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Top 10: Best Summer Coming-of-Age Books for Girls (grades 4-8)

Summer Coming of Age Books for Girls

This is what I was thinking when I came up with this kooky list:

  • Summer read, preferably on the beach or on vacation.
  • Has to be a good read but not too strenuous or stressful or heavy (no Grapes of Wrath vibe!).
  • The book is about the summer and/or beach and/or beachy vacation vibe; like, hey, we are all on vacation. You in the book and me in real life.
  • A great lead GIRL character.
  • Counts towards summer homework book assignment but was thoroughly enjoyable.
  • For incoming grades 4-6.

Can you think of any more coming of age chapter book for girls set during the summer? I’d love to add your pick! Thanks!

Honorable Mention

Bingo Summer by Dawn Malone [chapter book, ages 9 and up]

A lucky lottery ticket for Summer Haas’s 13th birthday suddenly makes her family instant millionaires but the change in lifestyle is unsettling. While it’s nice to live in a big house in a new town where no one knows them that her mother impulsively buys in the Chicago suburbs, Summer still has to adjust to making new friends and starting a new school. It’s not that she’s ashamed of why she no longer has to shop at thrift stores for clothes, but she’s not sure if she wants her new friends to know. And some of the new girls, especially Mara who plays the same position for softball, act more like frenemies than friends. Does hiding the source of her newfound wealth also mean Summer can’t be herself anymore?

Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O’Roark Dowell [chapter book, grades 5-12]

Technically this book is not set during the summer and the heroine of the book, Janie Gorman, is a freshman in high school so she’s older than most of the other characters in the books below. This book is special because it bridges both Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction in a G-Rated read about a girl coming of age both in discovering who she is and, even more importantly, that being “normal” is highly overrated. Told from Janie’s point of view, she has a fresh voice with a wry and self-deprecating sense of humor. Her friends are also memorable characters, from her new friend Verbena who reminds me of the girl who used her dandruff to illustrate snow in The Breakfast Club, to her love interest Monster Monroe. My 11-year-old daughter also loved this book!

Rocky Road by Rose Kent

Though this wonderful novel is not set during the summer, the story revolves around a mother’s attempt to start a new life in Schenectady with her two children by buying an ice cream store with the last of her savings.  The novel is told from Tess’s point of view.  As the oldest child, she is both parent and child, trying to help her mother keep it all together when her bipolar disorder knocks her sideways.  As a story that revolves around ice cream, I think it’s an perfect choice for a summer coming-of-age summer read on the beach for a girl ages 9-14.

A Million Miles from Boston by Karen Day

Lucy’s summer at her beloved vacation house in Pierson Point, Maine isn’t the idyllic break she expected it to be. She’s anxious about starting middle school and her dad seems to be forcing his girlfriend on her. It gets worse; Ian, an annoying boy from school is staying nearby and now she has to deal with him. This is the special place where Lucy remembers her mother best, why can’t things stay the same? [chapter book, ages 9 and up]

10. Ida B.  … and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster and (Possibly) Save the World by Katherine Hannigan

Every day feels like summer to Ida B. until her mother gets cancer and she has to return to the public school system because her parents no longer have time to home school her.  The changes are tough for her but luckily she has a very special teacher, loving parents, and the wisdom of the trees that surround her. [for incoming grades 4, 5 and 6]

9.  Introducing … Sasha Abramowitz by Sue Halpern

Eleven-year-old Sasha is trying to have a “normal” year despite living on a college campus with her parents while her brother Danny, who has Tourette’s Syndrome, lives in a care facility.  When Danny unexpectedly returns, Sasha has to deal with a brother who is different as well the social growing pains that come with middle school friendships. [for incoming grades 5, 6, 7]

8. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Thirteen-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle’s grandparents have agreed to take her on a cross-country trip to Idaho to see her mother who took a trip and failed to return. [for incoming grades 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8]

7. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

10-year-old Winnie Foster goes on the adventure of a lifetime involving murder, deceit and the fountain of life. [for incoming grades 5, 6, 7, 8]

“This book is as shapely, crisp, sweet, and tangy as a summer-ripe pear.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Probably the best work of our best children’s novelist.”—Harper’s

“Natalie Babbitt’s great skill is spinning fantasy with the lilt and sense of timeless wisdom of the old fairy tales. . . . It lingers on, haunting your waking hours, making you ponder.”—The Boston Globe

6. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

The title says it all.  The Penderwicks:  A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy.  This book won the Newbery Award and the National Book Award.  Not bad  for author Jeanne Birdsall’s time out! [for incoming grades 4, 5, 6]

5. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

10-year-old Opal adjusts to life after she moves to Naomi, Florida with her dad after her mom abandons them and meets an interesting cast of characters after she adopts an ugly, joyful dog she names Winn Dixie. [for incoming grades 4, 5, 6]

4. Rules by Cynthia Lord

Twelve-year-old Catherine tries to reduce embarrassing situations by creating rules for her her younger brother who has autism to follow.  It doesn’t always work that well.   But she befriends Jason, a non verbal paraplegic who is a year older, she begins to realize that it’s ok to be different.  [for incoming grades 4, 5, 6]

3. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

Two friends who are like sisters after spending summers together on Martha’s Vineyard but they couldn’t be more different or have more different backgrounds.  Caitlin comes from a privileged background and is a wild while Victoria has a more humble background but is more grounded.  [young adult fiction]

2. Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles

9-year-old Ruby Lavender is devastated when her beloved grandmother, Miss Eula Garnet,  choses to visit family in Hawaii instead of spending the summer creating havoc with her.  But this trip is necessary for Miss Eula and Ruby to deal with the unspoken tragic death of her grandfather last year.  [for incoming grades 3, 4, 5 and 6]


1. Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightening by Danette Haworth

This gem of a book inspired this list.  11-year-old Violet Raines spends the summer dealing with the transition from childhood to adolescence punctuated by a new girl who moves in and takes over her best friend next door, her now confusing friendship with Eddie, and her own ambivalence about growing up.  [for incoming grades 5, 6, 7 and 8]


Coming of Age Middle Grade Books for Girls Reader Suggestions

Jacquie of KCEdventures says, “We just finished Nature Girl which was a fun coming of age too — it’s about a 6th grader who decides to hike the Appalachian Trail on her own to reach her best friend during their summer break.”

Nature Girl by Jane Kelley



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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Great list! So many favorites and new ideas – thanks!

  2. I love these reading lists! We were just at the library yesterday checking out the summer reading books from our school’s list. I had decided I needed to make my own list (their’s was only about 10 books and my kids will reach that in about 10 days or less!) Fantastic! Thank you.

  3. Great list! I see a few books here that I’d love to get my soon to be 5th grade daughter!

  4. Nadine

    You have inspired me as a mother in more ways than you can imagine. I have created lists for my own kids. We then take the lists to the library and explore them. Some make the cut some don’t but they are learning so much as they just explore. We’d never known all of the great literature avaliable otherwise.

  5. Brilliant, thank you! Now I have a shopping list for my nieces’ birthday and Christmas presents for the next few years! I read Summer Sisters a couple of years ago and really liked it.
    Liz Allan recently posted…A Zorse is a Zorse, of Course of Course!My Profile

    • Hi Liz,
      So glad to help out for your nieces’ gifts! What a nice aunt to take such time and care with the gifts! I think my favorites are:

      10 Miles Past Normal (for YA)
      Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightening (for ages 9 or 10 and up)

      if I only could pick two. The other books are great too but these books might not already be on their shelves.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Developing Kids’ Self Esteem: 4 Surefire WaysMy Profile

  6. Great list Mia! And with a 10 year old daughter in the house, this is perfect for us! We’ve read a few but not all of these. We just finished Nature Girl which was a fun coming of age too — it’s about a 6th grader who decides to hike the Appalachian Trail on her own to reach her best friend during their summer break.
    Jacquie recently posted…15 Amazing Vintage Summer Reads for KidsMy Profile

  7. Thank you for the mention of BINGO SUMMER along with the rest of these fantastic titles! I’ve read most of them, and couldn’t agree more. Truly honored!

    • Hi Dawn,
      I really loved your debut chapter book! Thanks so much for stopping by! I have two girls in various phases of “coming-of-age” and those types of stories really speak to me. Finding out who you really are and identifying true friends is something that I think most girls struggle with so it’s nice to read about it as a safe way to experience different scenarios and options. My two girls especially like realistic fiction so they will enjoy your book!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Top 10 Ninja Books for Kids Ages 4 through 16My Profile

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