We love books! The classics and new books. We’ve shared all kinds of amazing booklists for kids over the years. What we haven’t shared is a collection of summer chapter books for kids.
We’ve shared amazing summer story writing prompts, but one of the best ways to spark a young reader’s imagination is to get them reading. So, we’ve pulled together our absolute favourite summer chapter books for kids to read.
Great Summer Chapter Books for Kids
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and And A Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall – (9-12 yr old) Here’s a classic summer book for kids. All the nostalgia rolls out on every single page. In the first book of the Penderwick series, the 4 sisters venture to a beautiful estate, Arundel. Their adventures include rabbits, exploring the grounds and the discovery of a curious boy. What adventures will this pod of kids get up to in the summertime?
We’ll Always Have Summer (The Summer I Turned Pretty) by Jenny Hann – (12 yr old+) Here’s a terrific summer series for older tweens and early teens. Love is complicated, especially when you think you love two boys…who happen to be brothers. This book, and this series, explores young relationships in a sweet manner. Readers will be laughing and crying along with Belly as she sorts through her feelings.
Half Magic (Tales of Magic) by Edward Eager – (9-12 yr old) I think every kid has felt the way Jane feels – summer has been terribly boring and she wishes something exciting would happen. Sometimes if you wish on a magic coin you actually get what you wished for! This classic novel is celebrating 50 years since its first publication and it still captivates young readers.
Shouting at the Rain by Linda Mullaly Hunt – (10 yr old+) Delsie moves in with her devoted grandmother in Cape Cod. She must navigate the difficult ending of a close friendship, come to terms with her mother’s issues and figure out how to forge a new path in this new place. Fortunately, Delsie finds a solid friend in Ronan and the two spend the summer getting to know each other and building a deeper understanding of what is really important in life.
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol – (10 yr old+) Vera, a Russian immigrant, is having a hard time “fitting in” with the cool kids at school. She convinces her parents to send her and her brother to summer camp because all the cool kids go to summer camp. However, Vera is sent to a summer camp run by her Russian Orthodox church and it isn’t living up to her summer camp dreams. Over the course of her time at camp, Vera will learn all about camping, the great outdoors, being a pubescent girl and she’ll learn a thing or two about why sometimes it’s okay to stand out and not fit in with the cool kids. A great coming-of-age graphic novel with compelling illustrations.
Look Out for the Fitzgerald Trouts by Esta Spalding (8-12 yr old) While this story doesn’t specifically take place in the summertime, it feels like a summer story. The Fitzgerald Trout kids are parentless, living in a car on a pacific island…they are taking care of each other as best they can. While their irresponsible parents are unable to care for them, these kids learn how to take care of themselves through their silly adventures. While it seems like this could be a sad story, it is in fact a funny book about the many shapes that a family can take.
Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright (8-12 yr old) This book reminded me of my childhood summers spent at my grandparents’ house. Portia spends the summer with her cousin, Julian and they make a mysterious discovery. An abandoned town and a dried-up lake. What happened to this place? Follow along as Portia and Julian uncover the truth about Gone-Away Lake.
Summerhouse Time by Eileen Spinelli (8-10 yr old) Wouldn’t you love to visit a summerhouse every August, with your cousins? Sounds like a dream. Sophie looks forward to her time at the summerhouse and her time shared with her older cousin, Colleen. But, this year Colleen is standoffish – she’s growing up and dealing with her own issues. Sophie spends her time at the summerhouse confused over Colleen’s rejection of her, understanding her feelings for a boy and dealing with her father’s failing health. It’s anything but a “normal” August at the summerhouse. An easy read for early chapter book readers.
The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies (8-12 yr old) The Lemonade is all about schoolyard politics and sibling rivalry. A quick read, The Lemonade War kicks off a fun series of books about the battle between Evan and Jessie – siblings with different strengths and weaknesses. The book is filled with math and business language, which adds to its engaging storyline. Kids are going to want to read all the books in this fun series.
Fish Finelli (Book 1) Seagulls Don’t Eat Pickles by ES Farber (8-10 yr old) Okay, who is up for a silly summer adventure? Best friends Fish, J.T and Roger set out to find a mysterious treasure, and win a bet against their town’s bully. Readers follow along with all the antics and bumbling incidents that these boys get themselves into. Fun kick-off to Fish Finelli’s book series.
Cody and the Fountain of Happiness by Tricia Springstubb (8-10 yr old) Here we have another easy summer read for kids. Meet Cody, her family and friends and delight in her summer adventures. Cody is an animal lover, who may be able to communicate with animals! While she thinks that it is going to be a boring summer (summer camp has been cancelled) it actually ends up being a pretty interesting summer for Cody and her friends.
First Class Murder (Wells and Wong Mystery) by Robin Stevens What happens when you combine Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie? You have a Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells mystery. These two school-aged girls always seem to find themselves wrapped in some sort of murder mystery. It’s no surprise that when they take a trip on the infamous Orient Express they are yet again in the middle of a murder mystery investigation. The Wells and Wong mystery series is super engaging for readers due to the stories, but also due to the characters and their relationship. I won’t give away the plotline, I’ll only say that these girls are going to have to work hard to solve this one.
Rescue at Lake Wild by Terry Lynn Johnson (8-12 yr old) Here is the perfect book for the young animal lover or environmentalist in your life. Madi is always rescuing animals…many, many animals. When she decides to rescue two beaver kits, Madi might be in over her head. She has to figure out how to care for beavers! Madi won’t be deterred and is determined to discover what led to the death of the beaver kits’ parents and what or who is threatening the Lake Wild ecosystem. Madi and her friends’ story is humorous and heartfelt – the perfect summer read for kids.
The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle by Christina Uss (8-12 yr old) If your name is Bicycle you are bound to grow up riding a bike…everyday! Bicycle is an orphan living among adults at the Mostly Silent Monastery. When Sister Wanda insists that Bicycle attend summer camp and meet some kids her age, Bicycle sets off on a cross-country bike adventure. Determined to meet her cycling idol, Bicycle stops at nothing to travel from the east coast to the west. She meets an amazing cast of characters on her trip and learns a whole lot about life along the way.
Camp by Kayla Miller (10-12 yr old) If you have a first-time summer camp kid in your house, then Camp is a great book for them to read. When Willow and Olive head to summer camp they have grand dreams of how awesome it is going to be. Will camp live up to their expectations? Will their friendship be able to handle the stresses that present themselves over the course of the summer? Love the illustrations in this camp graphic novel.
Shirley and Jamila Save their Summer Camp by Gillian Goerz (10-12 yr old) Here is a great summer chapter book for kids who are trying to find their place in a new neighbourhood. Jamila has moved to a new house and she thinks her summer is going to be super boring and lonely. However, she meets Shirley and they get themselves wrapped in the mystery of Oliver’s missing gecko! Do they have the detective skills to solve this mystery…possibly!
Forget me Not Summer by Leila Howland (10-12 yr old) What happens when 3 sisters from the BIG city (LA) spend their summer in a very small town, with their favourite Aunt? Marigold, Zinnia and Lilly have an unforgettable summer. Yes, they have to adjust to the new pace of the city. And, they have to find ways to get along with each other. But, by end of their summer vacation, they’ve made new friendships and have strengthened their sister bonds. Great for fans of The Penderwicks.
The Brightest Stars of Summer by Leila Howland (10-12 yr old) Here’s another book about the summer adventures of Marigold, Zinnia and Lilly. This summer in Cape Cod is all about exploring first crushes and their Aunt is planning her wedding and love is definitely in the air. But, we all know how heartache can totally exist when love is on the line. How will the sisters navigate all of these big emotions?
The Distance to Home by Jenn Bishop (9-12 yr old) This one touches on the difficulties of grief. Quinnen doesn’t know how she is going to get through this summer since the sudden death of her sister Haley. In fact, Quinnen is thinking she doesn’t even want to play baseball this summer…her favourite sport. But, maybe the support of her teammates is just what Quinnen needs.
Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm (9-12 yr old) Readers may think this book is going to be a straightforward story of Sunny spending her summer in Florida with her grandfather, but it isn’t that straightforward. Sunny’s grandfather lives in a community that is filled with older people and she couldn’t be happier to find Oliver, a kid her own age. But, this book is about more than summer adventures. It’s about the uncovering of family secrets and facing drug addictions. A wonderful graphic novel that opens the conversation around addiction and secrets with young readers.
The Thing About Gold Fish by Ali Benjamin (10 yr old+) Franny and Suzy’s relationship is going through the usual turbulence of middle school. Sadly, Franny drowns in the summer, while she and Suzy aren’t speaking and Suzy is at a loss. How could her friend, who is a strong swimmer, drown? Suzy becomes fixated on the belief that Franny must have been stung by a rare jellyfish. This is a beautifully written book and it will bring a tear to your eye. Suzy is consumed with grief and must come to terms with the truth behind her friend’s death and find a way to move forward without her.
Summer and July by Paul Mosier (10 yr old+) Summer friendships can be so complicated, especially when you’re in your early teens. When Juliet meets Summer she could not possibly have known the impact they will have on each other’s lives. A funny and thoughtful exploration of young friendships that flourish during the summer.
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (10 yr old+) One Crazy Summer may take place in the 1960s, but the story is relevant today. Delphine might be 11 years old, but she must take on the role of mother to her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. Their mother lives on the west coast and one summer she brings them to live with her. The girls are sent to a “camp” run by the Black Panthers organization. The girls and readers learn about the Black Panthers and learn about a difficult part of America’s history and the toll it took on Black women and children. A truly enlightening summer story for kids of all ages.
Summer of Lost and Found by Rebecca Beherns (10-12 yr old) When Nell’s mom unexpectedly changes their summer plans, Nell is not impressed. What fun can be had in Roanoke Island…without her all of her friends and without her dad!? When Nell meets Ambrose she discovers the mystery of the lost colony and she dives into the history of Roanoke Island. Over the course of her summer investigations, Nell will learn more about the missing colony and more about her own family too.
Now, for the hard part…which one will you read first?!
Looking for more books for kids to read this summer? Check out these chapter books that connect kids with nature.
Once you’ve read the book, it’s time to watch the movie! Check out all of these great books that have been made into movies
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