This Blog has been updated from when it was originally published in 2018.
I've always had a love for children's literature. The beauty, aesthetic and messaging that can come through in picture books is so poignant. Likewise, the complexity of stories written today for older children, in series and chapter books, can draw the reader into worlds of fantasy and other realities. The characters are so rich, and the empathy you develop in these stories truly helps you step outside of your own world.
Childhood is the time when a love of reading has the greatest opportunity to flourish. Over the summer especially, with more flexibility in schedules, it's easier to promote habitual reading in a more relaxed environment. Even a simple beach read is good for the soul. It's a relaxation tool, and encourages children to take a pause in their lives and get lost in a story and in their own imagination.
Curating the 2020 Summer Reading List
When reading becomes more habitual and children actively choose books of interest, they are even more invested and excited about the process of reading – which is what makes summer reading such a prime opportunity for parents and children alike.
In creating this book list, we took into consideration what we know children love, what teachers deem relevant, and what's recommended by the experts. The books on this list are inspirational, engaging, relevant and challenging in their own right. As a starting point, we focused on "tried and true" favorites. Of course there is an abundance of books that could be added, but at the heart of this list are the titles that children come to the Library to check out over and over again. And if 10 kids love them, we know others will love them too, since they are really the best critics.
Summer Reading Means Reading Together!
Be sure to read aloud with your child! Books read by an adult with expression, intonation, and fluency models what good reading sounds like. Children learn to read words first, and when they hear an adult stringing those words together to create meaning, they become motivated to do the same. Children who are read to also build valuable attention and listening skills.
Even as children get older, it is beneficial to continue to read aloud to them. In addition to modeling fluency, it builds vocabulary, stretches the imagination, and the time spent together sharing a good book will become a precious memory. Reading together further promotes a love of literature. After all, who isn’t captivated by hearing a good story? In addition, reading aloud to older children can provide an opportunity to grapple with difficult issues. Discussing books with your child not only improves comprehension but can help to build empathy, understanding, and problem solving around life’s challenges.
Finally this guide is simply that – a guide – so don't be afraid to "read outside the lines." If you have a second grader, read something together from the 4th grade list! If you have a first grader that is an emergent reader, spend some time supporting that child reading a “just right” book while also reading aloud a story with a more complicated plot. The motivation to become a more proficient reader will quickly follow if the love of reading is promoted early on.
Summer reading provides the voice and choice children need to set them on the road for a lifetime of reading. We hope you enjoy - happy reading!
2020 Essential Summer Reading GuideClick for the full Summer Reading List.
Alphabet Books (PreK–Grade 1)
Our PreK through Grade 1 selection was purposefully organized by rhyming picture and alphabet books as each of these categories help lay the groundwork for children who are learning to read. Enjoying books together that emphasize the sounds in language develops a child’s letter knowledge and phonemic awareness (the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in spoken language). Both of these skills play a key role in reading development.
A Was Once an Apple Pie by Edward Lear
AlphaOops! The Day Z Went First by Alethea Kontis
The Day Z Went First by Alethea Kontis
Apple Pie ABC by Alison Murray
G is for Goat by Patricia Polacco
Click for the full the Summer Reading List.
Phonics Based Books (PreK–Grade 1)
Bob Books by Bobby Lynn Maslen
Now I’m Reading Books by Nora Gaydos
My Very First I Can Read! Books by Dr. Julie Wood
Dr. Seuss Books
Picture Books (PreK–Grade 1)
Our Pre-K through Grade 1 selection was purposefully organized by rhyming picture and alphabet books as each of these categories help lay the groundwork for children who are learning to read. Enjoying books together that emphasize the sounds in language develops a child’s letter knowledge and phonemic awareness (the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in spoken language). Both of these skills play a key role in reading development.
You Matter by Christian Robinson
Art This Way by Tamara Shopsin
B Is for Baby by Atinuke
Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris
A Big Bed for Little Snow by Grace Lin
The Book Hog by Greg Pizzoli
Dinosaur Feathers by Dennis Nolan Field
Trip to the Moon by John Hare. Click for the full Summer Reading List.
Favorite Picture Books (Grades 1–2)
Firefighters' Handbook by Meghan McCarthy
The Bug Girl: A True Story by Sophia Spencer
Prairie Days by Patricia MacLachlan
Across the Bay By Carlos Aponte
Just Like Me by Vanessa Newton
Iggy Peck…, Ada Twist, Sophie Valdez (asst. books) by Andrea Beaty
Dear Boy, and Dear Girl by Paris and Amy Rosenthal
Easy Chapter Books (Grades 1–2)
Jasper and Ollie Build a Fort (graphic novel) by Alex Willan
The Miniature World of Marvin and James (4 books) by E. Broach
Narwhal on a Sunny Night (new Magic Treehouse) and Narwhals and Other Whales: Nonfiction companion by Mary Pope Osborne
Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt (graphic novel) by Ben Clanton
Favorite Series (Grades 1–2)
Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems
Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo
Froggie by Jonathan London
Owl Diaries by Rebecca Elliot
Alvin Ho by Lenore
Look George Brown, Class Clown by Nancy Krulik
Teachers Recommend (Grades 3–4)
When Stars Are Scattered (graphic novel) by Victoria Jamieson
The Book Wanderers by Anna James
Cog by Greg Van Eekhout Sal & Gabi
Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
The Colossus of Roads by Christina Uss
Favorite Series (Grades 3–4)
I Survived (series) by Lauren Tarshis
Time Warp Trio by Jon Scieszka
Spy School (series) by Stuart Gibbs
The Hazardous Tales (series) by Nathan Hales
My Life as a …(series) by J. Tashjian
Who Was… ? books by various authors
Ramona (Quimby) (series) by Beverly Cleary
Graphic Novels (Grades 3–4)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Dork Diaries by Rachel Renée
Russell Dogman by Dave Pilkey
Big Nate by Lincoln
Peirce Sisters (and other graphic novels) by Raina Telgemeier
The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin
Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon
El Deafo by Cece Bell
The Runaway Princess by Johan Troïanowski
Teachers and Students Recommend (Grades 5–6)
When Stars Are Scattered (graphic novel) by Victoria Jamieson
The World Ends in April by Stacy McAnulty
Wildfire by W.R. Philbrick
The Book Wanderers by Anna J
ames Cog by Greg Van Eekhout
Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
Outstanding Non-Fiction (Grades 5–6)
Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill by Heather L. Mongomery and Kevin O’Malley
We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World. By Malala Yousafzai
Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh
Summer Community Read Books (Grades 5–8)
Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly
Greta’s Story-The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet by Valentina Camerini
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Count Me In by Varsha Bajaj
Teachers and Students Recommend (Grades 7–8)
Charlie Thorn and the Last Equation by Stuart Gibbs
The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman
Long Way Down and Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds
Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
Allies by Alan Gratz
Bloom by Kenneth Oppel
Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
Middle School Classics (Grades 7–8)
Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi Esperanza
Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Award Winners Caldecott Award (illustrations)
Newbery Award (children’s literature)
Nutmeg Award (CT award)
Robert Sibert Award (nonfiction)
Reading Launch to High School - Recommendations
As Easy as Falling off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams China
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
Bless Me Ultima by Rudy Anaya