2019 Chapter Book Summer Reading List: Books For Kids

Our 2019 Summer Reading List is here to help your summer be packed full of good reads and fun memories! This list, geared for chapter book readers, consists of old and new favorites, hidden gems, and a wide variety of stories. Some books are full of magic and adventure, and other contain touching tales that will spark thoughtful discussions. Whatever book they choose, they won’t want to put down!

These picks are also great recommendations for read-a-louds that you can enjoy together as a family. Pull out the popsicles and read during the hottest part of the day, create magical summer nights by reading before bed, or capture your kids’ attention on a family road trip while reading one of these well-reviewed picks.

HAGS, and happy reading!

The High King book
#1
The High King
Written by Lloyd Alexander
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

When the most powerful weapon in the land of Prydain falls into the hands of Arawn, Lord of the Land of Death, Taran and Prince Gwydion rally an army to stand up to the dark forces.

The companions’ last and greatest quest is also their most perilous. The biting cold of winter is upon them, adding to the danger they already face. Their journey, fraught with battle and bloodshed, ends at the very portal of Arawn’s stronghold. There, Taran is faced with the most crucial decision of his life.

In this breathtaking Newbery Medal-winning conclusion to The Chronicles of Prydain, the faithful friends face the ultimate war between good and evil.

Half Upon a Time book
#2
Half Upon a Time
Written by James Riley
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I love that Half Upon a time is a more modern, beautiful tangle of all of the fairy tale stories we know—or thought we knew. With a few fun twists, you won’t want to put the book down! Jack and May are on the run from the Hunstman and have so many adventures along the way. I didn’t want to put this book down. :)

In the village of Giant’s Hand Jack’s grandfather has been pushing him to find a princess and get married, so when a young lady falls out of the sky wearing a shirt that says “Punk Princess,” and she tells Jack that her grandmother, who looks suspiciously like the long-missing Snow White, has been kidnapped, Jack decides to help her.

Hello, Universe book
#3
Hello, Universe
Written by Erin Entrada Kelly and illustrated by Isabel Roxas
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Winner of the Newbery Medal “A charming, intriguingly plotted novel.”—Washington Post Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly’s Hello, Universe is a funny and poignant neighborhood story about unexpected friendships. Told from four intertwining points of view—two boys and two girls—the novel celebrates bravery, being different, and finding your inner bayani (hero). “Readers will be instantly engrossed in this relatable neighborhood adventure and its eclectic cast of misfits.”—Booklist In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his crazy-about-sports family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and she loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister, Gen, is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just stop being so different so he can concentrate on basketball. They aren’t friends, at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms. The acclaimed and award-winning author of Blackbird Fly and The Land of Forgotten Girls writes with an authentic, humorous, and irresistible tween voice that will appeal to fans of Thanhha Lai and Rita Williams-Garcia. “Readers across the board will flock to this book that has something for nearly everyone—humor, bullying, self-acceptance, cross-generational relationships, and a smartly fateful ending.”—School Library Journal

Caleb and Kit book
#4
Caleb and Kit
Written by Beth Vrabel
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This book is so genuine and meaningful. I loved that this story presents a heartfelt journey of a young boy with an illness that just wants to be normal. Caleb has Cystic Fibrosis, so you learn a lot about the disease and readers can develop a lot of empathy through his story. His new friend, Kit, has a mother who isn’t taking care of her as she should. Caleb keeps Kit a secret from his family for a while, and later on learns that he needs to take responsibility and not keep secrets any longer, as they only hurt those around him.

From award-winning author Beth Vrabel comes a powerfully moving story about a magical friendship, coping with disability, and the pains of growing up and growing apart. Twelve-year-old Caleb is shorter, frailer, and more protected than most kids his age. That’s because he has cystic fibrosis, a diagnosis meaning lungs that fill with mucus and a shortened lifespan. Caleb tries not to let his disorder define him, but it can be hard with an overprotective mom and a perfect big brother. Then Caleb meets Kit—a vibrant, independent, and free girl—and his world changes instantly. Kit reads Caleb’s palm and tells him they are destined to become friends. She calls birds down from the sky and turns every day into an adventure. Her magic is contagious, making Caleb question the rules and order in his life. But being Kit’s friend means embracing deception and danger, and soon Caleb will have to decide if his friendship with Kit is really what’s best for him—or her. This new paperback edition includes a Q&A with the author as well as a sneak peek at Beth Vrabel’s next middle grade novel, The Humiliations of Pipi McGee.

What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About? book
#5
What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About?
Written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Lee White
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

Pick up this entertaining book of poetry for plenty of story-time giggles, new tricks, and relatable tales by the author of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” This is a great book to introduce kids to poetry while being fun and heartwarming.

From the beloved and internationally bestselling author of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst comes a collection of wry and witty poems that touch on every aspect of the roller-coaster ride that is childhood. Did you wake up this morning all smiley inside? Does life taste like ice cream and cake? Or does it seem more like your goldfish just died And your insides are one great big ache? From school to family to friends, from Grrrr to Hooray!, Judith Viorst takes us on a tour of feelings of all kinds in this thoughtful, funny, and charming collection of poetry that’s perfect for young readers just learning to sort out their own emotions.

  1. Carnival in a Fix - B is for Bookworm - This book is the story of a chaos-filled day at an out-of-this-world amusement park! An especially perfect read for kiddos who love to tinker. I love that Emily knows her passion and works hard to make it happen. She shows a lot of bravery and courage in order to save the theme park!

  2. The View from Saturday - HOW HAD MRS. OLINSKI CHOSEN her sixth-grade Academic Bowl team? She had a number of answers. But were any of them true? How had she really chosen Noah and Nadia and Ethan and Julian? And why did they make such a good team? It was a surprise to a lot of people when Mrs. Olinski’s team won the sixth-grade Academic Bowl contest at Epiphany Middle School. It was an even bigger surprise when they beat the seventh grade and the eighth grade, too. And when they went on to even greater victories, everyone began to ask: How did it happen? It happened at least partly because Noah had been the best man (quite by accident) at the wedding of Ethan’s grandmother and Nadia’s grandfather. It happened because Nadia discovered that she could not let a lot of baby turtles die. It happened when Ethan could not let Julian face disaster alone. And it happened because Julian valued something important in himself and saw in the other three something he also valued. Mrs. Olinski, returning to teaching after having been injured in an automobile accident, found that her Academic Bowl team became her answer to finding confidence and success. What she did not know, at least at first, was that her team knew more than she did the answer to why they had been chosen. This is a tale about a team, a class, a school, a series of contests and, set in the midst of this, four jewel-like short stories — one for each of the team members — that ask questions and demonstrate surprising answers.

  3. Horton Halfpott - Tom Angleberger’s farcical middle-grade mystery begins when M’Lady Luggertuck loosens her corset (it has never been loosened before!), thereby setting off a chain of events in which all the strict rules of Smugwick Manor are abandoned. When, as a result of “the Loosening,” the precious family heirloom, the Luggertuck Lump (quite literally a lump), goes missing, the Luggertucks look for someone to blame. Is it Horton Halfpott, the good-natured but lowly kitchen boy who can’t tell a lie? Or one of the many colorful cast members in this romp of a mystery that combines supreme silliness with a tale of a young hero with heart.

  4. True (. . . Sort Of) - B is for Bookworm - Such an important read, and a wonderful way to spark the discussion with children about safety and abuse by reading it together or talking about it afterwards. The story brings up this important topic in a very age-appropriate and gentle way, allowing children to learn important lessons while loving the adventures of Delly Pattison.

Maniac Magee book
#10
Maniac Magee
Written by Jerry Spinelli
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-11

A Newbery Medal winning modern classic about a racially divided small town and a boy who runs.

Jeffrey Lionel “Maniac” Magee might have lived a normal life if a freak accident hadn’t made him an orphan. After living with his unhappy and uptight aunt and uncle for eight years, he decides to run—and not just run away, but run. This is where the myth of Maniac Magee begins, as he changes the lives of a racially divided small town with his amazing and legendary feats.

Pippi Longstocking book
#11
Pippi Longstocking
Written and illustrated by Astrid Lindgren
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Tommy and Annika have a new neighbor: red-haired, freckle-faced Pippi Longstocking, who has upside-down braids and no parents to tell her what to do. The three children have the most rollicking adventures on their own, with horses and monkeys, the circus, and more!

Always Neverland book
#12
Always Neverland
Written by Zoe Barton
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This modern-day take on the story of Peter Pan will have readers interested from the get-go, and I love the emphasis from the “new Wendy” that women can do hard things. This sequel to Peter Pan will tell you what’s happened since the first “Wendy girl” went to Neverland. With a lot of pixie dust, adventure, and fun, you’ll be sure to love the time you spend with Peter, Ashley, and all the lost boys while reading this book! I loved that Ashley surprised the lost boys by doing a lot more than just making food for the boys—she’s a strong female character that uses her knowledge to problem solve and help Peter Pan and all his boys!

Move over, Wendy Darling. There’s a new girl in Neverland! Swimming with mermaids, fighting off pirates, and befriending Tiger Lily is all Ashley can think about when she finds Peter Pan in her room one night. With a pinch of fairy dust and a few happy thoughts, she follows him all the way to Neverland. But Ashley’s plans for adventure are thwarted when Peter and the Lost Boys expect her to be the new “Wendy girl” and help with the spring cleaning. Spring cleaning? This is not what Ashley has in mind! Will Ashley win them over?

The Phantom Tollbooth book
#13
The Phantom Tollbooth
Written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason. Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams!

The Trumpet of the Swan book
#14
The Trumpet of the Swan
Written by E.B. White
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This story is a delightful read with a swan who believes he can do anything, and he does. I loved following along in his adventures and seeing how he dedicates himself. His friend, Sam, was also one of my favorite parts of the book. Louis never quits—which is what allows him to find his best friend, Sam, his true love, Serena, and his many talents, including his trumpeting. Louis learns to make his weakness (being mute) a strength (learning how to play the trumpet) and never thinks he can’t do anything just because he’s a swan—he even learns to read and write!

Swan Song Like the rest of his family, Louis is a trumpeter swan. But unlike his four brothers and sisters, Louis can’t trumpet joyfully. In fact, he can’t even make a sound. And since he can’t trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays absolutely no attention to him. Louis tries everything he can think of to win Serena’s affection—he even goes to school to learn to read and write. But nothing seems to work. Then his father steals him a real brass trumpet. Is a musical instrument the key to winning Louis his love?

  1. Mice of the Round Table #1: A Tail of Camelot - B is for Bookworm - My favorite part of this book are the strong message to believe in yourself. Throughout the story, Calib saves the day only by having courage and believing he can do it. Watching Calib grow in his confidence makes this book so rewarding, not to mention all the adventure and suspense involved!

  2. The Best Bear in All the World - B is for Bookworm - I love these stories based off of the original Winnie the Pooh, and love that it’s divided up into four stories with the four seasons. Pooh is always so positive and looks for the good in everything, there’s so much wisdom from the little sayings throughout the story. I think Pooh is a great example of choosing to look at the bright side and be happy. :) Plus, I was surprised by how high quality this book is! The illustrations throughout are also gorgeous.

  3. A Boy Called Bat - B is for Bookworm - Bat is a wonderful, developed character that can really help children reading understand and have empathy for those on the Autism spectrum. You get to learn a lot about skunks as Bat takes a particular interest in one, and he has a mother who is a veterinarian! I adore this book.

  4. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh - Some extraordinary rats come to the aid of a mouse family in this Newbery Medal Award–winning classic by notable children’s author Robert C. O’Brien. Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, is faced with a terrible problem. She must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma. And Mrs. Frisby in turn renders them a great service.

The Wheel on the School book
#19
The Wheel on the School
Written by Meindert DeJong and illustrated by Maurice Sendak
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from The Goodfather

The Wheel on the School is a favorite of mine from my days as a young reader. The curiosity of the school children and the introduction to life in Holland made a lasting impression on me. I love how the children set out to learn more about their question then work to find answers and a solution.

Why do the storks no longer come to the little Dutch fishing village of Shora to nest? It was Lina, one of the six schoolchildren who first asked the question, and she set the others to wondering. And sometimes when you begin to wonder, you begin to make things happen. So the children set out to bring the storks back to Shora. The force of their vision put the whole village to work until at last the dream began to come true.

Winner, 1955 Newbery Medal Notable Children’s Books of 1940–1970 (ALA) 1963 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award

Pax book
#20
Pax
Written by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Jon Klassen
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From bestselling and award-winning author Sara Pennypacker comes a beautifully wrought, utterly compelling novel about the powerful relationship between a boy and his fox. Pax is destined to become a classic, beloved for generations to come. Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day, the unimaginable happens: Peter’s dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild. At his grandfather’s house, three hundred miles away from home, Peter knows he isn’t where he should be—with Pax. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox. Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own. . . .

Jake and Lily book
#21
Jake and Lily
Written and illustrated by Jerry Spinelli
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

The best part about this book is the lesson on bullying. Not only do you have the characters witnessing bullying, one of the main characters takes part in bullying and walks through the feelings he has after, the forgiveness he receives, the empathy he gains, and what he does to try to make up for his actions.

This is a story about me, Lily. And me, Jake. We’re twins and we’re exactly alike. Not exactly! Whatever. This is a book we wrote about the summer we turned eleven and Jake ditched me. Please. I just started hanging out with some guys in the neighborhood. Right. So anyway, this is a book about goobers and supergoobers bullies clubhouses true friends things getting built and wrecked and rebuilt and about figuring out who we are. We wrote this together (sort of) so you’ll get to see both sides of our story. But you’ll probably agree with my side. You always have to have the last word, don’t you? Yes!

Ella Enchanted book
#22
Ella Enchanted
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This was an absolute favorite in my house growing up and is one I’ll always want in my home library. Gail Carson Levine does a fantastic job weaving a beautiful tale of a girl who was given a gift at birth to always obey, but the gift has turned more into an imprisonment that Ella tries to break the curse and be herself. There’s so much magic, adventure, and heart in this fun book.

In this novel based on the story of Cinderella, Ella struggles against the childhood curse that forces her to obey any order given to her. At birth, Ella of Frell was given the gift of obedience by a fairy. Ella soon realizes that this gift is little better than a curse, for how can she truly be herself if at any time anyone can order her to hop on one foot, or cut off her hand, or betray her kingdom—and she’ll have to obey? Ella’s quest to break the curse and discover who she really is, is both funny and poignant.

Appleblossom the Possum book
#23
Appleblossom the Possum
Written by and illustrated by Holly Goldberg Sloan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

Darling! This book has realistic aspects about possums as well as entertaining scenarios the possums are involved in. Appleblossom ends up falling into a house and breaking one of the main possum rules—staying away from humans! Luckily, she has a great possum family and a kind human girl who help her out. The possums are great examples of being there for your family members and pushing out of your comfort zone in order to help those around you. I also learned quite a few fun things about possums!

Mama has trained up her baby possums in the ways of their breed, and now it’s time for all of them—even little Appleblossom—to make their way in the world. Appleblossom knows the rules: she must never be seen during the day, and she must avoid cars, humans, and the dreaded hairies (sometimes known as dogs). Even so, Appleblossom decides to spy on a human family—and accidentally falls down their chimney! The curious Appleblossom, her faithful brothers—who launch a hilarious rescue mission—and even the little girl in the house have no idea how fascinating the big world can be. But they’re about to find out! With dynamic illustrations, a tight-knit family, and a glimpse at the world from a charming little marsupial’s point of view, this cozy animal story is a perfect read-aloud and a classic in the making.

  1. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - The Goodfather - I have fond memories of this book from my own elementary days and look forward to sharing it with my own kids. The setting of the story in New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art makes it especially attractive to any readers who love the city.

  2. The Castle in the Attic - One of the classic fantastical adventures of all time! William has just received the best present of his life—an old, real-looking stone and wooden model of a castle, with a drawbridge, a moat, and a fingerhigh knight to guard the gates. It’s the mysterious castle his housekeeper has told him about, and even though William is sad she’s leaving, now the castle is his! William can’t wait to play with the castle—he’s certain there’s something magical about it. And sure enough, when he picks up the tiny silver knight, it comes alive in his hand! Sir Simon tells William a mighty story of wild sorcery, wizards, and magic. And suddenly William is off on a fantastic quest to another land and another time—where a fiery dragon and an evil wizard are waiting to do battle. . . .

Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!