Skip to main content

The Ultimate Reading List (For Summer or Whenever)

Sadly, summer is starting to come to a close... but we still have one more month! This week I wanted to share some of my favorite titles to read in this last week of summer and going into the start of school. Even though I write about YA books, I wanted to share some of my favorite Elementary and MG titles as well. For those age groups, these are my favorite titles of all time, and for my YA picks they are the winners of the summer thus far. Hopefully everyone can find a book they love. This is kind of a part two to my article: "Unpopular Opinion: Summer Reading Does More Harm Than Good" (http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/07/unpopular-opinion-summer-reading-does.html) I would definitely put all of these books on summer reading lists (and I've even seen some of these featured which made me so happy) or use them in schools. For more recommendations, check out our other articles and follow us on social media (Twitter: @readwriteandme Instagram: @readingwritingandme and Facebook) for update on my weekly reviews and other special posts. Enjoy!


Elementary School

  • The Chronicles of Narnia- This series is fun and exciting. It makes a great bedtime story to read with or to your kids that will leave everyone wanting more.
  • Classic fairy tales and Greek mythology- I have always loved and been fascinated by these tales. They are great stories to expose your kids or siblings to because there are so many allusions in our culture to these stories. 
  • Catmagic by Holly Webb- This series probably takes the cake as my favorite elementary school book. I can't tell you how many times I read these books. The first book starts when Lottie moves in with her Uncle Jack who owns a magic pet shop where the animals can actually talk and starts going on adventures with the adorable, talking dachshund, Sophie.  
Older Elementary School/ Middle School (MG)

  • The Mixed Up Files of Ms. Baisl E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg - This is one of my favorite books of all time. When two siblings run away from home and into New York to hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart- These are fun (and lengthy) chapter books about a group of hand selected kids brought together by a mysterious aptitude test. 
  • Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library Series by Chris Grabenstien - This is a great series about a library themed adventure that unfolds when famous boardgame maker Mr. Lemoncello comes back to town with a new game.
  • The Candymakers by Wendy Mass- This was my favorite book for a long time. It is about a group of kids selected to try to create the most delicious candy in an intriguing competition. 
  •  The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer- This is a great series for fairy tale lovers bringing all your favorite characters together with a fresh spin.
  • Eleven Birthdays by Wendy Mass (and all the other books in the series)- Have you figured out my favorite Middle Grade author yet? Well, these books are great ones about growing up. This book takes on a bit of a Groundhog Day feel as Amanda is forced to repeat her disaster of a birthday over and over until she can get it right. 
  • Anything by Stuart Gibbs- These are some of my favorite Middle Grade books. From Spy School to Funjugle to Moon Base Alpha, these series never disappoint. Each of these books feature male protagonists, which can sometimes be hard to find in kids books, but also have strong female characters that are very important to the success of the adventure.
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith- I read this in sixth grade and loved it. It's a good challenge for readers who aren't ready for YA but need a harder book. It's also a great, accessible classic. 
Older Middle School (Intro to YA)
  • Anything by Ally Carter- She's probably best known for her Gallagher Girls series about an all girls spy school, but while those were good, I liked her Heist Society books a bit better. These are fun, fast paced, and a good intro to the world of young adult.
  • Everland by Wendy Spinale- If you loved the characters from Neverland, look no farther than Everland, a fresh twist on the beloved Peter, Wendy, and Captain Hook that's very different than the Disney movie. 
High School (YA) 
*Full Reviews of these books can be found here http://www.readingwritingandme.com/search/label/Standout%20Book*
  • Misquitoland by David Arnold- This book has a captivating plot told through one of the most unique voices in YA. 
  • The Thousandth Floor by Katherine McGee- The world building in this book is phenomenal and makes it a worthy read.
  • Anything by John Green (especially Looking For Alaska) His books are truly amazing. Each is great for its own reason. The voices of the characters and the writing in general makes these books irresistible. 
  • American Girls by Alison Umminger- This was a great read about a teenage girl escaping her crazy family to spend the summer in LA with her older sister. With a gripping plot and plenty of twists and turns this book has depth and entertainment value. 
  • Under The Rose Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall- This book captures a compelling and accurate picture of mental illness. Readers get to see Norah cope with her OCD and agoraphobia as well as navigate first love. 
  • Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow- Beyond being an amazing person, Kathleen Glasgow is an amazing author. The storytelling in the story of Charlie is like none other.
  • My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Wanga- What started off as a plan to end their lives together grows into a romance that might save them. This emotional story is beautifully written. 
  • Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman- This was an amazing story of personal growth and coping with the past through an unusual set of circumstances, wilderness camp. 
  • We Are Okay by Nina LaCour- This short read stuns with beautiful storytelling that is a great reminder about how even the simplest things can be so complex.
  • Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King is a great portrait of an evolving friendship that comes to an abrupt end when Vera's best friend Charlie dies. Told in the past and present it shows both the aftermath and how it ultimately happened. 
  • When We Collided by Emery Lord- Probably tied for my second favorite book of all time (with Looking For Alaska). I found the portrayal of bipolar disorder in this book quite well done. The relationship between Vivi and Jonah is also wonderful. I would definitely read this title a second time. 
  • All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven- This is, and probably always will be my favorite book ever. It really introduced me to the emotional depth and amazing storytelling of the world of YA and also books that address mental health. I will also probably always have a crush on Theodore Finch. 
  • Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt- If there is one book that encapsulates everything reading a book should make you feel, it is this one. It is a compelling story about a bright, young undocumented woman who was brought to the states when she was two having to face the harsh realities of the ICE crackdown on undocumented immigrates. As her country club boyfriend and nephew of a conservative senator learns more about her realities, so do the reads. This book humanizes an issue so often reduced to numbers and stats in the news and creates deeper empathy and understanding. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Halsey's I Would Leave Me If I Could Poetry Review

  I Would Leave Me If I Could  by Halsey  I've started this review a couple times and scrapped all of them. I've written hundreds of reviews before, and this is the first time I have absolutely no clue how to review a book. It's not just because it's poetry. And it's not because I don't have thoughts on every single poem. I've read the book twice and scrubbed a million notes around her words and highlighted every poem on my second read through. I have so many favorites, and my heart feels like it's going to burst after finishing each poem. Halsey exceeded every expectation I had set to the high bar of her music. I almost feel like this book is too good for my review to remotely do it justice, so I don't even know where to begin.  This book is extremely vulnerable. Halsey has never held back on telling the ugly truth in her lyrics, but the poetry takes it so much farther. She has space to tell the entire story, fewer constraints than what will fit in

Blog Tour Stop: Like Home by Louisa Onomé

  Today, I want to shine the spotlight on Like Home by Louisa Onomé, which came out this week. That means you don't even have to wait to pick up a copy of your very own. Thank you to Turn the Pages Tours and Penguin/Delacorte Press for arranging this. So let's get into what this latest YA is all about! Synopsis: Fans of Netflix’s On My Block, In the Heights, and readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Ibi Zoboi will love this debut novel about a girl whose life is turned upside down after one local act of vandalism throws her relationships and even her neighborhood into turmoil. Chinelo, or Nelo as her best friend Kate calls her, is all about her neighborhood Ginger East. She loves its chill vibe, ride-or-die sense of community, and her memories of growing up there. Ginger East isn’t what it used to be, though. After a deadly incident at the local arcade, all her closest friends moved away, except for Kate. But as long as they have each other, Nelo’s good. Only, Kate’s parents’ corne

YA You Need To Read: April 2021

It's already April! School has been super super hectic, and I'm starting my old job as a bookseller again, so I haven't had much time for reading lately (ironic, I know), but I did want to talk about some books coming out in April that I can't wait to read (one day) that might inspire you to pick them up. I particularly can't wait for My Epic Spring Break Up! It's been on my list for a while now (I mean, look at that cover), but I also found some new books that hadn't been on my radar while browsing around the internet that I wanted to bring to your attention.  Let me know in the comments what April books you can't wait for!  Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Kahn  April 6th Zara has lived in Corpus Christi, Texas for a while. She's always dealt with the Islamophobia that's rampant in her high school, but when the star football player gets suspended, Zara becomes the target of a racist attack by the rest of the team that puts her and her family'

Swimming Lessons By Lili Reinhart Poetry Review

  Swimming Lessons  by Lili Reinhart  Overall: 5 This is the first poetry book I've ever read in its entirety outside of Shel Silverstein, so I've checked off one of my reading goals for the year with this one. I've now read a graphic novel and a book of poetry. I've been anticipating Swimming Lessons  so long that I can't believe it's actually in my hands. I've been a fan of Lili since Riverdale, and I've continued to be a fan of hers even when the show got a bit too ridiculous for me to keep watching every week. I've been excited for the chance to get to see something completely created a controlled by Lili.  I'm not sure what I expected from Swimming Lessons . I think I had almost no idea what it would be like or the topics it would cover. After the first couple poems, I was completely hooked. In the intro, Lili prefaces the collection by noting that poetry has always given her solace in knowing other people felt the same specific emotions tha

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi: YA Book Review

  Yolk  by Mary H.K. Choi Overview: Jayne is in fashion school in NYC. Well, she's enrolled. It's debatable how often she actually attends. June has a fancy job in finance, or that's what everyone thinks. But when June gets cancer, the estranged sisters are pulled together because June needs Jayne's identity to get treatment. By pretending to be her sister to get the life-saving procedure, June is forced to come clean and pull Jayne back into her orbit. Though their relationship stays rocky, they're suddenly glued together, forced to admit that their respective glamorous lives are actually filled with roaches and trauma and missteps. Overall: 5+++ This book made me happy cry (that's never happened while reading) and sad cry. Characters: 5 The book is told from Jayne's perspective in an extremely close first person. This book has plot. Things happen in the way that life happens, but it's mostly just characters getting split open and probed for all their w

Writing Morally Gray Characters: A Guest Post by Laurie Devore, Author of A Better Bad Idea

Laurie Devore is stopping by the blog today to talk about her new book from Imprint, A Better Bad Idea , which is out now! This mystery/thriller/romance fusion is Laurie's third book, and it's a new twist on her usual contemporary YA stories. For this guest post, Laurie talks about crafting morally gray characters that your readers will still feel attached to and cheer on. Here's her best writing tips:  I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of what people will do when they’re pushed to their brink. While my new novel, A BETTER BAD IDEA, may seem like a departure in some ways from my previous novels, I actually think their DNA is quite similar. The stakes are higher, but as ever, this book is about girls making unimaginable choices because of their circumstances, whether self-inflicted or not.   I’m constantly thinking about what it means to write morally gray characters, and I think the main takeaway from me is that I’m just much more interested in what people do and w

They Both Die At The End

They Both Die At The End  by Adam Silvera (368 pages) Overview: Mateo and Rufus are both going to die at the end, but I'm guessing you got that from the title. The thing is, Mateo and Rufus don't know each other till the day they are going to die. After getting their calls from Death Cast, the new organization that lets everyone know that they are going to die with a call sometime after midnight. While trying to digest the news, they both turn their attention to the Last Friend app in search of finding another "decker" to spend their final day with. As the boys try to think of ways not to waste their final moments, they start to form a bond they never anticipated. Overall: 4 Characters: 4 I have to applaud Silvera for keeping his (mostly) duel prospective narrative voices so separate. Mateo and Rufus not only have different traits but totally different dialects. Mateo is Puerto Rican, quiet, and totally paranoid with a hyperawareness about safe. Both careful an

Fear of Missing Out

Fear of Missing Out  by Kate McGovern  Overview: Astrid has a form of brain cancer called astrocytoma that causes a star shaped tumor to form near her brainstem. Though she was in remission, two years later, the cancer comes back, and Astrid becomes convinced that she won't beat the disease. She starts to pursue options that will allow her to have a life in the future, namely, cryopreservation. After essentially freezing her body, she hopes to wake up when there's a cure for her cancer so she can rejoin the world and see some of the milestones she fears missing. On the road trip to tour the Arizona facility, though, Astrid makes other realizations about her life and eventual death that alters how she sees her original plan. Overall: 4  Characters: 4 Astrid is relatable. She has a touch of dry, witty humor that makes her relatable. She loves her friends and family deeply, but she also has a conviction to follow what feels best for her. I appreciated how she always tried t

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon: Romance Review

  The Ex Talk  by Rachel Lynn Solomon Overview: Shay Goldstein was born to be on public radio. She used to pretend to host a radio show with her dad when she was a little kid, and she was crushed when he passed away. Now that she's getting ready for her first hosting gig, Shay feels like she's making him proud. Well... mostly proud. He always loved the truth that radio brought out and her new show is built on a little white lie- the idea that she used to date her co-host Dominic Yun. Though they bicker like exes, they never actually dated (though they might be currently?). As the popularity of the show takes off, all of Shay's dreams are coming true, and she might actually have found her dream guy too. And then everything falls apart. But it's a romance, so I think we all know how this ends. Overall: 5 Perfect for: enemies to lovers fans  Characters: 5 I love Shay and Dominic and their show producer, Ruthie. They're all just great. Shay is super relatable. She's

As Far As You'll Take Me by Phil Stamper: YA Book Review

  As Far As You'll Take Me  by Phil Stamper TWs: disordered eating Overview: Marty is escaping Kentucky on a lie. Thanks to his dual citizenship, he's off to London to try to get a gig playing oboe in an orchestra an ocean away from his homophobic, mega church going parents. They think he's at a prestigious music school when in reality, he's just running around the city with his cousin Shane. He does make tons of friends and even has his first romantic relationship. In London, Marty gets to remake himself, even if his first attempts take him farther from the person he wants to be. Overall: 5 Characters: 5  These character dynamics are some of the most realistic I've ever seen in YA book. And I've read a lot of YA books. Marty can't wait to get away from his parents, but he also misses them when he's away. He feels guilty even though he wasn't in a healthy environment. He misses his best friend even though he's starting to see her constant put-dow