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Summer Reading Guide for Kids

The past few summers, I’ve been making a reading guide for our kids, just for fun. It’s a low-pressure way to encourage them to keep reading in the non-school months.

We read all the time anyway, so this isn’t a big shift for them. But it will help them stay in the groove of things, not default to the Garfield comic section of the library (moth to flames, oddly enough), and it gives them a summer goal.

If it’s helpful for you, you’re welcome to use it, too! Here’s a bit about our kids:

Our 12-year-old is a voracious reader; has long read above her “grade level.” The trick with her, especially as a tween, is finding age-appropriate books that are challenging enough and don’t talk down to her (she has a laser-sharp “this is babyish” radar).

Our 9.5-year-old is a strong reader; sometimes goes in fits and spurts—he’ll read nonstop for a week, then go two weeks barely wanting to lift a book. The challenge with him is finding books that’ll keep his ever-changing interest.

Our almost 7-year-old is still barely reading. And that’s okay. We’ll keep working on this throughout the summer. (I’m saying this here just in case, for any parents prone to worrying that their kid hasn’t hopped on the reading train yet.)


For the first time, our two reading kids’ levels have gotten somewhat close—so I’ve made one master reading list this summer. They’re divided by Level A—easier books, and Level B—harder books.

This master list is for older kids and tweens who read at their grade level or above. So, age 8-13. (A broad range of age and maturity, I know.) As a parent, you know what’s best for your kiddos.

Head here to read this list of 26 middle-grade and young YA books.

You’ll also get short weekly emails from me (if you don’t already)—you can unsubscribe from these at any time, no worries. (But I think you’ll like them.)

Happy reading!

p.s. – Here’s last year’s reading guides: for 8-10-year-olds and for 10-13-year-olds.

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. Laura

    This is excellent. Thank you so much for the book recommendations and the printables!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      You’re welcome!

  2. Tracy

    My 11 year old is tackling the Eragon series, along with Jim Butchers Codex of Alera series. I would like her to try The Magic of Recluse by LE Modesitt Jr. Which is the first of one of my all time favorite series.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I love it when our kids read some of our own favorite books!

  3. Frances

    Thanks for sharing! Thinking we might try this at home. Also, just have to say, I had the book in your picture “A Birthday for Frances” growing up. It was one of my favorites, as my name is Frances! Thanks for the moment of nostalgia! 🙂

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      We love all the Frances books! Some of my favorite picture books.

  4. Michelle


    Thanks so much for this list! My kids are a bit younger (ages 5 & 7), so I have bookmarked this for the next few years. Have you done this list before when your kids were younger? If so, could you link previous year’s lists. Thanks!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Here’s a few of our chapter books, here’s my middle guy’s list from last summer, here’s my oldest’s from last summer, and here’s her list from the year before. Oh, and here’s my favorite early childhood books.

      Hope that helps!

  5. Melissa Affleck

    I love the checklist. I am a teacher on summer break and might actually use it myself to earn some screen time 🙂

    • Tsh Oxenreider


  6. Maryalene

    Ah, I just made and posted my checklist last week. I should have waited and then I could have used yours instead! Love the flowchart!

    I make my kids read for 30 minutes, and it’s never occurred to me to assigns them books. I probably should because my 17 year-old lives on graphic novels, and I’m still not sure I’m convinced that’s truly reading.

    While I haven’t assigned books, we have done a family book club in the past where the big kids and I all read the same book. I think.this year we’re going to tackle All The Light We Cannot See (hope I got that title right) since it’s on both of the oldest kids’ school reading lists.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      That’s a great book!

      And I can see not assigning books as well…. Plusses and minuses either way. I think it’s just fun for me. I love middle grade, young adult, and early childhood books! Gives me a good excuse to dive deep into that world. 😉

  7. Ellen W

    Thanks for the suggestions, always appreciated. Two summers ago I picked up a Roald Dahl collection from Costco and my older son and I read through all of them. Now, I’m doing the same with his younger brother. I’m curious to see the movie version of The BFG.

  8. Claire Traganos

    Thank you for the printable! I was inspired by your IG post about this and am so excited to find you’re sharing the printable. Thanks for making it such an easy system for our family 🙂

  9. Cate

    This is great! Do you have any recommendations for the phonics practice? My oldest is 6 and a fairly good reader for just starting. I’d still like to work on phonics this summer.

  10. Penny L

    I love this checklist. I’m going to print it out, not for my kids(20 and 23!!) but for me. I’m beginning to feel I spend more of my life reading ‘stuff’on a screen than doing anything else. Spending my time being outside, reading, being creative will be much more fun, and better for me! Thanks Penny Lxxx

  11. Chantel

    I’m kind of obsessed with mid-grade novels lately (yes, for myself, I consider it previewing them before my kids – we won’t even talk about the fact that they are 5 & 3). Not sure if your kids have read May B., The Boy on The Porch, The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now but those are a few I’d personally recommend!

  12. Seana Turner

    I love reading YA books. The author of “The Thing About Jellyfish” is the daughter of a friend of mine. I read it right away, and loved every minute of it. I suggested it to my adult daughter who loved it too!

  13. Jenn

    What a fantastic list! Thanks for sharing.

  14. Lindsay @ Let Me Give You Some Advice

    So excited to look through this with my almost 2nd grader. He’s just starting to enjoy reading on his own and I’m going to suggest we tackle one of these titles for a family book club. I love this middle grades/YA genre so much that I’m even going to bring this list to my adult book club tonight to suggest some upcoming titles. Thanks for putting this all together, Tsh!

  15. Tina

    With a 10 & 7 year old, I’ve always found your reading lists to be very helpful at expanding what my kids read. Thank you!
    One question: a few summers ago you posted a writing program that your oldest daughter did for the summer. I’ve searched the blog but haven’t found it anywhere & I’d like to try it this summer. Can someone point me in the right direction?

    • Tina

      Found it on Amazon! A Summer of Stories: 10 Prompts for Writing Great Summertime Tales by Tsh Oxenreider

  16. Sabung Ayam

    Thank you and very useful for everyone

  17. Kelly Sage

    We’re also reading a lot this summer. My daughter recently introduced me to the Mother West Wind stories. My eleven-year-old is loving Wings of Fire. They are pretty great. We also use Hoopla a lot- to find suggestions and to check out free books and audiobooks.

  18. Cristina

    I’ve tried three (maybe four) different times to download the pdf and I never receive the confirmation email. I’ve checked spam and everything! My sons are SO excited to bring the list with them to the library this summer!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Hey Cristina,

      So sorry about that! Check your inbox now, because we just manually sent it to you. 🙂

  19. Caroline Starr Rose

    Thank you! So glad you enjoyed Jasper. This was the book I was wrestling when we recorded your podcast a few summers back. I'm so pleased how it's turned out — and how readers are receiving it.

  20. Diane Nassy

    Thank you so much for this. I’m always looking for good age appropriate books for my son.

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