Looking for the best summer reads for your elementary children? Look no further!
Every summer, we would absolutely raid our local library and go to town each week. We’d bring so many books home it was hard to keep track.
And honestly, only a couple really caught our attention and our hearts.
Which is the whole reason I’ve created this perfect reading list to go through with your young elementary students this summer.
You can find these summer reading list books at your local library or purchase through the affiliate links provided for your convenience. And a special thanks to the Association for Library Service for the wonderful summer reading inspiration.
Best Summer Reads for Young Students
Winner of the 2019 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award! A New York Times / New York Public Library Best Illustrated Book of 2018.
Dreamers is a celebration of what migrants bring with them when they leave their homes. It’s a story about family. And it’s a story to remind us that we are all dreamers, bringing our own gifts wherever we roam.
Beautiful and powerful at any time but given particular urgency as the status of our own Dreamers becomes uncertain, this is a story that is both topical and timeless.
A 2019 Caldecott Honor Book. Winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award.
In this remarkable author-illustrator debut that’s perfect for fans of Last Stop on Market Streetand Extra Yarn, a generous woman is rewarded by her community. Oge Mora brings to life a heartwarming story of sharing and community in colorful cut-paper designs as luscious as Omu’s stew, with an extra serving of love.
Winner of the 2019 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award
Fun-loving, mischievous Fox wishes he were a tiger. Tigers are big and fast and sneaky. So he decides to become one! In Fox the Tiger, this winning trickster character and his animal friends learn that the best thing to be is yourself.
2019 Sibert Honor Book. 2019 Orbis Pictus Honor Book. NPR’s Guide To 2018’s Great Reads. Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2018. School Library Journal Best Books of 2018. And more!
The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences.
A 2019 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor book. A 2018 Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of the Year. A School Library Journal Best Graphic Novel of 2018.
In this charming graphic novel for young readers, cartoonist Emily Tetri proves that unlikely best friends can be an unbeatable team, even against the scariest monsters.
The 2019 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner.
In an astonishing unfurling of our universe, Newbery Honor winner Marion Dane Bauer and Caldecott Honor winner Ekua Holmes celebrate the birth of every child.
In a poetic text, this book takes readers from the trillionth of a second when our universe was born to the singularities that became each one of us, while vivid illustrations capture the void before the Big Bang and the ensuing life that burst across galaxies.
A Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of 2018.
Aaron Reynolds, the author of Nerdy Berdy and Creepy Carrots! teams up with Dan Santat, the Caldecott–winning illustrator behind The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend to create the hilarious, gnarly summer adventure picture book, Dude!
PBS Books Best Children’s Picture Books of 2018. Brightly List: Best Children’s Books of March 2018. Story Time From Space selection: Will be read by an astronaut on the Space Station!
In a remarkable collaboration, Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton celebrate the sea in all its changing moods — and the place it holds in our hearts and minds.
This funny and factual picture book from Awkward Yeti creator Nick Seluk explains every part of the Sun’s big job: keeping our solar system together, giving Earth day and night, keeping us warm, and more. In fact, the Sun does so much for us that we wouldn’t be alive without it. That’s kind of a big deal.
Every winter, a young girl flies to Haiti to visit her Auntie Luce, a painter. The girl has always loved Auntie Luce’s paintings ― the houses tucked into the hillside, colorful fishing boats by the water, heroes who fought for and won the country’s independence.
Through Haiti’s colors, the girl comes to understand this place her family calls home. And when the moment finally comes to have her own portrait painted for the first time, she begins to see herself in a new way, tracing her own history and identity through her aunt’s brush.
Meet Yasmin! Yasmin is a spirited second-grader who’s always on the lookout for those “aha” moments to help her solve life’s little problems.
Taking inspiration from her surroundings and her big imagination, she boldly faces any situation, assuming her imagination doesn’t get too big, of course! A creative thinker and curious explorer, Yasmin and her multi-generational Pakistani American family will delight and inspire readers.
A moving, poetic story about a whale in captivity who longs for the ocean . . . because whales don’t belong in fishbowls, do they?
An Amazon Best Book of the Month!
A beautiful picture book for sharing, inspired by the life of the first African American woman to travel in space, Mae Jemison. This book will inspire other young girls to reach for the stars, to aspire for the impossible, and to persist with childlike imagination.
Poet Pat Mora has brought together a collection of her poems that celebrates engaging with words and books in all these ways and more.
Vivid illustrations by Raúl Colón bring the poems to life and interpret the magic of the language with captivating images in a style influenced by Mexican muralists. Together the poems and illustrations are sure to inspire creative wordplay in readers of all ages.
Based on the New York Times bestselling book and the Academy Award–nominated movie, author Margot Lee Shetterly and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award winner Laura Freeman bring the incredibly inspiring true story of four black women who helped NASA launch men into space to picture book readers!
More than 30 gloopy, gooey, colorful DIY slime recipes will mesmerize kids by showing them how to make slime! All projects in The Slime Book are shown with clear step-by-step images and a vibrant final image of the slimy stuff.
With bouncy, rhyming text and imaginative, whimsical illustrations, Our Celebración! is the perfect way to enjoy a summer day–or any day–and learn some Spanish too!
Marvel at the people riding motociclos, bicycles, triciclos, and unicycles. Duck out of the way as firefighters spray water everywhere. Clap to the music as people playing clarinetes, saxophones, trompetas, and drums march by. Feast on lemonade, watermelon, tacos, and helado.
New York Times Notable Children’s Books of 2017.
After a long day of jumping in leaves and reading her favorite books, this little girl is worn out, but her favorite stuffed animal, Planet, is just getting started.
This tender, gorgeous tale by the internationally renowned cartoonist Liniers will reveal to early readers the wonders that exist at night, in secret, after they close their eyes.
The soccer season is starting, and Mo has been working hard on his kicking skills so he can help his team, the Billy Goats, score a goal. But when he gets on the field on game day, it seems like all he gets to do is run back and forth.
Will Mo ever get the chance to show his team what he can do?
There are so many different kinds of animals at the zoo, and they each make lots and lots (and sometimes LOTS!) of poo. So what do zoos do with all of that poo?
This zany, fact-filled romp explores zoo poo, from cube-shaped wombat poo to white hyena scat, and all of the places it ends up, including in science labs and elephant-poo paper—even backyard gardens!
More Best Summer Reads
Working up the courage to take a big, important leap is hard, but Jabari is almost absolutely ready to make a giant splash.
In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.
In this graphic novel, debut author and illustrator Drew Brockington breathes life into a world populated entirely by cats, brimming with jokes, charm, science, and enough big boxes and tuna sandwiches for everyone!
Finalist for the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books
Get a bug’s-eye-view on the life cycle of the praying mantis, in this hilarious, scientifically accurate Nature Diary following an insect through her whole summer.
From Katherine’s early beginnings as a gifted student to her heroic accomplishments as a prominent mathematician at NASA, Counting on Katherine is the story of a groundbreaking American woman who not only calculated the course of moon landings but, in turn, saved lives and made enormous contributions to history.
A potato and his eggplant nemesis struggle to find the perfect pants in this hilarious, heartwarming tale of forgiveness by bestselling Geisel-Award winning creator Laurie Keller.
Like these best summer reads? Don’t miss out on other age-appropriate summer reading lists for all the kiddos – from Kindergarten all the way through 8th grade!
And while you’re at it, find free summer reading programs in your area!