Are you looking for summer book recommendations for your elementary school age kids? Read on for a list of suggestions. Also, this post contains affiliate links; learn more here.
We’re counting days to summer vacation around here—are you (or your kids) doing the same?
We have a bit of traveling planned for the summer, and plenty of other days that are unscheduled. Those free days are my favorite; they are perfect for hanging by the pool, playing with friends, or escaping into a good book.
Keeping up on reading during the summer is a critical way to prevent summer learning loss, a documented phenomenon during which kids fall behind on academics during the months they are free from school. Making sure kids read—whether it’s graphic novels, chapter books, or nonfiction stories—helps keep their brains aware and alert.
My kids (ten-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter) are big readers, so my challenge isn’t so much getting them to read as it is keeping on top of the stack of books they take out of the library. They do sometimes like to read the same book over and over (my daughter), or dissect the latest book about Minecraft strategies (my son) so I do find myself searching for ways to expand their reading lists. I suspect I’m not the only parent looking for tips about good kids books!
In today’s post, I asked them what they’d recommend to other kids their age to read this summer and they shared some of their favorites. I added my top selections, and these together form the list below, all designed for elementary school readers, with an emphasis on third to fifth graders (about seven to eleven years old).
Both of my kids recently read Peas and Hambone Save Us All by Todd Nichols. My daughter describes the book as “awesome” and “hilarious,” and my son says it’s perfect for “kids in elementary school who like humor.” We read the book aloud to one together, and I can attest that they shrieked with laughter throughout. My daughter explains the plot as follows: “The book is about a boy named Pea and his dog named Hambone who can talk. They save the world from zombie gorillas.” It’s an accessible read, with some illustrations, and is written by an elementary school teacher (who clearly knows the humor of his audience!). Disclosure: The author provided us with a copy of the book for our review, but the opinions here are ours alone.
My son adores all of the Rick Riordan books, including The Heroes of Olympus, The Trials of Apollo, Percy Jackson, and Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard. Next on his list to read is Aru Shah and the End of Time, a new novel from Riordan’s publishing imprint. These adventure stories are based upon mythology—Greek, Norse, and Hindu—and are a great match for kids who like sweeping epics.
Speaking of epics, my son is in the middle of new book, The Tukor’s Journey by Jeannine Kellogg, which sends three siblings on a journey to save the world from a destructive evil force. He’s especially enjoying the talking animals, and has been carrying the book around the house, stealing moments here and there to read just one more chapter. Disclosure: The author provided us with a copy of the book for our review, but the opinions here are ours alone.
Another series my son is devoted to is The Land of Stories books by Chris Colfer. In these books, a brother and sister fall into a world where their childhood fairy tales come to life. These books have witches, wolves, goblins, and more, and my son says they are exciting to read.
My daughter (and many girls her age) adores the Raina Telgemeier graphic novels. Well-worn copies of Smile, Sisters, and Drama can be found on my daughter’s bookshelf, and my daughter frequently takes Telgemeier’s updated version of The Baby-Sitters Club series out of the library.
Another favorite of my daughter’s is El Deafo by Cece Bell. This graphic novel, a memoir based upon the author’s childhood, is the story of a bunny that experiences hearing loss and subsequently receives a hearing aid. This aid allows her to hear everything—including private conversations—and she, in turn, sees her deafness as a superpower instead of a disability.
Other graphic novels my kids adore (and keep coming back to) include: the Lunch Lady series by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, The Chronicles of Claudette by Jorge Aguirre, Cleopatra in Space by Mike Maihack, Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke, and the Big Nate books by Lincoln Peirce.
If your child is a history buff, my son recommends the Hazardous Tales series by Nathan Hale. These books focus on different events from the past—for example, the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I—and deliver can’t-put-it-down page-turners. He’s also a big fan of the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz. These books feature a kid who’s a spy and who has way too many heart-stopping adventures for a person his age. (These books can usually be found in the middle school/young adult section of the library or bookstore.)
For Valentine’s Day this year, I gave my kids books (instead of candy!). My son received the first of the Black Panther comics written by Ta-Nehisi Coates (these are targeted to middle school and up), and he enjoyed it so much he saved up to buy himself the second in the series. My daughter, for Valentine’s Day, received the second of the Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls books (she already had the first one), which she cannot put down. I highly recommend these books, each of which is filled with stories about women and girls who have lived meaningful, impactful, and inspiring lives.
My daughter also loves everything by Roald Dahl, including Matilda, which we recently read together. “Mommy, I think this is my favorite book ever,” she said when we reached the last page.
Finally, chapter books my kids and I loved include: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Superfudge by Judy Blume, Because Of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.
My favorite book when I was eight was Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield, and I still have my copy, with my review—“excellent”—written on the inside cover in careful cursive. I hope my kids will read it with me this summer. I’m also hoping we finally read some of the The Little House on the Prairie books (I still have my childhood copies!).
For other great book suggestions, ask the librarian at your local library or visit Common Sense Media. Happy reading!