Summer Reading Staff Picks

Your students will be at home all summer. Books help entertain and prevent learning loss while away from the classroom. Here’s what our staff is reading and loving this summer.

Picture Books

How to Solve a Problem

How to Solve a Problem By Ashima Shiraishi; illustrated by Yao Xiao

This book takes on something practical—problem solving—in a very fun way. Kids will be inspired by world-class teenage climber Ashima Shiraishi and how she navigates obstacles in climbing and in life. A great one to read with sports lovers and adventure enthusiasts! — Shaughnessy Miller, Coordinator, Library Marketing

I Found A Kitty!

I Found A Kitty! By Troy Cummings

This is just such a heart-warming story! There are so many fun activities that you can tie in to a storytime. Also, animal adoptions have been on the rise since the pandemic started—it’s always nice to have another heartbeat in the house. Troy’s previous work Can I Be Your Dog? has been nominated for over twenty state award lists. — Erica Stone, Coordinator, School Marketing

The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art

The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art By Barb Rosenstock; illustrated by Mary GrandPre

The wonderful pairing of Barb Rosenstock’s writing and research with Mary GrandPré’s beautiful artwork brings Kandinsky’s story to life. This Caldecott Honor–winning title was the first in a series of picture-book biographies of artists that are perfect for readers learning about art styles and the people behind them. — Adrienne Waintraub,

Summer Supper

Summer Supper By Rubin Pfeffer; illustrated by Mike Austin

My favorite thing about spring and summer is that the farmers markets start to open again. I love cooking, and in the summer, fresh fruits and veggies can taste like the season itself. Summer Supper is an adorable story about a boy who makes dinner with and for his family, using everything they grow in their garden. It’s a great way to learn about what you can grow yourself and a celebration of cooking and eating together. — Emily DuVal, Manager, Library Marketing

Tar Beach

Tar Beach By Faith Ringgold

Cassie Louise Lightfoot lifts off her rooftop—the “tar beach” of the title—flying away from her family and neighbors where they picnic above Harlem on a hot summer night in the 1930s. She flies over the George Washington Bridge that her father helped build, over the union building where her father faces racial discrimination, and over to the ice cream factory. She flies to the places she had no way to get to before. This is a book for anyone who has ever wanted to fly out of unfairness or felt the magic a hot summer night can invite in. — Natalie Capogrossi, Assistant Manager, School Marketing

The World Needs More Purple People

The World Needs More Purple People By Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart; illustrated by Daniel Wiseman

The official color of summer is Purple! This endearing new picture book celebrates kids who ask questions, bring communities together, and speak up for what’s right. It’s a wonderful storytime book that will inspire and delight. — Kristin Schulz, Senior Manager, School Marketing

Middle Grade

Flush

Flush By Carl Hiaasen

Set in a middle-class town in the wilds of the Florida Keys, Flush drops you into a plot about a polluted lagoon but will still have you celebrating nature. Here is a devastatingly funny, environmentally minded, and realistic summer vacation tale of kids empowered to fight commercial polluting and stand up to the wicked, wacky, and vividly drawn adults in their lives who are no match for them. — Natalie Capogrossi, Assistant Manager, School Marketing

Holes

Holes By Louis Sachar

This was one of my favorite books growing up. We read it in fifth grade Language Arts, and I still remember the projects we did, including answering interview questions from the perspective of one of the characters and creating a booklet with a bio page for each character. I can also still rap the song from the movie. It’s perfect for both learning and pleasure . . . and as a book and movie pairing! — Shaughnessy Miller, Coordinator, Library Marketing

Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero

Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero By Kelly J. Baptist

Kelly J. Baptist is a new author who I’m really excited to read more from. I first met Isaiah in Kelly’s short story in the anthology Flying Lessons & Other Stories, and I am so glad that she has turned it into a novel. After Isaiah’s dad passed away, he became the man of the house, but that isn’t easy. Luckily he has some good friends and his dad’s journal filled with stories of Super Isaiah. Kelly’s writing is smart and funny and pulls at your heartstrings in that good way that makes you want to escape into a book. — Adrienne Waintraub, Executive Director, School & Library Marketing

The Magnificent Makers #1: How to Test a Friendship

The Magnificent Makers #1: How to Test a Friendship By Theanne Griffith; illustrated by Reggie Brown

Summer is made for science experiments! This incredible STEM series—written by an actual brain scientist—focuses on friendship, science, and adventure. PLUS, there are activities in the book to do at home, so kids can read, learn, and then act! — Kristin Schulz, Senior Manager, School Marketing

The Penderwicks

The Penderwicks By Jeanne Birdsall

You can’t go wrong spending any amount of time with the Penderwicks. They are comforting and classic. These books are perfect read-alouds for a family or class or can be enjoyed as an independent read. I loved reading Little Women as a kid, and I wish I had had the Penderwicks to read then, too. — Emily DuVal, Manager, Library Marketing

The Water Bears

The Water Bears By Kim Baker

I love Newt. This story is fun and fantastical—a good family story. I think librarians and educators will be able to recommend this book to middle graders who are having trouble dealing with the stress and trauma of their current situation. — Erica Stone, Coordinator, School Marketing

Young Adult

Aurora Rising

Aurora Rising By Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Though I don’t typically read sci-fi, I was intrigued by this series from Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, who are known for their unique writing style and entertaining voice. The Aurora Cycle, a space-opera adventure told from multiple perspectives, is the perfect escape. It did not disappoint. You, too, will be sucked in by this squad of misfits and their mission to stop an intergalactic war. — Shaughnessy Miller, Coordinator, Library Marketing

Breathless

Breathless By Jennifer Niven

Jennifer Niven is back with a young adult novel that tells the story of a girl who just graduated from high school and is dealing with her life being turned upside down. When she meets the first person who really sees her as she wants to be seen, she finally feels like she can live. Set on an island off the coast of Georgia, how could this not be a great summer read? — Adrienne Waintraub, Executive Director, School & Library Marketing

Burn Our Bodies Down

Burn Our Bodies Down By Rory Power

Wilder Girls, Rory Power’s New York Times bestselling debut, blew me away, so I’ll be reading her new book Burn Our Bodies Down. I’ve been devouring family dramas on television, and this twisty thriller fits in perfectly. — Kristin Schulz, Senior Manager, School Marketing

Gravity

Gravity By Sarah Deming

I loved this book, and reading it felt like a workout at the kickboxing gym, in the best way. Because of Sarah’s background in boxing and as a sports writer, the story is fast-paced, high stakes, and full of emotion, like any good sports story should be. — Emily DuVal, Manager, Library Marketing

The Montague Twins: The Witch's Hand

The Montague Twins: The Witch's Hand By Nathan Page; illustrated by Drew Shannon

This book is so unlike anything I have ever read. It has something for everyone: magic, fantasy, mystery, horror—everything a young adult could want in a graphic novel. — Erica Stone, Coordinator, School Marketing

The Smell of Other People's Houses

The Smell of Other People's Houses By Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Their meeting seems fated: four teenagers’ lives slowly become entangled when their paths cross in a remote village on the Alaskan frontier in the 1970s. Each is brokenhearted, abandoned, unsure, and fearful—but they are steadied by the community around them. This is a book that speaks of immense loss while reminding us that pain does not preclude joy. Read to be transported, read to cry, and read for a poetic reminder of the role we play in the lives of others. — Natalie Capogrossi, Assistant Manager, School Marketing