Growing Reader

The Ultimate Summer Reading List for Kids Ages 6 – 8

by Lindsay Barrett

Photo credit: Wavebreakmedia, iStock Collection/Getty Images

Early elementary school kids are at a blissful summer reading junction. They’re still young enough to curl up on a rainy afternoon or stretch out on a picnic blanket to listen to a great read aloud, but independent enough to enjoy books on their own as well. It’s important they do, too, to hang onto all that reading progress they made in school during the year. Stocking up on a variety of genres and reading levels, both stand-alone titles and irresistible series, means you’ll be ready for whatever reading mood each summer day brings. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  • Jasper & Ollie

    by Alex Willan

    Are you like Jasper the Fox, ultra-competitive and always racing to the next thing, or more like Ollie the sloth, relaxed and content to meander? Dynamic illustrations and comic book-style text give a hilarious but spot-on portrayal of these two friends’ opposite approaches to a pool day — and you can probably guess who learns a lesson in the end. Joining the ranks of other picture book duos with endearing differences, Jasper and Ollie are delightful reading companions for summer and beyond.

  • There Are No Bears in This Bakery

    by Julia Sarcone-Roach

    Muffin the cat works the night shift patrolling the Little Bear Bakery, where there are absolutely no bears — until the night that a cub and his mama show up, hungry for donuts. The clever humor and deadpan descriptions (“It was warm, like a bath mat in the sunshine. It smelled like that bath mat needed a bath”) are a perfect fit for this age group. Summon your best detective voice to read this gem, along with a plate of donuts, of course.

  • A Piglet Named Mercy

    by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

    Give fans of the Mercy Watson series — and its spinoff, Tales from Deckawoo Drive — a dose of cheery satisfaction with this lovely prequel that explains how Mercy the pig ended up part of the Watson family. Back in the days before porcine emergencies and run-ins with grouchy neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Watson were concerned that their lives were too predictable. All that changed when a chubby piglet with a predilection for buttered toast found her way to their doorstep. You’re guaranteed to sigh a contented “awww” at the end of this one. Plus, it offers a great excuse to revisit the original books.

  • Hats Off to Mr. Pockles!

    by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by David Litchfield

    Mr. Pockles has a hat for every occasion preserved pristinely in his home, but his collection does nothing to him earn a coveted invitation to Hat Day at the PandaPolitan Club — he’s a dog, not a panda. When an unexpected turn of events presents him with an opportunity to set aside his disappointment to help another, he throws his “jaunty with a friendly feather” hat to the wind and earns the tribute the title suggests. Sally Lloyd-Jones has a knack for crafting captivating stories that wrap timeless messages in quirky packages, and this friendship tale is no exception.

  • The Girl Who Named Pluto: The Story of Venetia Burney

    by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by Elizabeth Haidle

    When her class learns about the vastness of the solar system, along with the Greek and Roman stories behind many astronomical names, Venetia Burney is bursting with questions. The year is 1930, and when a new planet is discovered, she and her grandfather submit an idea for its name: Pluto. The fascinating true story comes full circle, portraying 89-year-old Venetia watching Pluto as it returns to view after a lengthy orbit around the sun. Balancing compelling storytelling with facts, readers will be empowered by this example of how children can contribute to science — and eager to get outside with a telescope.

  • The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare

    by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by Leuyen Pham

    Princess Magnolia heads to her school science fair in this most recent installment of the Princess in Black early chapter book series. It’s hard to focus on the science projects, though, when Tommy Wigtower’s volcano turns out to have a growing monster inside it! It takes some creative collaboration between princess friends — and innovative use of the science fair projects — to wrangle this tricky creature. The teamwork twist adds new depth to this fun series.

  • Jada Jones #3: Sleepover Scientist

    by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Nneka Myers and Vanessa Brantley-Newton

    When Jada’s parents say she can invite her school friends for a sleepover, she dreams big with science-themed plans. Her voice captures the mix of feelings kids can have about a highly-anticipated experience: so much excitement, but also anxiety that it won’t live up to expectations. Plus, she wrestles with the common dilemma of balancing what she wants to do (science, of course) with what her friends think is fun. Jada Jones is one of those series stars kids can genuinely relate to — and, in this case, score some serious sleepover tips!

  • Magic on the Map #1: Let’s Mooove

    by Courtney Sheinmel and Bianca Turetsky

    The new Magic on the Map series is perfect summer-adventure reading for fans of the Magic Tree House series. On the last day of second grade, twins Finn and Molly arrive home to discover that their father traded the family car for an RV. It seems like just one of their dad’s wacky schemes for family fun, until they discover the camper is actually a magic (and slightly sassy) Planet Earth Transporter. The sibling banter is relatable, as is the twins’ confusion while they learn the ropes (literally — their first stop is a ranch in Colorado) and figure out how to get home.

  • Warren & Dragon: Volcano Deluxe

    by Ariel Bernstein, illustrated by Mike Malbrough

    In this third installment of the Warren & Dragon series, Warren faces a familiar childhood pain: when he stumbles upon a Deluxe Volcano Building Set Supreme that he desperately wants, his heart-wrenching calculations about how he could earn enough money to buy it don’t add up. Then, a miscommunication with his twin sister, Ellie, morphs his entrepreneurial efforts into hosting a bake sale and magic show for charity. The antics of his hilarious alter-ego Dragon don’t help his cause, either. Complete with a feel-good surprise ending that packs plenty of kindness, this is a sweet summer read.

  • Freya & Zoose

    by Emily Butler, illustrated by Jennifer Thermes

    Freya & Zoose is the story of a penguin determined to overcome her tentativeness and a brash but ambitious mouse. It takes readers straight to the Arctic chill while warming hearts with portrayals of friendship and personal growth. The animals meet as stowaways on a Victorian hot-air-balloon mission to the North Pole — a mission that quickly takes an unexpected turn. The unusual situations, well-drawn characters, and ample illustrations give this title the feel of a children’s novel from generations past, making it well-suited as a family read aloud or an independent read for more confident growing readers.

  • Crafty Science: More that 20 Sensational STEAM Projects to Create from Home

    by Jane Bull

    Summer is the perfect time for STEAM, and this book of simple but cool ideas makes it easy to dive in without stocking up on lots of special supplies. Ideas range from timeless projects like a domino run and paper weaving to newer suggestions like shadow photos and kiddie pool pontoon boats. The science-based explanations included with each project are brief and engaging enough to teach kids a thing or two without reminding them of school.

  • Unlock Your Imagination: More Than 250 Boredom Busters

    by DK

    No matter how many great books a kid has stacked up to read over summer vacation, at some point, he or she will utter those fateful words: “I’m bored.” Enter Unlock Your Imagination. Scores of photos and fresh-feeling graphics (as well as a hefty encyclopedia-like quality, which earns points with kids in this age group) invite children to pore over this volume and plot their next activity. It gives kid-friendly directions and tips for enjoying old-school pastimes, including Capture the Flag, rubber band instruments, and favorite board games (with pieces included!), plus plenty of modern, not-yet-classic ideas like a recipe for Edible Marshmallow Slime.

Looking for summer reading ideas for younger or older kids? Check out our 2019 lists for Kids Ages 3 – 5, Ages 9 – 12, and Teens.