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School is out and your grandkids are loving their soft summer days. But… they need to read regularly to keep their skills honed. Even the teens need to get their noses in a book on a regular basis to keep them thinking, dreaming and to become adult readers who are lifelong learners.

Here are some suggestions on both brand new titles and also a few “must-read” classics in the appropriate age groupings.

Pre-school Reads

The Hike by Alison Farrell is the story of three little girls who explore the forest near their homes. It’s a delightful story designed to be read slowly with lots of time to observe and talk about the things the girls see. Wren, Hattie and El travel through each page seeing and taking note of animals, birds, plants, flowers and trees. They find salmonberries, see chipmunks and their habitat, they find animal tracks, bird feathers and so much more as they travel through the woods. A wonderful read for little ones.

Round is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Thong is a Latino look at shapes in our environment. The rhyming text makes the story fun and there is a glossary of terms in the back of the book. A great introduction to Latino culture in addition to learning common shapes.

The First Book of Baby Signs: 40 Essential Signs to Learn and Practice by Lane Rebello.

Signing is not just for the deaf or hard of hearing. Many parents choose to teach their babies signs for common words and needs to foster communication before language is developed. Children can say they’re hungry, sad or happy. They can ask for milk or crackers. The signs presented are real ASL (American Sign Language) signs. 

Classic Read for Pre-schoolers:  Swimmy by Leo Lionni

       This gorgeous book won the Caldecott Award for illustrations in 1964. It’s dangerous to be a tiny fish in the big ocean, but Swimmy has a solution that involves aquatic teamwork. Children love this story that pits little against big.

Primary Reads

Fox at Night by Corey Tabor

Fox is up late and all the shadows and noises in the darkness are making him uncomfortable. He might even be scared. But then he meets the creatures of the night, one by one. He comes to realize that they aren’t frightening at all. The story explores the themes of feelings and fears.

Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard

Grumpy Bird wakes up on the wrong side of the nest. He is too grumpy to fly, so he starts off on a walk through his neighborhood. He encounters all his friends—Sheep, Rabbit, Raccoon, Beaver and Fox. As he walks along briskly and talks with all his good friends, he realizes that the exercise and the time with his friends has chased all his grumpy thoughts away.

The Best Seat in Second Grade by Katharine Kenak

Sam likes to sit in the back of the class and in his mind he has the best seat in the class—right by the class pet hamster. But Sam makes a less-than-perfect choice when he puts the hamster in his pocket as the class embarks on a field trip to the museum. Sam may be in a bit of trouble.

Classic Read for Primary Age Readers: The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

This classic 1924 must-read chronicles the adventures of four siblings who have become orphaned. They are supposed to go live with their grandfather, but they’re afraid of him so they strike out on their own. They find an abandoned boxcar and move in. They find a world of freedom, self-reliance, and cooperation. This book in which children succeed in taking care of themselves quite nicely, was so popular that the author wrote eighteen sequels to it.

Upper Elementary Reads


Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk

Mananaland by Pam Munoz Ryan

Classic Read for Upper Elementary Readers: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

Middle School Reads

The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera

This beautifully written Science fiction book is a winner. Petra, age 12, is part of a group of people who board the last ship leaving earth before it’s destroyed by a comet. Her stories speak to grief, loss and fear, but also lift the reader to consider themes such as identity and allyship. Though it’s written for middle schoolers, it is appreciated by teens and adult readers as well.

Jennifer Chan is Not Alone by Tae Keller

It’s tough to fit in at middle school. Both Mallory and Reagan know that. But when Jennifer Chan moves into their neighborhood, she has a different slant on things. Jennifer believes in aliens and she also believes she can contact them. What happens when Jennifer disappears? This book explores the themes of friendship and belonging in the difficult middle school years.