girls are best friends who jointly read over 200 books per year. We started Book Girls' Guide in 2019 to help others de-stress and find joy through the power of a great book. We do in-depth research on thousands of novels and non-fiction titles each year to provide curated book lists covering a variety of genres.


Thursday 29th of December 2022

I’d like to add The Graveyard Book (infant through teens) and Anne of Green Gables (12-teens) to this list.

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Looking for your next great read? Try one of the highly-rated titles from our curated book lists.