The Best Books for Summer Reading

Summer Reading for the Whole Family

As the school year wraps up, you may be wondering what books to read this summer. We are right there with you! Today we are providing summer reading lists for every member of your family. With this list, you can help prevent the summer slide in your school-age children. Not to mention, taking time to enjoy the best summer reads from the Divas’ personal lists, as well as other suggestions around the interwebs. Get out your pen and paper, schedule a library trip or pop open your Amazon account, and let’s get reading!

I love books and I love this list from TheDatingDivas.com! I can't wait to delve into some of these summer reads with my kids! #SummerReads #SummerReadingList

Family Summer Reading Challenge

This summer, challenge your family to complete a certain number of books. You can challenge each other or make it a cooperative goal. Click on the category that you need to jump straight to that list.

As you read, your mind expands, and that knowledge is yours forever! Enjoy our fave titles, and help introduce great literature to your children as well.

Fiction Summer Reads for Adults

The Divas are full of readers – we even have a librarian in our mix and a few English majors! So I’m confident saying that we have pretty good taste. :p We start looking for good summer reads at the start of a new year – just dreaming of lazy days under the sun! Here are some of our past (and your future!) favorite fiction summer reads.

Fiction summer reading lists for everyone.

  • Edenbrook – Julian Donaldson’s romantic novel was the number 1 recommended book from the Divas! It had a mix of intrigue and surprise mixed in that will keep you turning those pages.
  • Blackmoore – The second most recommended book was also one of Donaldson’s! Enjoy a regency romance where the heroine has no intention of falling in love, and every intention of running away to India.
  • Every Breath – Ok you could grab any Nicholas Sparks books for a cozy, romantic, summer read. Every Breath gives you a romance that covers time and space as the protagonists from 2 continents try to determine what their future holds.
  • The Alchemist – An allegorical story of a quest for happiness that may just teach you what you’ve always needed to learn.
  • The Nightengale – Love, war, and resilience are all part of this wartime drama that focuses on the women’s part of World War II.
  • And Then There Were None – Visit the Devon coast this summer, or at least read about it. This mystery thriller will keep you guessing as to who is responsible for the demise of various guests.
  • My Sister the Serial Killer – How far would you go to protect the ones you love? We aren’t spoiling anything when we tell you, this book is about 2 sisters: 1 a killer and 1 a protector. This thriller by Nigerian author, Oyinkan Braithewaite, will keep you reading and laughing at the deadpan comedy.
  • Little Fires Everywhere – Are you one of those people who has to read the book before seeing the film? If so, move this to the top of your summer reading list because it’s coming to Hulu!
  • The Simple Wild – Romance, adventure, and finding yourself in the Alaskan wild will be a different type of summer read. However, chilly the cold may make you feel, the romance will warm you right back up to summertime temperatures.
  • Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors – You know we love Jane Austen and her masterful romances! But are there too many iterations of the classic, Pride and Prejudice? NEVER! This retelling involves an Indian-American family, family loyalties, and the future… and you choose.
  • Waiting for Tom Hanks – Meet – cutes, rom – coms, and Tom Hanks, these are what romances are made of. Right? Enjoy a light summer read with Kerry Winfrey’s charming romance.
  • The Lady and the Highwayman – This is a “Proper Romance” that involves a Victorian headmistress who moonlights as a Penny Dreadful author with a male pseudonym. Twists, turns, and love – all the perfect ingredients to a good summer read.
  • Can You Keep a Secret – This chick-lit book is going to make your face hurt from smiling. Get ready. The protagonist has a few secrets, don’t we all? But how many of you have told your craziest secrets to a stranger on a plane… only to find out he’s your BOSS!?
  • The Icing on the Cake –  Ever try to make an impression, but those impressions always turn out to not be what you wanted… Annabelle Pleasanton is living that life. Embarrassing moments with a saucy little inner voice will make you smile from ear to ear.
  • 28 Summers – Visit Nantucket in the summer with Elin Hilderbrand’s newest novel coming out in June 2020.
  • Where the Crawdads Sing – This was Amazon’s best book of August 2018 – so that’s a pretty good indicator that it’s a perfect summer read! The 1950s and North Carolina present the perfect coming of age.

Nonfiction Summer Reads

Nonfiction always got a bad wrap as a kid, who wants to read something REAL?! But now, as an adult, I am loving the genre that feeds my brain, soul, and yes, even my imagination. If you are also a fan of the realities of life, this list of summer reads is perfect for you too!

Summer reads in the nonfiction genre.

  • Educated –  This cover is so striking, but not as striking as the content. Tara Westover’s memoir will have you sharing her stories with everyone you meet.
  • Atomic Habits – The Divas all got a copy of this book at the 2019 retreat. It’s an amazing read about how little changes will make a big impact on your life.
  • Girl, Wash Your Face – You know this one, right? If not, this is your chance to jump on the Rachel Hollis train and stop telling lies to yourself that are holding you back.
  • Maus – If you happened across this book at the book store, you might not think it’s nonfiction, the characters are mice after all… But Art Spiegelman’s incredible graphic novel tells his father’s story of surviving concentration camps during World War II.
  • 168 Hours – This isn’t a new book (they mention Blackberry phones!), BUT the concept is for everyone. You have 168 hours each week, how are you using them?
  • They Called Us Enemy – Another graphic novel from the same time period of Maus, but this time on American soil. George Takei shares the experience of being a Japanese-American and his family’s wrongful imprisonment in internment camps.
  • The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life – This was the focus of our 2018 Diva retreat training! If you’ve been struggling with happiness, this is a great book to get you on track.
  • The Tipping Point – According to my husband, Malcolm Gladwell is the nonfiction KING. All of his books combine facts and stories that come together in the best way.
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me and Other Concerns – If my husband thinks Gladwell is king, then Mindy Kaling is queen. Her book is a funny look at her life from obedient child to off-Broadway, from comedy writer to Hollywood parties. It’s a great, light, nonfiction book.
  • The 4 Habits of Joy-Filled Marriages: How 15 Minutes a Day Will Help You Stay in Love – Marcus Warner hits on 4 simple ways to find joy in your marriage and strengthen your bond. Easy, intentional, and important.
  • Daring Greatly – Brené Brown is becoming a household name thanks to her incredible self-help books and a new Netflix special. Daring Greatly will have you making leaps this summer!
  • The Magnolia Story – This is a perfect summer read, even if you didn’t think you were a Magnolia fan! And if we’re being honest, you’ll be a fan after this!
  • Heat – The New Yorker carries prestige for any writer, Bill Buford included; however, he left. He left to learn how to cook delicious Italian food. Learn the complexity of Italian food via Buford’s experiences learning the restaurant trade.
  • The Boys in the Boat – Is rowing an extreme sport? Reading some of these passages might make you a believer. Learn the true story of the 1936 American Olympic Rowing Team.
  • Essentialism – Minimalism of stuff is great – Marie Kondo taught us that. Now get ready to minimize all of the extra stuff in your life. (The audiobook is read by the author, Greg McKeown!)

Young Adult Summer Reading List

I know this whole genre of YA is not just for teens and young adults. So share the list with your teenagers, but try some out for you too! They are often very quick and engaging reads that will really round out your summer reading list. We have a mix of dystopian, fantasy, sci-fi, graphic novels, realistic fiction – we have it all right here.

Young Adult summer reads.

  • The Selection Series – You’re going to need to get all of these in the same library trip, you’ll go through them that fast. This is a captivating dystopian series will just the right amount of romance.
  • Fearless – A dystopian allegory will capture your imagination while also opening your mind to the importance of individuality. Fearless is the bravest girl in school, which reads more like a prison, and she’s using that bravery to help everyone.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia – The link is to the boxed set, and honestly, you need to get them all because you’re going to want to finish the set this summer.
  • The Book Thief – Have you read this yet? Or seen the film? It’s a new look at a World War II novel with Death as the narrator!
  • Ready Player One – Search for treasure with Wade Watts in this sci-fi novel. Most people are spending their lives online anyway, Wade might as well become the controller.
  • American Born Chinese – If you are looking to enter the world of graphic novels, this is a great place to dip your toes! Three stories weave into one about being yourself.
  • The Giver Series – Did you know that there are 3 other books that accompany The Giver? That classic young adult read presents you with new twists to the story and a summer reading challenge you or your teens will love.
  • Skyward – Brandon Sanderson is a legend in the Fantasy genre. His newest quartet focuses on a Spensa, a girl who wants to be a pilot and defend her planet. The second book, Starsight, came out in December 2019 – so you can read both this summer!
  • Lovely War – A Harlem ragtime singer, a soldier turned architect, a British classical, and an orphan with a beautiful voice. Their story is told by Greek goddess Aphrodite, who reminds us that war is strong, but love is stronger.
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Young love, often unrequited, is the perfect topic to add to your summer reading challenge list! And if you haven’t watched the movies – hold off until you finish the book!
  • Love and Gelato – If you can’t spend the summer in Tuscany, at least you can read about it! Lina is following her mother’s dying wish to meet her father… but does she even want a father who wasn’t around?
  • The Goose Girl – Shannon Hale is a wizard of young adult lit. This fantasy novel involves the ability to talk to animals, but the discomfort of talking with other people mixed with some betrayal.
  • The Opposite of Always – 2 people meet at a party and bond over favorite films and cereal. They fall for each other HARD, and then one of them dies. But that’s not the end of their story.  A little time travel and a lot of choices.
  • Field Notes on Love – Traveling cross country by train sounds utterly romantic. Is it still romantic if the planned on relationship ends… and a stranger joins up instead? Yikes!
  • Tell Me Three Things – Starting high school is hard, but can an anonymous online person be the answer? This romantic comedy will keep you turning the pages.

Perfect Summer Books for Kids and Tweens

Grade school students and those beginning middle schoolers will love this list for their summer reading challenge. It has a good mix of stories and even includes a few non-fiction for them to practice with over their summer break. No summer-slide happening here!

Summer reading challenge list for kids and tweens.

  • Harry Potter – Could we really have a summer reading list without a visit to Hogwarts?! We linked up to the illustrated version because it’s the perfect read-aloud for those middle-age kiddos.
  • Matilda – We could not make a booklist and leave off Roald Dahl! Matilda is a wonderfully sweet and magical story with a handful of antagonists that make Matilda’s goodness shine even brighter.
  • Bone Series – Bone is an unusual (and often unwitting) hero in this series of graphic novels that will keep kids reading and laughing all summer long.
  • Smile – Raina Telgemeir’s first graphic novel will hook you and your kiddos alike! Go along with her as she tells the stories of her youth (continued in Sisters and Guts).
  • The Dangerous Book for Boys or The Daring Book for Girls – Skills and tips for kids as they are growing up and learning how to do more. In addition to giving great activity ideas for the summer, could there be a more engaging title?!
  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – We linked you up to the young reader edition, but you could also purchase the original and have a little book club with your child! Discuss all the amazing things children are capable of, like creating energy from wind.
  • Among the Hidden – In a world where only 2 children are allowed, Luke is a third and therefore one of the “Shadow Children” who has been hidden his whole life. Engage a reluctant reader with this dystopian thriller.
  • Who Was PT Barnum – The “Who was..” or “What was…” series are all amazing introductions to people and history. If you have a Greatest Showman fan on your hands, this is perfect.
  • Max and the Midknights – Max just wants to be a knight, but it’s pretty unlikely. Then, one day his uncle is kidnapped, and Max’s possibilities open up! Send your kiddos on a quest with this summer reading challenge.
  • Stargirl – Someone new and different can be exciting, but they can also be polarizing. This amazing coming of age novel about identity and self is a must-read.
  • The Candy Shop War – Bubblegum is not always thought of as a superpower-causing agent, but it can be at the Sweet Tooth Ice Cream & Candy Shoppe. Sweet treats are not just for fun though, their specialties must help a group of friends in a war for hidden treasure and the evil that could accompany it.
  • Fish in a Tree – If you have a kid who is struggling with school, this is their book. Ally always has to find ways to hide the fact that she can’t read until one teacher sees through her facade.
  • Ella Enchanted – This is a classic fantasy book that can be read again and again. If you’ve ever wanted your children to JUST OBEY… Ella has lived that life. But with 100% obedience comes it’s own problems.
  • Hatchet – If you have an outdoor lover in your life, then they will love this realistic-fiction read about a young boy surviving in the Canadian wilderness. Not to mention, a great extension of this summer read is Guts, the real-life stories that inspired the author’s writing.
  • Sideways Stories from Wayside School – You might think that your kiddos are done with school during the summertime, but this is the craziest school around! It was built sideways and has quite a few sideways characters. It will keep you both laughing and is a great read-aloud.

Toddler and Beginning Reader Summer Lists

Toddlers and beginning readers LOVE books. These are some favorites from our house. Set aside time each day to do some summer reading. Ok fine, we know with the little ones it’s more like, “Set aside 7 times a day,” but really, who can blame them with a summer reading list this good!? These are books they will pick up on their own, just to look at the illustrations and retell the story from memory

The perfect toddler and beginning reader book list.

  • Pigeon Books – Mo Willems wrote a hilarious set of books about a pigeon. Not only does the pigeon want to drive the bus, but he also wants to get a puppy, eat a hotdog, and have a cookie. Your toddlers will love the relatable character, and your beginning readers will feel success as they giggle their way through Pigeon’s adventures.
  • Fancy Nancy – If you haven’t met this little firecracker, bring her home this summer! Not only will you learn some fancy new vocabulary with your kiddos, but you’ll enjoy her adventures as well.
  • Frog and Toad – Is it a real summer reading list without mentioning Arnold Lobel’s classic characters? The stories are shorter, which makes it easy for quick summer-night bedtime stories. In addition to easy reads, adults will be laughing in solidarity with the titular amphibians.
  • 10 Rules of the Birthday Wish – Every toddler LOVES the excitement that comes with a birthday. Work on number skills while focusing on that very special birthday wish.
  • Goodbye Friend, Hello Friend – Transitions are difficult for toddlers… and all of us, so this book is super helpful in learning that one closed door just means another can open.
  • Never Touch A … – This series is gold for babies and toddlers, and don’t worry, we won’t tell if you spend your fair share touching all of the tactile additions! My kiddos love the dragon one, but they are all a fun, feely book.
  • The Book with No Pictures – BJ Novak has created a silly, snorty book with no pictures. Far from being bored,  your littles will want you to read it over and over because you have to read EVERY word. That includes words like BLORK and GLIBBITY GLOBBITY.
  • Press Here – Now in BIG book and board book format, Press Here is an interactive reading experience for you and your mini-roommates. This is a book that needs to be wiggled and jiggled and touched for the full experience, so don’t hold back.
  • The Day the Crayons Quit – Duncan just wants to color, but his crayons have gone on strike! Each page features a new color and its woes. Ignite imagination while supporting creativity and learning colors.
  • Positive Ninja – Do you have a little ninja in your life who struggles with regulating emotions and mindful reactions? (Oh maybe that’s all of us…) either way, this book is a perfect summer read as more time is spent at home with siblings AND as they prepare to go back to school and interact with others.
  • Dragons Love Tacos – Don’t we all love tacos?! They are supreme.
  • The Gruffalo – Have you ever heard of the Gruffalo? He has terrible claws and terrible tusks in his terrible jaws! But is he real, or is he just a decoy to let little Mouse get through the woods?
  • Goodnight, Summer – Relive the perfect nights of fireworks and smores, the pool days, and long walks with this summer read.
  • Dear Girl or Dear Boy – Does the little-lady or mini-man in your life need some positive encouragement? These books are the most adorable letters to the littles in your life.
  • Scribble Stones – Let this book be the springboard to your next summer activity – rock painting! Add it to a list of books to read this summer and then, add it to your summer activity bucket list.

Hopefully, you have found 1, 2, or 27 books that are now on your summer reading list! If you need a few more book-themed activities, we can’t help but recommend 2 of our favorite dates: The Bookstore Date and The Library Date. Not to mention our Library Scavenger Hunt for Kids – we just can’t stop with the books!! Now, go have fun and pick up a couple of good summer reads while you’re out.

About the Author: Shanelle

I am a reading, singing, shopping queen! (I'm very lucky that my handsome hubby likes shopping as much as I do) Married for 7 years and ready for forever, I love spending time with Brigham (my husband), our girls, and our new baby boy. I teach high school English and in the summertime we love to go on adventures in the great outdoors.

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