There are endless ways to have summer fun, but with the right books, reading will be one of your child's go-to activities during these more relaxed months.
Maintaining a voracious appetite for reading is especially important for kids ages 8 to 10. According to the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report, the number of kids who read for fun five to seven days per week drops from 57 percent to 35 percent between ages 8 and 9, and those who say they love reading drops from 40 percent to 28 percent. That's significant because previous research has found that reading proficiency around this age (more specifically, in 3rd grade) is a clear predictor of academic success.
To avoid what's been dubbed as the "Decline by Nine," help your child pick out both series that set her on a reading marathon (think back to how you plowed through The Baby-Sitters Club books!) and individual books that help her dip into a variety of genres. As a mom of two young boys and an early elementary educator, I picked some of my favorite summer book picks for 8-year-old to 10-year-old kids from the Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge, a free, fun educational program. During this Challenge, kids enter reading minutes online to earn exclusive digital rewards and help Scholastic donate books to kids in need across the country. Ask your child’s teacher, a local librarian, or a community partner organization (like a youth center) if they’re participating — if not, you can register your child individually.
1. Star Wars: Jedi Academy: Revenge of the Sis by Jarrett J. Krosoczka & Amy Ignatow
My 8-year-old is chomping at the bit to continue his way through this book, which follows Christina Starspeeder — a legendary Padawan (an apprentice in the Star Wars universe) on her journey to the advanced Jedi Academy. Christina was a star student at her last school, but this new chapter of her education comes with all new challenges, including a pesky droid with major attitude.
2. Wings of Fire: The Hive Queen by Tui T. Sutherland
Your child will have the opportunity to explore the fantasy genre in this new book from the Wings of Fire series, which follows young dragons on their missions to fulfill prophecies and is incredibly popular with middle grade students right now. Each book exposes a different character's perspective, and in this one, readers learn that the dragonet Cricket has endless questions: For instance, why is she immune to the Queen Wasp's mind-controlling powers? A hidden adventure takes her on a quest to figure out the queen's deadly secret, and to possibly topple a regime and stop a war.
3. Restart by Gordon Korman
Your young reader will be captivated by this story about a boy named Chase, who fell off a roof but doesn't remember it (or anything else, for that matter). As he goes back to school and is forced to learn about himself, he takes readers on a journey of self-identity — an oh-so-relevant topic for children at this age.
4. The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
When a girl named Candice discovers a letter addressed to her grandmother (who left town in shame) in an old attic in Lambert, South Carolina, she embarks on a quest to piece together puzzling clues that might just lead to a fortune. Along the way, she learns about her town's forgotten stories and her family's unspoken secrets. This book encourages young readers to reflect on issues like racism and bullying, and values like equality, fairness, and justice.
5. She Dared: Malala Yousafzai by Jenni L. Walsh
Introduce your child to a brave, courageous girl who has made a lasting impact on the world! Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel Prize winner, stood up to the injustice of women not being able to attend school, and was attacked for it — but it didn't stop her from advocating for a better future. This book helps kids recognize the value of their education, and reminds them not to take it for granted (even if they're not fans of homework).
6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling
You've been waiting years to experience Hogwarts with your child, and now it's possible: This illustrated version of the book allows readers to discover the wonder and popularity of the wizarding world in an entirely new, vibrant way. Once your kids are hooked, they'll be excited to move on to all of the other Harry Potter books (giving you the chance to re-read them, too!).
7. Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
In this 2019 Newbery Award winner, Merci is a 6th-grader dealing with confusing changes. Although she goes to a private school in Florida, she and her brother are there on scholarships, and don't have the fancy things other students have. Meanwhile, her grandfather has been acting strangely at home, forgetting important things and even falling off his bike. Children who are soon to enter middle school will easily relate to the confusing and humorous moments in this coming-of-age tale.
8. I Survived the Battle of D-Day, 1944 by Lauren Tarshis
Send your child on a journey through time and history with this nonfiction read, which details the story of the Normandy landings — the largest seaborn invasion in history, and the foundation for the victory of the Allies during World War II. This book will not only pique your child's interest in nonfiction reads, but will also bolster his social studies knowledge for the school year ahead.
9. The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy’s Big Day by Ann M. Martin
You likely remember loving The Baby-Sitters Club series from your childhood, and now, your kids can experience it in an updated graphic novel version. In this book, Kristy's mom is getting married, but that means 14 kids are coming into town! As a result, the girls have to learn how to handle the biggest job the BSC has ever had. This book teaches important lessons about responsibility, work ethic, and friendship. (Psst, Baby-Sitters Club fans: You can find the original books in this collectible Baby-Sitters Club Retro Tin Boxed Set!)
10. Lety Out Loud by Angela Cervantes
Angela's first language is Spanish, and she sometimes has trouble speaking her mind. That's why she loves volunteering at an animal shelter: The dogs and cats don't mind if she can't find the right words! But soon, she finds herself in a writing competition against a boy at the shelter. In this read, your child will learn about being a team player and finding her voice.
Browse more great selections from the Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge at the Scholastic Store Online.
Connect with Jodie at Growing Book by Book.
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