Eight Great Books for Your Tween Spy

All the buzz has been about the latest James Bond flick this fall—who doesn’t want to disappear into the world of spies, even if it’s just in your imagination? Guess what: kids love all things spy too. Looking for a good fast-paced spy book for your middle-grader? Here’s a list to get you started:

The Alex Rider Series by Anthony Horowitz

If you want a James Bond story for kids, the Alex Rider books will get you that British spy action—kid-style. Alex Rider’s uncle passes away under mysterious circumstances, and it doesn’t take long for teen Alex to get propelled into the secret world of MI6 spies. The series starts with Stormbreaker, and has many more sequels in case your kid is hooked. Suitable for older tweens as well as teens.

The Genius Files by Dan Gutman

Middle-graders love humor, and no one gets that better than author Dan Gutman. The Genius Files series follows brother and sister Coke and Pepsi as they travel across the country on a family RV road trip. Only they quickly get recruited as spies because of their brilliance, sending them on a secret mission while visiting off-the-wall tourist spots (like the National Yo-Yo Museum).

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

This book may be almost fifty years old, but it’s holding up just fine with kids. Harriet is a girl who pays great attention to detail, documenting everything about everyone in her notebook. But when it goes missing, she has to face her friends, who now know exactly how Harriet feels about them. A kid spy and coming-of-age classic.

IQ Series by Roland Smith

Another road trip kid spy story follows teen Quest (hence the Q) and his sister Angela, right after their parents get married. The two kids delve into Angela’s mother’s death, and find out she was a spy. A solid mystery that delves into the Secret Service, Mossad and MI5, all while leaving readers guessing who are the good guys, and who are the bad ones.

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Who is this mysterious Mr. X who lives in the upstairs apartment? In Liar & Spy, seventh grader Georges becomes a spy to find out just that, when he moves into a Brooklyn apartment building and befriends twelve year-old Safer. Probably more coming-of-age than a true spy story, but one of the most talked-about middle-grade novels of 2012, so certainly worth considering for the kid spy-in-training.

Spy School by Stuart Gibbs

All middle-grader Ben Ripley wants when he grows up is to be a CIA agent—so when the CIA recruits him to go to their Academy of Espionage, he couldn’t be happier. Only Ben is just there as bait for the bad guys, since the word is that he invented some secret code. Action-packed and a little goofy—perfect for your middle-grader.

The Young Bond Series by Charlie Higson

Ever wonder what James Bond was like as a kid? This book series takes you back to the 1930s, when young Bond was just a boarding school student at Eton, yet to learn his spy skills. The plot in each of the books has lots of twists and turns—great for the budding Bond fan.

Zeke Bartholomew, Superspy! by Jason Pinter

Zeke wants to be a spy, and he’s a little preoccupied by all things spy—so much so, that he ends up digging through his neighbors’ garbage in search for evidence of their secret life. Then Zeke gets mistaken for a kid spy, bad guys show up, and before you know it, it’s up to Zeke to save the world. Funny and adventurous, perfect for your spy kid.

Maybe the idea of being a kid spy seems a little far-fetched to us adults, but kids love it. Who doesn’t dream of being a spy, right?

F.T. Bradley’s debut Double Vision (Harper Children’s, October 2012) is the first in the MG mystery/thriller series featuring Linc Baker. Follow her blog YA Sleuth and Twitter @FTBradleyAuthor for YA and MG mystery news.

Read more posts by F.T. Bradley for Criminal Element.


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  2. Elana

    Another good spy book series is the Gallagher girl series.

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