The 50 Best Reading Books for your Kids for the Summer

“I guess there are never enough books.” ― John Steinbeck

Our school year is coming to a close and summer is fast approaching, even though in Chicago the weather is still quite brisk. I have been schooling hard this year with my daughters and my son will be finishing up his freshman year at the Science, Math & Engineering Academy. My daughters are completely under my curriculum charge and I ca say their literature intake was great this year. I personally don't think my son read enough this year (for my personal satisfaction), but I can not get him to read additional books for me during the school year.

The Best Reading Books for your Kids for the Summer

During the long, summer months of summer I have always incorporated a summer reading schedule for all of my children. Last summer, I had my son reading (high school) Senior level AP literature. He didn't enjoy the books I assigned him, but the point was to enrich his literature palate. My daughters were also assigned enriching literature and we also created a lap book and complected some comprehensive workbooks.

I love this quote from Roald Dahl, simply because it is so true:

“I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn't be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.” ― Roald Dahl

I encourage reading in my home and always have. We have bookshelves filled to overflowing with books in all the children's bedrooms and our home school room is literally filled with bookshelves stuffed full of books. I keep print in my home to encourage reading on a daily basis.

The Best Reading Books for your Kids for the Summer

I taught my children to read at an early age and they have soured ever since. When they were toddlers, I read to them and to this day, I still read to my daughters at bedtime (and more often than not, my so will come in and listen still) and they look forward to this every night. At bedtime, I read popular fiction books, but for assigned books, my children read the classics.

“Reading takes you to another world and challenges you.”

I happen to think the love reading and learning is innate in children, they are little sponges when they are kids. But, if your children really does not enjoy reading at all, it can be encouraged by having loads of books around your home. My personal theory is you can never have too many books! When we leave the house to run errands, we don't grab the electronics, we grab books!

If you have kids, you are driving them everywhere.  We spend a lot of the time in the car daily shuffling to and from school, music practices and activities. Another favorite activity that is reading focused is audio books in the car. Sometimes my kids will even beg to linger in the car longer to hear "a good part" of the story. My middle schooler pretty much listened to all her class assigned books on audio this year.

The slightest knowledge of a great book is better than the greatest knowledge of a slight book. — Paraphrase of Aquinas in the Summa Theologicae: Part 1, Question 1, Article 5

Here are some of our favorite classical reading books that you can read with your children over the summer. We have read all of these books over the past couple of years (and many more) that I have listed, some more than once. Some books were really enjoyed, others were difficult reads, but once completed, happily read.

“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” ― Henry David Thoreau

The 50 Best Reading Books for your Kids for the Summer


  • Artist of the Reformation: Albrecht Dürer By Joyce McPherson
  • Augustine: The Farmer’s Boy of Tagaste By P. de Zeeuw
  • Black Beauty By Anna Sewell
  • Bound for OregonBy Jean Van Leeuwen
  • BradyBy Jean Fritz
  • The Bronze Bow By Elizabeth George Speare
  • Cathedral By David Macaulay
  • The Door in the Wall By Margarite de Angeli
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler By E.L. Konigsburg
  • The Hawk That Dare Not Hunt by Day By Scott O'Dell
  • Ink on His Fingers (Johann Gutenberg) By Louis Vernon
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins (1850s America) By Scott O'Dell
  • Joan of Arc By Diane Stanley
  • The Little Prince By Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • The Magna Charta By James Daugherty
  • Number the Stars (WW II, Holocaust) By Lois Lowry
  • Old Yeller By Fred Gipson
  • The Perilous Road (Civil War) By William Steele
  • The Shakespeare StealerBy Gary Blackwood
  • The Sign of the Beaver By Elizabeth George Speare
  • Snow TreasureBy Marie McSwigan
  • The Story of Rolf and the Viking BowBy Allen French
  • The Story of the Treasure Seekers By E. Nesbit
  • Thunderstorm in ChurchBy Louise A. Vernon
  • Where the Red Fern Grows By Wilson Rawls
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond By Elizabeth Speare

“A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.”  - Mark Twain


  • Beowulf By Seamus Heaney
  • The Canterbury Tales By Chaucer
  • The Eagle of the Ninth By Rosemary Sutcliff
  • Macbeth By Shakespeare
  • The Nine Tailors By Dorothy Sayers
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight By JRR: Tolkien
  • Son of Charlemagne By Barbara Willard

These next four were read by my grammar level daughter, but she is an advanced reader. Thus my putting these titles under this list. They are a bit more difficult read for a younger student who is not an advanced reader.

  • Theras and His TownBy Caroline Snedeker
  • TirzahBy Lucille Travis
  • The Golden Goblet By Eloise McGraw
  • Twice FreedBy Patricia St. John


  • The Bondage of the Will By Martin Luther
  • Call of the Wild By Jack London (this is a much loved book by all and has bee read no less than 10 times in our home)
  • The Catcher in the Rye By JD Salinger
  • The Divine Comedy By Dante
  • Henry V By Shakespeare
  • Moby Dick By Herman Melville
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream By Shakespeare
  • The Song of Roland By Dorothy Sayers
  • A Tale of Two Cities By Charles Dickens
  • To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Civil War era, slavery) By Harriet Beacher Stowe
  • White Fang By Jack London (I do not know why this is in the advanced reader section except perhaps because of the content, but this book is one of my children's favorite and has been read by all before they were 10 years old)

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”  - Harry S. Truman

I haven't selected the titles for summer reading yet for any of my children, but am close to narrowing it down. I do not give the option of not reading over the summer. y kiddos can select the time of day that they would like to read, but they do need to read for one full hour per day over the summer. My youngest daughter will read more than is required as she is my voracious reader. My son will grumble through as he is a typical teenager and my middle daughter will read only because she is required. She has some trouble reading and it is not her favorite activity, nor one of her strengths.

Reading is something that I do require and I do not want to make it a chore, that is why I allow my kiddos to select the time during they day. They can choose to play video games, play outdoors or watch television, I don't care the order, just as long as at the end of the day, they read.

A man is known by the books he reads.  - Ralph Waldo Emerson


The Best Reading Books for your Kids for the Summer