Summer 2019’s Best Children’s and Middle Grade Books

Summer 2019’s Best Children’s and Middle Grade Books

must-read middle grade

Looking to plan the perfect summer day with your little one? We recommend mixing up a batch of lemonade, finding a shady tree to sit beneath, and diving into these incredible summer reads. Below you’ll find ten of this summer’s must-read middle grade and children’s books. Bibliophiles young and old will love spending warm days getting lost in these pages.

Picture Books

How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

All bookworms know there’s an art to reading books, and here Kwame Alexander and Melissa Sweet team up to show young readers exactly how it’s done through lyrical prose and eye-catching collage art. The first step is finding the perfect place to read, of course. The book helpfully suggests a “a black tupelo or dawn redwood” tree, and from there you’re off on a joyous adventure through the magic of reading. The instructions are thoughtful and easy to follow, sure to inspire readers of all ages to take what they learn and bring it to every new book they open.

On shelves: June 18

Rocket Says Look Up! by Nathan Bryon, illustrated by Dapo Adeola

Rocket’s eyes are on the skies. She dreams of becoming an astronaut one day and she doesn’t understand why her older brother Jamal is more interested in looking down at his phone than up at the stars. When Rocket learns of an upcoming meteor shower, she hands fliers to everyone in her neighborhood to ensure they don’t miss it. Rocket’s passion is infectious and as the sky begins to shimmer with stars, even Jamal looks up in amazement. Readers will be dazzled by Rocket, a heroine that will encourage others to follow their dreams and share them with the world.

On shelves: June 25

Vroom! by Barbara McClintock

Buckle up, mini motorheads: You’re in for the ride of your life. With an open road before her and a silver car in her possession, Annie revs her engine and takes off for an evening drive. She travels through open plains, crowded cities, and even a forest peppered with animals peering out at her from behind trees. Her journey takes her all over, but she still makes it back just in time to crawl into bed after a very exciting day. Annie is wickedly fast behind the wheel, and young readers will love going along for the ride.

On shelves: July 2

The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Author Derrick Barnes’ latest draws inspiration from a Facebook post he made on the day his youngest son started kindergarten. The book opens with our young hero rising from slumber beside his stuffed lion, the sun behind him a shining crown. He sets off for school, where he meets new friends, shares his desserts, learns about the joy of recess, and even indulges in a royal nap. Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s bright and colorful illustrations capture the excitement of fun new experiences and find creative ways of giving our king his crown. This is a story sure to instill confidence in young readers and remind them to walk with their heads held high.

On shelves: July 2

Spencer’s New Pet by Jessie Sima

Jessie Sima’s wordless picture book follows the adventures of a young boy named Spencer and his pet: a red balloon dog. Visually enchanting, the book is almost entirely black and white, with the exception being Spencer’s bright red pet. Adult readers will appreciate the subtle references to silent films, such as the use of title cards, while young bookworms will eagerly follow along as Spencer and his pet take walks, go to the park, and steer clear of any and all sharp objects! This is a delightful story about friendship and imagination that readers will want to visit again and again.

On shelves: August 27

Middle Grade

All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker, illustrated by Kelly Murphy

It’s spring in SoHo and 12-year-old Ollie is looking forward to spending her days exploring the streets of New York with her best friends Richard and Alex and drawing anything that inspires her. But everything changes when her art restorer father takes off for France in the middle of the night, leaving behind a mysterious note for Ollie. When her mother experiences a depressive episode and her father’s business partner begins acting strangely, Ollie knows it’s up to her alone to find out what the note means. Readers looking for a fun mystery led by a creative heroine will love this trip back to 1981.

On shelves: June 4

Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis

Middle grade readers looking for a graphic novel this summer won’t want to miss out on Queen of the Sea. Loosely inspired by the exile of Queen Elizabeth I, this story transports readers to a small island where an orphan named Margaret is being raised by the sisters at the convent. As the only child on the island, Margaret is ecstatic when a boat arrives with Eleanor, the former Queen of Albion who has been banished after her sister took the throne. As the girls grow closer, Margaret learns more about the island’s purpose and begins to uncover secrets about her own past.

On shelves: June 25

The Hero Next Door edited by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

From We Need Diverse Books comes a short story collection that explores what it truly means to be a hero. The tales, from beloved authors such as Lamar Giles and Rita Williams-Garcia, focus specifically on everyday acts of heroics from children. In one story, an autistic boy learning aikido bonds with his new sensei. In another, a girl and her parents travel to Morocco to meet her adopted brother. Each entry serves as a reminder that there are no capes or superpowers needed to be someone’s hero, just a kind heart and a helping hand.

On shelves: July 30

My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail Villanueva

Sabrina “Sab” Dulce is 10 years old, Filipina, and deeply superstitious. When she comes across a black butterfly, she remembers her father’s warning that they foretell doom and she becomes convinced that she’ll die a week later on her 11th birthday. Believing her time is short, Sab sets out to reunite her entire family for her final birthday. The only problem is that her father and sister, Ate Nadine, haven’t spoken in a year. Sab isn’t sure what happened between them and she ropes in her best friend Pepper to help her investigate. At turns heartbreaking and hopeful, this is a moving tale about family that readers won’t soon forget.

On shelves: July 30

Best Friends by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

The Real Friends graphic memoir series continues this summer with Best Friends. Shannon’s come a long way since fifth grade. She’s now a member of her school’s cool crowd, known as The Group, and she’s best friends with Jen, the ringleader and most popular girl in school. But Shannon still doesn’t always feel like she’s fitting in. The rules of what’s in and what’s not seem to be changing all the time, and she can’t always keep up. Can she be herself and still keep her friends? Author and illustrator team Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham capture all of the highs and lows of middle grade life in a way readers young and old will undoubtedly relate to. Fellow sixth graders will find a lot to admire in Shannon as she learns to be true to herself.

On shelves: August 27


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