Summer is in full swing! Looking for new activities for your child? Reading is a practice that can help boost a young person’s mental health. Keep your child engaged by helping them explore a wide range of stories that will spark imagination and transport them to new and exciting places.
Here is a list of favorite book suggestions for children and teens from some of our staff members:
Pete the Cat – James Dean
Pete the Cat goes walking down the street wearing his brand-new white shoes. Along the way, his shoes change from white to red to blue to brown to WET as he steps in piles of strawberries, blueberries, and other big messes! Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes asks the reader questions about the colors of different foods and objects, allowing children to interact with the story!
Elephant & Piggie – Mo Willems
The series, which debuted in 2007 with two books, is done in a comic book style, and features two friends: an elephant named Gerald, and a pig named Piggie. Mo Willems’ number one New York Times best-selling Elephant & Piggie series has won two Theodor Seuss Geisel Awards and five Theodor Seuss Geisel Honors!
New Kid + Class Act – Jerry Craft:
New Kid, and its sequel Class Act, are graphic novels written by Jerry Craft. New Kid tells the story of a 12-year-old black boy, Jordan Banks, who experiences culture shock when he enrolls at a private school. Taking place over Jordan’s freshman year at a prestigious private school, he has to adjust to a new school, experiences and witnesses microaggressions, and makes friends with other students. Its follow up, Class Act, published in 2020, follows Jordan and his best friend Drew as they navigate the trials of eight grade.
Trapped in a Video Game – Dustin Brady
In this best-selling series, 12-year-old Jesse Rigsby finds out just how dangerous video games-and the people making those games can be. After getting sucked into the new game Full Blast with his best friend, Eric, Jesse quickly discovers that he’s being followed by a mysterious figure. With nonstop action, huge plot twists, and tons of humor, this series will quickly have children who love video games hooked.
Dragon in a Bag – Zetta Elliot
In the epic first installment of the Dragon in a Bag series, Jaxon is sent to spend the day with a mean old lady his mother calls Ma, he finds out she’s not his grandmother–but she is a witch! She needs his help delivering baby dragons from Brooklyn to a magical world where they’ll be safe. The first rule when it comes to the dragons- don’t let them out of the bag.
Marvellers – Dhonielle Clayton
Marvellers tells the story of eleven-year-old Ella Durand is the first Conjuror to attend the Arcanum Training Institute, a magic school in the clouds where Marvellers from around the world practice their cultural arts. When a dangerous criminal known as the Ace of Anarchy escapes prison, supposedly with a Conjuror’s aid, tensions grow in the Marvellian world and Ella becomes the target of suspicion. Worse, Masterji Thakur mysteriously disappears while away on a research trip. With the help of her friends and her own growing powers, Ella must find a way to clear her family’s name and track down her mentor before it’s too late.
The Mysterious Benedict Society – Trenton Lee Stewart
The Mysterious Benedict Society shares the exciting tale of four gifted orphans that are recruited by an eccentric benefactor to go on a secret mission; placed undercover at a boarding school known as The Institute, they must foil a nefarious plot with global ramifications. The Mysterious Benedict Society is an action-packed story filled with riddles, mysteries, and puzzles that young readers will love solving alongside the characters.
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky – Kwame Mbalia
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky follows teenager Tristan Strong, who is struggling with guilt after his best friend’s death. Tristan accidentally creates a rift that transports him to Alke, a parallel world where myths are real, and must survive the evil forces that threaten Alke’s people and discover his own abilities. Tristan Strong includes portrayals of African American folktales, West African mythology, and the legacy of the Atlantic slave trade.
Feathers – Jacqueline Woodson
Feathers is a children’s historical novel by Jacqueline Woodson that was first published in 2007. The story is about a sixth-grade girl named Frannie growing up in the ’70s. One day an unexpected new student causes much chaos to the class because he is the only white boy in the whole school.
The Skin I’m In – Sharon G. Flake
This novel depicts the story of Maleeka, a seventh-grader, who struggles with her body image and self-esteem due to the colorist bullying of her classmates and harmful messaging from society. The novel’s themes include self-love, self-esteem, the power of friendship, bullying and body image.
There are endless ways to have summer fun, but with the right books, reading will be one of your child’s go-to activities to beat the heat these next few months. Thank you so much to our staff contributors, Angelina Palma-Williams, LCSW, Jasmine Collins, AMFT, and Kevin Cunanan for compiling this list!