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Growing Reader

The Ultimate Summer Reading List for Kids Ages 6 – 8

by Naima Jasmine Russell

Photography by Seana Williamson

I don’t know about you, but I’m already looking forward to shorts, sunshine, and all things summer. In the past, our family spent a lot of time reading books together during the long summer days. This year, my kids will turn 6 and 8, which means more independent reading time.

Making sure you have a variety of books for kids to choose from during the summer break is helpful. They’re great for traveling, keeping your child interested in summer reading challenges, and preventing the summer slide.

Here are 22 excellent picture books, easy readers, graphic novels, and chapter books that will keep your kiddos reading all summer long.

  • Melody Lifts Her Voice (American Girl)

    by Bria Alston, illustrated by Parker-Nia Gordon and Shiane Salabie

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    We watched the movie Melody 1963: Love Has to Win during Black History Month, and my kids connected with the spirited young activist from the 1960s. Melody loves to sing and garden, and because of the civil rights movement, she feels empowered to use her voice to spark change in her community. This book also comes with 30 colorful stickers.

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  • Dinosaur Club: The T-Rex Attack

    by Rex Stone

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    A new dinosaur book series for ages 5 and up will stomp onto bookshelves this summer. The first book in the series follows Jamie and Tess as they travel back in time, where they meet some friendly and some not-so-friendly dinosaurs, like the T-Rex. This book will captivate any dino-crazy kid with exciting illustrations, dinosaur facts, timelines, quizzes, and more!

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  • The Case of the Missing Cheetah

    by Veronica Mang

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    Attention all mystery lovers, there’s a new illustrated chapter book series in town. A high-profile spy named Josephine Baker has lost her pet cheetah. She asks three adventure-seeking sleuths, Peggy, Rita, and Dot, to track her down. This series combines mystery, disguise, intrigue, and some of the most unforgettable women in history.

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  • Dinosaurs Before Dark

    by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Sal Murdocca

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    Magic Tree House is one of the first chapter book series that captured my oldest child’s interest. They are quick and interesting reads, giving new chapter book readers a sense of accomplishment. Readers follow Jack and Annie as the magic tree house transports them through time and on amazing adventures. Rescue animals in the Galveston hurricane of 1900, meet Jackie Robinson on the baseball mound, and replace one of William Shakespeare’s actors, to name a few. There are dozens of books in this series, so young readers will find something that interests them.

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  • The Secret Explorers and the Moon Mission

    by S.J. King

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    The Secret Explorers are a group of super-smart kids from all four corners of the world who band together to fix problems, solve mysteries, and gather knowledge. Each brilliant kid has a science specialty, from outer space to dinosaurs. Each story follows a character that gets chosen for a “secret exploration.” With 11 fun and fact-filled books in the series, you will find one that taps into your child’s interests and keeps STEM skills sharp.

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  • Magnificent Makers #1: How to Test a Friendship

    by Theanne Griffith, illustrated by Reggie Brown

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    Listed as a modern-day Magic School Bus chapter book series, the Magnificent Makers books are filled with STEM-tastic adventures. We follow friends Violet, Pablo, and Deepak as they discover a magic portal that leads to a secret science space. With laboratories full of robots, 3D printers, and a quirky scientist’s help, the Makers will master scientific concepts like biology and ecology while learning teamwork along the way. Each book comes with two science projects that readers can complete using common household materials.

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  • Up in the Air

    by Zoe Armstrong

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    Summer gives us lots of time to stop and gaze at the clouds. Use this gorgeous nature guide to feed your child’s curiosity about subjects like meteorology, botany, ornithology, and more. Topics such as weather patterns, tiny insects, and stars will build their knowledge about nature and the world above their heads. If it’s in the air, it’s in this book.

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  • The Nature Adventure Book

    by DK

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    My kids love two things — nature and crafts. This book is a natural choice if your kids love the same. This one checks all the boxes for 5-7-year-olds with colorful illustrations, outdoor crafts with step-by-step instructions, and loads of games and destination ideas. It will enthrall your little explorer for hours.

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  • What's Inside a Flower?

    by Rachel Ignotofsky

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    A budding botanist will dig into this beautifully illustrated non-fiction picture book by Rachel Ignotofsky. Bright colors and intricate doodles follow the growth cycle of flowers from seed to root to bloom. Diverse people gardening, friendly worms, and fun facts make this book a charming introduction to one of the best parts of nature.

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  • Nature Lover #6

    by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Nneka Myers

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    My oldest is currently reading the 3rd Jada Jones book, so it’s exciting to know the 6th book in this popular series will be out in time for summer.

    Jada Jones is excited because her Pop Pop, a fellow nature lover, gets to chaperone her outdoor class field trip. But one surprise after another pushes her out of her comfort zone, and she starts rethinking her love for the outdoors. Can Jada turn this nature trip around?

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  • Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet

    by Zanib Mian, illustrated by Nasaya Mafaridik

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    Omar and his family just moved, which means being the new kid at school. Omar worries that his teacher will be an alien (she isn’t), he won’t make friends (he does), and that the kids will be mean (one student is). Muslim prayers, family rituals, preparing for Ramadan, and his mother’s commitment to wearing a hijab make this a great mirror and window book for elementary schoolers. Omar’s imagination and his quirky family make this book light and joyful, even in the face of racial bullying by Omar’s new nemesis, Daniel.

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  • The Best of Iggy

    by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sam Ricks

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    Kids will love this chapter book from the writer of the popular Ivy + Bean series. Iggy Frangi isn’t a bad kid; he’s just passionate, funny, and prone to pranks. In this first book in the series, a dry narrator explains 9-year-old Iggy’s three unfortunate situations — only one of which Iggy feels sorry about. What did Iggy do? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

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  • J.D. and the Hair Show Showdown

    by J. Dillard, illustrated by Akeem S. Roberts

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    J.D., an 8-year-old kid with exceptional barber skills, wins an all-expenses-paid trip to Atlanta for the Beauty Brothers Hair Show. He’s the youngest barber at the hair conference and getting the V.I.P treatment. But will he get to take a picture with his favorite celebrity? A highly engaging story and graphic-style illustrations make the third installment in this chapter book series a win.

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  • Unicorn Academy #1: Sophia and Rainbow

    by Julie Sykes, illustrated by Lucy Truman

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    This magical series will enchant unicorn lovers familiar with Rainbow Magic, Purrmaids, or Princess Ponies. Unicorn Academy is a school where each student gets paired with a unicorn and must learn to talk to them. I love that each book in the 12-book series features a diverse range of girls, and each adventure is different.

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  • The Princess in Black and the Mermaid Princess

    by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

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    Who says princesses can’t wear black? The Princess in Black is a monster-fighting superhero who wears a cape or a crown, depending on the activity. It’s a favorite series in our home because the short chapters and fun illustrations make it easy to read. This series is perfect for newly independent readers. In the latest book, the Princess in Black is relaxing on Princess Sneezewort’s royal boat when a real-life mermaid princess emerges from the water, asking for help protecting her sea goats. We’ll definitely be reading this adventure!

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  • Yes We Will: Asian Americans Who Shaped This Country

    by Kelly Yang, illustrated by various artists

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    An amazing new picture book about Asian American change-makers that dreamed big. Each page highlights a different person with a one-line biography, so it’s an easy read-a-loud. This biography book is unique because a different Asian American artist illustrated each spread. Each time you turn the page, you feel like you’re stepping into a new book. Very cool!

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  • Just Help!

    by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Angela Dominguez

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    Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is back with a second book asking, “How did you help today?” Inspired by her childhood and her family’s desire to help others, this new picture book takes us on a journey through a neighborhood where everyone from kids, to bus drivers, activists, and strangers work together to help one another.

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  • A to Z Mysteries: The Yellow Yacht

    by Ron Roy, illustrated by John Steven Gurney

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    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 25th book, there is trouble in paradise. A robbery occurs, and it’s connected to a mysterious yellow yacht. Can the kids figure it out?

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  • A Mountain of a Problem

    by Ashlyn Anstee

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    Shelby and Watts are environmental crime solvers. Their newest case investigates why Violet the bear awakens from hibernation too early. Can Shelby and Watts figure out Violet’s problem before her son also wakes up? This series will introduce young readers to global warming with gentle language.

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  • Look What We Can Do!

    by Candy James

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    Fans of Elephant and Piggy or Narwhal and Jelly will welcome the hilarious new duo, Archie and Reddie. This third book in the series has the friends entering a talent show with a shiny red wagon as the grand prize. The only problem is that Archie and Reddie must invent a talent. This early reader graphic novel is a clear winner.

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  • Crack in the Code! (Minecraft Stonesword Saga #1)

    by Nick Eliopulos

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    You can’t go wrong with a new chapter book series from the bestselling game of all time.Minecraft Stonesword Saga follows a group of Minecraft players deep into the game as they try to find out who turned the Evoker King into stone. Theo, a new player, has excellent coding skills but is not a team player. Will his meddling put a crack in the game that none of them will survive?

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  • Scaredy Squirrel in a Nutshell

    by Melanie Watt

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    Scaredy Squirrel is hitting the graphic novel scene! Things haven’t changed much, though. He still likes the security of his home in the tree, and all the unknowns outside of it frighten him. But he can’t stay at home forever. Will he be brave enough to talk to the bunny that approaches him?

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Looking for summer reading ideas for younger or older kids? Check out our 2022 lists for Kids Ages 3 – 5, Ages 9 – 12, and Teens.