This summer book list for kids contains all of my favorite picks for great summer books but they can all be read all year long. Reading is such an important part of childhood. These days as children have access to more electronics and audiobooks the magic of a book in hand is at risk. It breaks my heart. I strongly encourage you to gift your kids books and take the time to enjoy them. Family read-alouds make for lasting memories and every story consumed leaves its mark on the heart of a child.
I have gathered below some of the very best books ever written that can draw in even reluctant readers. Why not make a summer book basket and present it to your kids on the last day of school?
I am also including a free summer reading chart and more in an awesome Kids Summer Reading Challenge Packet you can check out at the end of this post. Ok, let’s take a look at these amazing titles!
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The Best Summer Books for Kids
(Ages 5-9) Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter. E. B. White’s Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come. It contains illustrations by Garth Williams, the acclaimed illustrator of E. B. White’s Stuart Little and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, among many other books.
(Ages 6 – 10) On the island of Chincoteague, off the coasts of Virginia and Maryland, lives a centuries-old band of wild ponies. Among them is the most mysterious of all, Phantom, a rarely-seen mare that eludes all efforts to capture her—that is, until a young boy and girl lay eyes on her and determine that they can’t live without her. The frenzied roundup that follows on the next Pony Penning Day does indeed bring Phantom into their lives, in a way they never would have suspected. Phantom would forever be a creature of the wild. But her gentle, loyal colt Misty is another story altogether…
(Ages 6-10) Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she’s just a nuisance. She expects school to be different but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a kid-hating terror of a headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by the Trunchbull she suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to fight back. It’ll take a superhuman genius to give Miss Trunchbull what she deserves and Matilda may be just the one to do it!
(Ages 7-11) Based on the real-life adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the award-winning Little House books have charmed generations of readers, and now this collectible box set brings together the first four books in the series: Little House in the Big Woods, Farmer Boy, Little House on the Prairie, and On the Banks of Plum Creek. In these books, Laura Ingalls travels with her family from the Big Woods of Wisconsin to the prairies of Kansas, and up to Minnesota—all while facing the challenges of life on the frontier. And in Farmer Boy, Almanzo Wilder lives with his brother and sisters on a big farm in New York State.
(Ages 8 – 10) Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again. Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything? Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.
(Ages 8-10) This unforgettable novel from renowned author Katherine Applegate celebrates the transformative power of unexpected friendship. Inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, this illustrated book is told from the point of view of Ivan himself. Having spent twenty-seven years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes.
(Ages 8-11) From award-winning author, Barbara O’Connor comes a middle-grade novel about a girl who, with the help of a true-blue friend, a big-hearted aunt, and uncle, and the dog of her dreams, unexpectedly learns the true meaning of family in the least likely of places.
(Ages 8-12) The Newberry Medal-winning story of a 12-year-old girl who lives alone on a Pacific island after she leaps from a rescue ship. Isolated on the island for eighteen years, Karana forages for food, builds weapons to fight predators, clothes herself in a cormorant feathered skirt, and finds strength and peace in her seclusion. A classic tale of discovery and solitude.
(Ages 8-12) The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to flicker. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. She and her friend Doon must decipher the message before the lights go out on Ember forever! This stunning debut novel offers refreshingly clear writing and fascinating, original characters.
(Ages 9-12)Everybody loves Mother Paula’s pancakes. Everybody, that is, except the colony of cute but endangered owls that live on the building site of the new restaurant. Can the awkward new kid and his feral friend prank the pancake people out of town? Or is the owls’ fate cemented in pancake batter?
(Ages 9-12) Inspired by the author’s childhood experience as a refugee—fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama—this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child’s-eye view of family and immigration.
(Ages 9+) Mary Alice’s childhood summers in Grandma Dowdel’s sleepy Illinois town were packed with enough drama to fill the double bill of any picture show. But now she is fifteen, and faces a whole long year with Grandma, a woman well known for shaking up her neighbors-and everyone else! All Mary Alice can know for certain is this: when trying to predict how life with Grandma might turn out . . . better not. This wry, delightful sequel to the Newbery Honor Book A Long Way from Chicago has already taken its place among the classics of children’s literature.
(Ages 9+) This award-winning contemporary classic is the survival story with which all others are compared—and a page-turning, heart-stopping adventure, recipient of the Newbery Honor. Hatchet has also been nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.
(Ages 10+) Despite growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and though her bullying seems isolated at first, it quickly escalates. Toby, a reclusive World War I veteran, soon becomes the target of Betty’s attacks. While others see Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. And as tensions mount in their small community, Annabelle must find the courage to stand as a lone voice for justice.
(Ages 10 – 14) There lived a girl named Petra Peña, who wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita. But Petra’s world is ending. Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children – among them Petra and her family – have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race. Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet – and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister Collective has taken over the ship during its journey, bent on erasing the sins of humanity’s past. They have systematically purged the memories of all aboard – or purged them altogether. Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for our future. Can she make them live again?
The Best Summer Books Series for Kids
(Ages 6-8) Short, fast-paced chapters, tons of friends and funny situations, and black-and-white illustrations on every page make the Amelia Bedelia chapter books an ideal choice for readers of the Ivy + Bean, Magic Tree House, and Junie B. Jones books. Each book features a guide to the idioms introduced in the story. If you’re looking for chapter books for kids ages 6-8, don’t miss Amelia Bedelia! The Amelia Bedelia books have sold more than 35 million copies.
(Ages 6-9) With over 70 million copies sold around the world, the first titles that launched over 150 books in the series are available in this handsome boxed set. Published to critical acclaim in 1942, the series has continued to grow with new adventures every year. In these first titles we meet the Alden kids, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny and start to follow them as they explore the world and solve mysteries on their own…and all in the hopes of searching for a home.
Amy and Dan Cahill know their family is big, but they don’t realize how big until their grandmother Grace’s funeral. Relatives arrive from all over the world by special invitation. In Grace’s last will and testament, she issues this challenge:
For your inheritance, you may have the first of thirty-nine clues. The first team to successfully put together the clues, which are scattered across the world, will discover the secret of Cahill power and become the richest, most important people in history. Or you may take one million dollars in cash right now and walk away.
Amy and Dan take the challenge! Soon, they are catapulted into a dangerous round-the-world race for the thirty-nine clues. They will explore every continent, and delve into the strangest, darkest chapters of world history to find the secret origins of their family. Other teams will try to eliminate them by any means necessary, because in this treasure hunt only one team can win, and there are no rules.
(Aged 8+) This paperback box set of C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia includes cover art by two-time Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator Chris van Allsburg and the complete black-and-white original interior art by Pauline Baynes. For over sixty years, readers of all ages have been enchanted by the magical realms, the epic battles between good and evil, and the unforgettable creatures of Narnia. This box set includes all seven titles in The Chronicles of Narnia—The Magician’s Nephew; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; The Horse and His Boy; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The Silver Chair; and The Last Battle—with interior black-and-white art by Pauline Baynes, the original illustrator. Bonus Trivia Book.
(Ages 9+) Now with glorious new cover art and packaged with a special poster, this value-priced set includes the best-selling The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian.
Accompany the son of the sea god Poseidon and his other demigod friends as they go on a series of quests that will have them facing monsters, gods, and conniving figures from Greek mythology. Do they have what it takes to save the Olympians from an ancient enemy?
(Ages 9+) Here is a deluxe gift-box edition of L.M. Montgomery’s classic stories about one of the most beloved fictional heroines of all time–Anne of Green Gables.
(Ages 9+) The seven Harry Potter books, which have sold over 500 million copies, have been translated into over 80 languages, and made into eight blockbuster films are available in this beautiful box set. The novels chronicle the lives of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Obviously, I could go on and on but I’ll leave it here for now. I have a few other posts you may want to look at with book recommendations.
- The Homeschool Library – Top Picks for Best Books Ever
- My Top Recommendation for Your Summer Read
- Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk Review
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