Great Reads Will Make Summer Reading Spike

By Donalyn Miller, sixth-grade teacher at Trinity Meadows Intermediate School in Keller, TX; with Alyson Beecher, principal at Pasadena Unified School District in Pasadena, Calif.

Whether reading nonfiction books about topics that interest them or finally digging into that series they always wanted to read, the summer months provide young readers with the opportunity to grow as independent readers. Encouraging children to read over the summer months should be fun. Allow children to choose their own books to read so they can develop reading preferences and confidence.

My friend and fellow book lover, Alyson Beecher, an elementary school principal and literacy leader, worked with me to create a diverse list of engaging books – including poetry, graphic novels, fiction, and nonfiction titles – that will keep your students reading over the summer months. Suggested grade levels indicate the grades children will enter this fall. Titles above students’ rising grade levels are great read-aloud options or enrichment for advanced readers. Remember, picture books are excellent to share at any age.

One new book that we think readers of many ages will enjoy is Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Its various points of view and heartwarming message appeal to a wide range of readers. Use it as a read-aloud to spark powerful discussions between adults and children.

Kindergarten and First

Graphic Novels
The Amazing Adventures of Supercat! by Kate McMullan
Benny and Penny in the Big No-No! by Geoffrey Hayes
Little Mouse Gets Ready by Jeff Smith

Fiction
Bad to the Bone by Lucy Nolan
Cowgirl Kate & Cocoa: Spring Babies by Erica Silverman
Elephant and Piggie: Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems
Fly Guy: Fly Guy Meets Fly Girl by Tedd Arnold
Lulu & the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst
Mouse & Mole: Fine Feathered Friends by Wong Herbert Yee
Sadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett

Picture Books (great for all ages)
A Butterfly is Patient by Diana Hutts Aston
Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet
Green by Laura Vacarro Seeger
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
Me ... Jane by Patrick McDonnell
Penny and Her Song by Kevin Henkes
Perfect Square by Michael Hall
Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw

Poetry
Here’s a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry by Jane Yolen
Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies

Classic Favorites
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

Second and Third

Graphic Novels
Babymouse series by Jennifer and Matthew Holm (also Squish series)
Sticky Burr by John Lechner

Fiction
Bink & Gollie by Kate DiCamillo
Dinkin’ Dings and the Frightening Things by Guy Bass
The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin
Frankie Pickle & the Closet of Doom by Eric Wight
Frannie K. Stein by Jim Benton
Joe Sherlock, Kid Detective series by Dave Keane
Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie by Julie Sternberg
Marty McGuire by Kate Messner
Stink by Megan McDonald
The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Kronin
When Life Gives You OJ by Erica Perl
Zac Power series by H.I. Larry

Nonfiction
Scholastic True & False: Dangerous Animals by Melvin and Gilda Berger
Thunder Birds: Nature’s Flying Predators by Jim Arnosky

Poetry
Around the World on Eighty Legs: Animal Poems by Amy Gibson
Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka

Classic Favorites
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Fourth and Fifth

Graphic Novels
Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
Sidekicks by Dan Santat
Tall: Great American Folk Tales edited by Donald Lemke

Fiction
Bigger Than a Breadbox by Laurel Snyder
Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin
The Dragon’s Tooth by N.D. Wilson
Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger
Hound Dog True by Linda Urban
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznik
Worst Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure: Everest! by Bill Doyle

Nonfiction
Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson
Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook by Ellen Potter and Anne Mazer
Titanic Sinks! by Barry Denenberg

Poetry
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (novel in verse)
Love That Dog and Hate That Cat, both by Sharon Creech )

Classic Favorites
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Sixth to Eighth

Graphic Novels
Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel
Zeus: King of the Gods by George O’Connor (also Athena, Hera, and Hades titles)

Fiction
Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Eight Keys by Suzanne LeFleur
The Enemy by Chris Higson
The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander
Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri
The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Nonfiction
How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg
Scientists in the Field series (various authors)
Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert by Marc Aronson

Poetry
Poetry Speaks Who I Am: Poems of Discovery, Inspiration, Independence, and Everything Else edited by Elise Paschen
Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto by Paul Janeczko

Classic Favorites
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Giver by Lois Lowry

Donalyn Miller is the author of The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child (Jossey-Bass, 2009) and writes The Book Whisperer blog for Education Week Teacher. Her articles about teaching reading and education policy have appeared in such publications as Educational Leadership and The Washington Post. To book a presentation with Donalyn, click here.
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