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Summer Reading for Kids & Teens: The Benefits, Struggles, and Strategies

Studies have shown that reading over summer vacation keeps kids' brains active and reduces stagnation or setbacks in reading levels (known as the "summer slide"). But how often do kids and teenagers read for pleasure these days? We talk with educators, librarians and authors about why independent reading is so important, what books appeal to kids nowadays, and what strategies help encouraage kids to open a book this summer.



  • Erin Moulton – Author of several Young Adult books, including Flutter and Keepers of the Labrynth, and Young Adult librarian at the Derry Public Library.
  • Elizabeth Ellis – Former language arts teacher, who has worked most recently as a reading interventionist at the Timberlane Middle School. She will begin working as a librarian at Timberlane Middle School this coming fall.
  • Michael Sullivan – Director of the Weare Public Library and the author of Connecting Boys with Books: What Libraries Can Do and Connecting Boys with Books 2: Closing the Reading Gap.


Related Reading

  • Check out Erin Moulton's website for info about her books and events.
  • Explore Michael Sullivan's website about boys and books for recomendations.
  • Read KJ Dell'Antonia's opinion piece on the right way to bribe your kids to read.
  • The Collaborative Summer Library Programencourages people of all ages to read with this summer's "Libraries Rock" program.
  • Listen to our earlier conversation about what and how teenagers are reading today.

Recommended Books

  Elizabeth Ellis's Recommendations:

Novels written in verse (good for reluctant readers):

  • The Crossover, Rebound, and Booked  by Kwame Alexander
  • Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry                                                                     
  • House Arrest by K.A. Holt
  • Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
  • Moo by Sharon Creech

Graphic Novels (good for reluctant readers):

  • Smile, Sisters, and Drama by Raina Telgemeir
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell
  • Roller Girl, All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
  • Brave and Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
  • Sunny Side Up and Swing It Sunny by Jennifer Holm
  • The Baby-sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin


  • Amal Unbound  by Aisha Saeed
  • The Miscalculations of Lightening Girl  by Stacy McAnanulty
  • Front Desk by Kelly Yang
  • The Ethan I was Before by Ali Standish
  • Code of Honor by Alan Gratz (Cliff hanger chapter ending want to make you keep reading)
  • Took,  Deep Dark and Dangerous, Wait Till Helen Comes  by Mary Downing Hahn
  • Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson
  • Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart

Erin Moulton's Recommendations:

For young adults:

  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo.
  • The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

For middle grades:

  • A Stitch in Time by Daphne Kalmar

For young children:

  • Goodnight Already by Jory John and Benji Davies

Michael Sullivan's Recommendations:

For emergent readers:

  • Belches, Burps, and Farts-Oh My! by Artie Bennett
  • Animal Antics by Derek Harvey
  • We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
  • Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World by Steve Jenkins
  • Never Follow a Dinosaur by Alex Latimer
  • Creepy Pair of Underwear by Aaron Reynolds

For middle readers:

  • Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War I's Bravest Dog by Ann Bausum
  • The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier
  • Overboard! [Survivor Diaries] by Terry Lynn Johnson
  • Monkey Me and the Golden Monkey by Timothy Roland
  • The Boy & the Beast by Mamoru Hosoda
  • The Adirondack Kids Series by Justin and Gary VanRiper

For teen readers

  • The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Stephen Brusatte
  • Super Gifted by Gordon Korman
  • The Novice [Summoner #1] by Taran Matharu
  • Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin
  • The Screaming Staircase.[Lockwood & Co. #1] by Jonathan Stroud
  • Zeroes [Book 1] by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

Listener Recommendations:

  • The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Claire by Amy Makechnie– Paige
  • Winger by Andrew Smith – Crystal

  • Classics Illustrated "Comic-book style renditions of classics like Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, and Last of the Mohicans" – Sandra

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