If you are looking for something to read this summer (beyond your school’s required list) check these books out for some great reads! They will take you on amazing adventures through magical worlds, encounter some quirky characters, make you jump right out of your skin, and leave you with a heart warming sense of joy and inspiration. Happy Reading!
Brave Enough for Two is a heartwarming adventure story for anyone that is a fan of Winnie the Pooh!
Join Hoot & Olive on another adventure in Imagine That and check out Winnie: the Remarkable Tale of a real bear illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss that tells the tale of the bear that inspired Winnie the Pooh.
How adorable is Barnabus?! I wanted to bring home every “failed” creature in this book. It’s a story of teamwork, friendship, perseverance, compassion, and loving oneself just the way we are. The illustrations are beautiful! I enjoy every book from The Fan Brothers, so be sure to check out their others: The Antlered Ship, The Night Gardener, Ocean Meets Sky
I am drawn to beautiful illustrations and I can’t get enough of Michaela Goade’s artwork. I think many others can agree since she won this years Caldecott Medal! In addition, this story is incredibly powerful, water connects us all, and Water Protectors tells the story of Indigenous-led movements across North America in a beautifully poetic and accessible way for children.
If you love Michaela Goade’s illustrations as much as I do, check out her latest book, I Sang You Down from the Stars, written by Tasha Spillett-Sumner. Another beautifully poetic story that tells of the gifts collected for a newborn as tradition in the Inniniwak Nation and many others globally. Especially recommended if you are preparing to welcome a new baby.
Rachel Bright’s latest in what I consider a mini series of books that teach kids how to work as a team, increase self-esteem, and boost self-confidence. The hilarious, rhyming text is engaging for both child and adult alike. Not to mention the illustrations are also fantastic! Make sure you check out all three books! The Squirrels Who Squabbled, The Koala Who Could, The Lion Inside
I am sure you know Elephant & Piggie, but have you met Nanette?! From one of our favorite children’s book authors/illustrators comes Nanette’s Baguette, a story about a little girl who just can’t help herself when it comes to that warm smell of freshly baked bread. It’s an older, lesser known book by Mo Willems but it is no less fantastic!
Trees are beautiful, regal, mysterious, ancient creations and what we have learned about them will never cease to amaze me. I highly recommend reading these two books together, especially if you have kids of varying ages and reading levels and love spending time in the woods. There is always so much we can learn from nature’s beauty. Peter and the Tree Children, The Wisdom of Trees
While we are on the topic of nature, I also recommend checking out Kate Messner’s two books that are filled with more secrets of nature. See what is teeming below the soil in Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, and then discover what you can find Over and Under the Pond. I bet you can even find some of these creatures in your own backyard!
If I added all of the picture books I love and recommend, this post would be FAR too long! Here are a few more of my favorite authors/illustrators that I would recommend ANY and ALL of their books: Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen, Molly Idle, Jory John, and Greg Pizzoli.
Here are some chapter books for the older readers. They’re listed from easy to hard based on length, story complexity, and content.
Two of my all time favorite authors teamed up to create this adorable adventure of two very unlikely friends. You have to join Diva and Flea in Paris. My only complaint is that Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi haven’t created more adventures with this duo! Great for fans of the authors/illustrators and for those that enjoyed (or are at the reading level of) the Mercy Watson and Princess in Black series.
You may recognize this author (if you couldn’t tell, I am a fan of Tony DiTerlizzi). Kenny & the Dragon is a great adventure story, really key for readers ages 7-9. It is a witty re imagined version of the classic tale of the Reluctant Dragon. I also enjoyed reading this as a family read aloud! If you enjoy Kenny & the Dragon, check out the second book recently released Kenny & the Book of Beasts. #fantasy #adventure
This books is SO much fun! I also recommend the audio book if you enjoy them, the first two books of this series were well done. If you like adventure, mystery, mythical creatures, and a little bit of mischief then this book is for you! Great for readers age 7-10. This is a 6 book series that is sure to take you on some fantastical adventures this summer. The Imaginary Veterinary series. #fantasy #adventure #mystery
Inge goes to live with her grandmother in Bornholm, Denmark shortly after her parents died, the year in 1911. There is not so much to do in Bornholm in 1911 so Inge must find a way to keep busy. Somehow (more often then not) Inge manages to get herself into some kind of mischief and the town is not quite sure what to do with this vibrant little girl. Inge eventually changes the town with her curiosity and laughter and finds a deeper connection with her grandmother than she ever expected. Inge reminds me of other classic characters like Pipi Longstocking and Ramona Quimby. When Mischief Came to Town. Great for readers age 7-10. #family #historical #friendship
Another historical fiction book for you and I couldn’t explain it any better myself…”Ten-year-old Beans Curry, a member of the Keepsies, the best marble playing gang in Depression-era Key West, Florida, engages in various schemes to earn money while “New Dealers” from Washington, D.C., arrive to turn run down Key West into a tourist resort.” -from the publisher. I really enjoyed this story and I hope you give it a try too. Great for ages 8-12. Full of Beans #historicalfiction #greatdepression
What would you do if you were a robot and woke up on an island with no memory and had to survive the islands less than hospitable inhabitants? Many of you may have read this already since it tops many lists for readers ages 8-12 years old. But, if not I definitely recommend you add it to your “to be read” list for the summer! The Wild Robot #adventure #robots #survival
I LOVE Hilda, everything about her quirkiness, her dedication to nature, and the whimsical creatures of Trolberg. This is the chapter book series, there is also a graphic novel series of the original story, AND if you haven’t caught the series on Netflix I recommend them ALL! In the first book, Hilda encounters her very first troll, negotiates with some very persnickety elves, and seeks to discover the mystery behind the giant who only appears at midnight as she faces the prospect of leaving her beloved wilderness home with her mom for Trolberg City. -from the publisher. Great for readers ages 8-12. Hilda and the Hidden People. #fantasy #whimsical
This is one of my all time favorite children’s series. I had the pleasure of meeting Jeanne Birdsall, she is a local Western MA author, and she is just a delight. If you love a classic children’s tale reminiscent of Little Women, the Babysitters Club, The Boxcar Children, The Secret Garden and the like, this is for you! A beautiful story of life, family, adventure, and childhood perfect for independent reading and family read aloud for ages 6+. I also recommend the audio books for this series, they were well done and great for summer road trips. The Penderwicks Series #family #friendship
Now a classic summer read, I am adding Holes to my list because I think every kid should join Stanley Yelnats, his D-tent crew, and the bad luck he encounters, no thanks to his “no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great-grandfather!” After reading the book, check out the classic early 2000’s film starring Shia LeBeouf, you won’t regret it 😉 Great for ages 8-12 #friendship
Chiyo Tamura is sent from her home in a small Japanese mountain village to a girls’ school in the city of Tsuchiura, and she never imagined that she would soon be in Tokyo helping to welcome more than twelve thousand Friendship Dolls from America–including Emily Grace, a gift to her own school. Nor could she dream that she’d have an important role in the crafting of Miss Tokyo, one of fifty-eight Japanese dolls to be sent to America in return. But when an excited Chiyo is asked to be Emily Grace’s official protector, one jealous classmate will stop at nothing to see her fail. How can Chiyo reveal the truth–and restore her own good name?” -from the publisher. I really enjoyed this historical fiction read, based on a piece of American and Japanese history I knew nothing about. Great for readers age 11-14. Dolls of Hope #historicalfiction
Another historical fiction read that takes place during World War II. Ada is a 10 year old girl living with her abusive mother who is embarrassed by her daughter who was born with a club foot. When British children start to be evacuated from London, her mother refuses, believing no one will want Ada due to her deformity. Ada sneaks off with her brother and they are evacuated to the country side where Ada finds a life she never dreamed of having. Some emotionally difficult moments in the book, but well worth the read! Great for readers 12+. The War that Saved my Life. #historicalfiction #worldwarII #abuse #disabled
If you like quirky, unusual, fantastical tales full of mystery, adventure, and maybe even a little danger, you are sure to enjoy The Magnificent Monsters of Cedar Street. Cordelia and her father work together to heal and save many creatures throughout Boston. But these are not your typical animals, their house on Cedar street is filled with dragons, squelches, and diggles, creatures deemed monsters by the general public. So, they must work to keep them a secret. One morning Cordelia wakes to her father and their beloved creatures missing and nothing but a cryptic note left in their place. Cordelia must work quickly to find her father and their monsters before something bad happens. She sets off on her adventure with her new friend Gregory, Iggy the farting filch, a baby dragon, and a small zuppy (zombie puppy, that is). Great for readers ages 8-12. #mystery #adventure #fantasy
This one is a complex, “epic fantasy about a young girl raised by a witch, a swamp monster, and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, who must unlock the powerful magic buried deep inside her. Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule–but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her–even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.” -from the publisher. A long description, I know but The Girl Who Drank the Moon is such a wonderful coming of age story for the more advanced reader ages 12+. #fantasy #comingofage
Suspended unjustly from elite Middlefield Prep, Donte Ellison studies fencing with a former champion, hoping to put the racist fencing team captain in his place -from the publisher. This book is incredibly important and addresses the damaging nature of racism in a way that younger tweens can understand. Easily relatable characters and school circumstances, a coming of age story that contrasts the challenges of two brothers. I highly recommend this book for a summer read that discusses the social injustices kids face today through experience and media. Readers ages 12+ Black Brother, Black Brother #racism #family #school
An alien invasion at its finest! Black grasses, giant human eating pit plants, acid water, spitting lilies, and hybrid half alien children is only the beginning of this epic overthrow of Earth as we know it. I am LOVING this new series by Kenneth Oppel, it has a kids version of War of the Worlds or Independence Day feeling. For the true sci-fi, alien, end of the world fan reader. I am currently in the middle of book 3 and I can’t wait to see how it ends! For ages 12+. The Overthrow series.
I am adding this one for the true horror story readers. It is not for the easily spooked, I am not kidding when I say this one almost gave me nightmares! BUT I LOVED IT! And my kids loved it! This is another one that I’d recommend the audio book because it’s is really well done and reminds me of telling scary stories around a campfire. It is the story of a girl named Molly, whose father grew up on the Mohawk Reserve of Akwesasne, where he learned the best scary stories. One of her favorites was the legend of Skeleton Man, a gruesome tale about a man with a deadly, insatiable hunger. But ever since her parents mysteriously vanished, those spooky tales have started to feel all too real. And things go from bad to worse for Molly when a stranger shows up one day and claims to be her great-uncle. A ghostly thin man she’s never seen before. A man who reminds her an awful lot of the Skeleton Man. It’s up to Molly to uncover the truth about this fearsome figure and rescue her parents before it’s too late. Definitely for our older readers ages 12+ and for fans of R.L Stine’s Goosebumps series, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and Holly Black. #horror #scarystory
Yes, I 100% believe graphic novels should count as summer reading too! Especially a few of these more complex social situation and experience stories. (Of course I threw in a few adventures for fun!)
It’s not often you read a book about a child’s experience dealing with hearing loss and the emotions and challenges that come with it. The author recounts her experience as a child and how she was able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All” and finally finds the friend that appreciates who she is and that she has wanted for so long. Great for readers ages 8-12. El Deafo. #biography #friendship #challenges
Omar and his younger brother Hassan live in a refugee camp, and when an opportunity for Omar to get an education comes along, he must decide between going to school every day or caring for his nonverbal brother in this intimate and touching portrayal of family and daily life in a refugee camp. -from the publisher. I love Victoria Jamieson’s graphic novels and When Stars are Scattered did not disappoint. This was a heart wrenching yet inspirational story of two brothers and a boys drive to succeed. A true refugee story and a look into the life in a refugee camp. For readers ages 8-14. #biography #refugee #education #family
Sometimes we grow apart from our friends and find there is something that we are truly passionate about. Along the way we find other friends who accept us the way we are. Another great graphic novel by Victoria Jamieson about friendship and roller derby’s. Great for readers ages 8-12. Roller Girl. #friendship #growingup
At this point I don’t think Raina Telgemeier’s book, Smile, needs much description or introduction since she has taken the graphic novel world by storm. Based on her life experiences, Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly. -from the publisher. This book just embodies the awkwardness of early teen years, the desire and struggle to fit in, boys, and friendship. I also recommend any of Telgemeier’s other graphic novels, including her newest book Guts which is about her struggle with anxiety. #middleschool #friendship #challenges
Newbery award winning book New Kid is about seventh grader Jordan Banks who loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds–and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself? -from the publisher. A timely narrative that discusses the very real social struggles and damaging effects of racism. #school #friendship #race
That wraps up my list for now. There are so many other great books, if you are looking for more suggestions, be sure to drop by the library and ask! If you are looking for older young adult reads, be sure to check out the Gale Free Teens Blog for more summer reading recommendations and reviews.
Have a great summer!