The Best Books to Add to Kids' Summer Reading Lists

Pass the time on those long summer days—and keep your kiddos learning during their time off from school—by cracking open a great book. From hilarious stories to heartfelt coming-of-age tales, these are some of the best children's books out there right now for elementary and middle school kids.

Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal by Jeff Kinney photo

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"Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal" by Jeff Kinney

Most kids are familiar with Kinney's series Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which chronicles the life of beloved book character Greg Heffley through a series of hilarious and heartfelt journals. This time your kiddo can read the "biography" of Greg written by his best friend Rowley Jefferson. Kids who love the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series will get a kick out of this one. ($9; amazon.com)

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My Heart by Corinna Luyken photo

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"My Heart" by Corinna Luyken

This gorgeous picture book uses a rhyming story and beautifully illustrated pictures to teach children about taking care of their heart and showing kindness and empathy to others. This sweet book is a great introduction for younger kids to the concepts of compassion, self-love and self-care. ($18; barnesandnoble.com)

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Superheroes Are Everywhere by Kamala Harris photo

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"Superheroes Are Everywhere" by Kamala Harris

Senator Kamala Harris is the author of this inspiring picture book for kids, a No. 1 New York Times bestseller. This book helps children understand that superheroes can exist everywhere—in their families, on their streets, in their schools and in themselves! The uplifting and motivating message of this book is that all you have to do to be a superhero is be the best person you can be. ($13; amazon.com)

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Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee photo

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"Dragon Pearl" by Yoon Ha Lee

This fantasy book is a great summer read for older grade school kids and middle schoolers. Dragon Pearl tells the story of Min, a 13-year-old girl, who longs to escape her crowded, impoverished planet. When she hears her brother has gone missing, she sets out on a mythological quest that will have children enchanted. ($17; barnesandnoble.com)

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Charlie Changes Into a Chicken by Sam Copeland photo

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"Charlie Changes Into a Chicken" by Sam Copeland

Charlie has a lot to worry about—his brother in the hospital, his stressed parents, the school bully and the fact that he's started turning into animals. Follow Charlie's wacky journey of discovering his very unconventional superpower and learning how to manage these newfound changes. ($13; amazon.com)

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Rumple Buttercup: A Story of Bananas, Belonging, and Being Yourself by Matthew Gray Gubler photo

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"Rumple Buttercup: A Story of Bananas, Belonging, and Being Yourself" by Matthew Gray Gubler

This sweet and silly book is a great summer read for kids of all ages who enjoy a strange story. Rumple Buttercup is a monster with five crooked teeth, three strands of hair, different sized feet and is considered, well, weird. This fun picture book tells the story of Rumple Buttercup and his friend Candy Corn Carl as they learn the importance of individuality and what it means to belong. ($10; amazon.com)

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Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams photo

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"Genesis Begins Again" by Alicia D. Williams

Genesis Begins Again is a deep and powerful story about a girl struggling with a verbally abusive family, internalized racism and self-loathing who learns to find joy and beauty within herself. This summer read is particularly potent for older grade school and middle school girls who are struggling with their own sense of belonging and identity. ($18; barnesandnoble.com)

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Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt photo

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"Pay Attention, Carter Jones" by Gary D. Schmidt

Carter Jones is about to begin middle school, and he's carrying along a little bit of baggage containing feelings of anger and grief. When a mysterious English butler shows up on his doorstep, Carter learns burdens can be lightened when they're shared. This book is one that will make readers laugh—and maybe even cry. Tweens in particular will enjoy adding this to their summer reading list. ($12; amazon.com)

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Share Your Smile: Raina's Guide to Telling Your Own Story by Raina Telgemeier photo

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"Share Your Smile: Raina's Guide to Telling Your Own Story" by Raina Telgemeier

Raina Telgemeier is the author of the wildly successful graphic novels Smile, Sisters, Drama, and Ghosts. Share Your Smile is a guided journal that will help fans of her books write and illustrate their own stories. This interactive book will turn your kids' summer reading into an educational and heartfelt summer writing experience, too! ($10; amazon.com)

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Fing by David Walliams photo

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"Fing" by David Walliams

This hilarious and witty children's book tells the story of a child who had everything, but still wanted more. Grade school kids in particular will love the message behind this book, the crazy illustrations and the humor used in this summer reading pick. ($7; amazon.com)

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