What to Read This Summer: Books for Every Age

by | Jun 17, 2019

Summer is an ideal and carefree time to play outside, explore your passions, enjoy time with friends and family, and get lost in books! But what should you read this summer? We are pleased to share our new Willow Summer Recommended Reading List for all students, preschool to eighth grade!

Use this list of recommendations from our teachers (and middle school students) to find that just-right book for your children. These titles are grouped by age range and genre. Some titles can be read independently; others are more challenging and can be read aloud as a family. While this is a list of our favorite titles, there are so many others to explore. The most important message is to keep books alive over the summer months! Check out our Tips for Summer Reading Success for more on how to encourage reading over the summer.

Recommended Summer Reading

Dummy to Close First Accordion
Rising PreK and Kindergarten

If you like Silly books, you’ll love books by:

Mo Willems: 

Let’s Go for a Drive!
We Are in a Book!
Let’s Say Hi to Friends Who Fly!

Jan Thomas:

My Toothbrush is Missing
What is Chasing Duck?
The Doghouse

AND MORE

If you are looking for books that help with Phonics:

Pig Wig: Flip a Words
I Can Read – Tug the Pug
Curious George Math and Science Readers
Bob Books
Fox on a Box by Phil Roxbee Cox

If you are looking for Fun, Easy Readers:

Pug by Ethan Long
Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick
Gran on a Fan by Kevin Bolger
We are Growing by Laurie Keller
Big Cat by Ethan Long
My Toothbrush is Missing by Jan Thomas
Gran on a Fan by Kevin Bolger
Lazy Bear, Crazy Bear by Kevin Bolger
Sip Pip Point by David Milgrim

If you are looking for Informative Books:

National Geographic KIDS books

Rising Grades 1 & 2

If you are looking for books that help with Phonics:
Pig Wig: Flip a Word books 
I Can Read -Tug the Pup books
Curious George Math and Science Readers
Bob Books
Fox on a Box by Phil Roxbee Cox

If you are looking for Fun, Easy Readers:
In, Over and On the Farm by Ethan Long
Baseball Buzz by CC Joven
Tiny Goes Back to School by Cari Meister
Big Dog and Little Dog Wearing Sweaters by Dav Pilkey
Little Big Horse Where’s My Bike by Dave Horowitz
Let’s Say Hi to Friends Who Fly by Mo Willems
Let’s Go for a Drive by Mo Willems
We Are in a Book by Mo Willems
Pug by Ethan Long
Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick
Gran on a Fan by Kevin Bolger
We are Growing by Laurie Keller
Big Cat by Ethan Long
My Toothbrush is Missing by Jan Thomas
Lazy Bear, Crazy Bear by Kevin Bolger
Sip Pip Point by David Milgrim

If you like Funny books, you’ll love:
Ice Cream Soup by Ann Ingalls
The Doghouse by Jan Thomas
Meet Mo and Jo: The Boulder Brothers by Sarah Lynn
Pinch and Dash and the Terrible Couch by Michael J. Daley
The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey
Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel
Bird and Squirrel on Ice by James Burks
Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers by John Dougherty
Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo
Biscuit (Series) by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

If you like mythical creatures and Fantasy, you’ll love:
Dragons and Marshmallows: Zoey and Sassafras by Asia Citro
The Last Firehawk: The Ember Stone by Katrina Charman
Magical Animal Adoption Agency by Kallie George
My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish by Mo O’Hara
Dragon Slayer’s Academy by Kate McMullan
Rainbow Magic Fairies by Daisy Meadows

If you like Adventure stories, you’ll love:
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
Magic Tree House
by Mary Pope Osborne
Galaxy Zack
by Ray O’Ryan
The Notebook of Doom
by Troy Cummings
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot
by Dav Pilkey
Rescue on the Oregon Trail
by Kate Messner
I Survived
series by Lauren Tarshis
Danny and the Dinosaur
by Sid Hoff

If you like Mysteries, you’ll love:
The Haunted Library by Dori Hillestad Butler
The Whodunit Detective Agency by Martin Widmark
A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy
Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye by Colleen AF Venable
The Big Bad Detective Agency by Bruce Hale
Amy and the Missing Puppy (series: Critter Club) by Callie Barkley
The Case of the Missing Monkey (series: High-Rise Private Eyes) by Cynthia Rylant

If you love Realistic stories, you’ll like:
Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
The Quiet Boat Ride and Other Stories (Fox and Chick) by Sergio Ruzzier
Amelia Bedelia Means Business by Herman Parish
Henry and Mudge: the Book of Their First Adventures (series) by Cynthia Rylant
Pug Pals: Two’s a Crowd by Flora Ahn
Stink by Megan McDonald
Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows
Lulu and the Rabbit Next Door by Hilary McKay
Daisy Dawson Is On Her Way by Steve Voake
Lola Levine Is Not Mean by Monica Brown
Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry

If you love Series:
The Littles
Mr. Putter and Tabby
Franny Stein
Jigsaw Jones
Cam Jansen
Frog and Toad
Henry and Mudge
Little Bear
Poppleton
Arthur
Commander Toad
Nate the Great
Amelia Bedelia
Marvin Redpost
Pinky and Rex
George and Martha
Curious George
Fancy Nancy
Fly Guy
Ivy and Bean
Clementine
Iris and Walter

If you are a rising 1st grader, you can follow these links for Level B and Level C book recommendations.

Rising Grades 3 & 4

If you like Funny books, you’ll love:
Myth-O-Mania by Kate McMullen
Wayside School by Louis Sachar
Doodle Adventures: The Search for Slimy Space Slugs! by Mike Lowery
Lunch Lady by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John
Get to Work, Hercules! (Myth-O-Mania series) by Kate McMullan
Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja by Marcus Emerson
Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
Bink and Gollie Best Friends Forever by Kate DiCamillo

If you like Fantasy stories, you’ll love:
The Dragonsitter by Josh Lacey
Of Giants and Ice by Shelby Bach
Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski
Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater
The Misadventures of Salem Hyde Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso
Door to the Lost by Jaleigh Johnson
Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi
The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer
Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

If you like Adventure and Mystery stories, you’ll love:
The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg
Secret Agent Jack Stalwart
by Elizabeth Singer Hunt
Diary of a Minecraft Zombie Book 1: A Scare of a Dare
by Herobrine Books
Zoo Camp Puzzle
by Gail Herman
Star Scouts
by Mike Lawrence
Belly Up
by Stuart Gibbs
The Last Kids on Earth
by Max Brallier
Jada Sly, Artist & Spy
by Sherri Winston

If you like Historical Fiction, you’ll love:
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
The Kicks by Alex Morgan
The Year of… by Andrea Cheng
Ellie, Engineer by Jackson Pearce
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
Click by Kayla Miller
Hero by Jennifer Li Shotz
I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis
John Lincoln Clem, Civil War Drummer Boy: Based on a True Story by E.F. Abbott
Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood

If you love Animal Books, you’ll like:
Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Averill
The Critter Club by Callie Barkley and Marsha Riti
Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen by Candace Fleming
Dolphin Rescue (Animal Planet Adventures #1) by Catherine Nichols
The Rescue Princesses by Paula Harrison
Puppy Place by Ellen Miles

If you love Nonfiction, you’ll love:
Rocket to the Moon: Big Ideas That Changed the World by Don Brown
Beavers: The Superpower Field Guides by Rachel Poliquin
2020 National Geographic Almanac
The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution by Jonathan W. Stokes
Weird But True! Greek Mythology by Sarah Wassner Flynn

If you love to read Well-Known Authors, check out:
Judy Blume
Beverly Cleary
Andrew Clements
Roald Dahl
Lois Lowry
Louis Sachar

If you love to read Series, try:
The Borrowers
Judy Moody
A to Z Mysteries
Time Warp Trio
Encyclopedia Brown
Emily Windsnap
Boxcar Children
Ivy and Bean
Clementine
Bunnicula
Heroes in Training
The Warriors
Frank Zipper
Katie Kazoo

Rising Grades 5 & 6

If you like Fantasy books, you’ll love:
Iron Trial (Magisterium series) by Holly Black
Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
The Adventurers Guild by Zach Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Imperium by Henry H. Neff

If you like Mystery and Adventure stories, you’ll love:
The Van Gogh Deception by Deron Hicks
Alex Rider: Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
Ranger’s Apprentice by John A. Flanagan
To Catch a Cheat by Varian Johnson
Edge of Extinction: The Ark Plan by Laura Martin
Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart
Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard

If you like Horror books, you’ll love:
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
100 Cupboards
by N.D. Wilson
Lockwood & Co The Screaming Staircase
by Jonathan Stroud
A Tale of Dark and Grimm
by Adam Gidwitz
Doll Bones
by Holly Black
The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street
by Lindsay Currie

If you like Historical Fiction, you’ll love:
Sweep by Jonathan Auxier
Refugee by Alan Gratz
Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras
Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson
The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and A Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson
The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

If you love Realistic Fiction, you’ll like:
Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen
Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling
Booked by Kwame Alexander
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
Beast Rider by Tony Johnston and Maria Elena Fontanot de Rhoads
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

If you like Funny books, you’ll love:
The Wishmakers by Tyler Whitesides
Strange Case of the Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
A Whole Nother Story by Cuthbert Soup
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
The Croc Ate My Homework by Stephan Pastis
The Tapper Twins Go to War (with each other) by Geoff Rodkey

If you love to read Classics, check out:
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Rising Grades 7 & 8

If you like Fantasy and Sci-Fi, you’ll love:
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke
Above World by Jenn Reese
Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Eye of Minds by James Daschner
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Renegades by Marissa Meyer
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Enders Game by Orson Scott Card
Minrs by Kevin Sylvester
City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Genius: the Game by Leopoldo Gout
Nyxia Uprising by Scott Reintgen

If you like Realistic Fiction, you’ll love:
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
The Night Diary by Mary Eisenhart
Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
I, Funny by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein
Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

If you like Adventure books, you’ll love:
Lockwood & Co The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
Michael Vey
by Richard Paul Evans
Raft
by S.A. Bodeen
Touching Spirit Bear
by Ben Mikaelsen
House of Scorpions
by Nancy Farmer
Stranded
by Jeff Probst and Chris Tebbetts
I Am the Weapon
by Allen Zadoff
Ranger’s Apprentice series
by John A. Flanagan
Loot
by Jude Watson
Legend
by Marie Lu

If you like Historical Fiction, you’ll love:
Refugee by Alan Gratz
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart
Running Out of Night by Sharon Lovejoy
Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation adapted by Ari Folman

If you love Non-Fiction, you’ll like:
An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski
Bonnie and Clyde by Karen Blumenthal
It’s Up to You, Abe Lincoln by Tom & Leila Hirschfeld
Path to the Stars by Sylvia Acevedo
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Hidden Figures (Young Readers’ Edition) by Margot Lee Shetterly
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian Football Team by Steve Sheinkin
Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America by Susan Campbell Bartlett

If you love to read Classics, check out:
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Animal Farm by George Orwell

Books recommended by Willow middle schoolers:
Steelheart by Brandon Sandersen
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel
The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, & Treachery by Steve Sheinkin
MIB by Lowell Cunningham
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Wave
Relentless Spirit by Missy Franklin
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Dangerous by Shannon Hale
Guts by Raina Telgemeier
PawPaw: In Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit by Andrew Moore
Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
Nyxia by Scott Reintgen
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Recruit (Cherub series) by Robert Muchamore
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Fox Inheritance and Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson
Genius: The Game by Leopoldo Gout
Running Out of Night by Sharon Lovejoy
The Prisoner of Cell 25 (Michael Vey #1) by Richard Paul Evans
The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Somewhere There is Still a Sun by Michael Gruenbaum and Todd Hasak-Lowy
The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
A Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
Matched by Ally Condie
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson
Pennyroyal Academy by M.A.Larson
The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner

Additional Resources

Check out these more general reading recommendations and activities for students:

  • Kidsreads and Teenreads are great sites to help find favorite books, series, and authors. Both contain reviews and recommendations, as well as various lists, such as: books that are new to paperback, books that are coming soon, series updates, and books that are now a movie.
  • Readwritethink is a collaboration of the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English, and it offers ideas for parents to build reading and writing into everyday activities. Check out the Parent and After School Resources tab.
  • Readingrockets is full of ideas for creating a culture of literacy at home.
  • Join the New York Public Library’s 2019 Summer Reading Challenge! Calendars, book logs, and reading lists arranged by age can all be found here.
  • Apple and Audible offer downloadable audiobooks, as well as digital copies of thousands of titles.
  • For PreK-2nd grade students, Starfall is a fun resource for reading games and activities. It is a phonics-based reading site that offers both visual and auditory activities on four different literacy levels.
  • Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information they need to thrive in a world of media and technology.
  • Many children’s authors have interesting websites where students can learn more about the author, as well as find out about his or her latest work. This is a great way for kids to connect with, and hopefully be inspired by, their favorite authors.  

Looking for more ways to encourage reading at home, especially for your children who are just developing their reading skills? Check out Willow’s Early Literacy Development guide, written by Willow teachers, for lots of practical tips!

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