It’s finally summer break! Take this time to rest and have fun, but make sure you find a book or two to read over the holiday. If you’re wondering, “is summer reading necessary?”, the answer is YES! If you’re not reading at all over the summer, you’re turning your back on the reading and writing skills you’ve worked so hard on improving over this last school year. Summer learning loss is a real concern—students who don’t read or study during the summer risk knowledge losses that can cause them to start their next grade on the wrong foot.
Summer reading is vital for maintaining and even expanding your reading skills! That’s why we’ve curated this selection of adventurous books for summer reading, with a book suitable for each grade level from fourth grade onwards.
Books for Summer Reading for Elementary Students
Fourth and fifth graders can’t afford to miss months of reading practice, which is why we’ve selected two acclaimed, riveting reads that have both sequels and movie adaptations!
4th Grade: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has an everlasting charm that children of all ages love. There’s no doubt you’ve heard of or seen the movie adaptation, The Chronicles of Narnia, but reading the novel is an unparalleled experience for bookworms and reluctant readers alike.
Four siblings are evacuated from London in the midst of World War 2 and sent to live in a professor’s mansion in the English countryside. They discover a mysterious wardrobe that transports them to the magical world of Narnia, where they end up in the center of a heated war between good and evil. This immersive summer read will be tough to put down—once you finish it, pick up the sequel, Prince Caspian!
5th Grade: Holes, Louis Sachar
Another beloved novel that has also been adapted into a film, Holes follows Stanley Yelnats as he’s unjustly sent to Camp Green Lake, a boys’ detention camp. As their punishment, the boys are assigned to dig five-foot-deep holes every single day—they say it’s to “build character”, but it becomes clear that the warden of Camp Green Lake is looking for something underground.
A tale filled with mystery and humor, this modern classic has been a staple summer read for years and years—its rich cast of characters, sharp wit, and page-turning adventures will keep you entertained as you explore Stanley’s adventures in the desert!
Books for Summer Reading for Middle Schoolers
Our recommended books for summer reading for 6th through 8th graders are captivating adventures in worlds both near and far.
6th Grade: Gregor the Overlander, Suzanne Collins
From the author who wrote The Hunger Games series, Gregor the Overlander is the first book of The Underland Chronicles series, an epic fantasy series about a subterranean world beneath our own. When Gregor and his sister fall into an air duct grate in their building’s basement, they discover an underground world of humans with purple eyes and near-translucent skin, giant, sentient rodents and insects, and a war between the humans and rats.
When Gregor realizes he has a personal connection to the Underland, he must journey through the land and face his worst nightmares along the way. Called “an engrossing adventure for fantasy fans and those new to the genre”, Gregor the Overlander will compel any sixth grader to put down their phone and dive into reading. Plus—there are four sequels!
7th Grade: The Shadow Club, Neal Shusterman
Our pick for 7th grade summer reading is a compelling novel about competition, envy, and revenge. The Shadow Club follows the club formed by kids that constantly find themselves second-best when it comes to school and their hobbies. These kids, tired of always being second-best, come together to talk about their feelings; however, the club members start playing practical jokes on the first-placers they envy, quickly spiraling out of control.
The straightforward plot but escalating series of events will engross any middle school reader, especially if you explore how you or your classmates can relate to the way even good kids can do horrible things when envy is involved. Just like many of the other books in this article’s collection, this has a sequel—The Shadow Club Rising.
8th Grade: I Am Still Alive, Kate Alice Marshall
8th graders looking for a thrilling read, especially fans of survival stories like Hatchet or Lord of the Flies, will be captivated by I Am Still Alive. Jess is left injured and without her mother after a devastating car crash, so she’s sent to live in her survivalist dad’s cabin in the woods. Their reunion is cut short when her father is mysteriously killed and the cabin is burned to the ground, leaving Jess on her own.
She must forage, hunt, build shelter, and stay warm in the cold Canadian wilderness, with only the company of her father’s dog. Embark on this mission with Jess as she survives and seeks revenge for the death of her father.
Books for Summer Reading for High School Students
We’ve honed in on mostly adventure and survival stories for this collection—nothing can bypass a reading block like a thrilling tale, whether it be surviving an epidemic, a drought, heartbreak, or a murder trial.
9th Grade: Dry, Neal and Jarrod Shusterman
Our 9th grade summer reading recommendation is another thrilling story from Neal Shusterman that chronicles the sequence of events following a catastrophic escalation in California’s drought. Everyday lives have been warped by the scarcity of water for months, but the taps running dry has created a dangerous warzone in everyone’s neighborhood.
In Dry, Alyssa must make impossible choices in order to help her family survive. Packed with themes of environmentalism and the importance of family, this chilling novel is a fun, fast-paced challenge for reluctant readers and adventure lovers alike.
10th Grade: Love & Luck, Jenna Evans Welch
A much-needed wholesome break amidst the harrowing tales throughout this list, Love & Luck is the heartwarming tale of heartbroken Addie Bennett’s summer road trip through the biggest music festival in Ireland with her brother. The two of them (plus their driver) meet an assortment of colorful characters on their journey, all of whom help Addie find ways to mend her heart.
Welch’s writing is charming and succinct, and her characters are fun and written with depth. Travel novels are some of the most fun books to read over the summer, which makes Love & Luck a perfect summer pick for lovers of romance, travel, and music. Interested in Italy and Greece, too? Read the companion novels, Love & Gelato and Love & Olives!
11th Grade: Wilder Girls, Rory Power
Another thrilling survival story with resemblance to Lord of the Flies, Wilder Girls follows Hetty and her friends as their remote boarding school is put under quarantine due to a mysterious, deadly illness spreading. Cut off from the rest of the world, the students wait for a promised cure—when Hetty’s best friend, Byatt, disappears.
Join Hetty and the other students at the Raxter School for Girls as they survive in the face of the Tox, find their missing friend, and discover the truth behind Raxter. 11th graders—recall your pandemic experience to empathize with the characters, and employ your literary skills to try and unearth the mystery within the novel. Wilder Girls is a thematically rich science fiction story with eloquent, precise prose and packed with emotion—once you start reading, it’ll be a struggle to put it down!
12th Grade: Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood
The last book on our list of recommendations is from the masterful author of The Handmaid’s Tale. Alias Grace is a fast-paced, mysterious novel full of wit, insight, and compassion, in which Atwood takes the reader back to 1843, where Grace Marks has been convicted for being involved in three vicious murders. The issue is—she claims that she has no memory of the murders at all. A psychologist (as well as a group of spiritualists) listen to Grace and seek answers in her amnesia.
Bestselling and award-winning author Margaret Atwood showcases her expertise in storytelling in Alias Grace—as the Washington Post Book World praises, “Alias Grace has all the pacing of a commercial novel and all the resonance of a classic.” We recommend this read for those entering 12th grade or enrolling in college because this novel will help you continue developing your advanced literary skills.
Improve Your Reading Skills with Online English Courses
We hope this collection of books for summer reading has helped inform your summer break plans! Again, summer learning loss is a dire possibility that can set you behind your peers when you return to school—by reading a few books over break (and some math practice can’t hurt!), you will be better prepared for the coursework in the next grade you enter. If you want more practice material to empower your reading and writing journey, Piqosity is here to help!
Along with our ISEE, SAT, and ACT test prep courses, we offer full online English courses—each includes dozens of concept lessons, personalized practice software, and over 100 reading comprehension passages.
The best part? You can try out all of Piqosity’s features with our free community account. When you’re ready to upgrade, Piqosity’s year-long accounts start at only $89. Plus, get a 10% off coupon just by signing up for our mailing list!