Family Roundup: Summer Reading—Top Book Picks For Every Age

You can help prevent summer vacation “brain drain” by encouraging your kids to keep reading all summer long.

A 1996 study by Dr. Harris Cooper with the University of Missouri found that during summer break, students can lose up to three months of learning, primarily in math, but also in reading. One tip he suggests to help students retain learning is to keep lots of books around and schedule regular trips to the library.

Here are suggestions on what to read, great places to get books and information on the upcoming summer reading programs offered through the King Country Libraries.

Recommended Summer Reading Lists 

A great way to start preparing for summer vacation is by going online to the King County Library system website this month and putting holds on the library books you and your kids want to read this summer. Using your library card and password, you can put holds on any books in the system and then have them ready for pick up at your favorite KCLS branch. And if your child is ready for the responsibility, celebrate the start of summer vacation by asking a librarian to help sign him or her up for his or her very own library card.

Beth Rosania, Children’s Section Supervisor for the three Bellevue King County Library System branches in ,  and inside , recommends the following books as great summer reads. 


Baby Bear, Baby Bear What Do You See? Bill Martin, Jr. (series); Peek-a-Who? Nina Laden; Princess Baby, Karen Katz (series); Quiet Loud, Leslie Patricelli (she also has others in the series—Big Little, Binky, etc.); and Sporty Babies Wear Sweats, Michelle Sinclair Colman (series).


Interrupting Chicken, David Ezra Stein; Knuffle Bunny Free, Mo Willems (series); The Loud Book, Deborah Underwood (sequel to The Quiet Book); Silverlicious, Victoria Kahn (Latest in the Pinkilicious series); and Skippyjon Jones Prest-O-Change-O, Judy Schachner (series).

Beginning Readers/Early Chapter books (grades K-2)

DK Readers (series); Henry and Mudge, Mr. Putter and Tabby, Poppleton—several series by Cynthia Rylant; I Broke My Trunk (An Elephant and Piggie Book), Mo Willems (series); and Magic Tree House: Summer of the Sea Serpent, Mary Pope Osborne (series).

Grades 3-6

Close to Famous, Joan Bauer; Emerald Atlas, John Stephens; The Hidden Gallery (Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Book 2), Maryrose Wood; The Lemonade Crime, Jacqueline Davies (sequel to Lemonade War); Penderwicks at Point Mouette, Jeanne Birdsall (series); and Turtle in Paradise, Jennifer Holm.

Teens and Tweens

Inheritance, Christopher Paolini (part of the Inheritance Cycle); Last Little Blue Envelope, Maureen Johnson (follow-up to 13 Little Blue Envelopes); Throne of Fire (Kane Chronicles #2), Rick Riordan; Where She Went, Gayle Foreman (sequel to If I Stay); and Witch and Wizard, James Patterson.

Parenting Books

10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity, Meg Meeker; Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, Peggy Orenstein; Getting to Calm: Cool-Headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens & Teens, Laura Kastner; Mom’s Book of Lists: 100 Practical Lists for Raising Your Kids, Alice Wong; and Raising Happiness, 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids & Happier Parents, Christine Carter.

Beach, Park and Pool Reads for Mom

I’ll Walk Alone, Mary Higgins Clark; Night Road, Kristin Hannah; The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor WheelsA Love Story, Ree Drummond; The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradbury; and A Turn in the Road, Debbie Macomber.

And the staff at the magical children’s bookstore Mockingbird Books and Cafe, located near Green Lake in Seattle, recommends the following books for enjoyable family reading all summer.


This Little Chick, John Lawrence; I Swing Like a Monkey, Harriet Ziefert; What Do You See? Martine Perrin; Who's in the Garden? Phyllis Gershator; and Tubby, Leslie Patricelli.


Little Blue Truck, Alice Schertle; Otis, Loren Long; I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean, Kevin Sherry; Baby Danced the Polka, Karen Beaumont; and Roadwork, Sally Sutton.

4- and 5-Year-Olds

Monkey With a Toolbelt, Chris Monroe; Small Saul, Ashley Spires; Chicken Butt, Erica Perl; Hatch, Roxie Munro; Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator, Mo Willems; Miss Lina’s Ballerina, Grace Maccarone; and To Market To Market, Nikki McClure.


This Plus That, Amy Rosenthal; Butterfly is Patient, Diannna Hutts Aston; Book Three of the Penderwicks series—Penderwicks at Point Mouette, Jeanne Birdall; Young Fredle, Cynthia Voigt; and Keepers School series and We the Children – Book 1, Andrew Clements.


Out of My Mind, Sharon Draper; Okay for Now, Gary Schmidt; Dark Life, Kat Falls; Smile, Raina Telgemeier; and Kane Chronicles Book 2—Throne of Fire, Rick Riordan.


Dirt Road Home, Watt Key; Shipbreaker, Paolo Bacigalupi; Blink and Caution, Tim Wynne-Jones; New Heist Society series, Book 2—Uncommon Criminals, Ally Carter; and New Dairy Queen series book—Front and Center, Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

Great Books for Crafty Kids Can Be Found at Planet Happy Kids

Keep your kids reading and creating all summer long with great books available at Planet Happy Kids in the University District, next door to the Queen Mary Tea Room. In addition to a fabulous collection of non-toxic, brain-building and creative skill-nuturing toys and books, the store has a resident hedgehog and offers fabulous weekend craft classes.

Planet Happy’s staff recommend the following books as great summer reading choices: For infants—Indestructible Humpty Dumpty—a non-toxic and washable charming picture book. For elementary-age kids, Recyled Crafts Box, Laura Martin; Paper Monsters: 50 Papertoy Projects for Kids of Every Age (perfect book for a long car trip), Brian Castelforte; Fairy Houses, Tracy Kane; and How Big is the Lion? My First Book of Measuring, William Accorsi. For tweens and teens—Sewing School by Amie Petronis Pluley and Andria Lisle; The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science by Sean Connolly; Catch the Wind and Harnass the Sun by Michael J. Caduto; and Do Something! A Handbook for Young Activists by Nancy Lublin.

Other Places in Bellevue to Locate Great Summer Reading Choices

Barnes and Noble bookstores in and at , the in downtown Bellevue and in all have sections featuring books for infants to teens. has a great variety of activity and art instruction books for toddlers to teens. You can also find books for infants to teens at and .

Summer Reading Programs at Bellevue's King County Libraries

Cecilia McGowan, the coordinator of children’s services for the King County Library Systems, is excited about the upcoming summer reading programs for kids and teens at the King County library.

"One World, Many Stories" is the 2011 Summer Reading program for kids, and runs June 13-Aug. 31. McGowan says “children may register for the Summer Reading Program online or visit their local library starting June 13 and pick up a Summer Reading Log and start reading to earn prizes. At 500 minutes they earn a halfway prize and at 1,000 minutes they earn the finisher's prize! School-age readers who finish by Aug. 31 can enter a drawing for a free laptop. Preschool readers who finish by Aug. 31 will be entered to win a family fun pass to the Woodland Park Zoo or a Family Membership to the!” 

Teens will have the opportunity to take part in a fiction and poetry writing contest in August with the winners being published in the Bellevue Reporter. Teens will also be able to take part in SAT prep classes at local libraries starting in July. More information on all summer reading programs will be available on the King County Library Systems website.





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