Here are some great books by a variety of authors that you might like to try this summer! These books are suitable for reading alone or reading aloud with a parent. A * next to a title denotes a new book on the list this year. For more new and recommended books, follow SHBlibrary on Pinterest. This list is also available as a Google Doc.
Note on borrowing or buying these books: All of these books are available in the library and can be borrowed for the summer. If you wish to purchase them and cannot find them locally, Book Depository (www.bookdepository.com) has a wide selection of books and offers free international shipping.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Black Beauty tells the story of the horse’s own long and varied life, from a well-born colt in a pleasant meadow to an elegant carriage horse for a gentleman to a painfully overworked cab horse.
Black Ships Before Troy: the Story of the Iliad by Rosemary Sutcliff
Homer’s epic poem The Iliad, brought to life.
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Jess meets a neighbor girl named Leslie who leads him to the magical world of imagination. This power of imagination also helps him get through one of the most terrible things that will happen to him.
Charlotte’s Web by EB White
The tale of how a little girl named Fern, with the help of a friendly spider, saved her pig Wilbur from the usual fate of nice fat little pigs. An affectionate pig named Wilbur befriends a spider named Charlotte, who lives in the rafters above his pen. In this story of friendship, hardship, and the passing on into time, White reminds readers to open their eyes to the wonder and miracle found in the simplest of things.
Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling
In a laugh-out-loud hilarious twist on the legend of King Midas, a boy acquires a magical gift that turns everything his lips touch into chocolate. Can you ever have too much of your favorite food? John Midas is about to find out….
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Coraline has often wondered what’s behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her “other” parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes.
Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
Danny’s life seems perfect: his home is a gypsy caravan, he’s the youngest car mechanic around, and his best friend is his dad, who never runs out of wonderful stories to tell. And when Danny discovers his father’s secret, he’s off on the adventure of a lifetime.
Doll Bones by Holly Black
Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences.
*Escape from Mr Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
Kyle wins a spot to be one of the first 12 kids in the new town library, designed by the genius Mr. Lemoncello, for an overnight of fun, food, and games. However, the children discover the next morning that they are locked inside the library and unless they solve every clue and puzzle left for them, they will not be able to leave.
*The Fastest Boy in the World by Elizabeth Laird
Eleven-year-old Solomon loves to run! The great athletes of the Ethiopian national team are his heroes and he dreams that one day he will be a gold-medal-winning athlete like them, in spite of his ragged shorts and bare feet. When his grandfather announces that he’s going to take Solomon to Addis Ababa, Solomon cannot believe his ears. A trip to the capital? It’s unfathomable. Solomon’s joy is increased when he realizes that the Ethiopian running team will be doing a victory parade through the city that day.
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. Also recommended by the same author: The Magician’s Elephant, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
*The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer. Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far? Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this pimply boy really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?
Gangsta Granny by David Walliams
Ben is bored beyond belief after he is made to stay at his grandma’s house. All she wants to do is to play Scrabble, and eat cabbage soup. But there are two things Ben doesn’t know about his grandma: she was once an international jewel thief and she has been plotting to steal the crown jewels. Now she needs Ben’s help. Also recommended by the same author: Mr. Stink, Ratburger, Billionaire Boy
*Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell
Ada Goth lives in Ghastly-Gorm Hall with her father, Lord Goth, lots of servants and at least half a dozen ghosts, but she hasn’t got any friends to explore her enormous, creepy house with. Then, one night, everything changes when Ada meets a ghostly mouse called Ishmael. Together they set out to solve the mystery of the strange happenings at Ghastly-Gorm Hall. Also recommended by the same author: Ottoline and the Yellow Cat.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
After the murder of his family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own. Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead.
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
This introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent.
Holes by Louis Sachar
“If you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy.” is motto for Camp Greenlake. Stanley runs away to find pal Zero. Their journey to freedom becomes a battle with hunger, thirst and heat in the shadow of Big Thumb. The mountain is entwined in the Yelnatz’s unlucky history. To get there means salvation.
I am David by Anne Holm
David’s entire twelve-year life has been spent in a grisly prison camp in Eastern Europe. He knows nothing of the outside world. But when he is given the chance to escape, he seizes it. With his vengeful enemies hot on his heels, David struggles to cope in this strange new world, where his only resources are a compass, a few crusts of bread, his two aching feet, and some vague advice to seek refuge in Denmark.
The Inventors by Alexander Gordon Smith and Jamie Webb
Nate and Cat absolutely love inventing. You name it, they’ve tried to build it. After accidentally turning their headmaster blue, they win a year’s scholarship with the world’s richest, cleverest, most charismatic inventor, Ebenezer Saint. And along with twenty-three of the brightest scientific minds in the land, they begin their year-long stay in the Saint’s Solutions paradise, a vast industrial compound filled with unimaginable inventions. But it soon becomes clear that all is not what it seems.
Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson
Sent in 1910 to live with distant relatives who own a rubber plantation along the Amazon River, English orphan Maia is excited. She believes she is in for brightly colored macaws, enormous butterflies, and “curtains of sweetly scented orchids trailing from the trees.” Maia, however, is resourceful enough to find herself smack in the middle of more excitement than she ever imagined, from a mysterious “Indian” with an inheritance, to an itinerant actor dreading his impending adolescence, to a remarkable journey down the Amazon in search of the legendary giant sloth.
Krindlekrax by Philip Ridley
Ruskin Splinter is small and thin, with knock-knees, thick glasses and a squeaky voice, and the idea of him taming a dragon makes the whole class laugh. Big, strong Elvis is stupid but he looks like a hero. But when the mysterious beast, Krindlekrax, threatens Lizard Street and everyone living there, it is Ruskin who saves the day.
Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead
When seventh grader Georges (the S is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer’s first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?
Little Women by Louisa Alcott
Classic novel of 19th-century family life during and after the Civil War, in a household with four sisters. Alcott based the March family largely on her own real-life family.
The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
Ted and his sister Kat watched their cousin Salim get on the British Airways observation device, The London Eye, but they never saw him getting off. No one knew what happened to Salim. The police do not have much information to go by. But, perhaps, one of Ted’s many theories could be the key in solving this mystery.
Mortal Engines (Hungry City Chronicles #1) by Philip Reeve
“It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.” The great traction city London has been skulking in the hills to avoid the bigger, faster, hungrier cities loose in the Great Hunting Ground. But now, the sinister plans of Lord Mayor Mangus Crome can finally unfold. The next installment is Predator’s Gold.
*The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?” A mysterious ad attracts dozens for mind-bending tests readers may try. Only two boys and two girls succeed for a secret mission, undercover and underground into hidden tunnels. At the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, the only rule is – there are no rules.
Over Sea, Under Stone (The Dark is Rising series) by Susan Cooper
On holiday in Cornwall, the three Drew children discover an ancient map in the attic of the house that they are staying in. They know immediately that it is special. It is even more than that — the key to finding a grail, a source of power to fight the forces of evil known as the Dark. And in searching for it themselves, the Drews put their very lives in peril.
The Owl Service by Alan Garner
Something is scratching around in the attic above Alison’s room. Yet the only thing up there is a stack of grimy old plates. Alison and her stepbrother, Roger, discover that the flowery patterns on the plates, when traced onto paper, can be fitted together to create owls-owls that disappear when no one is watching. With each vanished owl, strange events begin to happen around Alison, Roger, and the caretaker’s son, Gwyn.
Peter Pan by JM Barrie
Peter Pan, the book based on J.M. Barrie’s famous play, is filled with unforgettable characters: Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up; the fairy, Tinker Bell; the evil pirate, Captain Hook; and the three children–Wendy, John, and Michael–who fly off with Peter Pan to Neverland, where they meet Indians and pirates and a crocodile that ticks.
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane. One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a “research experiment” at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell
As a baby, Sophie was found drifting on the English Channel after a shipwreck in a cello case. She doesn’t believe that she’s an orphan even if everyone says so. When the Welfare Agency threatens to send Sophie to an orphanage, she flees to Paris to look for her mother.
*The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud
Lockwood & Co. is a Psychic Investigation Agency to help the haunted living solve ghostly cases. When Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, joins the Agency, she finds herself on a mission that could result in her and her coworkers’ terrifying demise. This is the first in the Lockwood & Co. series. The second installment is The Whispering Skull.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
A lonely orphan girl comes to live with her uncle in England, discovers a secret garden, and finds friends and happiness. Also recommended by the same author:The Little Princess
Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield
By skillfully weaving his own prose with Shakespeare’s language, Leon Garfield has refashioned twelve of the Elizabethan playwright’s most memorable dramas into stories, capturing all the richness of the characters, plot, mood, and setting. This format will delight both those who know the great dramatist’s works and those who are new to them.
The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier
In 1942 Warsaw, World War II is raging, and people live in fear from day to day. Ruth, Bronia, and Edek have to fend for themselves when both of their parents are taken by the Nazis. Can they survive? A gripping story based on true accounts.
Skellig by David Almond
Unhappy about his baby sister’s illness and the chaos of moving into a dilapidated old house, Michael retreats to the garage and finds a mysterious stranger who is something like a bird and something like an angel…
Varjak Paw by SF Said
Mesopotamian Blue cat, Varjak Paw, has never been Outside before; he and his family have always lived in the isolated house at the top of the hill. But Varjak is forced out into the city when the sinister Gentleman and his two menacing cats take over his home. With help from his mystical ancestor, Jalal, Varjak manages to overcome challenges such as self-survival and a threat from the gangland cats, and he ultimately discovers the terrifying secrets behind the Vanishings. But can he save his own family from their fate?
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
In 1914, Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges toward the enemy, witnessing the horror of the battles in France. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey’s courage touches the soldiers around him and he is able to find warmth and hope. But his heart aches for Albert, the farmer’s son he left behind. Will he ever see his true master again?
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Set in England’s Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of friends, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society.
*West of the Moon by Margi Preus
Astri is a young Norwegian girl desperate to join her father in America. After being separated from her sister and sold to a cruel goat farmer, Astri makes a daring escape. She quickly retrieves her little sister, and, armed with a troll treasure, a book of spells and curses, and a possibly magic hairbrush, they set off for America. With a mysterious companion in tow and the malevolent “goatman” in pursuit, the girls head over the Norwegian mountains, through field and forest, and in and out of folktales and dreams as they steadily make their way east of the sun and west of the moon.
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Sam Westing has died. 16 people came to hear his will. It turns out that they are all related. The will says that someone has murdered Westing and the heirs have to solve a puzzle game in order to inherit the huge amount of money left by him. This is a fun-filled mystery.
The Wheel of Surya by Jamila Gavin
A brother and sister’s epic journey to independence spans India and England in war and peace. India, August 1947: Fleeing from their burnt-out village as civil war rages in the Punjab, Marvinder and Jaspal are separated from their mother, Jhoti. Marvinder has already saved her brother’s life once, but now they both face a daily fight for survival.
Wolf Brother (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness #1) by Michelle Paver
Six thousand years ago. Evil stalks the land. Only twelve-year-old Torak and his wolf-cub companion can defeat it. Their journey together takes them through deep forests, across giant glaciers, and into dangers they never imagined. The second installment is Spirit Walker.
Wonder by RJ Palacio
When home-schooled Auggie goes to school for the first time (in fifth grade,) he has a lot to adjust to. First, there are the stares and shocked faces all around him due to his facial deformity. Then, there are other unexpected disappointments and delights with new friends and altered relationships at home. Authentically told from many different perspectives, Wonder gives us a brave and funny young hero who faces life’s obstacles with gusto and with support from those who love him.
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
In a heartbreaking parting, a man gives his wife and daughter a last kiss and boards a steamship to cross the ocean. He’s embarking on the most painful yet important journey of his life- he’s leaving home to build a better future for his family.
The Comic Strip History of Space by Sally Kindberg
The complete history of SPACE as it’s never been seen before. Featuring the ENTIRE KNOWN UNIVERSE plus some bits we’re still not sure about (with pictures). Guaranteed: exploding stars; speeding galaxies; black holes.
*El Deafo by Cece Bell
Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school–in the hallway…in the teacher’s lounge…in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower!
Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
The Moomins, creatures always ready for adventure, find a magical hat that can change anything-or anyone-into something else!
Laika by Nick Abadzis
Laika was the abandoned puppy destined to become Earth’s first space traveler. This is her journey. Nick Abadzis masterfully blends fiction and fact in the intertwined stories of three compelling lives. Along with Laika, there is Korolev, once a political prisoner, now a driven engineer at the top of the Soviet space program, and Yelena, the lab technician responsible for Laika’s health and life.
*Bugged: How Insects Changed History by Sarah Albee
There are about ten quintillion insects in the world–and some of them have affected human history in tremendous ways! For as long as humans have been on earth, we’ve co-existed with insects . . . for better or for worse. Once you begin to look at world history through fly-specked glasses, you begin to see the mark of these minute life forms at every turn. Beneficial bugs have built empires. Bad bugs have toppled them.
The Big Ideas that Changed the World by Julie Ferris
What do mobile phones, video games, cars, canned food, and space helmets have in common? They are hundreds of things that we take for granted every day. Stop, look, and marvel at the creations that have shaped our world. Read about the human stories behind some of the most amazing inventions…
*Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson
One day when Nelson Mandela was nine years old, his father died and he was sent from his village to a school far away from home, to another part of South Africa. In Johannesburg, Mandela saw fellow Africans who were poor and powerless. He decided then that he would work to protect them. When the government began to keep people apart based on the color of their skin, Mandela spoke out against the law and vowed to fight hard in order to make his country a place that belonged to all South Africans.
*On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne
A boy rides a bicycle down a dusty road. But in his mind, he envisions himself traveling at a speed beyond imagining, on a beam of light. This brilliant mind will one day offer up some of the most revolutionary ideas ever conceived. From a boy endlessly fascinated by the wonders around him, Albert Einstein ultimately grows into a man of genius recognized the world over for profoundly illuminating our understanding of the universe. Jennifer Berne and Vladimir Radunsky invite the reader to travel along with Einstein on a journey full of curiosity, laughter, and scientific discovery.
*Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill
A detailed visual narrative of Shackleton’s journey to Antarctica. This book takes the academic and historical information behind the expedition and reinterprets it for a young audience.
*Treasury of Greek Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli
The tales of gods and goddesses such as Zeus, Aphrodite, Apollo, and Athena and heroes and monsters such as Helen of Troy, Perseus, and Medusa will fascinate and engage the imagination.
War Boy by Michael Foreman
The award-winning illustrator of Eric the Viking and Nicobobinus looks back on his own wartime childhood, in this book which won the Kate Greenaway Medal 1990. His illustrations evoke the horror and beauty of blazing buildings and the comforts of childhood amid the shortages.
Cloud Busting by Malorie Blackman
Despite his mum’s insistence, Sam doesn’t want to be friends with Davey. He thinks Davey is a first-class, grade A, top-of-the-dung-heap moron. But one day Davey saves Sam’s life and a bond is formed between them. Sam is still embarrassed to be seen with Davey, but little by little he has to admit that when it’s just the two of them, Davey is a lot of fun. But then something terrible happens to Davey. Told in verse.
Heard it in the Playground by Allan Ahlberg
This illustrated collection of amusing poems and songs celebrating primary school life won the Signal Poetry Award in 1990. Meet Billy McBone and the Mad Professor’s Daughter, be amazed by the Longest Kiss Contest, shed a tear for the Boy Without a Name and sing the Mrs Butler Blues.
Jabberwocky and Other Nonsense by Lewis Carroll
34 of Carroll’s most appealing verses — nonsense verse, parodies, burlesques, more — including such unforgettable pieces as “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” “The Mock Turtle’s Song,” and “Father William,” as well as such lesser-known gems as “My Fancy,” “A Sea Dirge,” and many others.
*A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Meet Backward Bill, Sour Face Ann, the Meehoo With an Exactlywatt, and the Polar Bear in the Frigidaire. You will talk with the Broiled Face, and find out what happens when someone steals your knees, you get caught by the Quick-Digesting Gink, and a mountain snores.
Nonsense Songs and Stories by Edward Lear
Some of Lear’s best known poetry about real and imagined creatures, each characterized by the author’s irreverent view of the world and timeless, whimsical vision.
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by TS Eliot
These playful cat poems have delighted readers and cat lovers around the world ever since they were first published in 1939. They were originally composed for his godchildren, with Eliot posing as Old Possum himself, and later inspired the legendary musical Cats.
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
Do you think Cinderella married the prince and lived happily ever after, and that the three little pigs outsmarted the wolf? Think again! Roald Dahl twists the fate of six favorite fairy tales. Fairy tales have never been more revolting!
Talking Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah
Wanna be in our gang? We cause Peace, Fighters fear us, On de streets The very first ground-breaking children’s poetry collection from street poet Benjamin Zephaniah. Playful, clever and provocative, this is performance poetry on the page at its very best.