The ultimate summer reading list for early elementary kids

Just like the early readers themselves, these books range from short chapter books to longer picture books. With writing and topics that kids will find fun, the new tomes are perfect to pull kids away for even a week away from the school-released list.

Bea Garcia, The Tree and Me, by Deborah Zemke

The delightful addition to the Bea Garcia series is a chapter book with a lesson about trees and community spirit. As a tree that Bea and her best friend, Einstein, are fond of is threatened with removal, the pair invigorate the class – and Bea’s nemesis – to help save the tree.

The Hideout, by Susanna Mattiangeli

Someone is calling for Hannah, but she has found a great hiding space with an Odd Furry Creature in the park. This book is for all the kids who get lost in their own imaginations, and the family that is always looking for them.

How to Be a Supervillain, Bad Guys Finish First, by Michael Fry

The illustrator of the “Over the Hedge” comic strip brings in the next installment of the supervillain series. Victor Spoil decides to be a librarion, only to discover that the secret society of librarians are trying to control the world. With delightful illustrations that make this half reading, half comic fun, this is a great long-trip book of summer reading.

The Heart of a Boy, by Kate T. Parker

From the photographer and author of “Strong is the New Pretty,” comes a book with interviews and photos of boys learning and growing. Perfect for both boys and girls, this book is full of photos of success and failure and how kids learn and grow together. It shows that strength isn’t just about muscles. 

I’m Trying to Love Math, by Bethany Barton

If parents are worried about a summer slide, fear no more, this book is here to the rescue. First, Barton hopes to shake the fear of math, and with a little comedy, a little pizza and some ice cream, this book is worth the trick. Written for ages 4-8, even older kids with math confusions can find the fun in numbers. 

When Sue Found Sue, by Toni Buzzeo

Chicago-area residents know Sue the T.rex who calls the Field Museum home. The story of how Sue Hendrickson discovered Sue the dino is one of a shy girl who likes to find things. Bright illustrations and a witty story combine for a great read to prep kids for a summer of learning. 

Tony T-Rex’s Family Album, by Prof. Mike Benton

Kids who love dinosaurs will go back to this book again and again. With fun names for each species – like Big-Bellied Bill for the Brachiosaurus – and deep dives into where in the world the species were from and can be found on display, the book is as a delight for parents as it is for kids. 

Ranger Rick’s Storybook: Favorite Tales from Ranger Rick Magazine

“Ranger Rick” magazine began publishing in 1967 and this book compiles the best nature stories for young readers. Each adventure is only a few pages, and the 22 stories give kids a look into the creatures – wild and familiar – that share our world. 

No Boring Stories!, by Julie Falatko & Charles Santoso

Between a tale of a princess and her posse and a writing group gone awry, kids will learn the construct of a story and how to write one. From beginnings that need endings and endings searching for a good beginning, a cluster of friends develops and writes a heroic, epic tome. 

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, The Poetry of Fred Rogers

The poetry includes songs that were written for “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and “The Children’s Corner,” and were performed by Fred Rogers and Company on the shows. Opening with “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” and closing with “It’s Such a Good Feeling,” topics include adults and parents, shyness, home and listening among many others. 

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