Summer Reading Lists for Kids By Grade

Summer Reading List for Kids by Grade

As a mother of three children, I think the greatest gift one can give their child is the love of reading. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. But it’s not always easy to get kids to want to read. There are so many other enticing distractions including screens, friends, and the outdoors.

I’ve found the best way to keep kids eagerly reading is to match up their interests with books at a “Just Right For Me” level. Easier said than done. I’ve tried to make it easier for you by reviewing a library of books — I read a LOT as a child, and continue to read children’s books extensively as a KidLit blogger and Random House community leader.

Summer Reading Lists By Grade

Below you’ll find great Mom Approved reads that will delight your little ones and excite your older kids.

To view any book at Amazon, please click on image of book.

Preschool and Kindergarten

Top 10: Best and Funniest Picture Books to LOL with Your Child

One of the pleasures of reading aloud to kids is to share the experience and the snuggle time. My son and I especially like silly, funny books! Sharing a laugh together over a book is creating memories, I hope, that will make him a lifelong reader. And hearing his tinkling laugh of pure pleasure, makes me laugh too!

Chicken Butt by Erica S. Perl

I don’t think it’s possible for a book named Chicket Butt NOT to be hysterically funny and this book does not disappoint. Erica S. Perl was the neighbor of my Mom Friend Lynn, so we especially feel a connection to her books and we were able to see her at an author event for this book where she put on a chicken hat, sang songs with us and served us chicken cookies.

Baloney (Henry P.)by Jon Sciezka

A little alien boy has a very good excuse to explain why he’s late for school. The beauty of this book is that Sciezka uses foreign languages that sort of sound like the word throughout the book so the reader gets to guess what is happening. It also gives the words an alien feel but he uses mostly real words from a multitude of languages.


Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman

Tips on safety get a lot more exciting when Gloria the dog is helping out Officer Buckle! This is one of our all time favorite books from author who never disappoints! Officer Buckle is the straight guy, dishing up safety tips from the point of view of someone wbo is slightly paranoid. When he gets a police dog into the act, he doesn’t realize that Gloria is acting out the tips to the amusement of the audience. Then, one terrible day, he finds out and ends up doing a safety presentation by himself (back in the day when his presentations put everyone to sleep) and then everything goes wrong! Thank goodness someone is wearing their safety helmet!

The rest of the list is here.


Top 10: Best Picture Books for Summer Reading (ages 1-8)

These picture books are set in the summer so I thought it would be fun to read them while experience summer weather. I love how the words and illustrations really evoke the heat and kids’ point of view. I also love the different perspectives from an inner city urban experience of hoping for rain, to sharing a ice pop between friends.

 Come On, Rain by Karen Hesse

With gorgeous watercolor illustrations, this picture book evokes the heat of the inner city in the summer as well as the tightly knit community in a beautifully written story. [preschool through 1st grade]

Apple Pie Fourth of July by Janet S. Wong

This is a great story for any child wondering about their identity, being “American” while also celebrating their cultural heritage. [preschool through Kindergarten]

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart

This is one of my all time favorite picture books about a little girl growing up during the Great Depression. Her green thumb helps to lift her spirits as well as her uncle’s struggling bakery. A really beautiful story told as much through the illustrations as through the words. [preschool through 3rd grade]


Top 10 Starting School Books: Kindergarten & Preschool

Transition to a new school is so highly stressful. I don’t know who is more stressed, the kids or the parents. By reading about what to expect whether your child is starting preschool or Kindergarten, these books help to cover all the bases for starting school. Some of the books focus on routines and expectations. Others cover What If scenarios of greatest fears. What IF … no one likes me. What IF … I don’t make a friend. Everything works out in the end, as it will for your child too!

 Mama Don’t Go by Rosemary Wells

Yoko has trouble separating from her mother during the first week of school, but her new friend Timothy helps her to understand that mothers “just keep coming back!”



Sumi’s First Day of School Everby Soyung Pak.

Sumi doesn’t speak English and today is her very first day of school ever. Will it go well?



Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

Wemberly is a worrywart and she is especially worried about starting school. It turns out that her teacher is really nice and encourages her to make a new friend who is very similar to Wemberly.



The rest of the list is here.


Best African American Picture Books

I ordered this list in historical chronological order such that African American history is reflected from slavery to now. If you read the books in order, it’s a mini-history lesson via picture books. I hope you enjoy the journey!

From slavery …

 Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson.

Clara is a slave who escapes to freedom by creating a quilt that maps the way to freedom. [ages 5-9]



To fighting for an education …

Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard and E.B. Lewis.

Set in Reconstruction Tennessee, Virgie, a girl, goes to school to learn to be free. [ages 5-9]

To trying to fit in …

Don’t Say Ain’t by Irene Smalls.

Dana learns to navigate two worlds: an advanced integrated school and the friends she has at home. [ages 5-10]




The rest of the list is here.

First Grade Reading List

The 2010 Geisel Awards (Dr. Seuss) from Books and Stuff and ALSC

The Geisel Awards for best books for beginning readers and include easy readers, picture books and graphic novels. I think of it as books that kids can read by themselves for the first time.

“The real big ‘no-no’ would be to miss this distinctive beginning graphic novel with perfectly matched text and illustrations,” said Geisel Award Committee Chair Susan Veltfort.



I Spy Fly Guy!,written and illustrated by Tedd Arnold, published by Scholastic, Inc.

Fly Guy and his pal Buzz are back in a fresh beginner chapter book. A disastrous ending to a game of hide and seek finds Fly Guy hauled away to the local dump in this new take on a lost pet. Arnold’s watercolor and colored pencil cartoon-like illustrations are fun and fanciful.

Little Mouse Gets Ready, written and illustrated by Jeff Smith, and published by TOON BOOKS, a Division of RAW Junior, LLC.

Little Mouse narrates this story with humor and excitement as he dons clothes and dreams of adventures to come. The simplified bubble dialogue and one or two panels per page combine to create an appealing and effective format for new readers.

The rest of the list is here.


Top 10: Best Old Fashioned Easy Readers (shortest chapter books ever)

Yoko and Friends series easy chapter books, easy reader series, pragmatic momThe Germ Busters (Yoko and Friends series) by Rosemary Wells

Yoko and Friends are back and this series helps teach kids how to get along with others. In The Germ Busters, the Frank twins must learn to wash their hands to stay healthy and when they won’t, Fritz comes up with a plan.

 Mr. Putter and Tabby, best easy reader pragmatic momMr. Putter and Tabby series by Cynthia Rylant
A sweet early chapter book series perfect for those kids who miss their grandfathers! Elderly Mr. Putter and his old cat Tabby have little adventures together with their neighbor Mrs. Teaberry and her good dog Zeke.

Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same! by Grace Lin

Winner of the Geisel award, Ting and Ling are twins with very distinct personalities.

The rest of the list is here.

Second Grade Reading List

Chapter Book Series Starring Diverse Girl Characters

Top 10: Best Beginning Chapter Book Series (ages 6-9) UPDATED4

Ivy and Bean series by Annie Barrows I really like this series and I recommended it to my middle daughter’s friend to get her to diversify from Nate the Great. She liked it! Ivy and Bean are great friends and get into slightly sticky situations that are not always totally their fault. Honest! If your child had Ivy and Bean as classmates, you’d invite them over for a play date!


My Father’s Dragon series by Ruth Stiles Gannett Your kids might read this series at school but if they haven’t, you are in for a treat. Adventures of a boy, Elmer, and the dragon he rescues. This is an especially well written series.



Clementine by Sara Pennypacker Think Ramona but not quite as difficult to read. Clementine is not quite as young as Ramona but just as fun to get to know. This is a wonderful series that has won all kinds of awards. We are waiting impatiently for the newest book in the series (Clementine: Friend of the Week) that comes out very, very soon! Clementine: Friend of the Week is hot off the presses July 27, 2010!

The rest of the list is here.

Third Grade Reading List

Summer Reading List for Ages 8 and Up

Summer Reading List for Ages 8 and Up

Top 10 Roald Dahl Books for Roald Dahl Day

The Twits

Beard-hating Dahl at his best in this tale of an ever-warring couple: repulsive Mr Twit and his equally repulsive glass-eyed wife. Not forgetting the monkeys. You mustn’t forget the monkeys. If I tell you any more I might spoil the story. Read it. It’s bonkers.

George’s Marvelous Medicine

George’s grandma is such a groucher, a grumbler and a griper that he decides to mix up some medicine to try to cure her of her nastiness. As with 94.8% of plans in Roald Dahl books, this one doesn’t turn out quite the way George intended. The results are explosive!


If flatulence, royalty and a giant with disproportionately large ears are what you’re after in a story, this is the book for you. Throw in kidnapped orphan Sophie (snatched and taken to Giant Land) and a trumpet that blows dreams into sleeping children’s rooms, and the result is an extraordinary Dahl-esque/Dali-esque vision.

The rest of the list is here.

Fourth Grade Reading List

Best Chapter Books for Grades 3-5, Highly Recommended by Kids- UPDATED

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall. Her first book,The Penderwicks, won a Newbury Award. It’s a fantastic book but the sequel is even better. In this book, the girls try to find a wife for their dad. I think I was more excited than my daughter when the sequel came out! [ages 8-12]

Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill. Technically, this is historical fiction about a teacher who goes to rural Alaska and transforms the lives of the children at a one room schoolhouse. [ages 8-11]

The rest of the list is here.

Top 10: Best Standalone Books for 5th Graders by My 11yold Daughter-UPDATED2

Nerd Camp best books for kids children Pragmatic Mom

Fifth Grade Reading List

Top 10 Best Chapter Book Series In the World Because They Are So Awesome: From My 5th Grade Daughter UPDATED4

City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

My daughter loved the first two books of the series about how the people of Ember went underground but not rest of the series.


The Daughters Break the Rules by Joanna Philbin

Joanna is the daughter of Regis Philbin and her series is like a People Magazine Who’s Who of rich daughters of celebrities who find their way.


Maximum Ride series by James Patterson

I received the first book from the publisher but before I could read it, my daughter snagged it. She then spent her birthday money on the next 3 books in the series and we had to make a pit stop at the library for the rest. Fast paced sci-fi adventure with plot twists so elaborate it’s impossible to predict.


The rest of the list is here.

 Top 10: Baseball Chapter Books (ages 7-16) UPDATED3

The rest of the list is here.

Sixth Grade Reading List

Best Chapter Books for Middle School Girls, 10 From ChristinaReads

E. L. Konigsburg, The View from Saturday.

This book is told from the perspectives of four sixth-grade children whose lives unexpectedly converge when they become teammates for an interscholastic academic competition. All four children are extremely intelligent, and they each have a unique way of seeing the world. In real life, many smart or “gifted” children are misfits socially, and this book does a wonderful job of depicting that innocence and awkwardness.

Judy Blume, Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson.

Rachel is another protagonist who’s something of a misfit because of her intelligence. She also feels some pressure to be the “perfect” child because of her older brother Charles, who is constantly getting into trouble and annoying her parents. This is a quintessential coming-of-age novel complete with first crushes, changing friendships, and a new perspective on the world. It’s funny in some places, sad in others, and I just remember really loving it.

The rest of the list is here.


Seventh Grade Reading List

NY Times Top Selling Graphic Novels

TWILIGHT: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL, VOL. 1, by Stephenie Meyer and Young C. Kim. (Yen Press, $19.99.) The comic adaptation of the ever-popular vampire series.



OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB, VOL. 14, by Bisco Hatori. (VIZ Media, $9.99.) Haruhi, a poor girl at a rich school, is forced to work – as a boy – for the school’s all-male club. The series is described as a “romantic comedy.”

The rest of the list is here.


Eight Grade Reading List

Top 10: Best Young Adult Books for 2010

Elkeles, Simone. Perfect Chemistry.

Fagerstrom, Derek and Smith, Lauren.Show Me How: 500 Things You Should Know Instructions for Life From the Everyday to the Exotic.

Willin, Melvyn. Paranormal Caught on Film.

The rest of the list is here.


Top 100: Best Young Adult (YA) Fiction & Non-Fiction Books

More Top Reading Lists

Summer Reading School List for Middle School

Top 50: Best Multicultural Children’s Books Every Kid Should Know. My Summer Reading List!

Best Picture Books That Teach Math Concepts- UPDATED3

picture books with math concepts, math picture books, math and picture books, picture booksMath Curse, Jon Scieszka Lane Smith, picture book that teaches math,, Pragmatic Mom, PragmaticMom

Top 100: Best Children’s and Young Adult Books Selected by Teachers (for ages 2-18)

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

summer reading lists by age, best summer book lists for kids

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