42 Summer Reading Recommendations from Kids and Parents: Novels and Chapter Books

42 Summer Reading Recommendations from Kids and Parents: Novels and Chapter Books

What will YOUR kids be reading this Summer? We asked a number of parents we know that question, and ended up with a fantastic list of great reads, which is sure to inspire!

Samurai vs Ninja Battle for the Golden EggIt was a real joy collating the list – not only did we discover a few book gems we weren’t familiar with; we also heard some wonderful stories about what makes kids fall in love with particular books or series, and how they share their reading with others in their lives.

We heard about favourites kids will re-read over and over again, the next book in a series or by an author they’ve loved, as well as a few surprises they’ll be discovering in their Christmas stockings.

Here’s Part One of the list: novels and chapter books. (You’ll find cover images for all of these books at the bottom of this article; click on the titles or cover images for more information about each book or to purchase a copy.)

We weren’t surprised to find that a lot of kids are hooked on book series. (Read our article about why series are great for children for more on this.) At the younger end, series nominations included the Hey Jack! books (one mum told us ‘Jack is just like my 7 year old’), Samurai vs Ninja, Little Lunch (‘a favourite re-read’) and Beast Quest.

Bad Guys Mission UnpluckableThere’s a lot of love for Aaron Blabey’s recently-launched, highly-illustrated Bad Guys series, with mums commenting ‘now they’re a find’ and ‘so funny, clever and cheeky.’

The Tashi series also got multiple mentions, both as a new discovery (‘my Year 2 boy loves reading these together and reading them by himself’) and a favourite to re-read. One mum reported that:

‘she adores Tashi and will probably re-read her way through
the entire box set of 16 books over the holidays.
It is great to take away to the beach as the individual books don’t take up a whole lot of space when packed in their box,
but you have a whole library of stories to choose from …’

Moving up in ages, boys and girls across a broad age range continue to enjoy the mega-hit series Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Treehouse, which suit both enthusiastic and less keen readers. On Wimpy Kid, we received comments ranging from ‘she’s not a reader, but if she does extract herself from dancing etc, she likes this series’ and ‘he reads plenty of other books but returns to these for something easy on the mind’.

Top of the Class Tom Gates 9Other high-profiles series on our list include Tom Gates (‘my 9 year old loves these and wants another for Christmas’; ‘she’s read all of them’), WeirDo (‘he’s re-reading the latest and giggling through all the others again too’) and the fantasy quest Ranger’s Apprentice.

The Harry Potter series continues to delight, and we loved this story about a young boy who has his eye on the gorgeous new, illustrated edition of Philosopher’s Stone:

‘he loved it from the first moment we saw it in a bookshop window
and has to complete a 60 star star-chart before he can have it!’
(When we last checked, the boy in question
was well over halfway through his star chart.)

Sporting series written or co-written by high-profile sportsmen continue to be popular. David Warner’s Kaboom Kid received several mentions. Other Summer must-reads included the ‘Glenn Maxwell’ series, Israel Foloua’s ‘Izzy Folau’ books and Billy Slater Presents.

Shamini Flint’s ‘Diary of a …’ series features the very un-sporty Marcus trying out soccer, cricket, taekwondo, swimming and more, with hilarious results. It suits kids from around 7 and up, but we loved this story about how it’s become a Summer tradition for one older boy:

‘he’s looking forward to finding the latest in his Christmas stocking. He has read one every Christmas Day
for three years now and it seems to have become an important part of the day for him.’

Phyllis Wong Forgotten SecretsIf you’re already familiar with the above high-profile series, perhaps seek out some of these newer or lesser-known treats: Phyllis Wong (‘my 12 year old read the first – quite fat! – book in one day and wants the others’), Danny Best (‘it’s hilarious and imaginative. This has been our gift of choice for my 9 year old’s friends this year’), and The Caddy Kids.

Nicole Brownlee, founder of Storybox Library, nominates the Lulu Bell series by Belinda Murrell (‘a lovely easy read for my 9 year old. Lulu is in the same year at school and there are so many similarities. It’s like a visit from a good friend’) and the Ella Diaries (‘easy summer read, diaries are always a winner, and this series is full of fun, random little moments. My daughter will be getting her own diary for Christmas along with one or two of Ella’s.)

The You Choose books are a big hit with one of the 9 year olds we surveyed:

the writer came to their school recently and the kids loved them
because you can choose multiple endings until you get the right one. I know there’s been something similar done before but these are new – he wants another one for Christmas.’

A final series nomination comes from the mum of an 11 year old: ‘he’ll be reading the third book in the Maze Runner series because he read books 1 & 2 AFTER seeing each film at the cinema but now wants to know what will happen BEFORE seeing the third.’ [BRK Note: this series has some quite strong violence and sophisticated content so some parents might prefer to wait till their kids are a little older before offering it to them.]

Series books will make up a huge proportion of kids’ Summer reading, but they’ll also be enjoying an eclectic selection of classic and newer one-off novels.

accidental prime ministerDavid Walliams (sometimes called ‘the new Roald Dahl’) is popular with boys and girls across a wide age range – in several families both the older and younger siblings are enjoying his books, because they can be read on different levels (‘he traverses some sensitive subject matter in an accessible form’). Walliams’ latest, Grandpa’s Great Escape, received several mentions, and Billionaire Boy, Gangsta Granny and Mr Stink are favourites, too.

Also in humorous fiction, The Accidental Prime Minister and Cosmic will be tucked into one boy’s Christmas stocking. The new hardcover collection Laugh Your Head Off is another gift sure to bring a smile.

Locket of Dreams (one of several time-slip stories from Belinda Murrell) and St Clare’s the First Year (a collection of three of Enid Blyton’s classic school stories in one volume) both feature strong girl characters. And talking of much-loved, classic authors, Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and her other ‘Fudge’ books received mentions, too.

One family are eagerly awaiting the next book from The Fantastic Family Whipple author Matthew Ward.

Morris Gleitzman’s Soon (and the prequels, Now and After) and the extraordinary Wonder (and follow-up, Auggie and Me) tackle serious topics in a compelling way – several kids are re-reading them again and again.

While many of the children we surveyed enjoy reading some books on their own, reading with their parents and other adults is still a really important part of their lives. We loved hearing about some of the special books families are planning to read together over the Summer.

Tale of DespereauxBrian Selznick’s books (including The Invention of Hugo Cabret and the new The Marvels) received multiple nominations.

Nicole from Story Box Library mentioned Tale of Despereaux:

‘my 9 year old and I will read this together. We love to share classics and discuss the stories, characters and the language used. This is special mother and daughter time!’

The Phantom Tollbooth, The Invisible Boy (one of a number of stories about ‘magical children’ from Sally Gardner), Oliver and the Seawigs and the classic Goodnight Mister Tom are also being enjoyed as read-alouds.

Phew, that’s an amazing 42 Summer reading recommendations! We have to say a huge thank-you to all the parents – publishing and book industry colleagues, family, friends and friends-of-friends – who took time to help us with this list. We hope you’ve all discovered some wonderful new reads in the process!

For more:

See our list of Summer Reading Non-Fiction Recommendations

What will your kids be reading this Summer? We’d love to hear from you in comments.

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  1. BJ Mac says:

    The Anti-Princess Club series published by Allen and Unwin this year – five books in it so far

    • Better Reading says:

      Thanks, BJ – it’s a great series, isn’t it? Terrific characters. (In fact we are running a giveaway of the new, fifth, book on our facebook page 17th-22nd December!)