Summer Reading List 2023: Teacher-Recommended and Student-Approved!

When you ask your child what he or she would like to do over the summer, you may not hear, “Read books,” but you can make reading an enjoyable part of your child’s summer. To help with choosing books, we have put together a summer reading list of teacher-recommended (and student approved!) titles by age range. Happy reading!
Download the Summer Reading List

When you ask your child what he or she would like to do over the summer, you may not hear, “Read books!” But you can make reading an enjoyable part of your child’s summer – and here’s why you should. Research suggests that students who are engaged in reading over the summer will then excel in reading achievements in the fall. Daily summer reading is a crucial activity to avoid the “summer slide,” where students can lose up to three months’ reading comprehension progress. Not only is progress lost, but often students’ interest and passion for reading declines with the summer slide.


  • Visit the library and see what they are featuring on their shelves. Let your child browse the covers to see what sparks his or her interest. You can make picking a book part of a larger outing to the library which might include a puppet show, guest reader, or a group art project.
  • Make reading a part of your child’s day by providing fun places to read – in a hammock, under a tree, or in a nook enjoying some air conditioning. Pack a book for trips and take one to the beach and the pool for swim breaks. You can even reward finishing a book with a trip to the park – extra points for discussing the plot of the book and the characters on the way! Many public library systems have their own summer reading programs that reward children for reading certain numbers of books.
  • To help with choosing books, we have put together a summer reading list of teacher-recommended (and student approved!) titles by age range. Don’t forget to pick up a book for yourself so you can model reading as a lifelong activity. Happy reading!

Please note that the age ranges listed are simply suggestions. Children of similar ages read at different levels, so titles listed in one age range may be of interest to children of other ages.


  • Beginning Readers Series
  • Bink and Gollie, Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee
  • Elephant and Piggie, Mo Willems
  • Fly Guy, Tedd Arnold
  • Pete The Cat, James Dean and Eric Litwin
  • Biscuit, Alyssa Satin Capucilli
  • Ling and Ting, Grace Lin
Chapter Books Series
  • Ivy and Bean, Annie Barrows
  • Flat Stanley, Jeff Brown
  • A to Z Mysteries, Ron Roy
  • Time Warp Trio, Jon Scieszka
  • Geronimo Stilton/Thea Stilton, Elisabetta Dami
  • Stink, Megan McDonald and Peter H. Reynolds
  • Mercy Watson, Kate DiCamillo
  • Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew Series, Carolyn Keene
  • Ballpark Mysteries, David A. Kelly

GRADES 3 & 4

  • A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
  • Max and the Midknights, Lincoln Peirce
  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
  • She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History, Chelsea Clinton
  • The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo
  • Author Judy Blume Books
  • I Survived, Lauren Tarshis
  • Magic on the Map, Courtney Sheinmel and Bianca Turetsky
  • Magic Tree House, Mary Pope Osborne
  • Who Was, multiple authors
  • Whatever After, Sarah Mlynowski
  • Judy Moody, Megan McDonald
  • Scout, Jennifer Li Shotz
  • Hardy Boys (Early Readers Series), Franklin Dixon
  • The Kicks, Alex Morgan
  • The Land of Stories, Chris Colfer
  • The 78-Story Treehouse, Andy Griffiths
  • My Weird School, Dan Gutman
  • The Boxcar Children, Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • Black Lagoon, Jared Lee and Mike Thaler
  • Hilo, Judd Winick

GRADES 5 & 6
  • All’s Faire in Middle School, Victoria Jamieson
  • Beyond the Bright Sea, Lauren Wolk
  • Home of the Brave, Katherine Applegate
  • A Night Divided, Jennifer A. Nielsen
  • The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J. K. Rowling
GRADES 7 & 8
  • Chasing King’s Killer, James L. Swanson
  • Walk on Earth a Stranger, Rae Carson
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
  • The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
  • I Am Malala (Young Readers Edition), by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick

See the end of the article for descriptions of the books for grades 5-8, which include the themes that are explored.

Here are some additional sources for finding interesting books:
Charleston County Public library summer reading programs

South Carolina Book Awards lists:

Grades 5 & 6
  • All’s Faire in Middle School is a new graphic novel by Victoria Jamieson. Imogen, homeschooled her whole life by Renaissance Faire enthusiasts, has a hard time adjusting to public school in the sixth grade. Themes include friendship, family, balancing emotions, fitting in, and rectifying mistakes.
  • In Lauren Wolk’s novel Beyond the Bright Sea, protagonist Crow washed ashore on a tiny Massachusetts island as a baby. A series of events leads Crow on a quest to find her birth parents, although this quest is fraught with danger. Themes include family (especially adoption), identity, and belonging.
  • Home of the Brave is a novel in verse by Katherine Applegate. Kek comes to Minnesota as a refugee from Sudan, Africa. He experiences snow for the first time, but many of the Americans he meets are as cold as the Minnesota winter. Kek slowly makes new friends as he journeys from hardship to hope. Themes include friendship, personal identity, patriotism.
  • Jennifer A. Nielsen’s A Night Divided is a suspenseful novel about 12-year-old Gerta who helps plot her family's escape from 1960s East Berlin, as her family is divided across the Berlin Wall. Themes include perseverance, right versus wrong, love of family, and challenging unjust laws during periods of political unrest.
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is a graveyard-motif twist on The Jungle Book. Nobody “Bod” Owens is raised by ghosts, werewolves, and other inhabitants of the graveyard. Can Bod master growing up as a citizen of the realms of the dead and the living? Themes include growing up, identity, and how things are not always how they seem.
  • J. K. Rowling rose to fame with her novel Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Harry, rescued from neglect by his aunt and uncle, learns he is a wizard and attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry makes friends, gets into trouble, and learns more about his true identity. Themes include good versus evil, growing up, and self-image.

Grades 7 & 8
  • Chasing King’s Killer by James L. Swanson is an action-packed, detailed, illustrated history of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s leadership role in the Civil Rights movement. The text, which includes photographs of primary documents, is divided into sections pitting Martin Luther King, Jr. against criminal James Earl Ray. Like his other books, James L. Swanson brings a manhunt to life in this enthralling text.
  • Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first in a trilogy by Rae Carson, follows protagonist Lee. Lee has a magical ability to find gold within the earth, and she travels to California to evade persecution and strike a fortune. Themes include the injustice of racism, injustice of gender inequality, and resilience through hardships.
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is the first in a series by Ransom Riggs. Sixteen-year-old Jacob encounters an abandoned orphanage, a curious collection of odd photographs, and a horrific family tragedy. Through reading text and vintage photographs, the reader will travel through time loops with Jacob to find the peculiar children and learn the reason for their quarantine on a deserted island. Themes include the importance of family, the struggle of growing up, and overcoming fear.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is the start of the greatest fantasy epic of our time. Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit wanting a quiet life, is challenged by wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves to cross Middle Earth. On their quest to defeat dragon Smaug and reinstate the dwarves’ reign over their kingdom, Bilbo discovers his own valor in ways he never thought possible. Themes include bravery, friendship, hospitality, and luck.
  • The Hunger Games, the first novel in Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, is a dystopian tale of a reality show where 24 teenagers must kill one another until only one survives. Katniss makes decisions to choose humanity and love over self-preservation and survival. Themes include philosophy, adventure, survival, and romance.
  • The Young Readers Edition of I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick is an inspiring memoir of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. She was ten years old when the Taliban took over her area of Pakistan and stripped her of her human rights. While fighting to restore women’s rights, Malala was shot point-blank by the Taliban. Malala survived to change the world and inspire young adults globally. Themes include social justice, hope, truth, and determination.
Mason Preparatory School is committed to the education of the whole child in preparation for secondary education through the cultivation of respect, integrity, and personal responsibility within a nurturing environment that results in a productive citizen of a global community.