Fun summer reading list for all ages, according to a librarian


As we kick summer off and find cool ways to entertain our kids during a pandemic, there's one activity that's a surefire way to keep little ones of all ages busy—an adventure-filled book. To help you find what's best, we caught up with Keira Pride, head librarian at Stratford School to provide a list of books for kids to read this summer.

Some wisk readers away to magical lands, others delve into prejudice and coming of age, while some are fiction-based novels that take you to other worlds. Whatever adventure they choose, there's something for everyone. Cheers to summer 2020.

Here are kid-approved books from a librarian that will entertain your child all summer long:


The Last Peach by Gordon Gus

The story of two indecisive bugs contemplating eating the last peach of the summer in a hilarious picture book about anticipation and expectation. Summer's almost over, and there's one peach left. There's also some questions in the air: Should someone eat it? What if it's rotten inside? But what if it's juicy? Should the bug who saw it first get to eat it? Should both bugs share it with their friends? Will anyone eat the peach?

Yaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs by Linda Sue Park

This clever introduction to animal-themed homographs also works as a vocabulary lesson and a catchy read-aloud. Children are introduced to an array of animals paired with verbs that share their names: "Cranes crane" their elongated necks in one spread, while "Slugs slug slugs" with boxing gloves. "Ack! I'm upside down! I'm upside down!" yells a floundering flounder, and one badger badgers another about the apple it's carrying, his long-winded pleas too big to fit in the speech bubbles above his head.

I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Whether celebrating life's joyous milestones, sharing words of encouragement, or observing the wonder of everyday moments, this uplifting book is perfect for wishers of every age. It's the perfect preschool graduation gift or just a book that brings positivity to all who read it.

First Grade

Paolo, Emperor of Rome by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Claire Keane

Paolo the dachshund is trapped. Though he lives in Rome, a city filled with history and adventure, he is confined to a hair salon. Paolo dreams of the sweet life—la dolce vita—in the Eternal City. And then, one day, he escapes. Paolo throws himself into the city, finding adventure at every turn. Join our hero as he discovers the wonders of Rome: the ruins, the food, the art, the opera, and—of course—the cats.

The Bear's Garden by Marcie Colleen

A little girl sees an empty lot in a city and imagines what it can be. With the help of her stuffed bear, the girl brings her community together to create a beautiful garden. Inspired by the true story of a community garden in Brooklyn, New York, this picture book is a testament to how imagination and dedication can transform communities and create beauty for everyone in unexpected places.

Scribble Stones by Diane Alber

This story starts off with a little stone who thinks he will become something amazing but then soon realizes he had become a dull paper weight. He's on a mission to become something greater and in the process meets scribble and splatter and they all come up with a creative way to bring joy to thousands of people.

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall

Step back in time and through the door of this iconic lighthouse into a cozy dollhouse-like interior with the extraordinary award-winning artist Sophie Blackall. Watch the days and seasons pass as the wind blows, the fog rolls in, and icebergs drift by. Outside, there is water all around. Inside, the daily life of a lighthouse keeper and his family unfolds as the keeper boils water for tea, lights the lamp's wick, and writes every detail in his logbook.

Second Grade

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst

A comforting story about two siblings who learn that everyone has an invisible string that connects them to everyone they love, anywhere, anytime. This is a remarkable message that helps children cope with a variety of issues from everyday things, like a storm, to more serious issues, like the death of a friend or parent. The illustrations are done in soothing watercolors and the simple lines highlight the facial expressions and feelings of the characters.

Smart George by Jules Feiffer

Everyone's favorite dog is back in the much-anticipated follow-up to Bark, George from celebrated author-illustrator Jules Feiffer. When George's mother asks her pup to add one plus one, two plus two, and three plus three, George would rather eat, go for a walk, and take a nap. But soon George finds himself in a colorful dream about… numbers! Children will wonder if George will count his way out.

Call of the Sound Dragon: A Branches Book by Tracey West

Magic from a wizards' battle is destroying the city of Remus. A new Dragon Master named Tessa and her Sound Dragon, Sono, will need help in order to stop it. But they won't be able to stop this dangerous duel without a special Power Crystal. Can Drake, Petra, and Griffith find the crystal and save the city? Children will be busy reading the series all summer.

Third Grade

Aster and the Accidental Magic by Thom Pico

In her new home, Aster meets a mysterious old woman with a herd of dogs who gives her a canine companion of her own. But when she and her dog Buzz are adventuring in the forest, they run into a trickster spirit who gives Aster three wishes. After wishing for the ability to understand and talk to her dog, she becomes only able to talk in dog language and the trouble she gets into is just starting.

Poetree by Shauna LaVoy Reynolds, illustrated by Shahrzad Maydani

Sylvia celebrates winter's end by writing a poem about spring and tying it to a birch tree. When she returns, a new poem is waiting for her. Could the tree be writing back? In lyrical prose and lovely illustrations, this fanciful tale speaks to the wonders of poetry and nature.

Fourth Grade

The Serpent's Secret by Sayantani DasGupta (series)

On the morning of her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in Parsippany, New Jersey until her parents mysteriously vanish and a drooling rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen, determined to eat her alive. When Kiran is swept into another dimension full of magic, winged horses and moving maps, she must solve riddles and battle demons all while avoiding the Serpent King of the underworld and the Rakkhoshi Queen in order to find her parents and basically save New Jersey, her entire world and everything beyond it.

The Hive Queen by Tui T. Sutherland (series)

Book 12 of this popular series Wings of Fire is the perfect book to entertain preteens. Growing up in the hives, Cricket has always had a million questions. Why are trees forbidden, even in art? And the biggest, most dangerous and secret question of all: why is she immune to Queen Wasp's powers? Whenever the queen takes control of all the HiveWings, speaking through their mouths and seeing through their eyes, Cricket has to hide, terrified of being discovered. The fugitive needs answers, and fast, in order to prevent a LeafWing attack.

The Code Busters Club by Penny Warner (series)

In the six books of the series released, the five club members have solved mysteries involving a haunted house, a prison, an Egyptian museum, a mission, an island and a spy museum. These interactive adventures keep readers entertained as they learn more than 15 codes and hone their deductive reasoning skills.

Fifth Grade

Clean Getaway by Nic Stone

Set against the backdrop of the segregation history of the American South, take a trip with this New York Times bestseller and an 11-year-old boy who is about to discover that the world hasn't always been a welcoming place for kids like him, and things aren't always what they seem—his G'ma included. This book is great for kids studying civil rights.

Dream within a Dream by Patricia Maclaughlin

Louisa and her brother Theo are "plunked off" at their grandparents' sheep ranch for their annual summer stay. But this visit is different, and Louisa hates change. In this lively coming-of-age novel, readers discover along with its spunky narrator that change can be exciting and help you find yourself.

Middle School

War Stories by Gordon Korman

There are two things Trevor loves more than anything else: playing war-based video games and his great-grandfather Jacob, who is a true-blue, bona fide war hero. At the height of the war, Jacob helped liberate a small French village, and was given a hero's welcome upon his return to America. Now it's decades later, and Jacob wants to retrace the steps he took during the war—from training to invasion to the village he is said to have saved. Trevor thinks this is the coolest idea ever. But as they get to the village, Trevor discovers there's more to the story than what he's heard his whole life, causing him to wonder about his great-grandfather's heroism, the truth about the battle he fought, and the importance of genuine valor.

The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman

On a spring morning, neighbors Valentina Kaplan and Oksana Savchenko wake up to an angry red sky. A reactor at the nuclear power plant where their fathers work—Chernobyl—has exploded. Before they know it, the two girls, who've always been enemies, find themselves on a train bound for Leningrad to stay with Valentina's estranged grandmother, Rita Grigorievna. In their new lives in Leningrad, they begin to learn what it means to trust another person. Oksana must face the lies her parents told her all her life. Valentina must keep her grandmother's secret, one that could put all their lives in danger. And both of them discover something they've wished for: a best friend.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

"The court is sizzling. My sweat is drizzling. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I'm delivering," raps 12-year-old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are kings of the basketball court, but their game and their bond are put to the test as this novel told in dynamic verse unfolds.

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