Summer Reading Fun for Moms and Kids

Snuggle up with a good book and explore new worlds together!
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To me, summer is all about sweltering humid days, thunderstorms, a beach vacation, exploring creeks and nature trails, camping out, and visiting air-conditioned museums and movie theaters. It’s also about having extra time to snuggle up with a good book and explore new worlds together.

When summer begins, my family enjoys an eventful but also relaxing family vacation that has been a long time coming. As a homeschooling mom of three, I don’t have as much time for non-school reading as I’d like, so I save up a few books to bring along in my beach bag (or pool bag).

The kids unplug and spend their days outside soaking up every ounce of summer; even the teens play and build castles like they did when they were little. The relaxing pace of summer inspires us to catch up on reading books we don’t always have time for during the fast-paced school year.

“And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:9-10)

What is it about the beach that gives us such a feeling of peace? As I sit with my feet in the sand, listening to the sound of the waves, I can't help but relax in spite of myself. What a great place to escape to with a good book! (Keep reading for a list of my favorite summer “mommy time” books!)

Summer is ripe for nature study, too. So why not incorporate some reading into your exploration of the world outdoors? There are plenty of wonderful fiction and nonfiction titles that will inspire you to discover the beauty of God’s creation right in your own backyard.

Because the days are more relaxed, summer is also a perfect time for sharing children’s classics with the kids. Whether they read independently, listen to a read aloud together, or listen to an audiobook, sharing a wonderful story is an enriching experience. Rediscover some of your childhood favorites and find new classics for your collection. A whole family read-aloud is a wonderful time to bond over a shared book. This helps create a language of literature that you share together. I can’t tell you how many times my kids still mention stories we read years ago, and we share that common connection over Laura’s struggles and joys growing up on the prairie, or Huck’s adventures down the Mississippi.

Summer is a great time to improve kids’ reading skills. In fact, if you have a beginning or reluctant reader, picture books and graphic novels are especially wonderful for teaching or improving reading skills. When you are using “fun” books as opposed to “school” books, the learning process is not as intimidating for many kids.

Picture books and graphic novels can help with skills like:

  • understanding narrative structure, plot, character, and setting
  • moving from left to right
  • reading comprehension
  • paying attention to detail
  • interpreting the motives of characters
  • understanding the emotion of a scene
  • predicting events
  • making connections to real life
  • learning new vocabulary
  • discovering context clues

When you read a book with pictures, take your time looking at the pictures. Use your imagination, and let the pictures guide you. You can read the text, you can simply tell what you see in the pictures, or you can make up a story as you go along. Once you have “read” the story one time, you may want to change things up the next time.

Young children especially love to predict what is going to happen next, so they may not be as happy with a story change-up, but older children will enjoy a change of pace. Allow your child to tell the story. You will be surprised with what he comes up with!

Here are my book recommendations for summer reading fun. These are books I have read myself or with my kids, and they are tried and true in our household.

Of course, every family’s values, standards, and tastes are different, so exercise your own discernment when choosing books for yourself or your children. I’ve grouped these by age range, but don’t let that pin you in! My younger child sits in with us for read-aloud time, even for more challenging titles. Older kids and teens will also enjoy many of the books listed for children. In fact, I think picture books are my favorite genre. Happy reading!

When you are using “fun” books as opposed to “school” books, the learning process is not as intimidating for many kids.

Anne Campbell

Summer: Children

  • Julie Brinckloe Fireflies
  • Diane deGroat Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite!
  • Marla Frazee A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever
  • Marla Frazee Roller Coaster
  • Elinor Lander Horwitz When the Sky is Like Lace
  • Irish Beth Maddox The Great Carp Escape
  • Jim La Marche The Raft
  • Alice McLerran Roxaboxen
  • Kate Salley Palmer The Pink House
  • Patricia Polacco Thunder Cake
  • Faith Ringgold Tar Beach
  • Cynthia Rylant Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night
  • Cynthia Rylant Henry and Mudge in the Green Time
  • Charlotte Zolotow The Storm Book

Summer: Middle School

  • Kate DiCamillo Because of Winn-Dixie
  • Eleanor Estes The Moffat Museum
  • Milly Howard Treasure at Pelican Cove
  • Keith Robertson Henry Reed’s Babysitting Service
  • Gertrude Chandler Warner The Boxcar Children

Summer: Teens

  • Betsy Byars The Summer of the Swans
  • Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Gary Paulson The Island
  • Wilson Rawls Where the Red Fern Grows
  • Gary D. Schmidt Okay for Now
  • Mark Twain The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • Rita Williams-Garcia One Crazy Summer

Beach: Children

  • Eric Carle A House for a Hermit Crab
  • Eric Carle Mister Seahorse
  • Joanna Cole & Bruce Degen The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor
  • Ruth Heller How to Hide an Octopus and Other Sea Creatures
  • Kathryn Jackson A Day at the Seashore
  • Suzy Lee Wave
  • Leo Lionni Swimmy
  • Mercer Meyer Just Grandma and Me
  • Margret & H. A. Rey Curious George Goes to the Beach
  • Cynthia Rylant Henry and Mudge and the Forever Sea
  • Cynthia Rylant The Storm (The Lighthouse Family)
  • Marjorie Weinman Sharmat Nate the Great and the Boring Beach Bag
  • Christiane Kump Tibbitts Seashells, Crabs and Sea Stars: Take-Along Guide
  • David Weisner Flotsam
  • Gene Zion Harry by the Sea
  • Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld What Lives in a Shell? (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science)
  • Charlotte Zolotow The Seashore Book

Beach: Middle

  • Wayne Grover Dolphin Adventure: A True Story
  • Astrid Lindgren Pippi in the South Seas
  • Scott O’Dell Island of the Blue Dolphins
  • Julia L. Sauer The Light at Tern Rock
  • Vonda Skelton Bitsy and the Mystery at Amelia Island
  • Vonda Skelton Bitsy and the Mystery at Tybee Island
  • Vonda Skelton Bitsy and the Mystery at Hilton Head Island

Beach: Teens

  • Susan Cooper Over Seas, Under Stone
  • Ernest Hemingway The Old Man and the Sea
  • Cynthia Rylant The Islander
  • Robert Siegel Whalesong
  • John Steinbeck The Pearl
  • Robert Louis Stevenson Treasure Island
  • Jules Verne Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Summer Nature Study: All Ages

  • Diane Burns Trees, Leaves & Bark Take Along Guide
  • Anna Botsford Comstock Handbook of Nature Study
  • Julia Rothman Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World
  • Donald M. Silver One Small Square: Woods
  • Clare Walker Leslie The Curious Nature Guide: Explore the Natural Wonders All Around You
  • Clare Walker Leslie Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You
  • Clare Walker Leslie The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families, and Classrooms
  • Dr. Jason Lisle The Stargazer’s Guide to the Night Sky
  • The Thinking Tree Nature Study & Outdoor Science Journal

Inspiration: Moms

  • Lea Ann Garfias Rocking Ordinary
  • Jennifer Grant When Did Everybody Else Get So Old?: Indignities, Compromises, and the Unexpected Grace of Midlife
  • Jedd and Todd Hafer A Day at the Beach: Devotions to Help You Relax, Reflect, and Renew
  • Katie Jacobs So Much To Celebrate: Entertaining the Ones You Love the Whole Year Through
  • Beverly Lewis The Ebb Tide
  • Thomas Nelson Life Is Better at the Beach: Inspirational Rules for Living Each Day Like You're at the Beach
  • Lysa TerKeurst Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out and Lonely
  • Melanie Shankle Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up a Life
  • Ann Voskamp The Way of Abundance

Fiction: Moms

  • Elizabeth Camden To the Farthest Shores
  • Colleen Coble The View from Rainshadow Bay
  • Mary Connealy The Accidental Guardian
  • Clyde Edgerton Walking Across Egypt
  • John Grisham A Painted House
  • Irene Hannon Hope Harbor
  • Celeste Fletcher McHale The Sweet Smell of Magnolias and Memories
  • Francine Rivers The Masterpiece
  • Sarah Loudin Thomas The Sound of Rain
  • Becky Wade Meant to Be Mine

Anne Campbell

Anne Campbell, a former classroom teacher, is a VIPKID teacher, writer, editor, and homeschool consultant. A homeschooler for 15 years, Anne enjoys customizing learning experiences to meet the needs of her 3 boys as they embrace the lightbulb moments of discovery every day. In addition to teaching English online to kids in China, she teaches other homeschool children through literature study, research paper writing, and living history experiences. Visit Anne’s blog for help navigating everything homeschool, from early learning to college admission, at www.MyLearningTable.com.


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