50+ Books That Will Keep Your Kids Reading All Summer Long

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Anyone else feel like they’ve already endured the longest summer on record? As we approach actual summer, I know I’m finding myself wondering how we will fill ALL OF THE DAYS when many of our regular activities have been canceled. 

I’d also like to be sure my children’s little minds stay engaged, since I have it on good authority that their “teacher” for the last nine weeks of school was underqualified. Actual teachers, I love you so much. Please take these children back. 

Enter: books. It’s no secret that reading is one of the best ways to build up little minds, and I’m forever on the hunt for terrific books to add to our collection. This year, our partners at St. Mary’s Episcopal School are sharing their recommended summer reading lists with us! Their librarian meticulously curates fabulous lists for students each spring, and we’re sharing a portion of those lists here. If you’re looking for even more book recommendations, check out the St. Mary’s parent resource page.

Whether you’re reading aloud as a family, or you have a child who loves to curl up with a good book on their own, there are surely some stories, new and old, that you’ll love on these lists!

Recommendations for Rising Preschool, Pre-K and Kindergarteners 

Read-Together Picture Books: 

  • How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander
    I bet you have a favorite way to read a book…on a lap, or in a big comfy chair? On a blanket in the shade of a tree? Enjoy this ode to reading!
  • The Little Guys by Vera Brogsol
    Little acorn-capped dudes live in the forest with other critters but don’t always use their joint strength for good—at first. Good for teaching cooperation & kindness.
  • When’s My Birthday? by Julie Fogliano
    A bouncy, clappy poem set in a picture book, be sure to read this with a smile and quick cadence, which is very easy to do. Truly funny and delightful!
  • Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco
    A classic from a favorite author—this is good for soothing anxiety and learning to focus on the good, not the scary. Leave it to grandma to make it better!
  • Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
    Make sure you’re up on your fairy tales before starting, as chicken decides it’s up to her to change the outcomes she feels are too upsetting!
  • Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
    Grace is gifted with an extraordinary imagination! When the class play is being cast, Grace knows she can do well as the lead, but can she convince the others?

Must-Read Concept Books: 

  • Red House Tree House Little Bitty Brown Mouse by Jane Godwin
    An adorable book covering color in basic charming rhymes said by a mouse!
  • The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (The Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell
    An “abecedary”—where each letter is introduced as part of telling the story!
  • “The Nutshell Library” by Maurice Sendak
    A favorite series from a favorite author to practice your letters, numbers, months, and more! Find the musical “Really Rosie” featuring Carole King!

Folk & Fairy Tales: 

  • The Little Red Hen retold by Byron Barton
    Barton’s colorful palette makes this classic tale great for the younger set.
  • Two of Everything retold by Lily Toy Hang
    A delightful retelling of a couple who discovers a magic pot that doubles everything that’s put in it! Yes, it leads to trouble—how can they fix it?
  • Cinderella retold and illustrated by Ruth Sanderson
    A princess story sure to please. Sanderson’s illustrations are exquisitely lush and colorful. Also look for K.Y. Craft’s version!

True Books and Poetry:

  • Titanosaur: Discovering the World’s Largest Dinosaur by Dr. Jose Luis Carballido and Dr. Jose Pol
    Learn all about the Titanosaur, the largest animal ever to have walked Earth!
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood by Fred Rogers
    Just the perfect collection of poetry, which is just as thoughtful and moving as you would expect it to be. For fans of Mr. Rogers and newbies, alike.
  • Magnets Push, Magnets Pull by David Adler
    Fiction author Adler has recently released a neat series on science basics.

Recommendations for Rising 1st and 2nd Graders 

Fantastic Fiction: 

  • Pass the Ball, Mo! by David Adler
    Another entry from the favorite series starring our favorite little athlete, Mo! This time he’s trying out basketball & you should try out this book!
  • Smell My Foot! by Cece Bell
    A silly story of friendship from a new series, “Chick and Brain.” Yes, there is a request for foot-smelling and yes, it is super funny!
  • Lion and Mouse by Jairo Buitrago
    Based on the 2,000+ year old tale from Aesop, this modern retelling imagines a deeper, more complex friendship while telling the same moral tale.
  • Yasmin in Charge by Saadia Faruqi
    This is a collection of four books from a new series, featuring spunky Yasmin, a can-do gal who isn’t afraid to take charge!
  • This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie
    Written by Oklahoma’s own favorite son, Woody Guthrie’s words have been put to new illustrations. Definitely something to find and enjoy.
  • George and Martha by James Marshall
    The first of seven funny books about two best friends who get into all sorts of adventures and learn many valuable life lessons along the way.
  • My Pet Human by Yasmine Surovec
    When a girl and her mother move into a long-empty house, the black and white cat that hangs out there decides to try having a pet of his own.

Great Graphic Novels: 

  • Fairy Tale Comics edited by Chris Duffy
    In a fun follow-up to the collection of stories retold by various artists, enjoy this assortment of 17 well-known fairy tales, told in a comic format!
  • Peter and Ernesto: The Lost Sloths by Annabel Graham
    After their home is destroyed by a hurricane, adventurous Ernesto and anxious Peter lead the other sloths to safety, while driving each other crazy, first.

Fabulous Fiction Series: 

  • “Mercy Watson”, “Tales of Deckawoo Drive” and others by Kate DiCamillo
  • “Eerie Elementary” by Jack Chabert
  • “Amelia Bedelia” by Peggy Parish
  • “A to Z Mysteries”, “Calendar Mysteries” and others by Ron Roy
  • “Phoebe & Her Unicorn” by Dana Simpson
  • “Matt Christopher Sports Classics” by Matt Christopher & others

Nonfiction, Biographies & Poetry:

  • Hildegard of Bingen: Scientist, Composer, Healer, and Saint by Demi
    From a beloved children’s author comes a simplified look at a totally fascinating human—Hildegard of Bingen. She was all of the things the title says, and more!
  • Shark Lady by Jess Keating
    The ocean is a big place and sharks are some of the most dangerous things, but that didn’t stop Eugenie! She was a scientist and zoologist extraordinaire.
  • The Book Rescuer by Sue Macy
    What if there were no more books in English? This is the story of a man who works hard to save books in a disappearing language from disappearing, too.
  • Wilma’s Way Home: The Life of Wilma Mankiller by Doreen Rappaport
    A lovely picture-book biography of Oklahoma’s own Mankiller—the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation. A lovely and full life to learn from.
  • Follow the Recipe: Poems About Imagination, Celebration, and Cake by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
    Beloved children’s poet Singer has sprinkled verse into a few special “recipes”, turning them into poems so fun you could eat them up!

Recommendations for Rising 3rd, 4th, and 5th Graders

Fabulous Fiction: 

  • The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly by Rebecca Ansari
    Ever wish you could get rid of your brother or sister? Read this first and think again. Liam is Charlie’s little brother and the only one who can make Charlie really, really laugh. Until one day, Liam’s not there. And no one but Charlie even remembers him. At ALL.
  • A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying by Kelley Armstrong
    Twins Rowan and Rhydd are not only the children of a famous monster hunter, they are royalty! One wants to rule and the other wants to slay monsters, but unfortunately, the Kingdom’s laws on birth order and duty go against their own ambitions. How can they switch it up?
  • Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
    First published in 1936, Caddie has been a part of many children’s lives, as her story is just as interesting and exciting as ever. Caddie’s family becomes pioneers, moving across the country to the Wisconsin territory in the mid-1800s. Caddie herself is a tomboy and full of mischief!
  • Finn and the Intergalactic Lunchbox by Michael Buckley
    Finn has this awesome lunchbox with unicorns on it. Only trouble is, sometimes when you open it, there’s a wormhole into time and space that spits out bizarre creatures—sometimes unwelcome ones. From the creator of “Sisters Grimm” and “NERDS”, readers are in for great fun!
  • Finally, Something Mysterious by Doug Cornett
    Life in Bellwood is kinda boring and pretty odd. The highlight of the year is a bratwurst contest—yum? While Paul’s parents obsess over winning, he and his friends try to solve the mysterious appearance of rubber duckies all over the last winner’s lawn. Can they quack the case?
  • Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly
    Fans of Moana will like this tale of an island-living girl named Lalani who ventures out to the mysterious and legendary island called “Mount Isa” in order to both save her mother and help her island. Trouble is—hundreds of sailors have tried before and never come back. Will she?
  • A Wolf Called Wander by Roseanne Parry
    A treat for fans of real-life animal adventures, as this novel is based on a real wolf yearling who was tracked by naturalists through the Pacific Northwest after getting separated from his pack. In the book, Swift travels many miles, learning & making friends before finding home.

Great Graphic Novel: 

  • Stargazing by Jen Wang
    Perfectionist Christine is the ideal student, but free-spirited Moon lets her imagination take her places—not what their Chinese-American community expects of girls. But maybe being perfect isn’t perfect?
  • Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke
    In the first of a series, what seems to be the start of a gloomy time for Jack unexpectedly launches him from ordinary life into that of a would-be giant killer. For this is no ordinary Jack—this Jack has beans!
  • Rocket to the Moon! by Don Brown
    A great re-telling of the Space Race and the United States getting men to the moon and back again.
  • Skyscrapers: The Heights of Engineering! by John Kerschbaum
    One of the newest in the super-cool “Science Comics” series, learn about how skyscrapers came to be—from the pyramids built by ancient Egyptians to the Burg Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai. Get your STEM on!
  • Action Presidents #1: George Washington! by Fred Van Lente
    As the tags on the cover say: “Real History! Fake Jokes!” this first of a new series about the way-more-interesting-than-you-thought lives of presidents will be as entertaining as it is educational!

Nonfiction, Biographies, and Poetry:

  • The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown by Mac Barnett
    This gentle biography about author Brown reminds us how much she shaped our early lives, from Goodnight Moon to The Important Book. It’s a sweet tribute and informative, too.
  • Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician by Lesa Cline-Ransome
    Tells the story of Johnson, who overcame great disadvantages and struggles to let her brilliant mind shine at NASA.
  • I Remember: Poems and Pictures of Heritage edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins
    A celebration of the glorious melting pot that is the United States featuring pictures and poems from many superb poets and artists.
  • Born to Fly: The First Women’s Air Race Across America by Steve Sheinkin
    Learn about the 1929 Air Derby—the first all-women race to fly across the US—and the women who participated. Of course there’s Amelia Earhart, but also Elinor Smith who flew under the Brooklyn Bridge at 17!
  • Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin
    The story of Oklahoma’s golden boy Thorpe, focusing on the time he spent playing for the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania where Thorpe led the underdog team to beat much bigger ones. A must-read.
  • A Green Place To Be: The Creation of Central Park by Ashley Benham Yazdani
    Back in the mid-1800s, the leaders of NYC realized they needed a green space, and now! Thus, Central Park was born. Lovely pictures & lots of facts.

Happy reading! We hope you’ll find some new books to love!

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