With school ending for the summer, it can seem difficult to motivate your kids to keep reading. As a diehard book nerd, I have provided you with some recommendations that are enjoyable enough to keep kids reading all summer long. I’ve broken these down into age groups based on their reading difficulty and content. That being said, these are merely guidelines and do not have to be strictly adhered to: the Illuminae Files is one of my favourite series and I am twenty-one. If you are curious about what specific material restricts these books to certain age groups, check out Common Sense Media’s website where you can search books and movies to find out what mature content they contain.
Under 5 years
How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? (Jane Yolen): This is an excellent choice for parents and their children to read together before bed. It features a few simple lines on each page about parents who are trying to put their young dinosaurs to bed. Full of humour and beautiful illustrations, this is sure to become a favourite. There are also other books in this “How Do Dinosaurs…” series that explore other elements of everyday life, such as “How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read” and “How Do Dinosaurs Go to School.”
Do Frogs Drink Hot Chocolate (Etta Kaner): This book is perfect for inquisitive children who want to know how the world works. With fun illustrations and silly questions that hook readers in, this book teaches children about how animals keep warm in the winter.
I Have the Right to Be a Child (Alain Serres): This book simplifies the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into digestible and kid friendly language that is accompanied by gorgeous illustrations. It is the perfect place to start a dialogue with your child about what rights they have, and that some children around the world may face different barriers to accessing these rights.
Geronimo Stilton (Elisabetta Dami): This is a book series that I loved when I was a child and is still flourishing today. Starring a mild-mannered mouse journalist who keeps finding himself engaged in crazy adventures, these books feature engaging stories, bold colourful text and stunning illustrations that entertain even those easily distracted readers.
A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle): This beloved children’s book has recently been adapted into a breathtaking Disney movie that stars Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon. After a stranger shows up at her house one night, Meg, her brother Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin, are thrust into an adventure to save Meg’s father and potentially the entire universe. This book features themes of self-acceptance, love as well as the power family and friends.
Keeper of the Lost Cities (Shannon Messenger): For fans of Harry Potter, this series features twelve-year-old Sophie who discovers she has magical abilities and is thrust into a world unlike any other. Even though this book is aimed at younger audiences, it features some complex themes and messages in a way that is still accessible and enjoyable for children. If your child ends up enjoying this book, it is a part of a longer series that is sure to keep them busy all summer long.
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Becky Albertalli): This book is about sixteen-year-old Simon, who is not yet openly gay but has started an email relationship with “Blue,” another closeted boy in his school. When these emails fall into the wrong hands, Simon has to decide whether he is ready to come out or risk being blackmailed by a fellow classmate. This title has also been adapted into an incredible movie called “Love, Simon” so maybe a family movie night is in order after reading this.
The Illuminae Files (Amy Kauffman and Jay Kristoff): This sci-fi trilogy is extremely unique because it is told as if someone is presenting a case file that includes emails, transcripts and diagrams. It is also a great series to use if you want to try out free audiobooks, offered through the Toronto Public Library, because it is narrated by a full cast and is basically like listening to a movie! The first book is about Kady and Ezra, who are suddenly forced together when their planet is invaded by a megacorporation. After escaping on a small fleet of ships, they face a mind-altering virus, a murderous AI and an enemy fighter that is chasing them down. What could go wrong?
On the Come Up (Angie Thomas): This is the newest book from Angie Thomas, the New York Times bestselling author of The Hate U Give. It follows high school student Bri as she pursues her dream of becoming a famous rapper, which she finds to be even more important after her mom unexpectedly loses her job. When a song of Bri’s goes viral for all the wrong reasons she must navigate her newfound fame and discover who she truly is.
A Darker Shade of Magic (V.E. Schwab): This book is technically classified as an adult fantasy but is also excellent for older teenagers. It is set in a world where there are four parallel Londons with varying levels of magic—Grey, Red, White and Black. Kell is an Antari, one of the last magicians who has the ability to travel between these four parallel Londons. After an exchange goes wrong, Kell releases an old and deadly magic so it is up to him and sarcastic thief Delilah Bard to set things right.
If you want to give your child more incentive to keep reading this summer, be sure to check out the TD Summer Reading Club offered in partnership with the Toronto Public Library. Don’t forget that the Toronto Public Library also has books available online through Overdrive as ebooks and audiobooks. I hope you have enjoyed these summer book recommendations and that they will help lead your child to a lifelong love of reading!