Books with a Summer Setting

justin case shells smells

I keep seeing articles about how to encourage children to read throughout the summer. All of the articles make the same basic suggestions. Set a daily reading time. Establish a specific amount of time to read each day. Get involved in a reading incentive program at a local library or bookstore, and provide good book choices.

Ultimately, if your child/student likes to read, he or she will continue to read in the summer as long as there are books available. If you do not have a child who is an avid reader then you (or another adult) have to support the reading habits if you want any reading to happen. You will need to provide reading material or opportunities to choose reading material; model reading (that means read yourself); read together, and have book discussions. Even though we often think of reading as an independent activity for older kids, a child will develop better reading habits if reading is treated like a group activity, and all participate.

I wish there was a pill to magically make a child a reader but there is not. If you need a little kick-start finding a book to help your child get over the reading-when-not-at-school hump, try a book that takes place during the summer when the characters in the story are also not attending school.

summer setting pin

Upper Elementary (~3rd grade to 6th grade)

  • The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies
  • Under the Egg by Laura Max Fitzgerald
  • My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian
  • Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
  • Summer Pony by Jean Slaughter Doty
  • Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  • The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop by Kate Saunders
  • Hound Dog True by Linda Urban
  • Justin Case: Shells, Smells, and Horrible Flip-Flops of Doom by Rachel Vail
  • The Secret Tree by Natalie Standiford
  • Ten Good and Bad Things About My Life (So Far) by Ann M. Martin
  • The Bread Winner by Arvella Whitmore
  • The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin
  • The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
  • Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  • Kavik the Wolf Dog by Walt Morey

Middle School (7th grade+)

  • Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Green
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
  • The Summer of the Swans Betsy Byars

For younger readers, try The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner specifically #2 in the series. I could not remember for sure, but I think some of the Ivy and Bean books by Barrow take place during the summer as well as some of the Judy Moody by McDonald. Now that Mr. Star Wars and Miss Priss are beyond the early chapter books (sniff), my radar is not as good for these younger titles.

summer of my german soldier

School Stories

In Andrew Clements’ book The School Story, one character says that a school story is “a short novel about kids and stuff that happens mostly at school.” I asked a friend of mine who works in children’s publishing if this type of story really is one of the most popular genres in children’s literature as Clements implies in his book. She said that Clements is an expert at the school story and would know. I get it. These books are typically humorous and easy for children to read because they portray a world that the reader knows well– life at school. Here are a few titles that have received rave reviews from my children, my children’s friends, and my students. What other titles get a gold star?

Chapter Books for Upper Elementary Grades

  • Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger
  • Blubber by Judy Blume
  • Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
  • Lunch MoneyThe School StoryNo TalkingFrindle, or others by Andrew Clements
  • The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
  • 7th Level by Jody Feldman
  • Double Dog Dare by Lisa Graff
  • The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
  • Loser by Jerry Spinelli
  • Hank Zipzer series by Henry Winkler

Chapter Books for Primary Grades

  • Bailey School Kids series by Marcia T. Jones
  • Marty McGuire series by Kate Messner
  • Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park
  • Jigsaw Jones Mystery series by James Preller

Picture Books

  • Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
  • Miss Nelson series by James Marshall
  • David Goes to School by David Shannon
  • Miss Bindergarten books by Joseph Slate
  • How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? by Tolen and Teague
  • How the Second Grade Got $8205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty by Nathan Zimelman