The Ultimate Summer Reading List for Kids Ages 6 – 8
by Elizabeth Harrison
Summer is the perfect time to get lost in the pages of a good book. The best books are entertaining and accessible, with formats including graphic novels and early readers. My favorite summer reading titles are lighthearted, imaginative stories that entertain kids while inspiring beyond-the-book creative play and projects. Let’s check out some of my favorite titles for 2023 Summer Reading.
The Underdogs Catch a Cat Burglar
In this hilarious mystery, The Underdog Detective Agency investigates a string of burglaries by a sly cat burglar. To catch the burglar, they do the unthinkable and bring on a brand new detective — a cat! This first title in The Underdogs chapter book series will keep young readers laughing as they try to crack the case. It’s excellent for cat and dog lovers and may inspire little readers to hunt for their own mysteries to solve.
The World Belonged to Us
As a kid, I spent a ton of time with my neighbor friends throughout the summer months. This incredible picture book captures the summer spirit of a Brooklyn neighborhood “not so long ago.” We see children owning their block — playing Double Dutch and other games, splashing in water from a fire hydrant, chasing the ice cream truck, and embracing the freedom, joy, and possibility that summer brings. This spirited book will give your young readers some fun summertime ideas!
The Kids of Cattywampus Street
In the spirit of Louis Sachar and Roald Dahl, this title tells the stories of a special group of friends living on Cattywampus Street. Each of the eleven chapters tells a different child’s account, making it perfect as a bedtime read-aloud. Wacky, mysterious, sad, scary, and joyful, each story offers something unique, but they’re all connected to the neighborhood’s local toy shop.
Marshmallow Martians: Show and Smell
In this silly graphic chapter book, a group of Earth-obsessed aliens learns about a curious tradition: “show and smell.” Their crew embarks on a journey to one of Earth’s amusement parks to retrieve the smelliest smells to show off on their home planet. What scents would your reader share at their “show and smell?” Colorful and joyful, this is an excellent, lighthearted read for early readers transitioning into chapter books.
The Fantastic Bureau of Imagination
Kids have a lot of time to kill during the summer. Imagination and creativity can go a long way in keeping kids entertained! In The Fantastic Bureau of Imagination, we meet a little creature or “figment” who works with the mail at the bureau: Sparky. With a dragon named Brenda, Sparky saves The Cave of Untold Stories, encouraging the world to get out there and express themselves. After reading, encourage kids to write stories and design their own figments inspired by the book.
José and El Perro
This delightful new early reader book tells José’s story as he gets and trains his new shelter dog. This title incorporates both English and Spanish, which is an essential part of its plot. As José teaches his dog new Spanish commands, readers learn new words in Spanish! At the end of the story, there are Spanish/English translations to teach readers unknown words.
Dragons in a Bag
Jaxon spends the day with an elderly lady his mom calls “Ma.” Jax quickly learns Ma isn’t his grandmother — she is a witch. And she needs Jax’s help delivering baby dragons to safety in a magical world. This young urban fantasy is an absolute page-turner and the perfect summertime adventure for reluctant readers. It also makes a fabulous family read-aloud or book club pick!
It is Oliver’s birthday, and he’s spending the day with his family at the zoo — sort of. Oliver has a mesmerizing new lollipop, and it’s all he can think about! But when things go south, and Oliver’s treat disappears, he learns that the sweetest present is all around him. This picture book makes me think of summer outings that don’t always go as planned, yet still become cherished memories.
Mystery at Mermaid Lagoon (Disney The Never Girls: Graphic Novel #1)
The Never Girls are back with a brand new graphic novel series! In Mystery at Mermaid Lagoon, four girls and their fairy friends encounter a mermaid-pirate feud and work together to solve a mystery. Water plays a significant part in many kids’ summertime adventures, and the mermaid and pirate storyline would be fun and imaginative to play out at the pool or lake.
Mario’s Big Adventure (Nintendo and Illumination present The Super Mario Bros. Movie)
I am a big fan of books with media tie-ins: anything to get kids excited about reading is a win! This full-color Step 3 Step into Reading leveled reader is based on The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Parents of my generation who have fond memories of The Super Mario Bros. will have fun reading this one with their children.
Aspiring marine biologists will have a blast with this early graphic novel featuring two shark princesses having adventures under the sea. This second installment in the Shark Princess series is packed with puns and different types of sharks – most of which I’ve never heard of! This book also offers the opportunity for social-emotional learning with its lesson on recognizing and appreciating one’s introversion and need for alone time.
Gustav Is Missing!: A Tale of Friendship and Bravery
In this adorable and charming picture book, Little Cap musters up his courage and ventures beyond his home to find his missing pet slug, Gustav. The illustrations are delightful with cottagecore vibes. Cautious children will empathize with Little Cap’s anxieties and root him on throughout his rescue mission. They may even feel inspired to embark on their own adventures throughout the summer.
A to Z Mysteries Super Edition: Leopards on the Loose
This classic mystery series is perfect for a summer reading challenge. Kids will help Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose solve mysteries from A to Z. Cases like The Runaway Racehorse, The Panda Puzzle, or The Quicksand Question will hook young readers. In this book, there's trouble at the San Diego Zoo when a rare leopard goes missing. Can the kids figure out how it got out?
Knock-Knock Jokes and Silly Stories for Kids
What kid doesn’t love knock-knock jokes? This title offers hundreds of jokes and silly stories for budding comedians to enjoy. The book uniquely supports early readers by progressing from short jokes to full-page stories. Kids can further their reading skills while becoming epic joke-tellers and filling their days with laughter.
Fun with National Parks
Even if kids can’t visit any National Parks in person this summer, they CAN explore them in the pages of this book! Featuring all 63 National Parks, this travel activity book offers fun facts and games galore. This book is an epic way to keep kids learning throughout the summer!
Inspire kids to dream big this summer with this beautiful story of a little girl whose ingenuity helps her grandmother’s convenience store stay afloat during a summer heat wave. For a fun lemonade stand alternative, kids can use the mango ice candy recipe provided in the book – the same cold treat Nora makes!
Young readers will be itching to hit the beach after reading this story! A frantic puppy finding his calm at the shore is an excellent book for helping develop skills for easing transitions (e.g., from summer to back-to-school season), as it shows readers how they can find peace and bring it with them wherever they go. A 2023 Caldecott Winner, it’s a future classic.
The Case of the Musical Mishap
Attention all mystery lovers, the Secret Spy Society is back with a new case to solve. When the school's band instruments start disappearing one by one, adventure-seeking sleuths, Peggy, Rita, and Dot, are ready to help track them down. This series combines mystery, disguise, intrigue, and some of the most unforgettable women in history.
More Great Summer Reads for 6- to 8-Year-Olds:
Melody Lifts Her Voice (American Girl)
Dinosaur Club: The T-Rex Attack
Dinosaurs Before Dark
The Secret Explorers and the Moon Mission
Up in the AirPreorder from:
The Nature Adventure Book
What's Inside a Flower?
Nature Lover #6
Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet
The Best of Iggy
J.D. and the Hair Show Showdown
Unicorn Academy #1: Sophia and Rainbow
A Mountain of a Problem
Look What We Can Do!
Scaredy Squirrel in a Nutshell
Looking for summer reading ideas for younger or older kids? Check out our 2023 lists for Kids Ages 3 – 5, Ages 9 – 12, and Teens.