Summer reading is one of the best ways to help children transition easily from school to summer vacation and back to school again. Reading helps keep young brains thinking, processing, and critically understanding—all tools they need to succeed during their fall and spring classes.
It is too easy for children to forget what they learned in the spring by the time fall comes along; this phenomenon is called “summer slide.” Teachers lose time in the fall when they must re-teach information that was taught in the summer, so summer slide actually slows everyone’s children down.
Children who read throughout the summer have better comprehension, vocabulary, and reading speeds when the new school year comes along.
While the easiest way to get kids to read is to let them choose the subject or type of literature, it can also pay off to get tried-and-true suggestions from school summer reading programs and recommended reading lists.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 books that middle school preteens should be reading during the summer, and a list of 10 books for teenage high schoolers as well.
The books that have made this list were determined based on the frequency they showed up on other lists of recommended summer reading and the best books for each grade-level grouping. Each book is labeled by its genre.
Preteen Top 10
1. “The Giver” by Lois Lowry (Utopian and Dystopian Fiction)
2. “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien (Fantasy)
3. “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien (Fantasy)
4. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury (Utopian and Dystopian Fiction)
5. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams (Science Fiction/Comedy)
6. “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card (Science Fiction)
7. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” by Jeff Kinney (Comedy)
8. “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins (Adventure/Utopian and Dystopian Fiction)
9. “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott (Classics)
10. “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery (Classics)
Teen Top 10
1. Dracula by Bram Stoker (Classics/Horror)
2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (Classics/Horror)
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (Autobiography)
4. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (Historical Fiction)
5. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (Autobiography)
6. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (Historical Fiction)
7. The Pearl by John Steinbeck (Novella)
8. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (Fantasy)
9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (Gothic Fiction)
10. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Science Fiction/Utopian and Dystopian Fiction)
Books from both lists can of course be read for both age groups. This list is hardly comprehensive, but it might serve as a jumping-off point to get summer reading started and ensure that it doesn’t lose steam.
Although children are more likely to finish books of their own choosing, sometimes handing them a book they wouldn’t have chosen allows them to open up to new ideas and new interests. You never know; that avid sports magazine reader might become really interested in science fiction this summer!