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

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

The History of Jane Doe

The History of Jane Doe by Micheal Belanger (2018)
Overview: Ray knows the entire history of his hometown, Burgerville, Connecticut. He also knows lots of different tidbits about the world as well. But, for his first written account of history, the story must center on loss, why, and fleeting moments of happiness. He has to tell the story of his first girlfriend, hidden by the anonymity of the name Jane Doe. Told in Before and After chapters, Ray explores the highs and lows he had in his fleeting relationship with Jane and his recovery from crushing loss. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 Jane is coping with clinical depression that probably stems from a combination of family history and past trauma. She goes between trying to hide her scars and struggles and exposing them, tiny piece by piece to the people she loves.
Ray is fascinated by Jane and the way she looks at the world and the town he's lived in all his life with fresh eyes.
His friend, Simon, is dorky and not quite all together b…

The Dead Queen's Club

The Dead Queen's Club by Hannah Capin (January 29)
Overview: For fans of European history, specifically Henry VIII and his many wives, this is a treat. Modernized and set in high school, this version is the tale of all of Henry's living ex-girlfriends banding together to find the real reason behind the death of two of his former girlfriends, Anna Boleyn and Katie Howard. Narrated by Annie, better known as Cleves, the reader falls for Henry's charm but also sees the cracks growing in his perfect facade. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Cleves has a authoritative voice that I very much enjoyed. She's outspoken and uncompromising as she makes a place for herself in her new school senior year. Even though she marches to the beat of her own drum, she's found a place for herself among the cheerleaders who genuinely love how unique she is; but it helps that she's already friends with Henry, football star who practically owns the school.
The other characters have their places a…

This Is Not a Test

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (326 pages)
Overview: Sloane wanted to end her life. And then the apocalypse came. Her focus suddenly turns to survival because that's what she's supposed to do. She finds a group of other teens from her school, and they survive in the infected city for seven days before finding shelter in the high school. With all the doors barricaded and the necessities provided, suddenly, there's room to think, reflect, and feel again, and their safe haven quickly turns into a cage. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 This cast has blown me away. Courtney Summers in general has done that with every aspect of the novel, but the characters are all so detailed and unique and flawed and emotional and broken. It makes for the perfect novel.
Sloane has recently had her sister leave without her, even though the plan was for them to escape their abusive father together. Without Lily, she feels her life has no point, but when it's seriously threatened, something co…

Valentines To My New Favorite Books

Over the last two-ish months since I posted my Best of 2018 list, I've found tons of amazing titles! Since they aren't 2019 releases, they won't be on my next year end list, so I thought I'd honor them by writing valentines to each of these amazing books!
I've also thrown in one bonus 2019 that I'll definitely be talking about all year long that you should preorder now!



Down And Across by Arvin Ahmadi This book just made me happy. Scott doesn't know where his life is headed, but, as the world is fascinated with grit (and loves to tell young people they have none), he decides to head to Georgetown to seek out the professor who is an expert in it. And then he doesn't take no for an answer till he scores himself somewhat of an internship. Along the way, he befriends a few college kids, starts working at a bar, and learns a thing or two about the world outside of high school. I love books that skew on the older end of YA and explore life outside of high sch…

Monday's Not Coming

Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
Overview: When Monday isn't there for a spinning hug with Claudia when she gets back from her summer in Georgia, Claudia knows something is wrong. When Monday isn't at the first, second, or third day of eighth grade, Claudia tells her parents they need to do something. But Monday lives in the projects with her single mother and her situation isn't something people talk about. It's Patti's business what she does with her kids. But when the stories about Monday's whereabouts keep changing and the police refuse to look into it, Claudia has to take matters into her own hands to find Monday. Overall: 4.5 

Characters: 5 The characters bound off the page. Claudia's voice is so strong, and her friendship with Monday is so honest. From the parents to her teachers to Monday herself, Claudia makes the characters around her come to life. Even minor characters have motivations and details.

Plot: 4 My advice is to ignore the cha…

Girl Made of Stars

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake (295 pages)
Overview: Mara's twin brother is accused of rape by her friend. Mara's attempt to go back to being best friends with her ex-girlfriend isn't working. Mara is so lost. Sisters, best friends, parents, and everyone at school have an opinion about what happened between Owen and Hannah in the woods. Mara's mom, who's always been a devout feminist, is suddenly vehemently denying that Owen is at fault. Mara isn't so sure. Even though she loves her twin and can't imagine him as a rapist, she knows her best friend would never lie. Overall: 5+++++

Characters: 5 Mara is a wonderful character. She's so honestly confused and torn up about what happened, but she quickly aligns with Hannah. Supporting her best friend becomes something for herself, as well, though, because Mara is a survivor too. She takes Hannah's pain like her own as everyone at school and home takes Owen's side. Mara has to come to terms w…

Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee (372 pages)
Overview: Tash has a lot going on. Her family is unsettled with impending arrivals and sisters leaving the nest. She's co-running a You Tube production company that explodes with her best friend Jack, and she's grappling with her sexuality and the possibility that she's ace. New fame, new family, and possibly new romance all threaten to make Tash's world explode, but, somehow, she's keeping it all together. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 Tash is so amazing! She's a real human being that springs to life and invites you to see the world through her eyes. One thing that I particularly love is that, even though Tash doesn't believe it, you know she's smart by the way Ormsbee chooses the perfect words and mature sentence structure. Trying too hard to make characters smart is something a lot of authors falter with, but the execution of presenting Tash's personality is perfect. The way that Tash deals with her ch…

Immoral Code

Immoral Code by Lillian Clark (February 19) Overview: Five teens- one big heist. A group of friends band together to commit the ultimate in hacking to siphon off enough money to send their friend Bell to college at MIT. Because of her absent father's immense wealth, Bell gets rejected for financial aid at the school of her dreams. Not that her father is agreeing to pay any part of tuition, or even acknowledge her existence. Outraged at this, Nari, coding genius, creates a plan to play Robin Hood and ropes their other friends into risking jail time for Bell's dream. Will they pull off a job that would be ambitious for a team of professional hackers and con men or will they face the steep consequences and ruin five lives? Overall: 4

Characters: 4 There's a crowded stage when it comes to characters, but that doesn't mean that their individuality gets sacrificed. Bells is a science genius with a bright future despite having to fight against the near poverty her father sunk h…

Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett (417 pages)
Overview: Glamping should not include getting stranded in the middle of the woods with your ex-best friend. But life doesn't always go as it's supposed to. When Zorie agrees to go with her friend Regan and her crew on a summer camping trip, she doesn't know Lennon will be there, and she's certainly not expecting the group to abandon the two of them in the middle of the California wilderness, forced to complete a multi day track back to civilization. It turns out, though, that an adventure in the woods might be just what they need. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I thought that all of the characters, including the adults, were given dimension. I loved the parental dynamic between Lennon and his moms as well as Zorie's relationship with her step mom who never considered Zorie less than her own daughter.
Lennon and Zorie are also awesome characters. Zorie has to battle her intense anxiety and relinquish control while she's stuck in…