25 children's books your kids and teens won't be able to put down this summer

These summer page-turners are sure to please kids from toddler to teenager.
Amazon
By Lisa Tolin

Our editors independently selected these items because we think you will enjoy them and might like them at these prices. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn a commission. Pricing and availability are accurate as of publish time. Learn more about Shop TODAY.

With virtual school unplugging and summer camps in question, kids (and their parents) could be in for a long summer of “I’m bored.”

Fortunately, it’s a great season for books for children and young adults, with plenty of eagerly anticipated titles (including a “Hunger Games” prequel from Suzanne Collins) and a slew of lovable picture books that will have little ones asking you to read them again and again.

Ordinarily, summer reading lists are packed with fun beach reads — and we have plenty of those. But this is no ordinary summer, so we also included books that could help start a conversation about current events. Find more of those in this list of books about anti-racism, and check out our lists on helping kids deal with anxiety about coronavirus or heading back to school.

If you’re worried about a summer slide in your child’s reading skills, education experts suggest building a love of reading by letting them enjoy whatever they like, including graphic novels, comics or nonfiction. Keep reading for some 2020 new releases to tempt them.

1. “You Matter,” by Christian Robinson

There’s no better time to let children know they matter, even if they’re lost, or everyone is too busy to help. It's also a low key way to start important conversations. Don’t miss Robinson’s Instagram video series, “Making Space.”

2. “Swashby and the Sea,” by Beth Ferry and Juana Martinez Neal

In this delightful picture book, Captain Swashby lives alone by the sea and likes it that way. When a little girl disrupts his peace, Swashby tries to get rid of her by leaving grumpy messages in the sand. But the sea has other ideas. Fun wordplay and lush illustrations make this an inspired read.

3. “Lift,” by Minh Le and Dan Santat

This fantasy from the duo behind “Drawn Together” introduces us to Iris, a young girl with a love of pushing elevator buttons. When her little brother usurps her button-pushing duty, she embarks on a new adventure that takes her to unexpected heights.

4. "Jules vs. the Ocean," by Jessie Sima

The creator of "Not Quite Narwhal" returns to the sea with a little girl and a lot of determination. Jules wants to create a sandcastle to impress, even if the waves have other ideas.

5. “Two Dogs on a Trike,” by Gabi Snyder and Robin Rosenthal

The read-to-me crowd will love this new counting book with nine hilarious, dancing dogs, one very grumpy cat and all manners of transportation — including jet packs.

6. “Love, Sophia on the Moon,” by Anica Mrose Rissi and Mika Song

Sophia is running away to the moon. Don’t try to stop her. Unless you’d like to send cookies? In a series of letters, Sophia and her mom work out their differences between Earth and moon and settle on a cozy landing spot.

7. “Dozens of Doughnuts,” by Carrie Finison and Brianne Farley

LouAnn the bear is ready to settle in with a big batch of doughnuts, but friends keep popping by to share. She divides up her stash until there’s nothing left. But never fear, her hungry friends come through in this rhyming, humorous book that introduces math concepts.

8. "Speak Up," by Miranda Paul and Ebony Glenn

This book encourages kids to speak up about injustice and bullying, but also about their own feelings. It's a great conversation-starter for this moment, with important words of wisdom for moments to come.

9. “Small Matters,” by Heather Ferranti Kinser

This lyrical nonfiction picture book shows how the smallest things (those seen with an electron microscope) can make a big difference. Small eyes will grow wide over close-up photos of shark skin and the hairs on a honeybee’s eye.

10. “National Regular Average Ordinary Day,” by Lisa Katzenberger and Barbara Bakos

Here’s one for the kids who are missing out on birthday celebrations, fireworks and other traditional rites of summer. Peter loves celebrating the world’s most offbeat holidays, but when he runs out of reasons to party, he finds everyday life is worth celebrating.

11. “Jack at the Zoo,” by Mac Barnett and Greg Pizzoli

The quirky “Jack” early reader series is one parents won’t mind having read to them – slowly – over and over. Catch up with Mac Barnett’s free book club and live cartoons on Instagram if you’ve missed them during school shutdowns. They're a life-saver.

12. “Ways to Make Sunshine,” by Renee Watson

The first of a new middle grade series from the Newbery Honor winner features a lovable girl named Ryan Hart, who must move to a different part of town when her family experiences a financial setback.

13. “Stepping Stones,” by Lucy Knisley

This graphic novel inspired by Lucy Knisley’s own childhood finds her moving to a farm with her mom and her mom’s new boyfriend and meeting two new “sisters” she never wanted.

14. “Woke,” by Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood

This poetry collection for kids 8-12 is right for the time, encouraging children to be aware of injustice and become activists for change.

15. “The One and Only Bob,” by Katherine Applegate

In this follow up to “The One and Only Ivan” (soon to be a movie), Ivan’s canine friend Bob sets out to find his long lost sister.

16. “The List of Things That Will Not Change,” by Rebecca Stead

A lot is changing for Bea – her parents are divorcing and her dad is marrying another man. But with that new stepfather comes a chance for a new sister, and an exploration of the meaning of family.

17. “We Dream of Space,” by Erin Entrada Kelly

In the weeks leading up to the 1986 Challenger launch, three siblings embark on a project to learn about space. When the inevitable happens, it unites the siblings in ways they never expected.

18. “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You,” by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds

This “remix” of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning “Stamped From the Beginning” explains racism to younger readers by exploring the origin of racist ideas and explaining how to stamp them out in their own lives.

19. “The School for Good and Evil: One True King,” by Soman Chainani

The last in this best-selling fantasy series (soon to be a Netflix movie) has the fate of the Endless Woods up for grabs.

20. “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” by Suzanne Collins

The highly anticipated “Hunger Games” prequel follows an 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow as he becomes a mentor in the games to a lowly female tribute from District 12. The odds are not, as they say, ever in his favor.

21. “Dragon Hoops,” by Gene Luen Yang

From the creator of “American Born Chinese” comes this gripping graphic novel following a high school championship basketball team, with forays into the history of basketball and the writer’s own journey to create the book.

22. “Girls Garage,” by Emily Pilloton

For Emily Pilloton, the founder of Girls Garage in Berkely, California, which TODAY visited last year, learning to use power tools isn't just about building. It's about power. This is a handy guide for budding builders and anyone who ever needs to fix something (so, everyone).

23. “Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed,” by Laurie Halse Anderson and Leila Del Duca

In Halse Anderson’s graphic novel debut, Wonder Woman is an idealistic teen who stops human trafficking and is concerned about social issues like homelessness and hunger.

24. “Clap When You Land,” by Elizabeth Acevedo

A novel in verse from the National Book Award-winning author of “The Poet X” explores the lives of two girls after a tragic plane crash that brings them together.

25. “Camp,” by L.C. Rosen

This summer-friendly binge about a camp for queer teens has already been optioned by HBO Max for their new streaming service.