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You CAN Encourage Summer Reading: Book List K-6 Grade Levels (Elementary Students)

You CAN Encourage Summer Reading: Book List K-6 Grade Levels (Elementary Students)

As summer break approaches, you need two things to help your child manage their summer reading.

First, you need a list of books for kids to read to prevent the summer slide. And all the lists have the same books. Looking for something unique? We have that unique book list below.

Second, you need a reading log to help your kids keep track of their summertime reading. Download this free printable now. 

2023 Summer Reading Log

Why a Summer Reading List?

It used to be accepted wisdom that the long summer vacation could result in an achievement gap unless there was a lot of enrichment. But the original studies couldn't be replicated. Educators now wonder if there's a real gap or just a perceived gap. Regardless, elementary school still offer summer reading lists of great children's books.

Encourage Lifelong Reading Habits

As smart parents and teachers, however, you can use summer reading to encourage kids to become lifelong learners. Whenever possible, let kids choose their own books because 91% of kids say their favorite book is one they chose themselves. We've written before about how you can teach kids to choose great books.

Here are some suggested goals to help you find a good book for your summer reading program:

  • Develop lifelong reading habits.
  • New books or new-to-this-reader should be one of the main goals of summer reading lists. Newly published or classic works here.
  • Help kids stretch to read something in a new genre. If they always read science fiction, then encourage historical fiction. Or encourage them to try a graphic novel. Experiment! Have fun!
  • Look for a new best friend! Read for a main character that will keep the reader coming back to a strong book series.
  • Young readers can try moving up to chapter books. You may need to help them by reading every other page, or every other chapter.
  • Don't worry about reading levels! Let your kids explore books of any level, as long as the topics are appropriate. They'd quickly put down books that are too hard. Or maybe, hopefully, they'll stretch their reading level to learn something that fascinates them.
  • The best things in life are free. Visit the local public library often. Start or join a book club

Recommended Picture Books

Here are some recommended summer reading picture books. Click on the book covers for more information.

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross book cover

 The oldest known wild bird in the world is Wisdom, the Midway Albatross. She was by ornithologist Chandler Robbins on December 10, 1956. They assumed she was at least five years old because the Laysan albatrosses must be at least five years old before they breed, and she had laid an egg and was sitting on the nest. That means she is a minimum of 72 years old! True story, nonfiction! Sure to fascinate young readers!

World Albatross Day is June 19, so it's a great book to read in early June.

A Little Bit of Dinosaur
Kids love dinosaurs! But kids especially love this book about dinosaurs because it shows that it is scientifically possible that they may have an atom that used to be in a dinosaur. Such fun! Before, kids have just read about dinosaur, but in A Little Bit of Dinosaur, they can become a dinosaur. This is absolutely possible.
Wonky cover
Do you have kids interested in robots or tech? This simple text introduces the idea of form v. function. Do you design things to look good, or to fill a certain function? Will it DO what you want, or will it LOOK as you want? Two unlikely characters find that they can work together when they work out this basic principle.

See more: 30 Picture Books 

Recommended Just-Right Books for the Transition from Picture Books to Chapter Books

Here are some recommended summer reading short chapter books (10 Books) 

Kell, the Alien

This fun book, Kell, the Alien, comes in at 530L reading level which is a lower 2nd-grade reading level. At 10,000 words, it's broken into short chapters, and breaks up text with fun black and white illustrations. All this is meant to create a fun reading experience for the transitional reader, without making it too hard. We need it to be just right in complexity and appeal. 

And this book delivers the fun! Look at this main character! Isn't he charming? Perfect for kids learning to read.

Kell, the Alien

Does 10,000 words sound too hard? Let's step back to a 490L and only 3500 words. This is quite short and easy for the transitional reader. If you're not sure of your readers' skills, start with this one. The b/w illustrations are especially fun here because the characters are learning sign language.

Sign language for horse
American Sign Language (ASL) for HORSE
Yes, this takes place on Halloween, but the friendship and the ASL make it great fun for a summer read.
got me a cat


See More:  2nd-4th grade reading lists - 30 books

Recommended Middle Grade Books

 Here are some recommended middle grade chapter books or novels.

Longing for Normal

Persistence, empathy, and courage loom large in this book about a boy and girl searching for their forever homes. I should have titled this, The Amazing Bread Project, because a sourdough starter also grows throughout the story, spreading love and community. If your kids need a dose of empathy (what educators today call social-emotional learning), Longing for Normal is a great choice. 

Penelope and Santiago

On the other hand, if your kids want adventure then join Penelope and Santiago, those courageous pigs, who sail the seven seas. Yes, pigs at sea. This book started after the 911 Tragedy when the Twin Towers came down. I was sitting at a table with my son and his friend and asked them what I should write next.

Pigs at sea, they said.

So, it began, as all good adventures do on the MacDonald farm where Santiago was brought in to replace the old pig. But he dreamed of sailing, and when Penelope heard this, it was love at first sight. They escape the farm and the adventures begin.

By the way, the illustrator of this cover is Ukrainian, and he finished it just before the Russian invasion. The last I heard, he's safe. What an amazing artist. Click on the cover to see it larger.

See More: 4th-6th grade books. - 33 books

Don't forget the Audiobooks for listening to while you travel.

As the summer months wind down, you may need books that travel with you. eBooks and audiobooks are perfect books to keep kids happy on long car or plane rides. Most of Mims House's picture books and many of our chapter books are available as audiobooks and ebooks (How to Read Mims House eBooks and Audiobooks).  

That's it! Unique recommendations for summer reading for elementary students. Enjoy the lazy days of summer! Read!

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About Darcy Pattison

Children’s book author and indie publisher DARCY PATTISON writes award-winning fiction and non-fiction books for children. Five books have received starred PW, Kirkus, or BCCB reviews. Awards include the Irma Black Honor award, five NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books, two Eureka! Nonfiction Honor book, two Junior Library Guild selections, two NCTE Notable Children’s Book in Language Arts, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book, an Arkansiana Award, and the Susannah DeBlack Arkansas Children’s History Book
award. She’s the 2007 recipient of the Arkansas Governor’s Arts Award for Individual Artist for her work in children’s literature. Her books have been translated into ten languages.

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