Familiar with the term “summer slide”? It’s not something you’ll find at a playground. It’s what teachers know happens to their students’ academic progress during three months of vacation. Motivate your kids with great summer reads. But remember, kids don’t need just any book. They need the right book list. A book list that matches their reading skill level and is exciting enough summer reads to compete with the video games, iPads, apps, phones and daily digital distractions.

Best kids summer reads book list for 2018.

The best summer reads for kids 5 – 14, for 2018. photo credit: Andrea Guthmann/ Midwest Traveling Mom

I admit it: I was a book nerd growing up. I spent summers hanging out at my local library doing summer reading challenges, collecting points that I could then turn in for trinkets. No one needed to motivate me with a book list. But what if your child is a reluctant reader? We all know how important it is to keep our kids reading over the summer. Studies show that when kids don’t read over the summer, they lose some of their reading skills.

TMOM to the rescue! Check out this wide range of summer reads to keep your child engaged in reading and ready for school in the fall. Here’s to a summer of first-rate reading adventures!

Book Lists

Ages 5 – 8

Best summer read for tech-lovers.

published by Henry Holt & Co.


Who Says Women Can’t Be Computer Programmers? by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
Got a kid who loves to talk tech? Teach them the history of a groundbreaking coder, Ada Lovelace, daughter of British poet, Lord Byron. Darling drawings detail how Ada combined her mathematical brain with the imagination of a poet, in the Analytical Engine, the 1800’s version of a computer.
published by Henry Holt & Company


This is a great summer read introducing young kids to challenges around imagination.

published by Dial Books for Young Readers

Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation by Edwidge Danticat, illustrations by Leslie Staub
A children’s book by National Book Award-winning Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat. Her novels have told the poignant and painful story of migration. This colorful book tells the touching tale of a family torn apart after the mother is placed in an immigration detention center. Don’t despair. This is an uplifting story with a happy ending, completely appropriate for children.

published by Dial Books for Young Readers

Best Summer Reads for Long Flights (5-8)

My bag of tricks for flying include books to read together, activity/coloring books and fully charged electronics. I save the electronics for after we’ve exhausted the first two options. The next two books spark discussion, a good thing when you’ve hours to kill on a flight. I like to think of airline travel as a chance for my child to have my undivided attention. These books help you and your child discuss how kindness matters and what character traits make someone a genuine hero. Hopefully these books and talks will help inspire them to be role models themselves!

A great summer read about the power of kindness.

published by Roaring Book Press

Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jen Hill
Looking for a book that encourages kindness and empathy? Page after page of delightful drawings provide easy-to-understand examples of the golden rule. “Mom always says ‘Be Kind’, But what does it mean to be kind?” This book models how simple acts of thoughtfulness can make the world a better place. It shows the impact of your actions on friends, family and classmates, and how your behavior can ripple out to affect total strangers.
published by Roaring Book Press

A series of great summer read about inspiring heroes.

published by Dial Books for Young Readers

Ordinary People Change the World by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
History’s heroes come to life in this biography series with fun illustrations and easy-to-understand language. Kids get to learn about role models from Rosa Parks to Albert Einstein, Ghandi to Sacagawea.
published by Dial Books for Young Readers

Ages 9-13

Summer Read to Send Along with a Kid Visiting Relatives

A great summer read for someone spending the summer away with a relative.

published by Dial Books for Young Readers

Tumble and Blue by Cassie Beasley

This is on the New York Times notable children’s book list of 2017. A boy is spending the summer at his Granny’s house in rural Georgia (home to the author as well). While there he befriends a local girl. Together they find out about the legend of a family curse and try to escape it by taking destiny into their own hands. It’s a lively fantasy set mostly in the alligator-ingested, Okefenokee swamp.

published by Dial Books for Young Readers

Summer Read for a Staycation

Great summer read for kids who are staying home all summer.

published by Algonquin Young Readers



Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth
Ok, so maybe you’re not taking your kids to Tibet this summer. But they can experience life in the Himalayan Mountains in this adventurous tale of survival. 12-year-old Tash embarks on an incredible journey with her best friend, Sam, encountering Chinese soldiers and the Dalai Lama. It’s a great opportunity for kids spending the summer at home to escape to a part of the world they’re probably not all that familiar with.
published by Algonquin Young Readers

Summer Read for a Road Trip of Historic Sites

A great summer read for a history-loving kid.

published by Algonquin Young Readers

Catch You Later, Traitor by Avi
It’s 1951, and 12-year-old Pete finds his Dad, a history professor, coming under suspicion for his liberal opinions. Set in the height of the McCarthy era, this book includes historically accurate details about what life was like in America during the Cold War. The book will likely spark some discussions about communism, free speech and a multitude of other political issues. The book does a good job of presenting the issues the country was facing, without taking strong opinions on them. That is left up to parents to discuss with their kids.

published by Algonquin Young Readers

Summer Read for Graphic Novel Lovers

a great summer read for graphic-loving kids.

published Dial Books for Young Readers

All’s Faire in Middle School written, illustrated by Victoria Jamieson  

Middle school… it’s complicated. On the American Library Association’s 2018 notable book list, this graphic novel explores the ups and downs of middle school friendship. Written and illustrated by the author of the wildly popular Roller Girl. Perfect for kids who love graphic novels, especially girls, given that there’s a female protagonist.
published Dial Books for Young Readers

Summer Read for Sports Enthusiasts

A great summer read for a sports-loving kid.

published by Algonquin Young Readers

Hit Count by Chris Lynch
Youth football seems to be in a downward spiral. Parents are increasingly taking a pass on the sport. Some areas have seen a twenty percent decline in kids playing tackle football over the last decade. In Hit Count, protagonist Arlo Brodie loves the Friday night tradition, as does his Dad. His mom, however, is quoting head collision statistics and news headlines. Is it game over for Arlo? A great read for sports-loving kids.
published by Algonquin Young Readers

Best for Fantasy Loving Kids

Best summer read for a fantasy-loving kid.

Fantasy loving kids will be enchanted by this Newberry award winner. Algonquin Young Readers

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
The winner of the 2017 Newberry Medal, this fantasy novel is receiving wide acclaim. There’s a strong female protagonist, named Luna, along with dragons, monsters, magic and sorcery. Perfect for a fantasy-loving middle schooler.
published by Algonquin Young Readers

Hope you have a great summer with this book list and with your kids. Have any favorite summer reads you think should have made the book list? We’d love to hear about them!

A summer reads book list for kids age 5-14.

A book list that will make reading fun for elementary and middle school kids.