Here are 12 great summer stories for toddlers to teens that will get kids excited about reading this summer.
“Some Bugs” by Angela DiTerlizzi; illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
Summer is a great time to explore outside. This delightful book invites kids to take a closer look at the bugs in their own back yard because they might be doing some interesting things. The illustrations are quirky and delightful, somehow making even the creepiest crawlies kind of cute. Curious readers can examine all the bugs and find out the name of each at the end of the story. The simple text rhyming and buggy sounds make it a great read aloud for preschoolers and kindergarteners.
“Hello, World! Ocean Life” by Jill McDonald
This colorful counting book is almost as much fun as a day at the beach. It counts to 10 and back down again with bright, bold illustrations. It is also teeming with fun facts about ocean life. Readers will learn how many hearts an octopus has and that sea turtles have lived since prehistoric times. The text is simple enough to engage readers 15 months through kindergarten.
“Jabari Jumps” by Gaia Cornwall
Anyone who has ever stepped onto a diving board for the first time knows the moment of fear that comes when you look down and the pool suddenly looks so much farther away than you thought. This cheerful picture book is all about conquering those fears.
“Bird Watch” by Christie Matheson
This picture book introduces young readers to backyard birdwatching in an engaging way. Each illustration features hidden birds and other woodland creatures for readers to find. The book illustrates how birders use clues like distinctive feathers or hiding places to figure out which kind of bird they have found. At the end of the story, curious kids can find out more about birding and about the bird species seen in the book.
“Evelyn the Adventurous Entomologist: The True Story of a World-Traveling Bug Hunter”
by Christine Evans; illustrated by Yasmin Imamura
This children’s biography introduces readers to an amazing scientist they may not have known before. Evelyn Cheesman loves adventure and discovering more about nature, especially bugs. She has no interest in wearing frilly dresses or any of the other things that are expected of her as a young girl in 1881. Instead, she boldly makes her own path. Readers will be fascinated by Evelyn’s daring and her many discoveries.
“The Cardboard Kingdom” by Chad Sell
This graphic novel captures the magic that can be found in a simple cardboard box. Each chapter focuses on a different kid living in the same neighborhood and the world imagined in their backyard. As their make-believe games begin to merge into one epic story, the characters come together to defeat all sorts of foes. The illustrations are colorful and inviting, even for readers who don’t typically pick up a graphic novel.
“Here in the Real World” by Sara Pennypacker
Ware often finds himself on the outside, and that has never been truer than when his parents enroll him in camp at the Y yet again this summer. Chanting in a circle and “crafts” are not his idea of a well-spent summer. To escape the noise and chaos, he heads outside and discovers an empty lot next door. There is not only an abandoned church that would make a perfect castle, there is also a young girl named Jolene tinkering around with seedlings in cans. Despite a rocky start, the two become friends. When the lot is put up for auction, Ware decides to find a way to save it.
“Nessie Quest” by Melissa Savage
Ada Ru is forced by her parents to spend her summer break in Scotland, as her father has taken up a summer teaching position there in a small town near Loch Ness. Her mom urges her to make the best of the situation, knowing Ada Ru would much prefer to be in Disney World .While exploring, Ada Ru meets a young Scottish boy named Hamish Bean Timmy who tells her the legend of the Loch Ness Monster and recruits her in his search.
“Porcupine of Truth” by Bill Konigsberg
Carson has lived in New York City with his mom since he was 3. But this summer, he is returning to his birthplace of Billings, Montana to spend time with his father, who he has never met and is dying from his years of alcohol abuse. While spending time in his father’s home, Carson begins wondering about his grandfather who disappeared when Carson’s father was young. Carson is determined to solve this mystery and possibly reunite his father and grandfather before his dad dies.
“We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart
Every summer, the Sinclair family gathers on their private island near Martha’s Vineyard. While the aunts spend their summers pretending to perfect and competing for their wealthy father’s favor, Cady and her cousins develop a bond and have effortless beach fun together. During the summer that she is 15, something happens on the island that causes Cady to suffer head trauma and memory loss. She is not allowed to return to the island for two summers. When she finally returns, Cady searches for answers about what happened. “We Were Liars” blends a romantic and beachy atmosphere with a suspenseful fast-paced tragedy. This is a page-turner for teens.
Conni L. Strittmatter is part of Baltimore County Public Library‘s collection development staff.