Discover more from Reshelving Alexandria
Best Summer Reads for Kids and Teens
Books that literally take place in the summer...
Are you looking for a summer read that actually takes place in the summer? Look no further!
“This was my only and my constant comfort. When I think of it, the picture always rises in my mind, of a summer evening, the boys at play in the churchyard, and I sitting on my bed, reading as if for life.”
— Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
Brambly Hedge Summer by Jill Barklem- The illustrations are so detailed that many families report their teens pouring over the pages on their own time, just looking.
Miss Jaster’s Garden by N.M. Bodecker- This tale of a tiny hedgehog in a pickle is an absolute delight! Find out how Hedgie, mistaken for a plot of land by a nearsighted gardener, ends up being chased down for the flowers growing on his back!
The Raft by Jim LaMarche- A verbose picture book of a boy who is sure a summer at his grandma’s will be a dud until he finds a raft down at the dock and ends up having a beautiful summer with his wise grandma.
Summertime: From Porgy and Bess by DuBose Heyward- Picture books are one of my favorite ways to introduce my kids to older songs. Thanks to this book, all my kids can sing “Summertime” with me years before they’re ready to watch Porgy and Bess.
Interest Level: Kids Ages 6-15
Baby Island by Carol Ryrie Brink- A childhood favorite with staying power, this one finds two young sisters shipwrecked with a small boat full of babies. How will they feed them when the canned milk runs out? Are they truly alone on the island?
Betsy’s Busy Summer by Carolyn Haywood- Betsy and her friends have so much carefree fun and mishaps no matter the season! A great book that works as a stand alone even though its part of a much larger fun series.
Canadian Summer by Hilda van Stockum- (Part of The Mitchells Series) As many families know: if you need a home and none are available, you settle for what you can get and make due. In this case, the “settling” is for a rickety old lake house.
The Emperor’s Riddle by Kat Zhang- Two siblings go home to China with their mom for summer vacation and find themselves embroiled in an ancient treasure hunt (while learning about the local places of historical interest) when their aunt is kidnapped, but no one believes them.
Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit- A lovely group of siblings discover a Psammead and find themselves in one mess after another as all their ensuing wishes hysterically backfire. If you want your kids to go roaming the countryside and to take the baby with them, this book is great inspiration (lol).
Gone-Away Lake By Elizabeth Enright- A classic with an equally charming sequel, this book features nature-loving cousins who befriend a pair of grandparent-aged siblings. They have a delightful summer together as the older joyfully mentor the younger.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis- With head nods to Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which also meet our “set during summer” criteria. Come discover Narnia and you may find you never want to leave! (This is book 1. We will die on this hill: The Chronicles of Narnia should be first read in publication order.)
Medallion by Dawn L. Watkins- The journey to be king is fraught with perils, especially when you’re proud and entitled. Luckily, King Gris is there to mentor young Prince Trave along the way. And the bad guys ride giant lizards. (Book 2 of the Gadallan trilogy, can be read as a standalone)
Midsummer’s Mayhem by Rajani LaRocca- An absolutely delightful middle grade Shakespeare retelling with a perfect balance of humor and incredibly age-appropriate comedic romance. Perfect for anyone who loves baking, eating good food, is a sibling, is navigating a home with two main heritages, or just loves to laugh!
My Own Lightning by Lauren Wolk- A sequel to the Newbery winner Wolf Hollow, this story pairs the need to process past hurts and griefs while finding new discoveries as a way to help with injustices in one’s world. This story is full of real emotions being processed healthily with the support of a loving family.
Prince of Earth by Steven J. Carroll- Book 2 of The Histories of Earth finds Timothy and Barbara thrown into adventures and danger quite unexpected. An incredible audiobook and great series for the whole family on long car trips. Listen to why we think this is The Best Series You Haven’t Read Yet here.
The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit- A mystery of a missing father and the adventures of the children intent on finding him. Also, lots of railway discovery and enjoyment.
The Red Door by Rachel Lulich- A new book releasing this summer from Bandersnatch Books, this dystopian fantasy is a great read aloud and will keep you on the edge of your seat. Would fill the Hopepunk category on our reading challenges too! **Pre-orders open now!**
The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton- Set on the Island in the Middle of Everything, 10-year-old Persimmony Smudge must find a way to convince others, who are content not seeing that the island is inhabited by a sleeping giant, that he must not be woken. Also: spoiled young kings and too much pepper. An excellent read aloud option.
The Runaway Princess by Milly Howard- A hidden princess sets out to claim her throne and learns to trust and have humility along the way. An excellent high/low book. OOP, but used copies are still available.
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome- This book is for every child who has ever dreamed of setting sail to an island with only their siblings (and the full support of their parents) to see what they’re made of. Works as a standalone, but is book one of a beloved series.
Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright- When good things start happening for 9-year-old Garnet immediately after finding a silver thimble, she becomes convinced it’s magical. Will its magic hold long enough for her sweet pig to win at the county fair?
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson- Pirates, buried treasure, and high adventure await! Follow it up with The Muppet Treasure Island for a real treat.
Trini, the Strawberry Girl by Johanna Spyri- One of Amanda’s favorites, Trini tries to support her Grandma by picking strawberries- but that likely won’t be enough. What is to come of their current arrangement?
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson- Meet the Wingfeathers and discover, with them, the truth of their identity and their rightful place in the world. (The Wingfeather Saga book 1 of 4) Now an animated series!
Zao’s Tales by J.A. Sommer- A Charlotte Mason family find themselves on a magical adventure when characters start coming to life out of a book! Unfortunately, they’ve let loose the bad with the good. Will they figure out how to get them all back in before it’s too late? Our wonderful interview with the author can be heard here.
Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk- This is not a simple mystery but instead a powerful story involving abandonment, loss, discovery, and unconditional love. There are plenty of your average mystery tropes (bad guys, digging to find answers, hidden items, danger) but the overall powerful message is one of self-discovery and creates a beautiful story for teens and adults.
Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk- A beautiful Great Depression Era story with a 13 year old heroine who is a highly sensitive person and can feel all the emotions and concerns around her. Will this be just a burden? Or is there a blessing to be found in it too? A beautiful multi-generational cast of strong females. Ambre plans to read this one over and over.
Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl- A delightful science fiction meets medieval knights and dragons. An enchanting epistolary novel that is book 1 of 2 but works as a standalone. Includes romantic complexities that make for great parent-child discussions. Listen to Ambre narrate (without spoilers) in the episode Elevating the Soul Through Fiction.
Evershore (Skyward Flight: Novella Three) by Brandon Sanderson- A novella in the larger Skyward series, Evershore is not an optional read within the larger story; it’s a necessity. The whole series is incredible thus far (book four releases in November, which is a joke because the three novellas are standard book size as well), and amazing on audio.
A Midsummer Night's Dream: Fully Dramatized Audio Edition by William Shakespeare- There’s nothing like reading through a quick Shakespeare play with some friends around a bonfire! If you have no one to read aloud with, then the Folger audiobook is a great stand-in for this summertime classic.