Top Books for Kids' Summer Reading

Melinda Taylor Schoutens

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” – Emilie Buchwald – Literary Editor and Author











Just because school is out, doesn’t mean our children need to take a break from learning. In fact, the summer is the perfect time to dive into some good books, which will naturally help your child’s education continue during the warmth of the summer.

As an educator, I delight in the opportunity to read to my children. In fact, I read a sad statistic that stated parents typically stop reading to their children by the time their children are eight years of age.

Children, even older children, love being read to, so as a parent, if you can prolong the bonding that reading creates, I would I highly recommend you do so.

Let us also not forget that reading to your child and encouraging your child to read independently is critical to their overall academic success. When a child has confidence in their reading abilities, all other skills are enhanced by that self-assurance, as almost all aspects of the classroom involve and rely on literacy skills.

To help initiate summer reading, encourage your children to participate in the process. As your child to come up with a theme or ask them to select a topic that excites them.

Once your topic of interest has been established, head to a second hand book store and see if you can uncover a few treasures. If that doesn’t turn up the results you are looking for, visit your local library. The library is a fabulous resource filled with knowledgeable staff that are always happy to help you select the perfect book. If you are looking to purchase new books in English, consider the Book Depository, which ships free of charge to Switzerland.

Read more about why are bedtime stories good for our children here

Now that you have selected the perfect book, implement a challenge. A reading challenge can be fun and easy and above all, will inspire regular reading throughout the summer months.

You can determine the best challenge to suit your children’s individual needs, but if you need a bit of help finding the perfect reading challenge, check out the link below provided by

Remember, reading comes in many forms, so do not limit your child to a single genre or format.  Up your reading game by

  • Checking out audio books
  • Have your child create his or her own story and read it aloud to a grandparent or sibling and/or
  • Read a book online

Allow your child to read

  • Cook books
  • Magazines
  • Graphic novels
  • Comics
  • Poetry and
  • Child appropriate newspapers

Don’t forget that reading in a new location can also be a fun experience for children.

  • Pack books for tram or train rides
  • Spread out a blanket and read under the shade of a tree
  • Read on the sand of a beach, or
  • Consider reading at the breakfast table

The beautiful thing about reading is that it can be done virtually anywhere and has the capacity to transport your child.

As you read this summer, encourage your children to read aloud. Some children may shy away from this activity, as it feels like a vulnerable act to some, however, it is a necessary skill to cultivate.

Children should never be made ashamed of reading slowly or taking their time when sounding out new words. Children can read aloud to themselves if they feel embarrassed to read in front of others, but remember that reading aloud is a skill they will rely on throughout their lives. A great way to foster reading aloud is to have siblings take turns reading to each other.

Children may also wish to read independently before bedtime, which is a habit I highly endorse. Provide your child with a headlamp and a good book and move out of their way. There is nothing more precious than observing a child tucked into his or her bed with a book in hand. Allow your child extra time for reading and watch as the magic unfolds!

For summer reading inspiration, here are a few titles that my children have loved over the years or I have taught to my students.


Books for younger children

Shel Silverstein Poetry Books

For reluctant or emerging readers, consider diving into poetry. Poems are often short and less intimidating than a full book. Yes, you may need to assister emerging readers when it comes to sounding out some of the words, but this should not deter your little people. Shel Silverstein’s poetry books, for example, Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic, incorporate rhyming and silly stories, both of which children love.

Dr. Seuss books are fun and weird and whimsical

A classic American author, children naturally navigate to the rhyming patterns of his books. My children loved Green Eggs and Ham and The ABC book. As a mother, I adored the message that felt modern for its time in The Lorax. The Lorax, in my humble opinion, is a story that deserves a place on every families’ and every schools’ bookshelf. The message is essential, especially now in a world that is struggling to combat environmental destruction.

Millie’s Marvelous Hat by Satoshi Kitamura is the wonderfully creative story of a little girl who wonders into a hat shop.

With no money to spend on a hat of her own, the shop keeper helps Millie by gifting her an empty hat box. This gesture sparks Millie’s imagination, which quickly comes to life in this colorful, creative story.

Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows is a sweet book series for girls up to the age of twelve.

Oh, these charming books about two neighborhood friends are a genuine delight for young girls. These stories reveal family life through the lens of young girls who like to tinker and play and cause a bit of mischief.


Books for older children (ages 10+)

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown is a beautiful blend of the natural world and the increasing use of technology in our times.

When Roz, the main character who is a robot, crashes onto a remote island, she discovers she must prove to all the creatures of the wild that she is not a threat. This story is ripe with thought and discussion points, perfect for any family or educator.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

This story, written in short prose, is captivating from the moment you crack open the book. Told from the perspective of a Silverback gorilla, Ivan, who lives in a local mall in a small enclosure. As the story unfolds, the reader gets to know Ivan’s friends and those that believe he is destine for a better life. Read the book and then enjoy the film released by Disney in 2020.

The False Prince Jennifer A. Nieslen

This four book series is exciting from the moment the story unfolds and ideal for older readers. I read this series to my son a couple of years ago and he longed for bedtime each evening just to revisit the story. He would often follow me around the house with the book in hand begging me to finish a chapter to find out what the orphaned main character Sage, was up to next. Take the memorable journey with Sage, the 14 year old, witty and clever child headed for a life he could have never imagined.

Kaleio – Is a fabulous new magazine that emphasises empowerment for girls ages 8 – 13.

With themes that include science, society, the environment, psychology, community and gorgeous art, your daughter will rush to the mailbox to collect the latest edition of this wonderful magazine. 


Summer learning doesn’t have to involve an elaborate educational plan. By encouraging your children to read regularly, discuss and question the books they read, your child will inevitably learn a great deal.

When reading, your child will naturally be exposed to diverse vocabulary, new ideas and thoughts. Summer reading shouldn’t be a chore, but rather an exciting opportunity to learn from the pages they hold in their hands!


* Summer reading inspiration

About the Author

Melinda Taylor Schoutens is a mother, wife, educator and author. Born and raised in the United States, she moved with her husband to Switzerland in 2007. Their initial contract of two - years quickly morphed into 14. Learning to be flexible and open to new possibilities has taught her a great deal. Now, as the mother of two children, Basel feels very much like home.

Melinda is a certified Holistic Health Coach that studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. Melinda holds a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction and has taught adults and children on an array of topics. She has designed educational curriculum for years and has curated and delivered a lecture entitled, “The Education of Nature.” She is the author of the Fresh Air Kids Switzerland book series, which you can oder here.  




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