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ALSC Summer Reading Lists for Children!

boy reading book on grass

May 28, 2021

Another summer brings a new selection of children's books compiled for your consideration by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)!

Parents and caregivers are encouraged to explore the following lists to find books that may match or spark their child's interest:

Alternatively, paper copies of these lists are available at MCPL locations for a limited time, and PDF versions of these lists are linked on the ALSC website.

For assistance requesting these books, or for a stack children's books hand-picked by library staff, please contact your local MCPL.

For even more reading ideas, visit the following webpages:

Happy reading!


BIRTH–PRESCHOOL

Book Cover: ANTIRACIST BABY

"ANTIRACIST BABY" by IBRAM X. KENDI

Racial consciousness develops younger than many people realize, and this picture book will give parents and caregivers a launchpad for having these important conversations with their little ones.

Book Cover: FAMILIES BELONG

"FAMILIES BELONG" by DAN SAKS

A celebration of families loving, singing, and belonging together.

Book Cover: HURRY UP! A BOOK ABOUT SLOWING DOWN

"HURRY UP! A BOOK ABOUT SLOWING DOWN" by KATE DOPIRAK

With repeating refrains, this picture book follows a busy morning and afternoon of a young girl. After school, she learns to slow things down and enjoy what is around her.

Book Cover: I LOVE MY TUTU TOO!

"I LOVE MY TUTU TOO!" by ROSS BURACH

Every animal loves their tutu and wants to find more animal friends who love their tutus as well. Clever rhymes and a vibrant color palette make this a highly re-readable board book.

Book Cover: I LOVE YOU, BABY BURRITO

"I LOVE YOU, BABY BURRITO" by ANGELA DOMINGUEZ

With a mix of both English and Spanish languages, this book takes you through the act of swaddling a newborn.

Book Cover: ME AND MAMA

"ME AND MAMA" by COZBI A. CABRERA

A young child enjoys a day with her mama, splashing in the rain and being cozy at home.

Book Cover: A NEW GREEN DAY

"A NEW GREEN DAY" by ANTOINETTE PORTIS

Poetic riddles create a guessing game as readers explore nature during a summer day.

Book Cover: RAVEN SQUAWK, ORCA SQUEAK

"RAVEN SQUAWK, ORCA SQUEAK" by ROY HENRY VICKERS

The sounds of the Pacific Coast are shared in this board book with simple text accompanied by colorful illustrations from an Indigenous artist.

Book Cover: SING WITH ME

"SING WITH ME" by JOSé-LUIS OROZCO

Enjoy six classic children’s songs in both English and Spanish, with charming illustrations.

Book Cover: THIS IS A BOOK OF SHAPES

"THIS IS A BOOK OF SHAPES" by KENNETH KRAEGEL

This board book begins as a simple introduction to shapes and gets sillier and more complex as other shapes that might not be so simple get added!

Book Cover: TWO MANY BIRDS

"TWO MANY BIRDS" by CINDY DERBY

A monitor shouts rules as birds line up to sit in a tree, but when the tree reaches capacity and two more birds hatch, things start to get a little wild.

Book Cover: WHAT SOUND IS MORNING?

"WHAT SOUND IS MORNING?" by GRANT SNIDER

This simple and beautiful book encourages its readers to consider their morning routines, paying special attention to the sounds and silences that accompany them.

Book Cover: YOU MATTER

"YOU MATTER" by CHRISTIAN ROBINSON

An uplifting and inspiring book encourages readers to explore the many different people we encounter in our world and our connection to them, highlighting the important mantra of the title, “You matter.”

KINDERGARTEN–GRADE 2

Book Cover: BALONEY AND FRIENDS

"BALONEY AND FRIENDS" by GREG PIZZOLI

This funny graphic novel for beginning readers stars Baloney the pig alongside his friends Bizz (a bee), Peanut (a horse), and Krabbit (a very cranky rabbit).

Book Cover: BLACK IS A RAINBOW COLOR

"BLACK IS A RAINBOW COLOR" by ANGELA JOY

There’s no black in rainbows, but Black is more than a color. It’s a culture. This picture book celebrates African American history and identity.

Book Cover: EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS

"EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS" by JOANNA HO

A picture book filled with wonderful illustrations that encourage children to be proud of who they are and how they look.

Book Cover: A HATFUL OF DRAGONS

"A HATFUL OF DRAGONS" by VIKRAM MADAN

A silly collection of interactive poems and rhymes in a variety of formats with fun illustrations about mummies, dragons, and more!

Book Cover: I AM A BIRD

"I AM A BIRD" by HOPE LIM

A little girl, riding on the back of her father’s bike, is wary of the mysterious woman with a bag they pass. One day, she finds out what the bag is for, and her wariness grows into kinship.

Book Cover: JO JO MAKOONS: THE USED-TO-BE BEST FRIEND

"JO JO MAKOONS: THE USED-TO-BE BEST FRIEND " by DAWN QUIGLEY

This early chapter book follows Jo Jo, a young Ojibwe girl, as she navigates the troubles and tribulations of being in elementary school. This story also includes snippets of the Ojibwe language with more information in the back matter.

Book Cover: LIFT

"LIFT" by MINH Lê

Frustrated with her little brother taking over her job of pushing the elevator button, a girl takes a discarded button to transform her closet door into a magical elevator. In the process, she discovers that adventures are more fun when you share them.

Book Cover: MILO IMAGINES THE WORLD

"MILO IMAGINES THE WORLD" by MATT DE LA PEñA

While on the subway, Milo imagines different stories for the people he sees, but he soon realizes you can’t tell who people really are just by their appearance.

Book Cover: SADIQ AND THE GREEN THUMBS

"SADIQ AND THE GREEN THUMBS" by SIMAN NUURALI

Sadiq, a Somali American third-grader, starts a gardening club focused on helping neighbors. Part of a series

Book Cover: SHARUKO

"SHARUKO" by MONICA BROWN

In this Spanish-English picture-book biography, readers find out about this Indigenous scientist who found skulls and artifacts in the mountains of Peru as a child and went on to become the founder of modern Peruvian archeology.

Book Cover: STORY BOAT

"STORY BOAT" by KYO MACLEAR

Join a little girl and her younger brother as they leave behind the place they know as home and, along the way, make the best of times with what they find. A wonderful refugee story.

Book Cover: WHAT ABOUT WORMS!?

"WHAT ABOUT WORMS!?" by RYAN T. HIGGINS

Tiger is big and brave—except when it comes to worms! When faced with a worm-themed book and then a big group of worms, he must try to overcome his fear.

Book Cover: YOUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE

"YOUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE" by JASON CHIN

An introduction to size, scale, and distance that goes from comparing an eight-year-old’s height with a stack of books to examining the vastness of the universe.

Book Cover: ZONIA’S RAIN FOREST

"ZONIA’S RAIN FOREST" by JUANA MARTINEZ-NEAL

Explore Zonia’s home, the Amazon rain forest, and learn as Zonia respects and protects the Peruvian wildlife and her heritage.

GRADES 3–5

Book Cover: ANY DAY WITH YOU

"ANY DAY WITH YOU" by MAE RESPICIO

Kaia enters a filmmaking contest, drawing inspiration from the many Filipino tales her greatgrandfather tells. When Tatang decides to return to the Philippines, Kaia will do whatever it takes to keep him in California.

Book Cover: BEAR

"BEAR" by BEN QUEEN

This graphic novel follows a seeing-eye dog, Bear, as he loses his vision and embarks on an exciting adventure to return home after getting lost.

Book Cover: EVA EVERGREEN, SEMI-MAGICAL WITCH

"EVA EVERGREEN, SEMI-MAGICAL WITCH" by JULIE ABE

Eva has only a pinch of magic, which makes passing the test to become a novice witch difficult. When she lands in a small coastal town, she sets up a magical repair shop to prove her worth.

Book Cover: THE HOW AND WOW OF THE HUMAN BODY

"THE HOW AND WOW OF THE HUMAN BODY" by MINDY THOMAS

A fully illustrated comical tour of the human body focusing on disgusting, incredible, and hilarious facts about our very own, ever-oozing piece of machinery.

Book Cover: ISAIAH DUNN IS MY HERO

"ISAIAH DUNN IS MY HERO" by KELLY J. BAPTIST

Now the man of the house, a boy finds passion in poetry after discovering his late father’s journal while struggling to hold his house together.

Book Cover: THE LAST BEAR

"THE LAST BEAR " by HANNAH GOLD

April’s father has always told her that there are no more polar bears left on Bear Island. When April sees something that looks like a polar bear across the horizon, she is determined to save it.

Book Cover: SHAKING UP THE HOUSE

"SHAKING UP THE HOUSE" by YAMILE SAIED MéNDEZ

Two sets of First Daughters shake up the White House with hysterical pranks on each other that escalate into an international affair!

Book Cover: SKUNK AND BADGER

"SKUNK AND BADGER" by AMY TIMBERLAKE

No one wants a skunk as a roommate, but Badger doesn’t have a choice. His quiet, solitary life is turned upside down by cheery Skunk in this odd-couple tale of friendship.

Book Cover: A SPORTING CHANCE

"A SPORTING CHANCE" by LORI ALEXANDER

Jewish neurologist Ludwig Guttmann, who escaped Hitler’s Germany, had a revolutionary idea—sports might help patients labeled as “incurables.” Discover how his work evolved into the international Paralympic Games in this biography that includes photos and other illustrations.

Book Cover: STELLA DíAZ DREAMS BIG

"STELLA DíAZ DREAMS BIG" by ANGELA DOMINGUEZ

Stella learns how to navigate fourth grade, participate in several clubs, and have fun with her family and friends. Third book in a series.

Book Cover: SUPER DETECTIVES

"SUPER DETECTIVES" by CALE ATKINSON

A hilarious first volume in a new graphic novel series centered around ghost Simon and human Chester solving the case of a mysterious dog who shows up in their house one day.

Book Cover: THREE KEYS

"THREE KEYS" by KELLY YANG

The sequel to Front Desk finds Mia, now part owner of a motel, working to keep the motel afloat while facing anti-immigration sentiment and helping her best friend Lupe when her father is detained as an illegal immigrant.

Book Cover: THE TOTAL ECLIPSE OF NESTOR LOPEZ

"THE TOTAL ECLIPSE OF NESTOR LOPEZ" by ADRIANNA CUEVAS

Nestor wants to keep his ability to talk to animals a secret, but that’s a challenge when animals go missing in Nestor’s new town and rumors fly about a creature who lives in the forest.

Book Cover: TRUMAN THE DOG

"TRUMAN THE DOG" by DEBBI MICHIKO FLORENCE

First in the My Furry Foster Family series of illustrated chapter books about eight-year-old Kaita, whose family fosters pets until they can find new homes for the animals.

Book Cover: WE ARE STILL HERE!

"WE ARE STILL HERE!" by TRACI SORELL

A creatively organized picture book gives both Native and non-Native readers an overview of important topics including forced assimilation, sovereignty, and language.

Book Cover: WHEN YOU TRAP A TIGER

"WHEN YOU TRAP A TIGER" by TAE KELLER

Lily makes a deal with a magical tiger in an attempt to heal her sick halmoni in this tale celebrating Korean folklore, strong women, and the power of the imagination.

Book Cover: THE YEAR I FLEW AWAY

"THE YEAR I FLEW AWAY" by MARIE ARNOLD

When 10-year-old Gabrielle moves from Haiti to Brooklyn, she finds that America isn’t quite what she expected. With the help of a magical friend, Marie transforms into the perfect American girl but makes sacrifices in the process.

GRADES 6–8

Book Cover: ALL THIRTEEN

"ALL THIRTEEN" by CHRISTINA SOONTORNVAT

This multi-award-winning nonfiction book tracks the survival story of a Thai boys’ soccer team, showing both the challenges facing rescuers and the bravery and ingenuity of those trapped in a flooded cave.

Book Cover: ALMOST AMERICAN GIRL

"ALMOST AMERICAN GIRL" by ROBIN HA

A graphic novel memoir recounting the author’s experience as a middle-schooler uprooted from her home in South Korea to live in Alabama, and the power of the arts to connect us.

Book Cover: AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS

"AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS" by B. B. ALSTON

After Amari’s brother disappears, she is nominated to train at the secret government organization he worked for. At this camp, Amari learns she is a magician and trains to be a junior agent for the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. First in a series.

Book Cover: ANCESTOR APPROVED: INTERTRIBAL STORIES FOR KIDS

"ANCESTOR APPROVED: INTERTRIBAL STORIES FOR KIDS" by CYNTHIA LEITICH SMITH

An anthology of intersecting stories by Native authors about families from Nations across the U.S. and Canada as they gather at an intertribal powwow to honor Native traditions.

Book Cover: BEETLE AND THE HOLLOWBONES

"BEETLE AND THE HOLLOWBONES" by ALIZA LAYNE

Teen goblin and witch-in-training Beetle uses her wits and magical powers to save her friend Blob Ghost from being destroyed by her ex–best friend Kat’s aunt’s dastardly plans in this rollicking graphic novel.

Book Cover: CHIRP

"CHIRP" by KATE MESSNER

Mia moves to Vermont to help her grandmother with her cricket farm. She joins a STEM and Ninja Warrior camp and starts to become more empowered to deal with sexual harassment from a gymnastics coach.

Book Cover: EFRéN DIVIDED

"EFRéN DIVIDED" by ERNESTO CISNEROS

When 12-year-old Efrén’s mother is sent back to Mexico by U.S. authorities, his life becomes increasingly difficult. Hope lives in Efrén’s heart as long as there’s a chance his family can be reunited.

Book Cover: EVERYTHING SAD IS UNTRUE

"EVERYTHING SAD IS UNTRUE" by DANIEL NAYERI

Daniel, an Iranian refugee, struggles to fit in with his Oklahoma community. Through the lens of Scheherazade’s One Thousand and One Nights, Daniel weaves stories about his past.

Book Cover: FIGHTING WORDS

"FIGHTING WORDS" by KIMBERLY BRUBAKER BRADLEY

Through a hard childhood, Della has always relied on her older sister, Suki. When their mom’s boyfriend does something awful, the sisters run away and must start a new life in a foster home, but their past still haunts them both.

Book Cover: FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON

"FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON " by JANAE MARKS

Zoe has a lot of things on her plate: an important internship at a bakery, which would help her get onto a kid’s baking television show, and secret communication with her father, who is imprisoned but may be innocent. Zoe must balance her baking with proving her father didn’t do the crime he was convicted of.

Book Cover: KING AND THE DRAGONFLIES

"KING AND THE DRAGONFLIES" by KACEN CALLENDER

King is convinced his brother who died has returned as a dragonfly. In confronting his grief, King also must navigate a changed relationship with his parents and evolving feelings for his best friend, the son of the town’s racist sheriff.

Book Cover: LEGACY: WOMEN POETS OF THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE

"LEGACY: WOMEN POETS OF THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE" by NIKKI GRIMES

This collection of poems styled with the Golden Shovel poetic method uses the original works of female poets of the Harlem Renaissance coupled with new poems written by Grimes.

Book Cover: ROOT MAGIC

"ROOT MAGIC" by EDEN ROYCE

In 1963 South Carolina, Jez and her twin brother, Jay, begin to learn the legacy of their family: rootwork, Gullah Geechee folk magic.

Book Cover: SHOW ME A SIGN

"SHOW ME A SIGN" by ANN CLARE LEZOTTE

The year is 1805, and eleven-year-old Mary lives in a small, isolated community where almost everyone is fluent in sign language. She’s unaware of the prejudices against Deaf people, until a stranger visits her town.

Book Cover: STARFISH

"STARFISH" by LISA FIPPS

A body-positive novel in verse about a middle-schooler, Ellie, who, with the help of her therapist, begins standing up for herself against those who bully Ellie for her size—including confronting the worst tormentor of all, her mother.

Book Cover: TRACKING PYTHONS

"TRACKING PYTHONS" by KATE MESSNER

How do you catch an animal that is so good at hiding? You enlist the help of those you’ve already captured. Accompany researchers as they work to control the numbers of pythons in Florida in this book filled with photos, diagrams, and QR codes for online videos.


Children Early Literacy Reading Recommendations Summer Library Program

image credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/boy-child-male-young-reading-kid-4793110