summer reading chapter books, summer reading 6th grade, summer reading 8th grade, summer reading list 4th grade,

Summer Reading List for Kids (mine!) ages 8 through 13

Rising 3rd Grade Summer Reading List

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

My son’s close friend is a 4th grader, Connor, and he hates Percy Jackson (gasp!) but loves this book. That intrigued me, especially as the lead character is an 11-year-old girl during in 1899. I bought it a few years ago when it won a Newbery honor — frankly it was the cover that drew me in but it’s the gorgeous writing that has kept us reading. Me mostly to him.

Like a truffle, this book is to be savored in small quantities. We read about 1 or 2 chapters each night so it’s taken us quite some time to finish this chapter book. But it’s so worth it. The evolution is a young girl (perhaps author/attorney/doctor Jacqueline Kelly herself) reimagined at the turn of the 20th century, in a small town outside of Austin, Texas (where Kelly lives now) as she realized that she can be more than a housewife.

We finally finished this book and it was well worth the journey! [chapter book, ages 9 and up]

Half Magic series by Edgar Eager

We had been gifted not one but two copies of Half Magic but somehow never managed to crack the cover. Thank goodness I have three kids because my youngest is playing clean up. We were both delighted with this old-fashioned book about magic wishes that come mostly true — specifically, 50% of the wish is granted. Four siblings who think their summer is going to be boring because all their friends are away at vacation homes discover a magic coin that takes them on all kinds of crazy and wonderful adventures.

We are now reading the second book, Magic by the Lake, which is really Book 3 in the series but features the same family of kids. In this book, they are still on their summer vacation but are now enjoying their first summer cottage at the lake experience. It’s aptly named Magic by the Lake … [chapter book, ages 9 and up]

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis

Meet Timmy Failure, the founder, president, and CEO of the best detective agency in town, probably the nation. And his lazy sidekick, Total, a 1,500-pound polar bear.

This is the kind of book, judging by the cover, that my son will likely read in one go by himself. Fingers crossed.

It turned out that I read most of the book to my son. Timmy Failure is very similar to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series in concept. The chapters are very short and there are plenty of cartoon illustrations to break up the text. It’s also a very funny book. The nice surprise is the great vocabulary strewn throughout the book. And we liked the polar bear sidekick!

Son of Sobek by Rick Riordan

This is only available on Kindle but it’s Percy Jackson Meets Carter Kane. They really do meet in this chapter book! We need to rent PickyKidPix’s Kindle from her for a few days since it’s the only Kindle in the house. I hear that it’s a short book though. Practically a long short story.


The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman

Most people think of mathematicians as solitary, working away in isolation. And, it’s true, many of them do. But Paul Erdos never followed the usual path. At the age of four, he could ask you when you were born and then calculate the number of seconds you had been alive in his head. But he didn’t learn to butter his own bread until he turned twenty. Instead, he traveled around the world, from one mathematician to the next, collaborating on an astonishing number of publications. With a simple, lyrical text and richly layered illustrations, this is a beautiful introduction to the world of math and a fascinating look at the unique character traits that made “Uncle Paul” a great man.

My son loved math-y books so this is an easy decision. It is going on the buy list!

Stardines Swim High Across the Sky by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Carin Berger

The poet, author, and indomitable naturalist Jack Prelutsky, having returned safely from far-flung places with an extensive collection of unique creatures that are a blending of the animate and inanimate, has worked in close collaboration with the fine artist Carin Berger, who herself conducted considerable field operations in preparing Mr. Prelutsky’s specimens for exhibition and publication. While many creatures (two dozen species in all) were discovered and recorded and their precise qualities examined, we are presenting sixteen here for the first time and for the enjoyment and education of the general public.

We don’t read enough poetry and everyone raved about Prelutsky’s latest. Kids already adore this man, so yes, adding it to my ever growing pile.


Rising 6th Grade Summer Reading List

The Center of Everything by Linda Urban

For Ruby Pepperdine, the “center of everything” is on the rooftop of Pepperdine Motors in her donut-obsessed town of Bunning, New Hampshire, stargazing from the circle of her grandmother Gigi’s hug.  That’s how everything is supposed to be—until Ruby messes up and things spin out of control. But she has one last hope. It all depends on what happens on Bunning Day, when the entire town will hear Ruby read her winning essay. And it depends on her twelfth birthday wish—unless she messes that up too. Can Ruby’s wish set everything straight in her topsy-turvy world?

The Newbery prediction pundits seem to all feel that this chapter book is the front runner so far. Even if it doesn’t win, I don’t care. This sounds exactly like the kind of redemption realistic fiction that PickyKidPix loves. My own question is Kindle or paper. We tried library with her but she always gets me in trouble with overdue fines and lost books. Sigh!

The Short Seller by Elissa Weissman

We loved Weissman’s last book, Nerd Camp, and this one centers on a girl with a special gift of selling stocks short. Ever since PickyKidPix discovered she owned a few shares of Disney courtesy, as a baby, of her maternal grandmother, she’s been fascinated with stocks and equity ownership. This summer she wants to trade stocks using her own money. I am going to be insistent on a buy and hold strategy for her investing but this book looks perfect for her to see the consequences of a  “gambling” stock strategy.

A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff

Told in multiple viewpoints, A Tangle of Knots is a magnificent puzzle. In a slightly magical world where everyone has a Talent, eleven-year-old Cady is an orphan with a phenomenal Talent for cake baking. But little does she know that fate has set her on a journey from the moment she was born.  And her destiny leads her to a mysterious address that houses a lost luggage emporium, an old recipe, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a Talent Thief who will alter her life forever.  However, these encounters hold the key to Cady’s past and how she became an orphan.  If she’s lucky, fate may reunite her with her long-lost parent. 

Reminds me of Savvy which my daughter liked. I really loved her book Umbrella Summer so I’m hoping she will get a Newbery nod. PickyKidPix read her last book, Double Dog Dare, which would have been better for her when she was younger, say 2nd grade. This one looks perfect for her.

Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli

Welcome to Hokey Pokey. A place and a time, when childhood is at its best: games to play, bikes to ride, experiences to be had. There are no adults in Hokey Pokey, just kids, and the laws governing Hokey Pokey are simple and finite. But when one of the biggest kids, Jack, has his beloved bike stolen—and by a girl, no less—his entire world, and the world of Hokey Pokey, turns to chaos. Without his bike, Jack feels like everything has started to go wrong. He feels different, not like himself, and he knows something is about to change. And even more troubling he alone hears a faint train whistle. But that’s impossible: every kid knows there no trains in Hokey Pokey, only tracks.

PickyKidPix met Jerry Spinelli and really liked him. He has a grandfatherly charm that makes kids want to snuggle up to him (and his books!). He signed a book for her so I’m hoping that she’ll read it this summer. It’s not quite her genre though and she prefers the lead character to be a girl.


Rising 8th Grade Summer Reading List

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

On an island at the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy. The city is called Asteri, a perfect city that was saved by the magic woven into its walls from a devastating plague that swept through the world over a hundred years before. The forest is called the Barrow, a vast wood of ancient trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. And the boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the Barrow. Oscar spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master’s shop grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago. Oscar’s world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in. 

But it’s been a long time since anyone who could call himself a wizard walked the world, and now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the trees will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it…

I think my oldest will like this book. She’s the only one into fantasy out of my three kids.

Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick

My daughter found this at the bookstore and loved it. She made me read it and I loved it too. It’s a Eliza Doolittle My Fair Lady Meets Cinderella story but with a fairy godfather-ish figure with a twist of magical realism. [young adult, ages 13 and up. Note that there is liberal use of the F word.]

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
It’s 1950 and the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie Moraine wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.<

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

We want to take the kids to New Orleans someday. We love that city … full of interesting characters, incredible food and a feeling of danger lurking around the corner, especially if you are in the French Quarters.

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

Grasshopper and Sensei has a read just a few Sarah Dessen books. She’s like the YA Judy Blume and now that she’s a teenager, girl boy relationships seem to be the center of her world.

Xoe: or Vampires, and Werewolves, and Demons, Oh My! (Xoe Meyers #1) by Sara C. Roethle

Alexondra Meyers, known to her friends as Xoe, had a normal life. She liked her normal life, but there’s a new guy in the small town of Shelby, OR, and he is anything but normal. Before Xoe can say, “Werewolf,” her world is turned upside-down. Between a dark secret in Xoe’s past, a best friend who’s been scratched, and not to mention highschool, Xoe has a lot of thinking to do. She has to choose who she can trust, and fast . . . tomorrow’s the full moon.

Paranormal, contemporary YA romance is right up her alley. It has to be set in present day though. I found that out the hard way last summer when I bought a small pile of Vampire-y chapter books for her summer reading because she loved the Twilight series.

The C. C. Hunter series, Born at Midnight, was the only book to make the cut. And I just noticed that there are a few new ones!

 To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

summer reading chapter books, summer reading 6th grade, summer reading 8th grade, summer reading list 4th grade,

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. I love your book lists. I look forward to commenting more in the fall when we are settled.
    My daughter just bought The Serpent’s Shadow with her own money and was thrilled to have Son of Sobek in print as it is included in the back of the book. We did get the kindle version when it came out, which she promptly devoured, but she loves having it in print.

    Have a great week!
    Cool Mom (Christine M.) recently posted…Wordless Wednesday? Our Home Becomes the Land of Boxes.My Profile

  2. Finally! The list we’ve all been waiting for…. Who needs those silly libraries when we have you!
    Artchoo recently posted…Storybots App ReviewMy Profile

    • You are so sweet to say that Jeanette! I’m not so sure my kids would agree. My son is making great progress and I am reminded to buy two of those books on his list. The math picture book bio and the poetry book. My middle daughter has read very little so far this summer. She spends her free time watching Cute Hair Style YouTube videos. My oldest made two trips to the bookstore and ended up with a lot of Sarah Dessen. I’m happy because I suggested it to her but I’d like her to try a few other authors this summer. I’ll add the two books she’s read so far and recommends. Both Sarah Dessen.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Summer Reading List for Kids (mine!) ages 8 through 13My Profile

  3. Nadine

    Thank you once again. Your lists are all inspiring.

  4. Dee

    Oooh, what a great list! Dylan is your classic reluctant reader, but he loves to be read to and I need to break out of some of our typical reading molds. This list will really help!
    Dee recently posted…Link to a great resource on building your child’s self esteemMy Profile

  5. Erin

    Awesome lists! “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s library”, is an awesome book and just new on the shelves too. I plan to read it to my Grade 3s this year. “The Magic Thief” trilogy is also good, especially the first book! Also, “Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King” is very good. There are three different books. They are nothing like the Guardians movie at all…not even the same story.

  6. Hi Mia,
    Another great list! Sharing with my kids, especially my rising 6th grader, who is starting a book club with her friends. Thank you!
    linda recently posted…Cherry, Plum and Nectarine Clafoutis for Bastille DayMy Profile

    • Hi Linda,
      How wonderful to start a book club with friends. I have posted on most of our book club meetings if you ever need ideas. Just let me know and I’ll give you links to our best ones. I have a rising 6th grade daughter too and her book club has done some pretty fun meetings including learning the flying trapeze (The Girl Who Could Fly).
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Summer Reading List for Kids (mine!) ages 8 through 13My Profile

  7. Your list reminded me to take Magic By the Lake as a sequel to Half Magic that my daughter read in the end of May. She gobbled Magic By the Lake up in one night and is begging for more from these series. I also got Prelutzki book for us to read together.
    Natalie recently posted…Experiment in Paper MakingMy Profile

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