Teachers often warn of the dreaded summer slide – the decline in reading ability and other academic skills that can occur over the summer months, when school is not in session. Just 20 minutes of reading a day will help your child retain his or her reading skills, and these new books released this year are just the thing to capture young imaginations.


If you have a younger child who is able to read independently, try stirring in a dose of summer fun by having him or her read aloud to a pet, younger sibling or favorite stuffed animal. Create a special summertime cozy reading nook for any age reader to encourage spending time with a good book. And don’t forget to model reading yourself. When your child sees you enjoying a good book, you’re demonstrating that taking time out to read is a pleasure!


Tip: To create a positive reading experience and to keep motivation high, choose books that are at your child’s reading level.


Young Readers – Picture Books

  1. Dragons Are Real! by Holly Hatam. This delightful board book gives babies and toddlers a glimpse into the magical world of dragons. The bright, colorful images and whimsical text will keep the youngest of readers engaged.
  2. Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry. Hair Love is the story of a little girl whose hair has a mind of its own. When Daddy tries to style it for a special occasion, he realizes he has a lot to learn! This book celebrates all daddies and daughters with a story about loving your natural hair.
  3. A Piglet Named Mercy by Kate DiCamillo. Two-time Newbery Medal winner Kate DiCamillo tells the story of an irrepressible pig and how she came to be a part of the Watson family. This cute and humorous prequel will leave you wanting to read more of the Mercy Watson series.
  4. Harold & Hog Pretend for Real! by Dan Santat and Mo Willems. Fans of Willems’ popular Elephant and Piggie books will enjoy this tale of Harold and Hog, two best friends pretending to be Elephant and Piggie. Only there’s a twist: their personalities are the opposite of Elephant and Piggie’s.
  5. There are No Bears in this Bakery by Julia Sarcone-Roach. This entertaining story about a hungry bear cub and a tough detective cat named Muffin follows their nighttime raid on a bakery case to dispel the bear’s tummy rumbles. All ends well for them, but not for the surprised bakery owner!

Readers Aged 8 and Older

  1. Katt vs. Dogg by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein. Natural enemies, Molly the Katt and Oscar the Dogg must learn to rely on each other when they get lost in the woods. Subtle messages about prejudices, and the harm they can cause, make this read both funny and profound.
  2. Max and the Midknights by Lincoln Peirce. Set in the Middle Ages, this book is a funny, quick read with many lessons about kindness and bravery.
  3. New Kid by Jerry Craft. This graphic novel follows the adjustment of an African American boy who moves from his local public school to a private, mostly white middle school. New Kid is a funny read, but kids will also gain empathy or validation.
  4. The Strangers: Greystone Secrets, Book 1 by Margaret Peterson Haddix. In this clever sci-fi book, the Greystone siblings discover a mysterious passageway beneath their house and work together to find their missing mom.
  5. The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu. Identical, inseparable 11-year-old twin sisters learn they will be separated for the first time when they start fifth grade. And when an unusual antique store opens nearby, strange things begin to occur. Magic, friendship, teamwork and family play strong roles.

Middle School Readers

  1. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga. A beautifully written novel about Jude, a young girl who must leave Syria to move to the U.S. with her mother, leaving her older brother and father behind.
  2. Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Delsie, who has always lived with her Grammy, navigates feelings of being abandoned – first by her mother when she was a baby, and now by her best friend.
  3. Just Jaime by Terri Libenson. Seventh grade best friends, Jaime and Maya, are navigating the bumps of being part of the popular group – a group which seems to be leaving Jaime behind.
  4. A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée. Twelve-year-old Shayla always follows the rules, but when a police officer is acquitted for shooting a black man, Shayla decides that some things are worth getting in trouble for in this story about friendship and standing up for one’s beliefs.
  5. Way of the Warrior Kid 3: Where There’s a Will… by Jocko Willink. Marc faces the same challenges that every kid faces: bullies, tough times at school, insecurities and more. Lucky for Marc, his Navy SEAL Uncle Jake visits each summer and teaches Marc – and readers – how to turn problems into opportunities.


Alison Bogle is an Austin-based freelance writer and mom of three.

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