Summer Reading. These two words incite groans, eye rolls, and shoulder slumps in my students and even in my nine-year-old son. Summer reading may stir up feelings of dread in you as a teacher, as well, because you have to find the right book list that all your students will enjoy. Don’t worry, We have you covered with our 10 Summer Reading List Books.
With the following 10 summer reading list books, students will not only be excited to read this summer but they may just fall in love with reading altogether. Plus, you won’t have to do all the legwork of finding all the right novels.
These books are recommended for upper elementary to middle school students and are books my students have enjoyed the very most over the years. They’re kid-approved!
Frindle by Andrew Clements
Recommended for grades 3-4
Frindle is such a fun read! This novel incorporates the fun of creating a new word, the unexpected aftermath of it, and the obstacle of a stern teacher that just wants the best for the main character, Nick. Students will relate to this novel as Clements does an excellent job portraying the challenges of an elementary student along with the excitement of a child succeeding at a venture.
Is Nick Allen a troublemaker? He really just likes to liven things up at school — and he’s always had plenty of great ideas. When Nick learns some interesting information about how words are created, suddenly he’s got the inspiration for his best plan ever…the frindle. Who says a pen has to be called a pen? Why not call it a frindle? Things begin innocently enough as Nick gets his friends to use the new word. Then other people in town start saying frindle. Soon the school is in an uproar, and Nick has become a local hero. His teacher wants Nick to put an end to all this nonsense, but the funny thing is frindle doesn’t belong to Nick anymore. The new word is spreading across the country, and there’s nothing Nick can do to stop it.
Donavan’s Word Jar by Monalisa DeGross
Recommended for 3rd grade
This novel is recommended for third grade. Along with the theme of finding fun in words, Donavan’s Word Jar shows how intriguing words can be as the main character collects words on slips of paper. Students will be introduced to new vocabulary, and be inspired by Donavan’s love of language. Students will make connections to Donavan’s life as a younger elementary student and truly see the power words can hold.
Donavan Allen doesn’t collect coins, comics, or trading cards like most kids. He collects words—big words, little words, soft words, and silly words. Whenever Donavan finds a new word, he writes it on a slip of paper and puts it in his word jar. But one day, Donavan discovers that his word jar is full. He can’t put any new words in without taking some of the old words out—and he wants to keep all his words. Donavan doesn’t know what to do until a visit to his grandma provides him with the perfect solution.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Recommended for 3rd-5th grades
I haven’t had a student yet not absolutely love this book. This Blume novel is timeless. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing introduces Fudge, the loveable and mischievous little brother of the mature Peter. This book is laugh-out-loud funny and will leave kids appreciating such a light-hearted, comedic read. The best part? If students love this one so much, they’ll be sure to continue reading the next books in the Fudge series by Judy Blume.
Two is a crowd when Peter and his little brother, Fudge, are in the same room. Grown-ups think Fudge is absolutely adorable, but Peter and his pet turtle, Dribble, know the truth. From throwing temper tantrums to smearing mashed potatoes on the wall, Fudge causes mischief wherever he goes! “As a kid, Judy Blume was my favorite author, and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing was my favorite book.”—Jeff Kinney, author of the bestselling Wimpy Kid series.
Lawnboy by Gary Paulsen
Recommended for Grades 3-6
When I think of summertime, I think of this book. What screams summertime more than a boy starting a business to cut lawns? Students will learn all about entrepreneurship, supply and demand, business sense, money, and capitalism. Twelve-year-old Arnold also teaches some heartfelt lessons to the reader in the process. I haven’t met a Gary Paulsen book that students haven’t loved yet.
One day I was 12 years old and broke. Then Grandma gave me Grandpa’s old riding lawnmower. I set out to mow some lawns. More people wanted me to mow their lawns. And more and more. . . . One client was Arnold the stockbroker, who offered to teach me about “the beauty of capitalism. Supply and Demand. Diversify labor. Distribute the wealth.” “Wealth?” I said. “It’s groovy, man,” said Arnold. If I’d known what was coming, I might have climbed on my mower and putted all the way home to hide in my room. But the lawn business grew and grew. So did my profits, which Arnold invested in many things. And one of them was Joey Pow the prizefighter. That’s when my 12th summer got really interesting.
The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies
Recommended for grades 3-5
Another novel that screams summertime is The Lemonade War. Lemonade and summer go hand in hand! This novel is similar to Lawnboy by Gary Paulsen in that entrepreneurship is explored heavily as two siblings have a rivalry to see who can sell the most lemonade in the summertime. This book is the beginning of a series, so students can continue to read if they love this one!
Evan Treski is people-smart. He’s good at talking with people, even grownups. His younger sister Jessie, on the other hand, is math-smart—but not especially good at understanding people. She knows that feelings are her weakest subject. With just five days left of summer vacation, Evan and Jessie launch an all-out war to see who can sell the most lemonade before school starts. As the battleground heats up, there really is no telling who will win—and even more important, if their fight will ever end.
Ways to Make Sunshine: Ryan Hart by Barbara Saunders
Recommended for Grades 4-7
The first book in the Ryan Hart series is about a young girl navigating middle school, obstacles within her family such as her father’s job loss, a new baby, and even a move. Students can connect with Ryan’s realistic struggles and find inspiration in how she faces them. Some readers have likened this book to a modern version of Ramona Quimby. Young girls will especially relate to this as Ryan tries to find sunshine in the rain. Since it’s a series, students can continue reading Ryan Hart books if they loved this one.
Ryan Hart has a lot on her mind–school, self-image, and especially family. Her dad finally has a new job, but money is tight. That means some changes, like selling their second car and moving into a new (old) house. But Ryan is a girl who knows how to make sunshine out of setbacks. As her brother says when he raps about her, she’s got the talent that matters most: it’s a talent that can’t be seen, she’s nice, not mean! Ryan is all about trying to see the best in people, to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good friend. But even if her life isn’t everything she would wish for, when her big brother is infuriating, her parents don’t quite understand, and the unexpected happens, she always finds a way forward, with grace and wit. And plenty of sunshine.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Recommended for Grades 4-8
Tuck Everlasting has a summer setting, intrigue, past and futuristic elements, along with magic. Every one of my students that has read this novel has fallen in love with it. A classic, Tuck Everlasting, explores the idea of living forever, the pros and cons of this lifestyle, and learning how to live a fulfilled life when there is no end.
What if you could live forever? Is eternal life a blessing or a curse? That is what young Winnie Foster must decide when she discovers a spring on her family’s property whose waters grant immortality. Members of the Tuck family, having drunk from the spring, tell Winnie of their experiences watching life go by and never growing older. But then Winnie must decide whether or not to keep the Tucks’ secret―and whether or not to join them on their never-ending journey.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Recommended for 5th-8th grades
My middle schoolers absolutely love the underdog story of Ghost. This is a novel about a boy named Castle (nicknamed Ghost) who has been running from hardships in his life, from his absent father to his unwise decisions at school, and even his life in general. He learns that running isn’t always the best choice. Yet, he becomes an actual sprinter on a track team and learns to channel his energy and fears in a better way.
That’s all Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons—it all started with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun, aiming to kill. Since then, Ghost has been the one causing problems—and running away from them—until he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic Medalist who sees something in Ghost: crazy natural talent. If Ghost can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed, or will his past finally catch up to him?
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Recommended for Grades 5-8
This novel is timeless for a reason. I first read it in 5th grade myself and absolutely loved it. It was a book that I stayed up late finishing under the covers with a flashlight. I’ve spread the love of this book once I became a teacher to my students. It is definitely kid approved. This book has a strong feminine protagonist, adventure, mystery, murder, history, and intrigue. This book will hook even your reluctant readers.
Thirteen-year-old Charlotte Doyle is excited to return home from her school in England to her family in Rhode Island in the summer of 1832. But when the two families she was supposed to travel with mysteriously cancel their trips, Charlotte finds herself the lone passenger on a long sea voyage with a cruel captain and a mutinous crew. Worse yet, soon after stepping aboard the ship, she becomes enmeshed in a conflict between them! What begins as an eagerly anticipated ocean crossing turns into a harrowing journey, where Charlotte gains a villainous enemy… and is put on trial for murder!
City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Recommended for Grades 4-8
This novel centers around a dystopian town that relies heavily on lights to guide its underground city. When children of the community come of a certain age, they are given jobs that they must do and they don’t have much choice in the matter. Lina, the main character, isn’t exactly happy with the vocation that was placed upon her. This book will have the readers guessing as to what secrets lie within the city of Ember and how its main character, Lina, will unlock the mystery that holds Ember together, defying her chosen job and all. This is the first book in a series about Ember. Once readers fall in love with it, they’ll be sure to want to read the rest.
The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to dim. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. Now, she and her friend Doon must race to figure out the clues to keep the lights on. If they succeed, they will have to convince everyone to follow them into danger. But if they fail? The lights will burn out and the darkness will close in forever.
Summer reading shouldn’t incite groans, eye rolls, and shoulder slumps in your students or even in yourself. With this list of 10 summer reading list books of various novels for upper elementary to middle school students, you’ll find something for every one of your kiddos to love. Summer reading will become a season of summer book exploration.
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