Today, I’ll be sharing 8+ of my favorite middle-grade books for you to read this summer! Summer is the perfect time to get a lot of reading in, and I hope this post inspires you! And if you’re looking for a reading challenge to participate in, Kaley @ Words is hosting a great one called Wanderlust Summer that I’m doing. Go check it out!
Keep on scrolling for some great summer reads!
the penderwicks by jeanne birdsall
This book is so perfectly summery and I love it. The sisters, Jeffery, Cagney, Hound, the gardens, and everything about is so perfect for summer reading! I’m planning to re-read this series while we’re at the beach in June.
Blurb: This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures. The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will—won’t they? One thing’s for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget. Deliciously nostalgic and quaintly witty, this is a story as breezy and carefree as a summer day.
belle prater’s boy by ruth white
I wouldn’t say this book is actually about summer, but I read it during the summer so it gives me those vibes. This story. . . .it’s beautifully heartbreaking. There are few books that make me cry, but this is one of them, and ahh. It’s one of my favorites and I’d totally recommend it.
Content/Trigger Warnings: The main character’s father commits suicide before the story so it is part of the backstory and one chapter goes into some detail about it, but other than that, nothing major.
Blurb: Around 5:00 a.m. on a warm Sunday morning on October 1953, my Aunt Belle left her bed and vanished from the face of the earth. Everyone in Coal Station, Virginia, has a theory about what happened to Belle Prater, but twelve-year-old Gypsy wants the facts, and when her cousin Woodrow, Aunt Belle’s son moves next door, she has her chance. Woodrow isn’t as forthcoming as Gypsy hopes, yet he becomes more than just a curiosity to her– during their sixth-grade year she finds that they have enough in common to be best friends. Even so, Gypsy is puzzled by Woodrow’s calm acceptance of his mother’s disappearance, especially since she herself has never gotten over her father’s death. When Woodrow finally reveals that he’s been keeping a secret about his mother, Gypsy begins to understand that there are different ways of finding the strength to face the truth, no matter how painful it is.
the boxcar children (books #1, #2, & #3) by gertrude chandler warner
These are more for younger readers, but I loved the Boxcar Children series with my whole heart, and at one point, I was able to say I had read all 152 books. The first three originals that Gertrude Chandler Warner wrote are perfect for summer reading! I’m planning on going back and reading at least the first few this summer because of all the nostalgia.
Blurb: Four young orphans discover an abandoned boxcar and move in, embarking on a life of self-reliance and hard work — but they also enter a world of freedom and adventure. Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny are afraid of the grandfather they’ve never met, and to escape his custody they set out on their own, working odd jobs to make money for necessities. When Violet falls ill, they’re forced to take her to a doctor . . . and risk losing their independence.
from the mixed-up files of mrs. basil e. frankwhiler by e.l. kongisburg
This book isn’t set in summer, but the adventure of running away to the Metreapolotion Museum of Art in New York City gives it an adventurous and fun vibe, perfect to sit down and read with a cup of iced tea on a warms summer day!
Blurb: When Claudia decided to run away, she planned very carefully. She would be gone just long enough to teach her parents a lesson in Claudia appreciation. And she would go in comfort – she would live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She saved her money, and she invited her brother Jamie to go, mostly because he was a miser and would have money. Claudia was a good organizer and Jamie had some ideas, too; so the two took up residence at the museum right on schedule. But once the fun of settling in was over, Claudia had two unexpected problems: She felt just the same, and she wanted to feel different; and she found a statue at the Museum so beautiful she could not go home until she had discovered its maker, a question that baffled the experts, too. The former owner of the statue was Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Without her – well, without her, Claudia might never have found a way to go home.
then there were five by elisabeth enright
Every single book in the Melendy Quartet is great for summer-reading, but I love the third especially. It’s set in summertime and all about the adventures they go on, making new friends, and finding a friend who they later adopt. (No names because spoilers!) This might have been my least favorite in the series, but I’d still recommend it!
Blurb: With Father in Washington and Cuffy, their housekeeper, away visiting a sick cousin, almost anything might happen to the Melendy kids left behind at the Four-Story Mistake. In the Melendy family, adventures are inevitable: Mr. Titus and the catfish; the villainy of the DeLacey brothers; Rush’s composition of Opus 3; Mona’s first rhubarb pie and all the canning; Randy’s arrowhead; the auction and fair for the Red Cross. But best of all is the friendship with Mark Herron, which begins with a scrap-collection mission and comes to a grand climax on Oliver’s birthday.Here is Elizabeth Enright’s classic story of a long and glorious summer in the country with the resourceful, endearing Melendy bunch.
anne of green gables by l.m. montgomery
I couldn’t forget Anne, could I? I read this for the first time this month and absolutely loved it. (And I may have to keep myself from re-reading it this summer so I don’t spoil it. . .we’ll see. 😉) Anne’s adventures, imagination, and the way she gravitates toward causing trouble make a wonderful book to read this summer!
Blurb: As soon as Anne Shirley arrives at the snug white farmhouse called Green Gables, she is sure she wants to stay forever . . . but will the Cuthberts send her back to to the orphanage? Anne knows she’s not what they expected—a skinny girl with fiery red hair and a temper to match. If only she can convince them to let her stay, she’ll try very hard not to keep rushing headlong into scrapes and blurting out the first thing that comes to her mind. Anne is not like anyone else, the Cuthberts agree; she is special—a girl with an enormous imagination. This orphan girl dreams of the day when she can call herself Anne of Green Gables.
gone away lake by elisabeth enright
If I could only put one book on this list, it might be this one. Gone Away Lake has been one of my favorite books for years. Portia and Julian’s adventure of finding the hidden away lake and then starting the club is so summery! And Aunt Minnehaha and Uncle Pin are fun to read about.
Blurb: When Portia sets out for a visit with her cousin Julian, she expects fun and adventure, but of the usual kind: exploring in the woods near Julian’s house, collecting stones and bugs, playing games throughout the long, lazy days. But this summer is different. On their first day exploring, Portia and Julian discover an enormous boulder with a mysterious message, a swamp choked with reeds and quicksand, and on the far side of the swamp…a ghost town. Once upon a time the swamp was a splendid lake, and the fallen houses along its shore an elegant resort community. But though the lake is long gone and the resort faded away, the houses still hold a secret life: two people who have never left Gone-Away…and who can tell the story of what happened there.
the vanderbeekers on the road by karina yan glasser
The whole Vanderbeekers series would be perfect to read during this summer, but especially the sixth book! Plus, the seventh book releases this September, so you need to get ready for that, right? I’m listening to the audiobook of this right now, and it’s such a fun story, perfect to read or listen to on a road trip or just at home!
Blurb: The popular Harlem family is putting the VAN in Vanderbeekers as they hit the highway to give their dad the best birthday surprise EVER! Re-creating a road trip Papa never got the chance to take with his own father, the whole crew is packed and ready for a cross-country adventure. Things get off to a rocky start when the car breaks down on their way to pick up Papa. But they really veer off course when Laney discovers that Jessie and Orlando are interviewing at a college once they get to California. How can they even think about leaving New York? Wouldn’t that change their family? And how can she and her other siblings stop them?
a few extras
I’m going to stop now before this post gets too long, but here’s a quick list of a few other books that I would have added to this list if I wasn’t trying to keep it on the shorter side!
Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright // Rosetown by Cynthia Rylant // Secret Summer Dreams by Beverly Lewis // The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall // One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia // Maniac Maggee by Jerry Spinelli // The Secret Bookclub by Ann M. Martin // The Star That Always Stays by Anna Rose Johnson // A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck // Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White //
now, it’s your turn!
What are you going to read this summer? Have you read any of the books on this list? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let’s visit in the comments!