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My name is Amy. I live with my husband and two kids in Frisco, Texas. I’m passionate about my local community, living a frugal lifestyle, and writing in support of mothers, marriages, and families. Thanks for following along!

Summer Reading Recommendations for Kids

Summer Reading Recommendations for Kids

I am so excited about this post! My dear friend, Shelby, is taking over the Frugal Frisco Momma blog today to give us her summer reading recommendations for kids. As you will soon discover, Shelby is a children’s book expert and is more than qualified to make these recommendations. I hope you and your kiddos enjoy many of these selections over the summer, and beyond! Without further ado, here’s Shelby…

Well hello, fellow frugal mommas! I am so honored to be a guest on the blog today. Like our wonderful host, I too am a stay-at-home mom to two wonderfully amazing kiddos, my 9-year-old son Grayson and my 6-year-old daughter Scarlett. Before I made the switch to being the COO of our household, however, I actually showered, got dressed, and left the house every day to teach English, Language Arts, and Reading to middle schoolers. Can I share a shocking secret with you? I absolutely loved teaching middle school! I know it’s hard to believe, but those awkward teenagers were such a joy. Although I haven’t been paid to be in a classroom for 9 years now, I still feel like a Language Arts teacher every day as I encourage my kids to grow as readers.

My kids absolutely love books, but this didn’t just happen overnight. I’ve been brainwashing them since birth. My almost-fourth-grade son logged 900 minutes of summer reading before he left for camp last Sunday, and my beginning reader daughter has logged well over 700 so far. (We really love books, people.) Even if hours of reading every day isn’t your goal as a family, there are several ways to encourage your kiddos to pick up a book and dive into reading this summer.

One of the easiest ways to help your kids learn to read is to sit down and read to them. Yes, even your 9-year-old that has been reading independently for years. As a classroom teacher, I regularly read aloud to my 12 and 13 year old students, and you know what? They loved it! And now, as a mom, I read books out loud to my kids every night. But if reading out loud to your kids at bedtime seems like a chore or is intimidating, another great way to sneak in reading is to listen to audiobooks in the car. Even short rides to Target and back can gain your kids 20 minutes of reading time.

Another tip for raising readers is to convince them that reading books is a reward, not a chore. Instead of saying, “You have to read for at least 20 minutes (chore) before you can watch TV (reward)” I try to say, “If you can get your stuff picked up quickly (chore), we can probably sneak in a quick trip to Barnes and Noble (reward) before dinner.” No amount of brainwashing will turn your kids into readers, though, if they don’t find books that appeal to them. I hope I can help you find some your kids will love. 

I wish I could share every one of our favorites with you, but it would be exhausting to sift through them all, so I am narrowing down my selections to give you a jumping off point. My favorite types of books are ones that my kids love, but it’s equally important to choose books that I actually enjoy reading as well (no terrible TV character adaptations!), so all the books on these lists are ones that my kids choose to read on their own, but that I have read aloud and loved as well. Also, it’s important to me that books encourage good character in my kids - this is another opportunity for brainwashing, mommas. We want our kids to be kind, smart, and independent, so the books we read should reinforce those traits as well. WIthout further ado, here are my recommendations for you and your kiddos. I hope they prove to be winners in your household, too! 

PICTURE BOOKS: In picture books, the illustrations are as equally important to the storyline as the words themselves, and each page features minimal amounts of words in comparison to the quantity of pictures. These are ideal for young children and emerging readers. I consider it a bonus if the words in picture books rhyme, as that helps develop beginning reading skills much earlier. The following picture books are some of our newer favorites.

  • Crunch the Shy Dinosaur by Cirocco Dunlap

  • Shake the Tree by Chiara Vignocchi and Silvia Borando

  • The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett

  • Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor by Patricia Valdez

  • I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen


BEGINNING READERS: The books in this category are great choices for your littles who are beginning to read  and want to move on to reading “Chapter Books.” They’re set up in chapters, but have lots of illustrations and fewer words per page than true Early Chapter Books.

  • Fly Guy series by Tedd Arnold

  • Unicorn and Yeti series by Heather Aryis Burnell

  • Narwhal and Jelly series by Ben Clanton

  • Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes


EARLY CHAPTER BOOKS: The books is this section offer a bit more of a challenge for young readers who have built up stamina and won’t be intimidated by a slightly thicker book. The books are broken into chapters and include more words per page and fewer pictures.

  • Princess in Black series by Dean Hale and Shannon Hale

  • The Adventures of Sophie Mouse series by Poppy Green

  • Bad Kitty series by Nick Bruel

  • The Bad Guys series by Aaron Blabey

  • Dory Fantasmagory series by Abby Hanlon


CHAPTER BOOKS: The books in this section are true chapter books that would appeal to most middle and upper elementary students. 

  • Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown

  • Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker by Shelley Johannes

  • Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald

  • My Weird School series by Dan Gutman


ADVANCED CHAPTER BOOKS: These books are challenging for kids at advanced reading levels; they are complex stories, but have content that is still appropriate for younger readers. It is a challenge to find advanced chapter books that aren’t too mature for elementary students, but these are some gems.

  • Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer

  • Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

  • Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series by Chris Grabenstein

  • The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall


AUDIOBOOKS: I truly believe MOST books benefit from being read aloud, but these books in particular lend themselves well to an audiobook format and make perfect entertainment for road trips (or even just trips to Target) during the summer. I lean toward audiobooks for series that both of my kids are equally interested in or for classic books that don’t have that shiny, new, enticing cover that my kids gravitate toward, but that I know is a story they will love. 

  • Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

  • The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner

  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

  • The Magic Misfits series by Neil Patrick Harris


There are over 100 books accounted for in this list of recommendations, so hopefully enough to keep your kids quietly entertained for many, many hours this summer. And don’t forget what an amazing, and frugal, resource your public library is for reading with your kids. I fully believe in owning an expansive personal library in your own home, but when your kids start diving into chapter books (especially beginning readers and early chapter books), they will likely fly through books so fast that it makes much more sense to simply borrow books from friends or from the library. Happy reading, friends! 


Shelby Jones

…is a wife and stay-at-home mom to two fantastic kids. Once upon a time, she loved teaching English, Language Arts, and Reading to middle school students. These days, she loves fostering a love of reading in her own kids by reading with and to them often.

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