Summer is upon us. Endless days of playing outside, months of freedom, and the inevitable chorus of "I'm bored!" It's a time for visits to the pool and summer reading challenges. Some kids will happily sit down and read 10 books in a row, but other kids seem almost allergic to sitting still with a book. Trying to read 10? Impossible. But have no fear, there are great books for every kid this summer! We've rounded up a list of books that independent readers, no matter how reluctant, won't be able to resist the temptation to turn the page.
Some of these titles are illustrated — maybe your kid only wants to read graphic novels, and that's the perfect entry into reading. Books in this list are action-packed or funny. Or they broken into easily digestible chunks. All reluctant readers are just one book away from discovering something they want to read, and it's a worthy goal to track down that book for your kid. Perhaps give these titles a try. Bonus: if you curl up with your kid to help them read, these books are sure to amuse you as well. So here's to happy reading and to fewer complaints of boredom!
1. 'The Afterwards' by A. F. Harrold, illustrated by Emily Gravett
The Afterwards by A. F. Harrold ($17.99, IndieBound)
If you're looking for a book you can read with your child that you also want to enjoy, this is your book. The prose is positively oozing with voice, and the illustrations are lush and expressive. It's a tale about friendship and grief. It's just a little bit spooky and a lot bit loveable.
2. 'Athena & The Magic Land (Little Goddess Girls #1)' by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams, illustrated by Yuyi Chen
Athena & The Magic Land ($16.99, IndieBound) Newly independent readers will feel empowered by tackling this book. The large print, short chapters, and fun illustrations make it easy to jump into a young Athena's adventure in the magical land of Mount Olympus. Some readers might even get the nod to The Wizard of Oz. (There's a Hello Brick Road!)
3. 'The Unbelievable Oliver And The Four Jokers' by Pseudonymous Bosch, illustrated by Shane Pangburn
Right out of the gate this book pulls you in with a magic trick. Though a lot of the story is told in prose, there are illustrations on every page. Sometimes it's hands doing magic tricks. Sometimes it's a page torn out of notebook, but it's all super engaging.
4. 'Can You Crack The Code?: A Fascinating History Of Ciphers And Cryptography" by Ella Schwartz, illustrated by Lily Williams
For those young readers that feel like reading is too passive, this is the perfect activity/puzzle book. They can solve along with the book and make some codes of their own. Not only will they learn some history, but they'll be working on problem-solving and literacy. Win-win-win.
5. 'Super Sons Book 1: The Polarshield Project' by Ridley Pearson, art by Ile Gonzalez
Superhero super fans who want something a little more substantial than a comic book will love this one. Meet the sons of Superman and Batman, who are ready for their chance to save the Earth from the forces of evil. This graphic novel has all the action and onomatopeia that comic lovers will love.
6. 'Snow Place Like Home (Diary Of An Ice Princess #1)' by Christina Soontornvat
Instead of watching a princess movie for the hundredth time, try reading this new series: Diary of an Ice Princess. About a princess who has to keep her weather powers on the DL; this is an instabuy for Frozen fans. The first of the series is out June 25, 2019. The print is large. The illustrations are pink. It's written as a diary so you get all of Lina's inner thoughts.
7. 'Hex Vet: Witches In Training' by Sam Davies
Here's a graphic novel that will appeal to animal lovers as well as stories with magic. Two witch-vets-in-training have to tackle a magical creature catastrophe. Budding artists will appreciate the author's inclusion of a how-to on writing and drawing comics at the back of the book.
8. 'Captain Rosalie' by Timothée de Fombelle, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, translated by Sam Gordon
This little book is such a work of art. Children who still read picture books will feel right at home. But the scope and imagination and emotion of the story are breathtaking. I dare anyone (parents included) read it and not get swept away.
9. 'Mac B. Kid Spy' series, by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Mike Lowery
Fans of Mac Barnett's picture books (Circle, Extra Yarn, etc) will enjoy meeting young Mac in this semi-autobiographical, illustrated chapter book. Before Mac was an author, he was a spy, and the reader gets to go on amazing imaginary adventures along with Mac. There are two books in the series out in the world already, and a third (about Iceland and the Queen of England and invisible ink) is out in September, so your child can continue reading into next school year.
10. 'The Next Great Paulie Fink' by Ali Benjamin
11. 'Pie In The Sky' by Remy Lai
This illustrated middle grade novel is the perfect transition into longer books. It's illustrated by the author and it fully immerses you in Jingwen's world. He's navigating life in a new country, and cooking with his little brother on the sly, and missing his father who dreamed of opening a bakery before he died. Who doesn't love a deeply emotional book with delicious food? (There's even a recipe in the back of the book!)
12. 'Five Worlds: The Sand Warrior' by Mark Siegel, Alexis Siegel, Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, and Boya Sun
This series is a perfect way to keep your reader reading. They are sure to identify with one of the three main characters. Action-packed and full of interesting world-building, there's a lot of things to grab your child's attention. They will also appreciate that it's broken up into chapters, because they will surely say "just one more chapter" and then "just one more book." Lucky for us, there are five books planned for the series.
13. 'Adventures Under The Strangebow: Ultra Squad #2) by Julia Devillers, illustrated by Rafael Rosado
Looking for a graphic novel with girls in STEM fields that come along with some fun activities? You can actually find that from the store Justice! You can find an educator's guide for the first book, and a parent guide for the second (pictured above).
14. 'Camp Shady Crook' by Lee Gjertsen Malone
If your reader is ready to check out some non-illustrated, longer books, Camp Shady Crook is the perfect summer read. Secret plans, cons, and hijinks abound. Pitched as a middle grade Ocean's Eleven, readers will love getting to know the larger-than-life campers and cheer on the main characters Vivian and Archie as they scheme.