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Summer Reads For School-Aged Kids

Posted over 2 years ago by Eric P

Posted in Children & Parenting, eBooks & eAudiobooks, Education, Fiction, Literature, Poetry & Graphic Novels and Movies, Music, & Audiobooks | Tagged with animals, juvenile fiction, juvenile nonfiction, picture books, poetry and Summer Reads

The Summer Reading Challenge is upon us, and with it comes the challenge of persuading people in your house to read during the summer. If the young folks in your home are already pretty motivated – they know what they like to read, they know how to find it at the library or in our catalog of downloadable titles, they read of their own free will and not just when they trip and fall accidentally face-first into an open book – then it’s pretty easy.

But if the young people under your roof struggle to find reading material that interests them, encouraging summer reading can be a chore, especially since age-specific, grade-specific and lexile-based reading guides are usually pretty one-size-fits-all and no two kids are exactly alike. Well, except in terms of haircuts - some kids have the exact same haircut. But choose any first-grade classroom at random and you’ll find a roomful of young individuals with totally different vocabularies, comfort levels, personal interests, and attention spans.

So to help get kids started, here’s a sampling of great books of all kinds – fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphics – loosely clustered by grade level. Your third-grader may really like the sound of one of the second-grade books, or your second-grader may want to try one of the fourth-grade titles. They should go for it. Why not? It’s summer! #YOLO!


It’s never too early to start thinking about how words and art shape the way you see the world, and how you can translate what you see in the world into words and art.

On The Farm by David Elliott ; illustrated by Holly MeadeOn The Farm
by David Elliott

Formats: Print

Gives a view of the world of the family farm. Simple verse and woodcut with watercolor illustrations evoke a world at once timeless and disappearing from view-- the world of the family farm.
I, Too, Am America (poetry) by Langston Hughes ; illustrated by Bryan CollierI, Too, Am America
by Langston Hughes

Formats: Print

Presents the popular poem by one of the central figures in the Harlem Renaissance, highlighting the courage and dignity of the African American Pullman porters in the early twentieth century.
Jake makes a world : Jacob Lawrence, a young artist in Harlem by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts ; illustrated by Christopher MyersJake Makes A World: Jacob Lawrence, A Young Artist In Harlem
by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts

Formats: Print

Recounts how the young Jacob Lawrence, as a boy recently arrived in Harlem, reacted to the world around him and translated his responses into art at an after-school arts center.

First Grade

Even if you’ve never been a chicken, a twin, or a dog, you’ll find much to relate to in these chronicles of mystery, mischief, and overeating.

The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure by Doreen Cronin ; illustrated by Kevin CornellThe Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure
by Doreen Cronin

Formats: Print | eBook | eAudiobook

They're darling. They're daring. They know their shapes! They're chicks on a mission—and on this, their first (mis)adventure, the Chicken Squad launches a galactic backyard expedition. Meet the Chicken Squad: Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie. These chicks are not your typical barnyard puffs of fluff, and they are not about to spend their days pecking chicken feed and chasing bugs. No sir, they're too busy solving mysteries and fighting crime.
Ling & Ting: Not Exactly The Same! by Grace LinLing & Ting : Not Exactly the Same!
by Grace Lin

Formats: Print | eAudiobook

Grace Lin is the New York Times best-selling author of the Newbery Honor book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. In Ling & Ting, Lin crafts a charming tale about a pair of Chinese-American twins who insist that, despite their physical appearance, they are NOT alike. Ling can't use chopsticks, no matter how hard she tries. And Ting can't sit still-a characteristic that makes the twins more different than ever after a small mishap at the barbershop.
Once I Ate A Pie (poetry) by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest; illustrated by Katy SchneiderOnce I Ate A Pie
by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest

Formats: Print

"It's a dog's life! Every dog has a tail to wag . . . and a tale to tell. Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest asked a collection of canines to speak up—and so they do, in words, barks, and yips. Captured here are accounts of happy days filled with squeaky toys, good smells, plenty of naps, and the very important jobs they do for the people they love to love." ~ Amazon

Second Grade

Sometimes your whole year can be complicated by something as simple as a bump on the head or as substantial as a hearing aid apparatus. But if you’re persistent enough, sometimes you can build a life out of your dreams.

El Deafo (graphic novel) by Cece Bell ; color by David LaskyEl Deafo
by Cece Bell

Formats: Print | eBook

Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful--and very awkward--hearing aid. The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear--sometimes things she shouldn't--but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become "El Deafo, Listener for All." And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she's longed for.
The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin HenkesThe Year of Billy Miller
by Kevin Henkes

Formats: Print | Book On CD | eBook | eAudiobook

Seven-year-old Billy Miller starts second grade with a bump on his head and a lot of worries, but by the end of the year he has developed good relationships with his teacher, his little sister, and his parents and learned many important lessons.
Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova (biography) by Laurel Snyder ; illustrated by Julie MorstadSwan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova
by Laurel Snyder

Formats: Print

An introduction to one of the most famous ballerinas in history describes how she was inspired to pursue dancing after going to the ballet as a child and how her achievements have inspired subsequent generations of dancers.

Third Grade

In which life starts to get a little more complicated, and so does the literature. Squirrels, vacuum cleaners, school plays, and life and death at the local mall.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate ; illustrations by Patricia CastelaoThe One and Only Ivan
by Katherine Applegate

Formats: Print | Book On CD | eBook | eAudiobook

When Ivan, a gorilla who has lived for years in a down-and-out circus-themed mall, meets Ruby, a baby elephant that has been added to the mall, he decides that he must find her a better life.
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo ; illustrated by K. G. CampbellFlora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
by Kate DiCamillo

Formats: Print | Book On CD | Pocket Audiobook | eBook | eAudiobook

Rescuing a squirrel after an accident involving a vacuum cleaner, comic-reading cynic Flora Belle Buckman is astonished when the squirrel, Ulysses, demonstrates astonishing powers of strength and flight after being revived.
Bookmarks are People Too! by Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver ; illustrated by Scott GarrettBookmarks Are People Too!
by Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver

Formats: Print

Hoping to land the lead in the class play, Hank freezes during his audition and is only able to buzz like a fly, inspiring his teacher to create a special role for him as a silent bookmark that saves the show when a rival suffers an attack of stage fright.

Fourth Grade

One of these books is about a made-up word. One looks like some kid’s English class poetry journal but turns out to be something more. And the other was illustrated entirely with three colors of ballpoint pen.

Lowriders In Space (graphic novel) by Cathy Camper ; illustrated by Raúl Gonzalez IIILowriders in Space
by Cathy Camper

Formats: Print

Lupe, Flapjack, Elirio customize their car into a low rider for the Universal Car Competition to win the cash prize that will enable them to buy their own garage.
Frindle by Andrew Clements ; pictures by Brian SelznickFrindle
by Andrew Clements

Formats: Print | Spanish language | Book On CD | eBook | eAudiobook

When he decides to turn his fifth grade teacher's love of the dictionary around on her, clever Nick Allen invents a new word and begins a chain of events that quickly moves beyond his control.
Love That Dog by Sharon CreechLove That Dog
by Sharon Creech

Formats: Print | eBook | eAudiobook

A young student, who comes to love poetry through a personal understanding of what different famous poems mean to him, surprises himself by writing his own inspired poem.

Fifth Grade

And sometimes, you just really need to read about evil whales on stilts trying to take over the world.

Whales On Stilts by M.T. Anderson ; illustrations by Kurt CyrusWhales On Stilts
by M.T. Anderson

Formats: Print | Book On CD

Racing against the clock, shy middle-school student Lily and her best friends, Katie and Jasper, must foil the plot of her father's conniving boss to conquer the world using an army of whales.
D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar D’AulaireD’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
by Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire

Formats: Print | Book On CD

"No education is complete without a large slice of Greek mythology. All the great gods and goddesses of ancient Greece are depicted in this big, beautiful classic, lovingly illustrated and skillfully told. Young readers will be dazzled by mighty Zeus, lord of the universe; stirred by elegant Athena, goddess of wisdom; intimidated by powerful Hera, queen of Olympus; and chilled by moody Poseidon, ruler of the sea. The D'Aulaires' illustrations have a memorable quality: once pored over, they will never leave the minds of the viewer. No child is too young to appreciate the myths that have built the foundation for much of the world's art and literature over the centuries. This introduction to mythology is a treasure." ~ Amazon.
Funny Bbones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan TonatiuhFunny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras
by Duncan Tonatiuh

Formats: Print | eBook

Presents the life of the Mexican artist, José Guadalupe Posada, who became famous for his drawings of skeletons in multiple everyday poses which have become identified with the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead.

Featured Image Credit: The Bark Ages by Eric P.

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