Tips and Books To Keep Kids Reading This Summer

May 3, 2016

Summer break is almost here!!

This article/list appeared on, as one of my monthly book columns.

Jim Trelease, author of “The Read Aloud Handbook,” and child literacy expert wrote, “The old adage ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it,’ proves true for children who spend a summer without books and reading.”

Without summer reading kids’ learning and thinking skills stagnate or even decrease. A two-year study of 3,000 students in Atlanta, Georgia, showed that “everyone—top student and bottom student—learns more slowly in the summer, but some do worse than slow down; they actually go into reverse.”

Prevent the summer slump with these helpful tips. And see the list below of great books to get the kids reading.

Summer Reading Tips

  1. Set aside time each day for independent reading. Even 10-15 minutes makes a big difference.
  1. Read aloud to kids, even older ones, often.
  1. Listen to audiobooks on those summer road trip—listening counts too.
  1. Visit your local library. Most have fun, interactive summer reading programs to help kids stay engaged.
  1. Go to the bookstore or used bookstore and allow kids to own books. Children’s books can be found at used bookstores for around or under a dollar. Libraries also have used book sales.
  1. Be an example! The research shows over and over that kids are better readers when they have a good example in the home.

Picture Books (ages 3-8)


  1. “Are We There Yet?” by Dan Santat

Brand new for summer from Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat comes the ultimate road trip read. This road trip goes from boring to incredible in crazy illustrations (some are even up-side-down) and rollicking adventures.


  1. “Good Morning Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Wake Up Story” by Mariam Gates and illustrated Sarah Jane Hinder

Help kids greet the day with a little reading, a little movement, and a little positive thought. This adorable book by kid yoga expert Mariam Gates is fabulously interactive, sweetly written, and beautifully illustrated.

Early Chapter Books (ages 8-12)


  1. “Lulu’s Mysterious Mission” by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Kevin Cornell

Beloved children’s author, Judith Viorst, offers loads of laughs and crazy adventures in the Lulu series. In this installment, Lulu’s parents go on vacation without her, leaving her with a formidable babysitter. But Lulu has all kinds of crazy schemes to get them back.


  1. “Who Was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart?” by Yona Zeldis McDonough and illustrated by Carrie Robbins

This fantastic series of nonfiction chapter books is perfect for the curious little mind. Learn all about favorite people, places, and events, with so many books to choose from. This fun biography of one of music’s greats is full of interesting facts and stories.

Middle Grade Books (ages 12-15)


  1. “Smile” by Raina Telgemier

Life as a sixth grader can be rough, especially when you fall, knock your front teeth out, and have to endure braces, headgear, surgery and all the embarrassment that comes with it. “The New York Times” bestselling author, Raina Telgemeier offers an engaging story told in comic book format.


  1. “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster

First published in 1961, this adventure story is still a kid favorite. Milo thinks everything is a big bore. When a mysterious car and tollbooth appear in his room he sets off into a land of quirky characters, whimsical encounters, humorous dialogue, and subtle life lessons. An unforgettable childhood read.

Teen Books (ages 15-18)


  1. “An Uncertain Choice” by Jody Hedlund

“An Uncertain Choice” is the story of Lady Rosemarie whose parents made a promise at her birth that on her 18th birthday she’d become a nun. A month before her birthday it’s discovered that in her parents’ will there is a way out. If she can marry before she’s 18 then she escapes the vow. But when three noble, handsome knights start competing for her affection, things get complicated.

Content note: Clean


  1. “Code Talker” by Joseph Bruchac

World War II is in full swing. When the United States Marine Corps enlists the help of the Navajos, 16 year-old Ned Begay lies about his age and enlists. Soon he finds himself embedded in a secret mission as a code talker. Sending crucial messages in his native language, Ned faces brutal fighting in the Pacific, and dangers he never imagined. A thoughtful, memorable historical fiction read.

Content note: Moderate war violence


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    10 Books for the Last Weeks of Summer – Teri harman

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