Must-Read Summer Children’s Books: Neil Gaiman, Numbers, Nontraditional Families

Must-Read Summer Children’s Books: Neil Gaiman, Numbers, Nontraditional Families

Summer! No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks. But wait one second… with all the awesome releases coming out, your kids might want to drop the “no” from that one. With Tom Sawyer reimaginings, books based on apps, and magical castle adventures, it might be hard to pull them away from their reading. But we’d like to think that’s a great problem to have. Here are our favorite middle grade and picture books coming out this summer!

Middle Grade

Literary terrorism
A story after our own hearts, I Kill the Mockingbird brings the love of reading to the next level. Any book nerd can relate to Lucy, Elena, and Michael, who, frustrated with their town’s lack of passion for reading, use increasingly extreme methods—like hiding copies of the book so the bookstore believes they have been stolen—to get their town to read Harper Lee’s iconic novel. But their plans work a bit too well, and… well, we’ll let you find out.
On shelves: May 20

Be our guest
If we woke up in a random abandoned castle with no way out, we would start panicking and crying in a corner. But when The Castle Behind Thorns’ protagonist Sand does so, he gets to work. As he starts mending things in the castle that he needs to survive, he notices something odd: The things he fixes wind up looking brand-new. It’s almost magical how well these things work, because Sand is good, but he’s not that good. What’s more, he finds out he is not alone. Now, he has to figure out how to get not only himself, but the castle’s heir, out alive.
On shelves: May 27

Girls who play with robots
Mental illness is only just beginning to gain traction as a topic in young adult spheres, so Chasing the Milky Way is ahead of the pack. Lucy Peevy loves science and knows that this could be her ticket out of the trailer park she calls home, all by winning a robot building competition. Unfortunately, Lucy is at the whim of her bipolar mother’s moods. This becomes an issue when, after the court tries to take Lucy and her sister away, their mother kidnaps them and their young neighbor, Cam, and goes on the run. Lucy and Cam are good at solving problems, but will they be able to get out of this one?
On shelves: June 12

A Gleek fairy tale
In the third book of Glee star Chris Colfer’s Land of Stories series, the Bailey twins are back for more fairy tale-inspired adventures. Conner Bailey had thought he was done with all this magic, but he gets pulled back in by a mystery he can’t ignore and must now follow the clues left by the Brothers Grimm themselves. Alex Bailey dreams of becoming a fairy godmother, but it’s not as simple as it seems. In A Grimm Warning, the siblings must join forces as a new danger faces the Land of Stories.
On shelves: July 8

A Mark Twain twist
Forget Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn: Becky Thatcher is where the action is. In The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher, the judge’s daughter gets into a fair share of mischief. No lovestruck Becky Thatcher here; she’ll do anything to get rid of the tattletale Tom Sawyer. When a bet to steal from the Widow Douglas goes awry and the Widow is accused of grave-robbing, it’s up to Becky to set things right.
On shelves: July 22

The nontraditional family
Meet the Fletchers. There’s Sam (age 12), Jax (10), Eli (also 10 but younger than Jax), and Frog (6). Of course, you can’t forget their parents, Dad and Papa. Follow along on their misadventures with wacky neighbors, missing homework, and invisible cheetahs. The Misadventures of the Family Fletcheris not only great for promoting tolerance and understanding of modern families, but it’s also genuinely an entertaining read.
On shelves: July 22

Picture Books


What was the world like before letters? Dull, boring, orderly. Fed up with that, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 picked up their tools and created the Alphabet. This revolutionized everything. Now there could be things like color, and jelly beans, and ice cream. The Numberlys is a wildly entertaining way to learn about the alphabet and that the world is better in color . And the illustration is so cool and cute at the same time. Plus, a book based off an award-winning app—yes, we are so in.
On shelves: May 27

Picasso therapy
Divorce is a difficult subject to deal with, especially in children’s books. Emily is feeling a bit mixed-up now that her parents are no longer together. She finds solace in art and nothing speaks to her more than Picasso. “When Picasso was sad for a while,” says Emily, “he only painted in blue. And now I am in my blue period.” Emily’s Blue Period handles this touchy subject matter in a way that is both sensitive and inspiring.
On shelves: June 17

Neil Gaiman… ‘nuff said
Ahhh a new Neil Gaiman picture book. The loveable panda Chu returns in Chu’s First Day of School, and naturally, he’s pretty nervous. Will he make friends? Will he like his teacher? This story is perfect for a kid starting pre-K, kindergarten… heck, it could even be relevant to a kid going off to college. The anxiety of starting something new is universal, and the book deals with it superbly.
On shelves: June 24

None is the loneliest number
Learning to count is complicated business, so why not make it fun? With None the Number, Oliver Jeffers brings in his famous Hueys to help teach children to count to 10 and that, yes, none is a number. Count how many oranges were balanced on some things yesterday, or how many tantrums Kevin throws each day.
On shelves: July 1

Teachers are people, too
Everyone knows that teachers are totally not human, and young Bobby knows this better than anyone. In My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.), Bobby’s teacher does awful things, like not allowing him to go to recess just because he harmlessly threw a paper airplane. So when Bobby sees his teacher on the weekend at his favorite park spot, he knows his day will be ruined. But he soon learns that maybe he was a bit too harsh in his initial judgements, and maybe his teacher isn’t so bad after all.
On shelves: July 1

Put the phone away
These days, it’s not uncommon to see kids behind a screen instead of running and playing. But Doug Unplugs on the Farm is a unique take on this “modern age of technology” tale: Doug, a young robot, is on his way to visit his grandbots when the road is blocked by sheep at a nearby farm. Doug immediately begins downloading all the info he can about farms and animals, but soon realizes that the only way to truly know about these things is to experience them firsthand. He learns to milk a cow by actually getting down and doing it; he learns where his eggs come from by actually gathering them from the chicken coop; and he uses horses as an example to get the family car back on the road. This is a great way to teach children that while technology is useful, sometimes you have to just put it down and experience life.
On shelves: July 22

Other great children’s books to look out for:

The Pilot and the Little Prince by Peter Sís
Minion by John David Anderson
Dork Diaries 7: Tales from a Not-So-Glam TV Star by Rachel Renee Russell
Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Pete the Cat: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by James Dean
Millie Fierce Sleeps Out by Jane Manning
The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove


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