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Summer Reads for Kids

Summer books – for kids. Picks for toddlers to young adults that will keep them reading through the long hot summer.

Summer book covers.

Summer book covers.

School’s out for summer. No more homework. Time to kick back and relax–and read for the fun of it.

There’s a big world of new children’s literature out there–ready to take to the beach, to camp, and the backyard.

Rick Riordan’s back with the “Red Pyramid.” “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins comes out in August. And there’s so much more.

Pop-up picture books for toddlers. Graphic novels for young adults. Teenage angst page-turners.

We’ve got the list that even your kids will want to read twice.

This hour On Point: Summer reads for kids

Monica Edinger, blogs on children’s literature at Educating Alice.  4th-grade teacher at the Dalton School in New York. Contributes children’s books reviews to the New York Times. Has received three National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships to study children’s literature.

Esme Raji Codell, writes about children’s literature at PlanetEsme.com. Author of several books for adults and children. Her kids’ books include “Vive la Paris,” “Diary of a Fairy Godmother,” and “Hannukah Shmanukkah!

Pete Cowdin, owner of the “Reading Reptile” bookstore in Kansas City. Under the pen name A. Bitterman, he is author of the upcoming “Fortune Cookies.”

 Our critics’ lists:

Here are the top picks from each of our guests.


“Cosmic” by Frank Cottrell Boyce

“The Hunger Games Trilogy” by Suzanne Collins

“Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice,” by Phillip Hoose

“As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth,” by Lynn Rae Perkins

“The Red Pyramid” by Rick Riordan

“When You Reach Me” by Rebecca Stead

“One Crazy Summer” by Rita Williams-Garcia

“Here Comes the Garbage Barge!” by Jonah Winter (illustrated by Red Nose Studio)

“Into the Volcano” by Don Wood


Picture books:

“Miss Brooks Loves Books! (And I Don’t)”  by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Michael Emberley

“Otis” by Loren Long

“Bats at the Ballgame” by Brian Lies

Graphic novels:

“Daydreams of a Solitary Hamster” by Astrid Desbordes, illustrated by Pauline Martin


“Mirror Mirror” by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josée Masse


“Orangutans are Ticklish: Fun Facts From an Animal Photographer” by Steve Grubman with Jill Davis

“Napi Funda un Pueblo/Napi Makes a Village” by Antonio Ramirez, illustrated by Domi

“Encyclopedia Mythologica: Gods and Heroes Pop Up,” by Matthew Reinhart and Robert Sabuda

Intermediate fiction:

“The Strange Case of Origami Yoda” by Tom Angleberger

“The Night Fairy” by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Angela Barrett

Some fun novels for camp:

“Love and Pollywogs from Camp Calamity” by Mary Hershey

“Summer According to Humphrey” by Betty G. Birney

Young adult fiction:

“Bamboo People” by Mitali Perkins


“The Squirrel’s Birthday and Other Parties” by Toon Tellegen, illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg

“43 Old Cemetery Road: Dying to Meet You”
“43 Old Cemetery Road: Over My Dead Body” by Kate Klise, illustrated by M. Sarah Klise

“The True Meaning of Smekday” by Adam Rex

“The Dreamer” by Pam Munoz Ryan and Peter Sis

“Seasons” by Blexbolex

“Country Road ABC” by Arthur Geisert

“It’s a Secret” by John Burningham

“Sitting in my Box” by Dee Lillegard, illustrated by Jon Agee

“Beautiful Oops” by Barney Saltzberg

“Stitches” by David Small

You can also check out our show on summer reads for adults.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • beth

    Can you publish appropriate age for each title?

  • http://www.gallaugher.com John Gallaugher

    Listeners likely know that Rick Riordan of Percy Jackson fame has a new Egypt-themed trilogy, with “The Red Pyramid” as the first book. This is a great read for tween & up (10+) kids to combine with an Egypt-themed visit. Many museums have audio tours for kids (the Secret to Tomb 10A that recently left Boston’s MFA had one, as does the Cleopatra exhibit in Philly). Most major museums have an ancient Egypt section. Boston also has the fun “Tomb” interactive adventure. These are great ways to combine kid fiction with fun learning & family exploring time.

  • Ellen Dibble

    There is a military museum oriented towards children (maybe with an eye towards recruitment), very interactive and computerized, and I thought it was in Philadelphia. I see a New Hall Military Museum there, but can’t tell if it’s the one, or supported with print material for young people.

  • Kristen Vagliardo

    Another great series for young adults to dive into for the summer is “Chaos Walking” by Patrick Ness. The first book: “The Knife of Never Letting Go” keep me completely entranced throughout. Good for fans of Suzanne Collins. Patrick Ness’ website is at http://www.patrickness.com/books.html and the third (final) book in the series will hit U.S. shores in September.

  • Reb Ruben

    For the seven to ten crowd, who might like Dahl or Ibbotson, a gentle hilarious read is THE OUTLANDISH ADVENTURES OF LIBERTY AIMES. Great character lessons.

  • Susan Rice

    Jonathan Safron and John Green and Michio Kaku are authors my children turned me onto, their reading lists have kept me going. I loved reading through the authors targeting juvenile readers, summer reading is as important as the sun. Our libraries are filled, schools can send books home, non profit books sales, there is NO reason for anyone not to have a great book this summer!

  • Ellen Dibble

    There are beginning to be books that are available as “aps” on i-phones (I think; I don’t have one). The name Frog Dog media comes to mind. A child clicks to the next frame, and there are simple pictures. I think it can click for you. It’s for waiting in the car or at the doctor’s office, etc. You can have the story read aloud as it clicks. And/Or it displays text. This seems to be becoming a Disney-type field, with studios creating the visual as well as audio and words. The well-paid part is the big-name readers of audio. (As I recall.)
    But these are written especially for this medium; it’s not Good Night Moon as downloadable.

  • Ann

    Can you suggest any books for young adolescent Latino males? They have the highest High School drop out rate in the country and I think good books that speak to their life realities would help greatly. Thanks, Ann

  • Laura

    Even though it’s an old series, I loved reading the
    “Little House on the Prairie” series. The books are a really interesting look at how people lived during the time of the westward expansion, told through the eyes of young girls. Especially in these times of excessive technology, it’s amazing for kids to come to terms with how people lived without ANT technology, including electricity. I swear that these books made my kids much more resourceful than they would have been otherwise.

  • Elena1975

    Mirror, Mirror sounds to be a delightful poetry collection. What fun!

    I might try the style as my entry in NaNoWriMo 2010.

    Thanks, On Point! =)

  • Jennifer

    As a kid, my parents read to me every night, but I was always reluctant to read independently. In fifth grade I read a book by Ann Rinaldi and loved it. (Her books are historical fiction and feature a young girl at an interesting time in American history.) Now I am a PhD student who reads hundreds of pages each week. I give a lot of credit to my parents for all the hours they spent reading to me and to Ann Rinaldi for sparking my interest in independent reading.

  • Ellen Dibble

    About simultaneously with your post, Esme’s mother called in to promote her daughter’s book Sahara Expresso (or something like that), about the inner city world of Chicago. It has a stubborn, self-possessed heroine, and she reads it to her 6th grade class each year for 10 minutes at the start of class, and each year both sexes love it and say read more, read more. Jane Clayson says she’ll post the title to the site.
    I think that’s close to what Ann is looking for, for Latino teen males. Close, not a direct hit.

  • Ellen Dibble

    of owning books. Try the second-hand bookstores. Like high-chairs and romper suits, children’s books often get “recycled.” They cost way, way less.

  • Ellen Dibble

    If your child won’t read, write for your child. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but just enough to connect the reality of a living person’s imagination with the printed page.

  • Marianne Leone

    “Out of My Mind” by Sharon M. Draper is a stunningly written book for young adults written from the point of view of a nonverbal eleven year old girl with severe spastic cerebral palsy. No one knows that this girl is very intelligent until she acquires technology that frees her. The book is about acceptance and seeing the person, not the disability. Wonderful.

  • Eileen Glovsky

    Would like to recommend some books by Farley Mowat. Great for boys in first – fourth grade. Mowat writes about his childhood in Canada with great humor. I found it difficult to find good books for boys about boys. Owls in the House and the Dog Who Wouldn’t Be are both great choices.

  • Julia Alling

    Read the Little House books as an adult and you will have new found respect for Laura as a young girl and woman in the American West. My 10 year old son and eight year old girl were mesmerized as I read them to them this winter. My boy esp. as he found them interesting about life on the prairie what with the fires, bugs, winds, building, animals it is actually great for boys too. Laura has become my new heroine.

  • Julia Alling

    We are reading the Percy Jackson series this summer, while concurrently reading The Children’s Homer published in 1955 I don’t recall the author/translator. But because they both have a new understanding about Greek mythology they are enjoying it tremendously!

  • Kathleen White

    Great show today. While listening, I got online and ordered each of my grandkids a book from your suggestions.

  • Martha Bradford

    I really enjoyed listening to the program today. I would love to recommend the Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo for the listener who wanted suggestions for her son who needed to rest this summer. Wonderfully delightful read alouds or if he is a recent independent reader. I am an elementary library media specialist and my 1st graders love them! Also my own 3rd grader loves the Books of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau and the Overlander Chronicles also by Suzanne Collins.

  • Robin Smith

    Loved the show!

    I would say that though the Little House books were a huge part of my childhood, I think The Birchbark House and its sequels by Louise Erdrich are a must-read for kids who have read Laura’s stories. She tells the story of the native people (Ojibwa) who live in the same area of North America where Laura and her family move to. It’s wonderful and I know that children adore it.

    One nonfiction book published last year that I must suggest is Elizabeth Partridge’s powerful and readable Marching for Freedom. It’s a moving story of the young people who marched in Selma and Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement.

    Three (or more!) cheers for Monica’s suggestion of One Crazy Summer. It’s my favorite of the year–exciting story of independence, political awakening and the Black Panther party. And, it is very, very funny. Perfect for grades four and up.

    If you or your kids are interested in the Black Panther Party, Kekla Magoon’s The Rock and the River is terrific for middle and high schoolers.

    Now, go read!

  • Cathy Stout

    Loved the show today. I teach first grade and my daughter-in-law teaches 7&8th. Got lots of ideas for both of us. Ordered some and put a link to your booklist on my facebook page for parents to see.

  • Gracelaw Simmons

    For the active 6 year old who needs to rest, but also for a broad range of young readers, I strongly recommend The Secrets of Droon series by Tony Abbott.

    It’s a fantasy adventure series with strong and engaging characters, both male and female, written with a great sense of fun and humor. There are about 40 books in the series by now.

    My son was a reluctant new reader, because the books he could read to himself were so much less interesting than those we were reading to him. We began the first Droon book as his bedtime reading one night, and he got up early the next morning to read it himself, as he couldn’t wait find out what happened next … and with that he was “hooked” on reading!

  • Lise

    Thanks for the show today. I caught part of it while running between Cub Scout Day Camp and cello lessons… and was able to get the rest through the live stream on-line. (Wow, am I glad that was available so I didn’t have to sit in my garage to listen!) We were just trying to figure out what to check out for a nine year old who is a reluctant reader (in a house of book nuts). I’m on our public library’s web page reserving books right now!

  • Alice

    I agree with the grandmother who mentioned the Pinkalicious series of picture books. My personal favorite in this series is Purplicious. The illustrations are just fantastic and the Purplicious story has a great message about not being a slave to fashion. Pinkalicious is a refreshing character with a lot to say.

  • http://www.planetesme.com Esme Codell

    I loved being a guest, and just wanted to thank everyone today who tuned in and called in with such kind comments and their own exciting suggestions! That wasn’t actually mom my phoning in, I was just joking around because the caller was so generous and complimentary (thank you!). Ann, Age recommendations are on my website http://www.planetesme.com for all the books I suggest, and the sites I cited on the show are http://www.indiebound.org and http://www.kidlitosphere.org. Enthusiasts, I also run a children’s book salon at planetesmebookroom.blogspot.com with a children’s lit training component in development, and my book HOW TO GET YOUR CHILD TO LOVE READING has over a thousand teacher-tested, kid approved recommendations. Ann, a couple of great authors that focus on Latino teens are Gary Soto and Francisco Jiminez (younger kids should all know the work of Yuyi Morales). Also, I agree with poster Susan Rice, there’s no reason why every child in this country should not have a great book to read this summer…and if anyone knows a child for whom this is not true, please do your part toward changing that by supporting your local and school libraries, giving books as gifts and building shared home-based collections!

  • http://www.ruthspiro.com Ruth Spiro

    I missed the show, so I’m glad to see the reading lists posted. Anything recommended by these folks is a guaranteed gem! Thank you!

  • Celeste

    Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series was fabulous when I was a girl and my children have loved them as well. Also Lloyd Alexander’s books. Both authors write based on Celtic mythology, feature exciting heroines and heroes.
    Thanks for posting the lists.

  • Debbi

    Listening to your show while driving from the Cape to New Jersey. Enjoyed it immensely and as a third grade educator, I am always looking for great read-a-louds as well as good books to refer to my students. My favorites: How to Steal a Dog by:Barbara O’Connor; A Dog’s Life by Ann Martin; Other terrific authors to look at:
    Bill Wallace
    Cynthia DeFelice
    Andrew Clements
    (I could go on…) just a few to try out.
    Remember: The BEST gift you can give your child is the gift of “time” and reading to them!!!! :)

  • http://booksandboys.blogspot.com Max Elliot Anderson

    Books for readers 8 – 13, especially boys

    Max Elliot Anderson
    Books For Boys Blog

  • Elizabeth

    My 10-year-old loves to read novels that include sports — and powered through John Coy’s TOP OF THE ORDER, James Preller’s SIX INNINGS, and Jordan Sonnenblick’s DODGER AND ME (this one is also goofy-funny, and there are two more in the series).

  • http://www.marjorieingall.com marjorie

    Alas, Bats at the Ballgame won’t be published until September…but Bats at the Ballgame and Bats at the Library are great summer choices. My kindergartner loved both. My almost-4th-grader loved The Red Pyramid and Mirror, Mirror, and I (an actual adult human!) am PLOTZING with eagerness for the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. The first two books in the series (The Hunger Games and Catching Fire) are un-put-down-able beach reads for grownups!

  • http://PragmaticMom.com PragmaticMom

    So many great choices from your guests. Thanks so much for sharing! I saw a bunch of favorite books that I loved and my kids read also.

    We did Squirrel’s Birthday for a kid bookclub. It’s so sweet.

    We gave Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I Don’t) as a teacher present b/c her maiden name was Miss Brooks (and she married this past April). We gave her Lily’s Big Day for a wedding present — at least, part of it b/c she invited the entire class of kiddos.

    Pragmatic Mom
    Type A Parenting for the Modern World

    I blog on children’s lit, parenting and education

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