Summer reading: updated book list for kids

Vincent Van Gogh, Still Life with Three Books, 1887

Only two weeks (!) of school to go for my kids. I'm starting to plot our summer plans and a big part of that is summer reading. Awhile back we collectively came up with a list of favorite children's books that I'm re-posting, with lots of updates. 

As you add your comments I will incorporate your recommendations into the list. (Please tell me what category you think the books you add should fall in.) And since my oldest is 11, I'm especially looking for ideas for him - he's at that awkward not-quite-a-teen-not quite-a-little-kid juncture. Any favorites appreciated!

{List after the jump - it is long!}

Classics (or should be so considered, in my opinion)

Usborne's Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare (the illustrations in this are so lovely)

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series, by Betty Macdonald 

Mary Poppins, by P.L. Travers

Ginger Pye, by Eleanor Estes
The Moffats

Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling

Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell

The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame

The House on Pooh Corner, by A.A. Milne

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz series, by L. Frank Baum

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lingren

Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White
Stuart Little
Trumpet of the Swan

Henry and Ribsy, by Beverly Cleary
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Ramona series

The Penderwicks, by Jeanne Birdsall (I LOVE these books)
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodson Burnett
A Little Princess

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

Little House in the Big Woods and series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Cheaper by the Dozen, by Frank B. Gilbreth, Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

Mandy, by Julie Andrews (this one is a gem for little girls)

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, by Ian Fleming

Mr. Popper's Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atkins

The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Cricket in Times Square, by George Selden

Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls
Summer of the Monkeys

Five Little Peppers and How they Grew, by Margaret Sidney

Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh

Poppy, by Avi

The 13 Clocks, by James Thurber

Betsy-Tacy, by Maud Hart Lovelace

Shoes series, by Noel Streatfield

Shel Silverstein (poetry)

Lost Queen of Egypt, by Lucile Morrison

Roxie and the Hooligans, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, by Jaqueline Kelly (another new one that I loved)

Gone-Away Lake and Return to Gone-Away, by Elizabeth Enright

My Father's Dragon series, by Ruth Stiles Gannett

Clarice Bean series, by Lauren Child

Anything Louis Sachar

Anything Judith Viorst

My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George


From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg

The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Nancy Drew series, by Carolyn Keene

The Hardy Boys series, by Franklin W. Dixon

The American Girls Series


The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM, by Robert C. O'Brien

The Book of Three and series, by Lloyd Alexander

The Giver, and series, (any really anything) by Lois Lowry

The Return of the Twelves, by Pauline Clarke

Five Children, by E. Nesbit
It, by E. Nesbit

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
James and the Giant Peach
The Twits
The Witches
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Danny, Champion of the World

The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norman Jester

The Spiderwick Chronicles, by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

The Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale
The Goose Girl (and series)

The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo
The Mysterious Journey of Edward Tulane

The Mysterious Benedict Society series, by Trenton Lee Stuart

Dragon Slipper Series, by Jessica Day George
Princess of the Midnight Ball

City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau
People of Sparks

Emily Windsnap series, by Liz Kessler

Guardians of Ga'Hoole series, by Kathryn Lasky

Gregor the Underlander series, by Suzanne Collins


Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Judy Blume

Goosebumps Series, R.L. Stine

The Willoughbys, by Lois Lowry (I thought this book was funny but my kids were totally creeped out)
Anastasia Krupnik series
Goonie Bird Greene

Bunnicula series, by James Howe

Historical Fiction

Ben and Me: An astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by his good mouse Amos, by Robert Lawson (this was one of my favorites when I was little)

Mr. Revere and I: Being an Account of certain episodes in the Career of Paul Revere, Esq, as revealed by his horse, by Robert Lawson

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin

A Long Way from Chicago, Richard Peck

The Great Brain series, by John Dennis Fitzgerald

Magic Treehouse Books, by Mary Pope Osborne

Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George

The Wheel on the School, by Meindert deJong

Red Sails to Capri, by Ann Weil

Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry

Royal Diaries series (varied authors)

Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse

The Watsons go to Birmingham - 1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis

Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan

Al Capone Does my Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko
Al Capone Shines my Shoes

Misty of Chincoteague series, by Marguerite Henry


Horrible Histories series by Terry Deary (We are huge fans of these. Very Monty Python-esque humor and they pick up a surprising amount of actual facts)

History of the World: History for the Classical Child (vols. 1-3) (accompanying activity books are super fun), by Susan Wise Bauer

Anything by the brilliant David MacAuley (Richly done. Topics include the human body, castles, pyramids, etc.)

For Older Kids

Anne of Green Gables series; Emily of New Moon series, by L.M. Montgomery (and anything else by her)

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

Girl of the Limberlost, by Gene Stratton Porter

Diary of Anne Frank

My Friend Flicka, by Maureen O'Hara

Jacob Have I Loved, by Katherine Patterson

Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling

Artemis Fowl series, by Eoin Colfer

The View From Saturday, by E.L. Konigsburg

The Egypt Game, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli

Frindle, by Andrew Clements

Nation, by Terry Pratchett

A Wrinkle in Time and series, by Madeline L'Engle
if you like these, try:
When you Reach me, by Rebecca Stead (heavily references A Wrinkle in Time and won the Newberry)

Dark is Rising series, by Susan Cooper

Percy Jackson series, by Rick Riordan
Red Pyramid series

Fablehaven series, Brandon Mull
Beyonders series, Brandon Mull

Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliett
Wright 3
The Calder Game

Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson
Fever 1793

Entwined, by Heather Dixon

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast, by Robin McKinley

The Red Necklace, by Sally Gardner

The Wind Singer series, by William Nicholson

Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain

The Hobbit, by J.R. Tolkein

The Hunger Games series, by Suzanne Collins (maybe read first to decide when your child is ready for these - pretty violent, but with an overall anti-violence message)


Stephanie said...

Thank you for the wonderful list! I am printing it out to have handy for our long summer ahead.

It's hard to improve on this list, but I do have a suggestion for your boy (& for all the girls out there too!). My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George was one of my all-time favorite books growing up. It's about a boy who escapes the city to live alone in the wilderness. He survives with only a few simple tools, his wits & resourcefulness. He makes his home in a hollow tree, pounds acorns into flour & such. One of the best books out there that I know about.

Unknown said...

Oh! I have never read that one and it sounds perfect for my kids. Thank you so much! I will add right now!

Silcox Stories said...

We just started talking about summer plans yesterday and we too have big plans to read a lot. D has finally caughtt he reading bug, his current favorite series is Guardians of Ga'Hoole. I haven't read them yet, but they come highly recommended by our favorite 2nd grade teacher.

Thanks for the list;perfec timing!

Kathy said...

Suzanne Collins wrote an earlier series before The Hunger Games aimed at slightly younger readers. I don't remember all the titles but it's the Gregor the Overlander series. Really good, smart fantasy books that take place in a well-developed underground world. My kids read them when they were around 8-10 years old and loved them.

Lucky Duck Dreams said...

What a great list. I have two series for you to add. Classic stories that I loved about children using their imagination in play(no video games or tv). I wanted to be the Melendy children in Elizabeth Enrights The Saturdays, The Four Story Mistake, & Then there were Five. Noel Streatfield's Shoe books series were also about discovering family, your strengths and your talents.

melissa said...

I can't believe your kids are almost out of school. In England, it's been so wet and rainy that it feels like February. Our kids still have two months of school left! I like the list: I'll think about some ideas.

chris said...

Wahoo! I love your book lists. :)

Barbara said...

He'd probably love the Secret Seven books by Enid Blyton, category would be Mystery. They are perfect for your DS11's age. She wrote a LOT of great children's books though. The Cherry Tree Farm and Willow Tree Farm books would be good too if he has any interest in animals.

Unknown said...

I love The Last of The Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards. It would be under fantasy/sci-fi. Great list, as always:)

Liz R. said...

for the 11 yr old... i really loved the tennis shoes among the nephites books by chris heimerdinger. just fun scripture-story-related fiction.

Anonymous said...

For your son, I would recommend the Tripod Trilogy by John Christopher. I do not have sons, but I do remember my 5th or 6th grade teacher reading these to us in school - I was a young girl, not particularly interested in reading, and certainly not a science fiction fan, but I remember being totally enthralled with these books. My dad read them along with me and that was really special. I think about those books now and can't wait till my son is old enough to read them - I hope they are as good as I recall!
The Hunger Games may be a little gory for him right now, but these may interest him!

An Art Nest said...

Love the updated list - thanks! You inspired me to encourage a laid back reading program for my children this summer. My 8 year old son started with 'The Mouse and the Motorcycle'. Last night (I think it was nearly 11pm) I hear him yell "LAST CHAPTER"!
This morning he filled out a simple book report form that I printed from the internet. It made me happy!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the great list! We like "The Happy Orpheline," by Natalie Savage Carlson. I think there are more in the series, about a charming group of French orphans. It would appeal to boys and girls alike, anywhere from age 5 to maybe 11.

Anonymous said...

the redwall series

AngryBaker said...

A brand new one that I would add is Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes (fantasy) by Jonathan Auxier. My son and I just met the author at our local library last week and not only was he incredibly engaging and interesting, I left wanting to read the book to everyone I know. We're all fighting over our one copy.....

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CMN said...

For older kids (9+), I recommend Alcatraz Smedry and the Evil Librarians. It's awesome and laugh out loud funny! Who knew that there was an evil conspiracy of librarians?? ;)

Anonymous said...

Try Scullduggery Pleasant, by Derek Landy.( There is a whole series)
They are a violent but no worse than the last Harry Potter novels. And they are funny. Lots of humour.

Deborah said...

The 39 clues series is great for kid who want to read bigger books, but are quite ready for a really big one. Tuesday at the Castle was great book to read with my kids about a castle that changed it's walls and staircases to aid it's prince and princesses in defending their throne.

Anonymous said...

New one for middle-graders, especially boys: WONDER by R. J. Palacio....so, so good! All about kindness..done in a vey cool way.

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