Summer’s just around the corner, which means it’s time to break out the sunscreen, put on your sandals, and start building your summer reading list.
With so many great reads out there, it can be hard to choose. But you’re in luck! We’ve curated a list of teacher-approved picks that’ll keep your student turning the page all summer long. Plus, all of our recs touch on important topics like social justice, identity, and inclusion—because the challenges that face our community never take a break, and summer is another chance to engage in meaningful ways.
Don’t forget: reading along with the kids in your life can be an incredible way to boost their reading skills and launch great discussions. And as the young readers you know get older, you may find that you can enjoy their books as much as they do—check out #3 and #4 on our list for those longer books that adult readers will love, too.
But wait, there’s more!
Each one of these books will be included in Give901’s Summer Learning Kits, complete with learning tools and STEM activities to keep low-income students learning all summer long. Learning regression over summer break is a big challenge for all kids.
For children in under-resourced communities in Memphis, Give901 works to provide Summer Learning Kits so the need for a book doesn’t hold our students back.
This second grader is holding Ron’s Big Mission by Rose Blue. As you think about what you’ll read this summer, consider also putting books in the hands of Memphis students by donating a Summer Learning Kit. Your donation will help us go the distance for our local learners.
This summer’s gonna be one for the books, so let’s get reading:
1. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi | Reading level: grades: K – 2
On top of being a new kid at school, Unhei is worried her classmates won’t be able to pronounce her Korean name. Instead of introducing herself on day one, she announces she will choose a name by the following week—out of a jar of suggestions from her classmates. After one of her classmates discovers her real name and its special meaning, Unhei is encouraged to choose her Korean name and helps everyone pronounce it—Yoon-Hey.
2. Ron’s Big Mission by Rose Blue | Reading level: grades 3 – 5
Nine-year-old Ron loves going to the Lake City Public Library to look through all the books on airplanes and flight. Today, Ron is ready to take out books by himself. But in the segregated world of South Carolina in the 1950s, Ron obtaining his own library card is not just a small rite of passage—it is a young man’s first courageous mission. Here is an inspiring story, based on Ron McNair’s life, of how a little boy, future scientist, and Challenger astronaut desegregated his library through peaceful resistance.
3. As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds | Reading level: grades 6 – 8
In this “pitch-perfect contemporary novel” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), award-winning author Jason Reynolds explores multigenerational ideas about family love and bravery in the story of two brothers, their blind grandfather, and a dangerous rite of passage.
4. Dear Martin by Nic Stone | Grade level: 9 – 12
Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning #1 New York Times bestselling debut about a boy who turns to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers when faced with modern injustice.