Yay! Summer has *officially* arrived. Although here in North Carolina it has felt like summer for at least a month now. With summer comes school vacations! Pools & beaches. Lemonade & popsicles. The unwelcome sunburns (wear your spf) & mosquitos. Camps & s'mores. AND your library's summer reading program. YAY our favorite part of summer -- reading. We are encouraging our kids to bring their books everywhere they go this summer to help log as many minutes/books as we can. My kid's thrive on a challenge. Below we have curated a list of diverse summer reads -- books with diverse characters and/or by marginalized creators. Books that you may not know about. Books all about the fun of summer. Read along with us. We are also using Beaming Books Summer Reading Bingo to bring a little creativity to our choices.
Below we've chosen a few of our favorites to feature from our full Summer Reads book list on bookshop. It's my goal this summer to personally read 25 books. Hefty goal I know, but we are traveling by car to NY so I am hoping to log at least a few books on the way there & back. It's also extremely important for my kids to see me reading. Raising readers, especially starting at a young age, is what is going to help change the world for the better. Reading books with your kids that are diverse & inclusive -- books representing people of different backgrounds, cultures -- will help to raise kind, accepting, understanding, empathetic kids. And as we all know, those kids become adults. And those adults could be the ones to help bring more kindness, acceptance and understanding to our world.
How do we even get our kids to read this summer?
The question we know you're READY to message us. I know it's HARD, in this technological era of screens, phones, tablets, tvs. Kids would rather drone into their screens, playing hour after hour of Minecraft & Roblox. Watching hour after hour of Cocomelon. Just five more minutes. Just one more episode. It's addicting. So how do we, as caregivers, encourage our kids to ditch the screens & pick up a book? Here are a few things to try:
Place books in baskets/bins where kids will most likely be for easier access AND as visual cues that they are available. For a while, we struggled in the mornings as the kids weren't making their way into the playroom & really didn't want to wait for breakfast to be made. We were being asked a different question every 30 secs and meltdowns were imminent. SO we started putting a basket of books on the couch. The first morning we were SHOCKED. They made their way into the living room & immediately sat down to "read." This lasted 30 mins while we prepared breakfast and our 5yo even brought a book to the dining room table.
Allow your child to get their own library card. I know, I know. Another things us caregivers need to take care of but throw it in your wallet next to your own (yes, us adults should be reading more too). Having their own card allows them to get excited to complete the checkout process themselves. They are more apt to want to visit the library and take more books out if they have some independence.
Speaking of libraries, encourage your kid to lead the way. Let them take you to sections that they are interested in. Give them time to take a book off the shelf and look at it. It's okay to pull a book off a shelf. Kids aren't going to get in trouble for doing so. It only takes one book, especially for preteens and teens, to kickstart their reading journey.
Enroll in summer reading programs. Our 5yo is REALLY into the summer reading program at a neighboring library. We log all of our books online. It's really simple. He knows that there are little prizes he wins (a pencil, a sticker) and we are encouraging him too with our own summer reading prizes (an ice cream at the local shop, a visit to a new library, a new sticker for his helmet). But mostly, he wants to win the digital badges and complete the virtual map. We've also been participating in activities at neighboring libraries where he can pick out books & socialize with friends.
Last tip, let your kids see you reading. I've noticed over the last few days that when I read downstairs on the couch, the boys will grab a book & sit next to me. When I read in my book nook in my bedroom, they will grab a few books from their room and climb into my bed to read. I truly believe in leading by example and the more they see you reading, the more they will be encouraged to.
For the summer babies:
Board books perfect for little hands at the beach, at the park, at a restaurant, & before bed.
Rhyming text and colorful art showcase an energetic cast of babies having an action-packed day of play in the park on a cheerful summer day. Featuring diverse characters and highlighting early concepts like shapes and repetition, books in the Babies in the Park series encourage an appreciation of nature and outdoor imaginative play.
Leo Can Swim
Leo loves the water! Leo and Daddy go to swim class where they kick, bounce, splash around, and dive like little fish. Joining other babies and their caretakers in the pool is a guarantee for unforgettable fun. This sweet story full of action and sound effects is a gentle introduction to pool facilities and parent-child swim lessons with a cast of diverse families who love to splash and play together. Check out another just released Leo story Leo at the Park. Be sure to stay tuned for more with Leo releasing 9/19 Leo on a Hike!
Summer Picture books:
Fun for the whole family, regardless of who is reading them.
The World Belonged To Us
I will read anything Jacqueline Woodson creates, even grocery lists. Celebrate the joy and freedom of summer in the city. Released from school and reveling in their freedom, the kids on one Brooklyn block take advantage of everything summertime has to offer: Freedom from morning till night to go out to meet their friends and make the streets their playground--jumping double Dutch, playing tag and hide-and-seek, building forts, chasing ice cream trucks, and best of all, believing anything is possible. That is, till their moms call them home for dinner. But not to worry--they know there is always tomorrow to do it all over again--because the block belongs to them and they rule their world.
Alphabreaths, Too: More ABCs of Mindful Breathing
Children learn their ABCs along with the basics of mindfulness through fun exercises and illustrations they'll want to come back to again and again. Each letter of the alphabet teaches a simple mindfulness, or compassion-based, practice to help kids focus their thoughts, feel calm, express gratitude, and hold positive feelings for others. Perfect for calming down after a day filled with summer activities.
The Song That Called Them Home
Go on a fantasy-adventure story inspired by Indigenous legends. One summer day, Lauren and her little brother, James, go on a trip to the land with their Moshom (grandfather). They head out to fish in their canoe in the middle of the lake when something magical happens. They are thrown overboard! And James is being pulled away by the Memekwesewak -- creatures who live in water and interfere with humans. Lauren must follow the Memekwesewak through a portal to bring back James. But when she finds him, she feels the lure of the Memekwesewak's song. Something even stronger must pull them back home.
Summer Days & Nights
A book that focuses on the small, special details of summer. On a hot summer day, a little girl finds ways to entertain herself and stay cool. She catches a butterfly, sips lemonade, jumps in a pool, and goes on a picnic. At night, she sees an owl in a tree and a frog in a pond, and hears leaves rustling. Before long, she's fast asleep, dreaming about more summer days and summer nights.
Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston
Zora was a girl who hankered for tales. Now, her mama always told her that if she wanted something, "to jump at de sun", because even though you might not land quite that high, at least you'd get off the ground. So Zora jumped, from the porch of the general store where she listened to folktales, to Howard University, to Harlem. And everywhere she jumped, she shined sunlight on the tales most people hadn't heard until Zora. The tales no one had written down until Zora. Tales on a whole culture of literature overlooked...until Zora. Until Zora jumped.
Celebrate the strength of community and the tastes of summer! What's the best way to cool off on a hot summer day? Run quick and find Paletero José! Follow along with our narrator as he passes through his busy neighborhood in search of the Paletero Man. But when he finally catches up with him, our narrator's pockets are empty. Oh no! What happened to his dinero? It will take the help of the entire community to get the tasty treat now. This book is FULL of musicality, generosity, kindness, and, of course, ice pops!
Search For a Giant Squid: Pick Your Path
A new and exciting pick-your-path STEM adventure for emerging readers! This series starter takes emerging readers on an expedition to the ocean's twilight zone in search of a giant squid. But giant squids are hard to find. Readers will need to join the expedition and help make choices along the way. First they'll pick their submersible. And then their pilot and dive site. They'll need to be careful--not every path leads where it seems, but whatever path they pick, they'll see and learn amazing things!
On a hot day, people come from all over the city to spend the day at the pool in this joyful picture book that's a love song to summer, the city, community, and staying cool! Today is a pool day in the city! The sun is shining, so what are you waiting for? Friends and family. Kids and grandparents. Big bodies and small bodies. Everybody is welcome at our pool! Get ready for swimming and splashing, zigzagging and dunking, and racing and laughing.
A summer tale about family, overcoming fears, and the importance of being oneself, all in the pursuit of performing the perfect cannonball. As one boy searches for the secret to executing the perfect cannonball, everyone has advice. But it's only by listening to his own voice that he finds his unique style and pulls off a truly awe-inspiring CANNONBALL. A celebration of native culture, a glossary including Maori words is included.
Oona and her best friend Otto love to search for treasure...and often find trouble instead.
Oona and the Shark: Oona loves to share her inventions! They're big and bold and loud, just like her. But Stanley the shark doesn't care for them & they even make him angry. Oona is determined to make friends with Stanley and figure out what Stanley likes.
Oona in the Arctic: Oona is on a mission to return a lost baby beluga whale back to her icy home. But Oona and Otto have never traveled from their warm ocean waters before. Will old ship maps and a compass be enough to lead them through the dangerous storms ahead?
middle grade faves:
Grab a book (or a few because most of these are series) and dive into a new, magical world.
With action-packed adventure, a coven of quirky witchlings, and girl-power vibes, you won't be able to put down this middle-grade Latinx witch story! Every year, in the magical town of Ravenskill, Witchlings who participate in the Black Moon Ceremony are placed into covens and come into their powers as full-fledged witches. And 12yo Seven Salazar can't wait to be placed in the most powerful coven with her best friend! But on the night of the ceremony, Seven isn't placed in one of the five covens. She's a Spare! The 3 Spares will be assigned an impossible task: work together and succeed at it, their coven will be sealed & gain their full powers. If they fail, well, the last coven to make the attempt ended up being turned into toads. But maybe friendship can be the most powerful magic of all. Don't forget book 2: The Golden Frog Games.
Dragons in a Bag Series
When Jaxon is sent to spend the day with a mean old lady his mother calls Ma, he finds out she's not his grandmother--but she is a witch! She needs his help delivering baby dragons to a magical world where they'll be safe. There are two rules when it comes to the dragons: don't let them out of the bag, and don't feed them anything sweet. Before he knows it, Jax and his friends Vikram and Kavita have broken both rules! Will Jax get the baby dragons delivered safe and sound? Or will they be lost in Brooklyn forever? Don't miss the rest of the series: The Dragon Thief, The Witch's Apprentice and The Enchanted Bridge.
The Magnificent Makers Series
A modern-day Magic School Bus for chapter book readers! Violet and Pablo are best friends who love science. So when they discover a riddle that opens a magic portal in the Science Space at school, they can't wait to check it out! Along with their new classmate, Deepak, the friends discover a magical makerspace called the Maker Maze. It's a laboratory full of robots, 3D printers, an antigravity chamber, and more. Doors line the walls of the makerspace, with a new science adventure waiting behind each one. This book includes two science activities kids can do at home! These quick educational activities use items you already have on hand! Series includes: Brain Trouble, Riding Sound Waves, The Great Germ Hunt, Race Through Space, & Storm Chasers.
Lei and the Fire Goddess
Curses aren't real. At least, that's what 12 year old, part-Hawaiian Anna Leilani Kamaʻehu thinks when she listens to her grandmother's folktales about sacred flowers and family guardians. Anna's friends back home in Colorado don't believe in legends, either. They're more interested in science and sports--real, tangible things. So when Anna goes back to Hawaiʻi to visit her Tūtū, she has no interest in becoming the heir to her family's history; she's set on having a touristy, fun vacation. But when Anna accidentally insults Pele the fire goddess by destroying her lehua blossom, a giant hawk swoops in and kidnaps her best friend, and she quickly learns just how real these moʻolelo are. In order to save her friends and family, Anna must now battle mythical creatures, team up with demigods and talking bats, and evade the traps Pele hurls her way.
Young adult reads:
Perfect for teens (& I'll be honest, us adults) to take a break from our own lives.
Wings in the Wild
This romantic contemporary novel-in-verse tells the inspiring love story of two teens fighting for climate action and human rights. Soleida and her parents protest injustices with their secret sculpture garden of chained birds. Then a hurricane exposes the illegal art, and her parents are arrested. Soleida escapes to Central America alone, joining the thousands of Cuban refugees stranded in Costa Rica while seeking asylum elsewhere. There she meets Dariel, a Cuban American boy whose enigmatic music enchants birds and animals--and Soleida. Soleida and Dariel come from different worlds and they will fight for a better future--and the chance to be together.
Chloe and the Kaishao Boys
This hilarious YA rom-com about a Chinese-Filipina girl in Manila whose father sets her up on a marathon of arranged dates in hopes of convincing her to stay close to home for college. Chloe knows what it takes to be the perfect Liang daughter--stay in Manila, study business management, and join the family company. But when she unexpectedly gets off the wait list for USC, her dream of becoming an animator in the United States is suddenly within reach. Chloe must decide if following her dreams is worth everything--and everyone--she'll be leaving behind.
Where Echoes Die
Two sisters travel to an isolated Arizona town to investigate its connection to their mother's death, but uncover more than they bargained for in this supernatural thriller. When Beck and her sister Riley arrive in Backravel, Arizona, it's clear that something's off. There are no cars, no cemeteries, no churches. As Beck searches for answers about her mother, she and the town's leader's daughter, Avery, are increasingly drawn together. Beck desperate to hold onto the way things used to be, starts losing herself in Backravel where she risks losing her way back out. This book is so much more than just a supernatural mystery. It's a coming-of-age, struggle of the human experience. The queer representation, the grief, the inability to put this one down. 5 star read.
Viva Lola Espinoza!
A debut young adult novel that's Pride & Prejudice with a dash of magic, about a booksmart teen who spends the summer in Mexico City, meets two very cute boys, attempts to learn Spanish, and uncovers a family secret that changes her life forever. Lola Espinoza is cursed in love. Well, maybe not actually cursed -- magic isn't real, is it? When Lola goes to spend the summer with her grandmother in Mexico City and meets handsome, flirtatious Rio, she discovers the unbelievable truth: Magic is very real, and what she'd always written off as bad luck is actually, truly . . . a curse. Over the course of one summer -- filled with food, family, and two very different boys -- Lola explores Mexico City while learning about herself, her heritage, and the magic around us all.
summer is here & we are ready to dive into reading
Let's get our kids off their phones, tablets & away from the tv. Let's get them outside & to their local library. Let's get them back into reading! It is our hope that you & your kids have found a few books off from our extensive summer reading list (that we will continue adding to all summer long). Write a few down & head to your local library or indie bookstore. Heck, purchase off our affiliate links if you're able! Show your kids that it's important to prioritize reading & that it is FUN! It only takes one book for kids to fall in love with reading -- we hope to help you find it.
Need any recommendations? Reach out to us on our socials or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org we'd love to help! We want to know, did you find a book that you'll be reading (with your kids or for yourself) this summer? Comment below!
For story time & a craft at the Wilson County Public Library THIS Monday, 6/26 at 4pm. We're reading our MOSS Kids Book Club June Pick Weather Together by Jessie Sima! Crafting a rainbow & a cloud. Making cards for our community outreach activity. And sending kids home with a packet of fun! We hope to see you there.
Did you know? We have a book wishlist!
We could use your book donations. We have been working diligently to refurbish & charter 5 Little Free Libraries for our local communities. We also donate to local schools, libraries, daycares, & pediatric offices to make accessing diverse & inclusive books easier! Please check out our book wishlist below. It does take a minute to load, we have over 400 books on there. Be sure to scroll & see what we've added. Purchase a book (or a few) off of our wishlist & the books are sent directly to us. We handle all the distributing. We can't tell you enough how much we appreciate your support & your donations. It's because of all of you that we are able to help all kids in all communities.