A little boy reading a large chapter book.

With summer break nearly upon us, I’ve started thinking about how to structure our summer. Actually, if I’m being honest, I’ve been thinking about this for months and may or may not have a couple excel spreadsheets dedicated to The Plan – ironically, it’s all in an attempt to reinforce my old school philosophy that neither I nor the TV should have to entertain my kids every second of the summer. In order to help with this, we have a very long Boredom Buster sheet tacked to the fridge so if they throw me the I’m Bored line, I don’t even have to make eye contact, I can just point to the Boredom Buster list for consultation.

Part of our daily routine in the summer is reading. As in, the kids reading to themselves or reading to a younger sibling.

Two little boys reading on a couch together.{2011}

We always have a read-aloud chapter book that Brian or I read to the kids many nights before bedtime, but summer daily reading is meant to be independent; additionally, the books have to be approved through me in an attempt to inspire the kids to read good, quality literature (as opposed to them reading Captain Underpants for months on end, no offense, Captain).

Two little boys reading on a couch with no cushions.{2014}

For today’s post, the kids helped me gather a few books that are their current favorites in case you are in the same boat we are. I could bore you with about 100 more suggestions (we have sooooo many books), but these are a good start (and I included a few honorable mentions below the post). I’ve linked to the books on Amazon or other online sources for an easy place to grab a synopsis and reading level – but of course, search your local library first (and don’t be afraid to ask if the librarian can request or get a book for you if they don’t have it at your library currently).

Three little boys reading on the floor.{2010}

Normally, I don’t really keep track of how many books the kids read in the summer (they don’t have to write it down on a list) unless they are doing a summer reading challenge through the library, mostly because each of my kids read at different paces and levels and I don’t want it to be a competition. I genuinely want them to develop a love of reading really good books, even if it takes them a while to get through a book. When they finish a book, they bring it to me and we talk about it for a bit – I ask them some questions so I can check reading comprehension, and they tell me the parts they liked and disliked. This summer, they are actually earning points to “pay” for a pass to a local waterpark since homeschooling this last semester meant they missed out on that chance at public school. Each book they choose has a point value (and can differ by age; for instance, Mr. Popper’s Penguins would be 8 points for my 7-year old but only 2 points for my 12-year old) and they have to earn 100 points (maybe 200 for the older kids) in order to earn a pass to the waterpark.

All the books listed below are geared toward kids who are reading chapter books at some level; my independent readers are ages 7, 8, 10, and 12.

Disclaimer: I have read all these books and feel comfortable with my children reading them (at various ages) but because everyone has a different gauge for book appropriateness, I can’t guarantee you’ll feel the same. Please read through them before buying or before having children you know read them.

Without further ado…
A stack of five kids chapter books on a countertop.

1) The Story of Doctor DoLittle by Hugh Lofting
2) Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
3) Real Animal Heroes by Paul Drew Stevens (this book is hard to find; we bought it at a used book sale and there may be similar books online, but my kids have read it tons of times; they love it)
4) Freddy Goes to Florida by Walter R. Brooks

A stack of five books on a kitchen counter.

5) Cal and the Amazing Anti-Gravity Machine by Richard Hamilton
6) The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick
7) My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
8) The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Stacks of books on a kitchen counter.

9) The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
10) Shadrach by Meindert DeJong
11) Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
12) Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

A stack of books on a kitchen counter.

13) The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
14) A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
15) The Good Master by Kate Seedy
16) The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Catling
17) The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Honorable Mentions (after desperate pleading from my kids to include them):
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (my 10-year old has read this eight times) and the rest of this series
The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
The Warriors Series by Erin Hunter (basically any of her books and series)
The Little Bear books by Elsa Holmelund Minarik

A little boy laying on a recliner reading.

For more book recommendations:
Everyday Reading (my friend Janssen gives a lot of book recommendations for all ages)

Jenny Phillips’ Good and Beautiful book list (costs $5 to download, totally worth it in my opinion, we’ve gotten many great recommendations from this list)

Common Sense Media’s recommendations

100 Great Children’s Books by New York Public Library

Update: since many of you asked, here’s the Boredom Busters sheet I have for my kids; it’s constantly changing as I take things off and add different ideas, and you can see, it’s tailored to activities and supplies (and pets 🙂 we have around our house, but hopefully it can be a starting place to get your own list going. 

Share any of your own book recommendations in the comments!

Disclaimer: this post contains Amazon affiliate links; feel free to shop around (or check out your local library!)