Keep Young Readers Engaged with Books About Summer Adventures
School might be out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean the learning should stop. Childhood literacy is more important than ever. The New York Times reports that a third of young children are behind on reading benchmarks, significantly affected by COVID disruption. Coupled with standard summer learning loss, instilling language and reading comprehension is vital for your child’s success. But how can we get children to engage with books when the summer sun and fun are calling?
Summer comes with heaps of fun activities of almost mythical status—a tree becomes a castle to climb and a sprinkler becomes a waterfall to bask in. Summer activities already feel like a fantasy—a world away from the school year. So, why not translate the wonder of summer into book form? Encourage your child to not only take those summer adventures but read about other kids doing the same. These 10 summer-themed books are sure to bring the sunny season into your family’s home for many summers to come.
Ages 3-6: How to Catch a Mermaid by Adam Wallace
The “How to Catch” book series taught young readers how to catch a monster, tooth fairy, and many other fantastical creatures previously. Go on a journey with your young reader on how to catch a mermaid (and some waves) in this nautical-themed book. The cast of characters goes through various problem-solving solutions to catch the mysterious mermaid—all to be her friend. Along with sun-soaked visuals, the writing features a breezy rhyme scheme. Exposing your child to rhyming early helps with reading competence and language skills, and fun summer reading is the perfect time to start.
Ages 4-8: And Then Comes Summer by Tom Brenner
The simplest joy of summer is the time spent outdoors. This illustrated children’s book focuses on the little joys of summer, from the sound of lawnmowers to the freedom of a bike ride. Brimming with similes and alliteration, it is a great candidate for a bedtime read-aloud on a sizzling summer night. On a recent K12 On Learning podcast episode, Stride Teacher Development Specialist, Ginny Murphy, had this to say: “There is no such thing as a bad read–aloud. You can pick up any book and read that to a child, and that is going to have an impact on their language and their literacy.”
Ages 8-11: National Parks of the USA by Kate Siber
Although summer comes with its fair share of imagination during play, a summer road trip allows kiddos to see magical places in real life. Even if travel is not in the cards, this advanced illustrated book can transport them to 21 national parks across the country. Get your kids familiar with geography and science while learning about the animals and plants native to beautiful natural ecosystems.
Ages 8-12: Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
A 2018 Newbery Medal winner, Hello, Universe, centers around what can transpire in a single summer day. The trouble begins when 11-year-old Filipino American, Virgil, gets trapped in a well. Chapters switch between three additional middle schoolers, including Chet, the bully who got Virgil into this mess. With themes of friendship and bullying, a diverse group of heroes and villains find themselves on a suspenseful mission in the woods. The switching between the four character’s perspectives can boost your child’s reading comprehension with a dynamic literary challenge.
Ages 8-12: When Life Gives You Mangos by Kereen Getten
Summer is a time for adventures in your own backyard, but it’s also beneficial to open your child to where others their age call home. This lyrical read with fun supernatural twists centers on 12-year-old Clara’s childhood in Jamaica. The problem? She can’t remember last summer, and she lost her best friend. Lessons in forgiveness take center stage as the mystery unravels in a tropical paradise.
Ages 8-12: The Summer of Bad Ideas by Kiera Stewart
With the added free-time summer brings, a bucket list to fill the three months may be in order. Spark a sense of adventure with a middle-grade offering all about sunny quests and friendship against the backdrop of the Florida sun and surf. Cousins Edie and Rae stumble on their grandmother’s quirk-filled bucket list with objectives ranging from “discover hidden treasure” to “hug the person you least want to.” Edie must learn to find herself and accept who she is instead of comparing herself to her cool cousin.
Ages 9-12: One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Summer learning loss often focuses on the weakening of math and reading skills, but continued historical education, particularly around racial diversity discussions, is just as important to maintain during vacation. This historical fiction novel and 2011 Newbery Honor medal winner centers on three sisters who spend the summer with their long-lost mother. Set in 1960s California, the sisters learn about the Black Panther movement, along with their own identities and heritage.
Ages 11 and up: Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Witnessing children interact with the joys of summer often forces the adults in their lives to rediscover the childlike magic of summer. This classic chapter book from Ray Bradbury, author of higher-level school reading mainstay Fahrenheit 451 and many science-fiction short stories, tells a tale of whimsy within an unassuming Illinois suburb. Each chapter details the summer shenanigans of 12-year-old Douglas, from the simplistic joy of a new pair of running sneakers to the absurd creation of a “Happiness Machine.”
Ages 12 and up: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Young adult novels continue to get the on-screen adaptation treatment, and The Summer I Turned Pretty is only the latest. After the author Jenny Han’s successful movie adaptation of her To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series, Han’s other summer-themed teen romance trilogy gets its own TV series. This, of course, means it’s the perfect time for teen readers to catch up on the books. As protagonist Isabel transitions to adolescence, she spends her summer like always: at the beach house. But things are different this summer, as her two childhood friends become crushes.
Ages 14 and up: Summer Spirit by Elizabeth Holleville
Reading comprehension isn’t just about words. Being able to understand action and symbolism through imagery is another important skill for expression beyond language. This young adult graphic novel brings summer excitement and an added fantasy flair. The teenager, Louise, goes to her grandmother’s house for the summer; while she is lonely at first, Louise meets another teenager to spend her beach days with. The catch? Her new friend is a 60-year-old ghost. Add a visually unique and spooky book to your teen’s summer reading list for a change of pace.
Check out Stride’s online reading literacy programs and resources, one of the many perks of a Stride K12 school.
Summer reading is a great way to get your child excited for school! Consider enrolling your child in a Stride K12 school and see what we have to offer.
Elisabeth is a current student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism with certificates in Entrepreneurial Management and Writing. She hopes to get a job in creative media telling engaging stories in the future. In her free time, you can find Elisabeth collecting used vinyl and baking!