By Brianna Peterson
As you’re planning your summer camp schedule, it wouldn’t hurt to think about summer reading for your little humans. Cottage weekends, long summer evenings, and extended travel days are all opportunities to sneak in reading to strengthen children’s comprehension and critical thinking skills and – keep them occupied!
With my 9- and 6-year-olds, we always have a longer book that we’re reading together at bedtime, and a range of quicker reads for them whenever they feel like reading during the day. We also have some great audiobooks on the library’s excellent Libby app.
Here are some summertime options your kids might love.
Book series for early readers (4 -to-8 year olds)
As a reward after years of reading Clifford the Big Red Dog and Pete the Cat, these books are a gateway to more kid-friendly reading. These chapter book series include plenty of graphics to ensure visual interest for the wee ones, as well as slightly more complex story arcs than the picture books your kids might be starting to outgrow.
Dragon Masters by Tracey West: This is a 20+ book series that initiated my kids’ love of chapter books. Detailing the adventures of a wizard and five 8-year-old “Dragon Masters,” each with their own personal dragon, these books are an exploration of friendship and adventure.
Mia Mayhem by Kara West: This series stars Mia Macarooney, a seemingly regular 8-year-old, who has some pretty impressive superpowers. There are, at present, 13 different tales to keep your little reader busy.
Henry Hecklebeck by Wanda Coven: Henry is just a normal boy … or is he? Mysterious happenings and magical family members suggest that maybe he’s got something a little special up his sleeves.
Book series for slightly more advanced readers (6-10 year olds)
These are great for kids that are a little older but still need or want to have illustrations to keep them invested in a story.
Geronimo and Thea Stilton: This is actually two different series, authored by, respectively Geronimo Stilton and Thea Stilton, who are … mice from New Mouse City. Full colour pictures and strategically colourful text, combine with madcap adventures to make for addictive reads.
Ivy and Bean by Annie Burrows and Sophie Blackall: Two young girls who couldn’t be more different become unlikely allies and best of friends, as they band together to help get each other out of one interesting pickle after another.
Graphic novels for your readers that love visuals: It’s best to ditch the debate about whether these are considered “books,” and embrace the philosophy that anything that gets your kids reading is great. And, excellent news, there’s a proliferation of fantastic books in this genre:
There are MANY very popular series that my kids have devoured (Dog Man and Cat Kid Comic Club by Dav Pilkey. The Babysitters Club, Wings of Fire).
There are also classics being re-told, and in some cases modernized, in graphic novel format – an opportunity to introduce well-loved stories in a more accessible format:
Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy (a modern Little Women re-telling) by Rey Terciero and Bre Indigo
Anne of Green Gables by Mariah Marsden & Brenna Thummler
The Secret Garden on 81st Street by Ivy Noelle Weir and Amber Padilla
Raina Telgemeier’s books are immensely popular and tackle some of the issues young people encounter in their school and personal lives (Smile, Drama, Guts, Sisters)
Middle school reads
These books can make for an excellent bedtime read along with your kids or audiobooks for a long drive. Alternatively, they can serve as independent reading options for more advanced readers that are ready to let their imaginations do the work in the absence of illustrations.
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall: This book follows the charming exploits of four sisters over the course of one special summer. It is pure delight, with four more Penderwicks books to keep you busy if you fall in love.
Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston: Twelve year old Amari discovers a secret organization that may help her to uncover important mysteries, with the help (or in spite) of magicians, faeries and … aliens? This is a new fantasy series for those who love Harry Potter or Percy Jackson.
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull: A sister and brother find themselves staying with their grandparents on a mysterious magical conservation site – faeries, trolls, witches and ogres lurk where they are least expected. This book is fun, propulsive and not too scary for your adventure-loving little ones.
Code Name Bananas by David Walliams: My 9-year old has devoured all of this author’s books and has proclaimed this one her favourite. It takes place during the Second World War and involves an adventurous boy and his unlikely friendship with a large gorilla. Hijinks ensue.
The Barren Grounds by David Robertson: The publisher describes this one as “Narnia meets traditional indigenous stories.” In an unfinished attic, two indigenous children discover a portal to another world – they go across and discover new friends to join on a dangerous journey.