Ready, Set, Read! Summer Reading Recommendations

for Children Grades K-8

Kids are often less than enthusiastic about required reading and reading logs during the school year. However, summer break is the perfect time to remind children about the joys of reading—creating moving pictures in their minds; diving into genres like fantasy, historical fiction, or science; and satisfying their curiosity.

As a parent, while you may want your children to pick up a book instead of always reaching for their electronic devices, you may feel unsure how to guide them toward grade-appropriate reading materials. We’ve put together a list divided into early elementary, late elementary, and middle school to help you as you get ready to put in an online order or make a field trip to the library or the local bookstore.

KindergartenSecond Grade

At this age, children are still learning to develop their literacy skills, identify spelling regularities, and recognize simple story structure. Continued reading over the summer can help them strengthen these foundational reading skills, and if they want to read favorite books a few times over, even better! Young readers improve their reading fluency with repeated readings. Some of our favorite reads are:

  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak—This book explores themes of respect, imagination, and adventure as a young boy named Max ends up on an island of googly-eyed monsters. It’s a classic young readers will enjoy picking up again and again. Extension activities can include crafting a “wild thing,” writing about a new creature encounter, and drawing or writing ways Max and the monsters are alike and different.
  • Up in the Air by Zoe Armstrong—Young scientists will enjoy this colorful read that invites them to explore everything above them—summer skies, birds, weather, and nocturnal animals. Extension activities can include creating a nature journal, drawing the constellations, and writing to describe the sounds on a summer day.
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff—Kids will love this modern-day classic. With predictable text, it is an excellent read for children building sight words. Each event in the story prompts the next, and kids will have fun guessing what the mouse will do next. Extension activities to go along with this story are following directions to bake cookies, drawing or writing about another event that could’ve happened in the story, and drawing common foods that go together.

Third GradeFifth Grade

Upper elementary readers are shifting from learning to read to reading to learn. As a result, pictures are often less than text, and story elements such as plot, theme, and characterization become more complex, as stories help children connect to real-life concepts. We think your older elementary student will enjoy adding these reads to their summer list:

  • The Lemonade Club by Patricia Polacco—A beautiful story, this book explores themes of friendship, life-changing events such as cancer, and how people can move through challenges and even find joy through trials. It’s a book that parents and children may enjoy reading together, as the story provides rich contexts for conversations.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl—This is a classic story that children will love. Magic, mystery, and candy swirl throughout the plot as a young boy, Charlie, explores the world of Willy Wonka. The book has central themes of how behavior can affect outcomes and how we can celebrate the unexpected blessings of life. These themes lend themselves to activities for children, such as making a gratitude jar to write daily thankful notes and creating their own golden ticket contests.
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling—The first book in the Harry Potter series, your older elementary reader is sure to love discovering the magical world of Harry Potter. With rich imagery and characterization, you may find your child enjoys spending hours exploring this book and the others in the series. In addition, there are many downloadable activities online for extension activities to expand vocabulary and creativity.

6th grade8th grade

By middle school, reading becomes a way to extend knowledge and explore personal interests. Encourage your middle schooler to think of a few types of literature they enjoy and use the summer for diving deeper into what naturally draws them. Some recommended reads are:

  • The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins—This series, set in a dystopian society, asks the reader to grapple with concepts of friendship and sacrifice, poverty, and societal inequality. Once your student reads the first book of the series, they’ll likely want to continue on the journey with heroine Katniss in this coming-of-age story.
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio—Wonder covers a lot of young-teen topics such as bullying, self-acceptance, friendship, standing up for what’s right, and general middle-school angst. Auggie, a boy with a genetic condition, attends school after being home-schooled. He experiences many difficult peer situations throughout the book, but he finds true friendship and self-acceptance by the end. There is also a movie by the same title that makes for a great family movie night.
  • 96 Miles by J.L. Esplin—After their mother dies, two boys who live in a remote area of Nevada with their avid survivalist father encounter a challenge that forces them to walk 96 miles through the desert heat and wind to find help and hope. The depths of family and forgiveness surface in this story of survival and healing.

These are just a few suggestions for books that will keep your child reading all summer long. With such a wide variety of titles available, you’re sure to find something that they’ll enjoy. Find these titles online, or let your kids get lost in the library or bookstore to discover their summer reading adventures!

For more guided reading support, Adaptively offers live, online, small-group reading and English support. Our classes are delivered in a small-group model with interactive lessons to help your child gain a reading edge while socializing and having fun!