Illustration of a family camping and enjoying books

Recommended Reads

Your guide to summer reading for kids


It’s go-time, parents. Summer break. That time of the year when kids are officially on your watch, and teachers everywhere plug themselves in and charge up for the next school year. If you’re a parent like me, you’re stocking up on snacks and sunscreen, trying to remember what summer camps you signed up for way back in January, and doing your best to keep your student from summer sliding (not the fun kind).

As my second grader danced through the front door on her way in from the last day of school, she gave her overflowing bookbag a toss — stuffed with smashed art projects, old workbooks, a desk’s worth of worn-to-a-nub school supplies, and a blank sheet to keep track of her summer reading. Since paying for all those summer camps is no joke, I’ll absolutely be using my public library for free books to help her fill up that reading list. But where to start? Browsing the air-conditioned stacks of your local library is a summer must, but you can also search the shelves of their digital collection in the Libby app (while waiting in the camp pick-up line, perhaps?).

Help your young reader meet their reading goals this summer with the help of these librarian recommendations that include many titles that align with this year’s Collaborative Summer Library Program theme: "Adventure Begins at Your Library."

Jump to your section:

PreK (Ages 3 - 5)
Emerging reader (Ages 6 - 8)
Tween/Middle grade (Ages 9 - 12)
Teen (Ages 13+)

PreK (Ages 3-5)

My Daddy is a CowboyMy Daddy is a Cowboy by Stephanie Seales
🎧 Audiobook

A young girl and her father share an early morning horseback ride around their city in this picture book celebration of "just-us time."

Dare to Be DaringDare to Be Daring by Chelsea Lin Wallace

From rising star Chelsea Lin Wallace comes a rhyming, rollicking picture book read-aloud about facing your fears, big or small.

Evidence!Evidence! by Deborah Hopkinson

The incredible true story of the doctor who traced London's cholera outbreak to a single water pump, and went on to save countless lives through his groundbreaking research!

Cesaria Feels the BeatCesaria Feels the Beat by Denise Rosario Adusei

In this powerful and inspiring picture book, a deaf girl stands up for herself and takes off her shoes while dancing at her Carnival performance so she can feel the music through her bare feet.

Summer Is HereSummer Is Here by Renée Watson
🎧 Audiobook

New York Times bestselling creators Renée Watson and Bea Jackson offer a picture book ode to a picture-perfect summer day, from sunrise to sunset.

Gorgeously Me!Gorgeously Me! by Jonathan Van Ness
🎧 Audiobook

A celebration of all the things that make you extraordinary, unique, and gorgeously YOU, by Jonathan Van Ness, star of the Netflix hit show Queer Eye.

We Are Definitely HumanWe Are Definitely Human by X. Fang

A hilarious alien invasion story with a feel-good message about what it means to be human. Perfect for earthlings of all ages.

Emerging reader (Ages 6-8)

Scaredy CatScaredy Cat! by Kimberly and James Dean

A scary story spooks Pete the Cat in this Level 1 I Can Read book.

They Call Me No Sam!They Call Me No Sam! by Drew Daywalt
🎧 Audiobook

A heavily illustrated novel about Sam, a noble pug who will go to any lengths to protect his family from the bad guys.

Ava Lin, Best Friend!Ava Lin, Best Friend! by Vicky Fang

Brand-new first grader Ava Lin is determined to find a best friend — even if she's a bit unclear on how to go about it — in this launch of a funny, super relatable chapter-book series.

The Great ZoodiniThe Great Zoodini by PJ Gardner
🎧 Audiobook

From the author of the Horace & Bunwinkle series comes this hilarious and heartwarming story of forgiveness, trust, and found family.

Space: The Final Pooping FrontierSpace: The Final Pooping Frontier by Annabeth Bondor-Stone and Connor White

Discover the down and dirty scientific history of astronauts pooping in space in this funny and factual picture book.

Welcome to Scare SchoolWelcome to Scare School by Jarrett Lerner

A young ghost tries his best to fit in with the rest of the ghouls in this sweet and spooky chapter book.

Bodega CatsBodega Cats by Hilda Eunice Burgos
🎧 Audiobook

With a focus on family and community, this heartwarming and funny illustrated story is about the friendship between a bodega owner's kid and his newly-adopted furry friend.

Tween/Middle grade (Ages 9-12)

Bridge to Bat CityBridge to Bat City by Ernest Cline
🎧 Audiobook

From bestselling author Ernest Cline comes a mostly true tall tale about an unexpected friendship between a young girl and a music-loving colony of bats.

A Game of NoctisA Game of Noctis by Deva Fagan
🎧 Audiobook

A thrilling middle grade fantasy about a girl who must participate in a deadly game with a ragtag team of players to save her grandfather from a terrible fate.

The Mystery of Locked RoomsThe Mystery of Locked Rooms by Lindsay Currie
🎧 Audiobook

An action-packed adventure novel about three friends who team up to find a hidden treasure in an abandoned 1950's funhouse.

The Secret LibraryThe Secret Library by Kekla Magoon
🎧 Audiobook

Travel through time with National Book Award Finalist Kekla Magoon in a page-turning fantasy adventure about family secrets and finding the courage to plot your own life story.

Unhappy CamperUnhappy Camper by Lily LaMotte, illus. by Ann Xu and Sunmi

A graphic novel about two sisters — one who embraces her Taiwanese culture and one eager to do away with it — who rebuild their bond at a Taiwanese American summer camp.

Plain Jane and the MermaidPlain Jane and the Mermaid by Vera Brosgol

An instant classic graphic novel that flips every fairy-tale you know on its head, and shows one girl's crusade for the only thing that matters — her own independence.

Benny Ramirez and the Nearly DepartedBenny Ramírez and the Nearly Departed by José Pablo Iriarte
🎧 Audiobook

A hilarious and heartwarming story about a boy who can suddenly see the ghost of his famous musician grandfather.

Teen (Ages 13+)

Blood at the RootBlood at the Root by LaDarrion Williams
🎧 Audiobook

A teenager on the run from his past finds the family he never knew existed and the community he never knew he needed at an HBCU for the young, Black, and magical. Enroll in this fresh fantasy debut unlike anything you've seen before.

The Worst RoninThe Worst Ronin by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, illus. by Faith Schaffer

When an unlikely pair of female samurai join forces, what begins as your run-of-the-mill quest for glory and revenge evolves into something much more complicated. Turns out fighting actual demons doesn't mean you're not running from your own internal ones.

The Brightwood CodeThe Brightwood Code by Monica Hesse
🎧 Audiobook

In a breathless, haunting, and rich historical mystery, bestselling author Monica Hesse speaks to the depths of trauma and the power of memory.

The Ballad of Darcy and RussellThe Ballad of Darcy and Russell by Morgan Matson

A sweeping romantic novel about love, fate... and that one night that can change everything.

Song of the Six RealmsSong of the Six Realms by Judy I. Lin
🎧 Audiobook

Judy I. Lin, New York Times bestselling author of A Magic Steeped in Poison, weaves a dreamy gothic romance worthy of the heavens in this new book.

This Book Won't BurnThis Book Won’t Burn by Samira Ahmed
🎧 Audiobook

A timely and gripping social-suspense novel about book banning, activism, and standing up for what you believe.

The Reappearance of Rachel PriceThe Reappearance of Rachel Price by Holly Jackson
🎧 Audiobook

A gripping mystery thriller following one teen’s search for the truth about her mother’s shocking disappearance — and even more shocking reappearance — during the filming of a true crime documentary.

*Title availability may vary by library and region.

Happy summer, happy reading!

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RELATED READ: 5 free ways to keep kids reading this summer (plus printable activities!)

Published Jun 04, 2024


About the Author

Annie Suhy has been working in the book industry since 2006. When she’s not working, practicing yoga, or petting cats, she’s doing paint-by-numbers and buying more plants. An avid poetry fan, her favorite collection is "The Splinter Factory" by Jeffrey McDaniel.


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