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!
Allison Alexander says
I’ve read most of these and love them! Especially The Penderwicks (the whole series!), Anne of Green Gables (the whole series!), and Gone-Away Lake. Great picks!
Yesss, I love The Penderwicks so much! I have yet to read the rest of Anne of Green Gables but that’s on my reading list for the summer! Thank you for commenting and reading! <3
So many great books! I have read Anne of Green Gables, and I think we own several of the other ones! I am definitely going to have to read some of these this summer! Thank you for your suggestions, they are always so helpful!
I hope you enjoy reading them! I always love getting your comments; you’re so sweet! Thank you! <3
Belle Thomas says
These are all great recommendations! From The Mixed Up Files is one of my all time favorite MG books! And Anne, well Anne is incredible! You definitely should read the other books in the series (Anne of Avonlea and Rainbow Valley in particular both give me summer vibes). Also love the Penderwicks 🥰
It has been one of my favorites for years. I’ll definitely check out the rest of the series; thanks for the recommendation!
Rhys-Marie Whitnell says
Yes, The Penderwicks and Anne of Green Gables are both lovely summery reads! I really should reread The Penderwicks this summer. Excellent post!
For sure! That’s what I’m planning to do; happy reading and thank you for your lovely comment!
Bella Waugh says
Oo those are all such good nostalgic books!! Looks like you have such a fun summer of reading planned, Pearl!! My dad is reading The Saturdays aloud to us right now and we are all loving it! Ahh Gone-Away Lake I remember being so good! And people keep telling that the Penderwicks & Vanderbeekers are so good so they might just creep their way onto my list this summer!
Aw, I LOVE the Saturdays so much! I hope you’re enjoying reading it. Yes, definitely check out The Penderwicks and The Vanderbeekers; I think you’ll really like them!
Bella Waugh says
We most certainly are! Yeah we’re headed to the library today so you know what’s on my list! 😉
Chloe Ruth says
I’ve read the whole Penderwicks series, of course, but that’s it on this list! These all look interesting. 😉 I love books set in summer!
I hope you read at least a few others from this list! Me too! They’re always happy and full of adventure. (:
Deigan Marie says
Aaah, jealous! I so want to finish “The Vanderbeekers” series! Such a great list, Pearl (:
They are so good! The first book is actually my least favorite-I’m getting scared and I’m going to be so sad when the last book comes out! (Read the blurb if you want to know why. 😉 ) I hope you get a chance to read them soon! Thank you, Deigan!
Great post! This list is full of good summery reads!☺
Yay and thank you! Happy reading, Annabelle!
Alannah Faith says
aww I read a lot of these books when I was younger, and this post was so sweet and nostalgic < 3
I’m so glad. <3 Most of these were my childhood favorites as well!
Lillian Keith says
My sister adores the Penderwicks and is hoping to reread it this summer! And yes on the Boxcar Children series! I don’t think I read all of them, but I remember reading the first several books when I was kid lol (that, and the original Nancy Drew books). Good memories. That’s impressive that you read all 152 of the Boxcar Children books!
Yes, they are amazing. Some of my favorite middle-grade books ever!
Nancy Drew was great as a kid, too! Haha, why thank you. 😉
This is a very nice list for the summer. Of course the Anne books are perfect for any time of the year.
Thank you for the suggestions.
Aw, thank you! I enjoyed putting it together. Happy reading!
These are such great recs! I LOVED all five of the Penderwicks books (as I’m writing this the audiobook is playing in the house) and Anne of Green Gables is a beautiful book. And I’m looking forward to reading the 7th Vanderbeeker book when it comes out! I love the beautiful covers haha
Aw, thanks! ME TOO. (There’s a rare time when someone in my house isn’t reading or listening to The Penderwicks) Yes, I can’t wait! I love how fun and pretty the covers. (:
A. J. Syngraféas says
Oooh! I have read and love a lot of these books. The Penderwicks is the best summer reading books I have found (I read them all in like two weeks last summer)! And of course Anne of Green Gables is just classic summer reading! Such a good post Pearl!
I agree for sure about the Penderwicks! Yes, Anne is definitely a classic! So happy you enjoyed it!
Charlotte Mills says
Great suggestions, Pearl! 😀 The Penderwicks has been sitting on my bookshelf for months now, so I’m planning to read it this summer! I can’t wait!! I’ll have to let you know what I think. 🙂
Aw, thank you! I hope you enjoy reading The Penderwicks; I think you’ll really like them. 😀
Allie Lynn says
I love making summer reading lists! And Charlotte’s Web is the best.
Have you ever read Stealing Thunder, by Mary Casanova? It’s one of my favorite summer reads.
Ooh, there are a few on this list that I haven’t read yet! I’ll definitely check them out!!
Leah Currier says
I actually wanted to read from the mixed-up files of mrs. basil e. frankwhiler since I own a copy and it looks interesting. Now I have all the more reason to 😉