Your Perfect Summer Reading List (For All Ages)

Ah, summer! Lazy days, fun outdoors, and time to just sit and chill . . .  BUT WAIT! Despite the much-needed break, on average, kids lose 2-3 reading levels, as well as critical thinking and analysis skills, when they take a summer off. Summer is the perfect time to spend lounging around the pool, lying in the hammock, or passing long car rides with a great book. Here are some summer reading lists and ways to encourage your kids to read this summer and stop that summer slide with a few good books from our summer reading list!

Studies have shown that reading only a few books throughout the summer can help decrease summer slide and promote new neuropathways. So make reading a priority by heading out to your local library or reading books aloud before bedtime. Encourage your child to read something every day, whether it’s the newspaper, a comic book, or a new novel. If it’s their choice, they are more likely to want to participate in summer reading. To sweeten the deal, consider forming a book club where your kids and all of their friends read the same book and meet once a week to talk about it.  

There are copious reading lists out there designed to find the perfect book for your child. Each year, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) puts out a summer reading list for grades pre-k through 8.  Out of all the books offered, we’ve narrowed it down to our favorites for each grade level.  

Preschool and kindergarten summer reading list:

One Lonely Fish: A counting book with bite, by Andy Mansfield

City Shapes, by Diana Murray

1st- and 2nd-grade summer reading list:

What Do You Do With a Problem?, by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom

Marta! Big & Small, by Jen Arena, illustrated by Angela Dominguez

3rd-5th-grade summer reading list:

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets, by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth

Secret Coders, by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Mike Holmes

Grades 6-8 summer reading list:

Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hatem Aly

While the ALSC’s summer reading list only covers pre-k through 8th grade, there are many other reading lists out there for high-school-age students and adults. For example, Scholastic publishes a summer reading list each year for all ages. However, we always encourage students to read some of the classics. Everyday Reading publishes a summer reading guide with books categorized by genre!

When I was growing up, my mom read me a new book nearly every week, and I vividly remember the classics that she read to me. I gained a better understanding of literature from a very young age and was more prepared for the more difficult books and greater reading comprehension. Plus, I will always cherish those memories with my mom. Take the reading fun farther with a movie night once you’ve completed the book. Some of my favorites have been made into films, so consider rewarding your kids by watching the film version when you finish reading. Ready to read aloud together? Here are my favorites compiled into summer reading lists by category!

Summer reading list for the whole family:

Charlotte’s Web, by E.B White

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

Because of Winn-Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo

The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain

The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Adventures of Robin Hood, by Howard Pyle

Summer reading list for older students

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

1984, by George Orwell

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis

The Complete Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Nearly all of the books mentioned so far are books for your student, but if you’re looking for some books to read while your kids are splashing in the pool, I have some great adult reads for you to check out as well!

Summer reading list for adults

Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

Don’t let your family be affected by Summer Slide; check your local library or bookstore to find books that will help your student enjoy reading and facilitate learning!

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