Summer Reading for Kids

Ahhhh, summer. Long, lazy days filled with swimming, biking, playing, and….reading? When making plans for your children’s summer, be sure to include it in the list! Teachers know that a summer without reading leads to a fall fallen behind—generally 1-3 months behind in reading skills. The effect is cumulative, too. A study done by Johns Hopkins Center for Summer Learning showed that by the end of 5th grade, children who didn’t read over their summer breaks lagged 2 years behind the reading levels of summer readers.

Luckily, the solution is simple—keep your children reading over the summer. Kids who read at least 6 books over their summer breaks maintain, or even improve, their reading skills. And, thanks to summer reading programs at public libraries, motivating your kids to read has never been easier.  Summer reading programs have been shown to actually kick-start the learning curve in reading, with recorded jumps in test scores. They boost motivation, confidence, and positive attitudes towards reading, which enable continued progress. The good news is that more kids participate in summer reading programs than those who play Little League baseball!

At the Iowa City Public Library, we’re encouraging kids to “Dream Big—Read!”  This reading program runs from June 3 to August 5, and kids can win books and other prizes. Wondering what to read? Librarians at the Iowa City Public Library Children’s Department have some recommendations to get you started. These titles will help your children can explore new lands, discover new friends, and let their imaginations run wild.  Best of all, your children will discover that reading is fun!

Picture Books
All the world (Liz Garton Scanlon)
From morning through night, discover the importance of all things great and small in our world.

And then it's spring (Julie Fogliano)
The anticipation of a boy who plants seeds and waits until the world turns green.

Chalk (Bill Thomson)
A wordless picture book with amazing artwork and a very entertaining series of events.

Cock-a-doodle-doo, Creak, Pop-Pop, Moo (Jim Aylesworth)
A rhythmical barnyard romp presented by a 2012 Iowa City Book Festival author.

The duckling gets a cookie!? (Mo Willems)
Pigeon is angry when the duckling gets a cookie just by asking politely.

Faster! Faster! (Leslie Patricelli)
A day at the park. A ride on Daddy's back. Run, Daddy! Faster! Faster! How fast can Daddy go?

Green (Laura Vacarro Seeger)
This creative concept book describes one single color, green.

In the Sea  (David Elliott)
Short poems about sea animals perfect for preschoolers to enjoy.

Instructions (Neil Gaiman)
A mysterious journey in a magical realm, with advice for the young and grown.

Love-a-Duck (Alan James Brown)
A humorous tale to be enjoyed by your tub-loving little one.

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes (Mem Fox)
Babies born in different places, but they all have ten little fingers and ten little toes!

The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies ( Ammi-Joan Paquette)
A hide-and-seek adventure in a blend of art and photography.

When My Baby Dreams (Adele Enersen)
A new mother watches her baby sleep, imagining the adventures she is having in her dreams.

Whoa, baby, whoa! (Grace Nichols)
A baby finally finds something to do that doesn’t make everyone tell him "No."

Dick and Jane and the Vampires (Laura Marchesani)
A fun yet twisted spin on the old and clichéd Dick and Jane readers.

Elvis the Rooster Almost Goes to Heaven (Denys Cazet)
Silly Elvis thinks he’s died when he fails to crow at the rising sun.

Listen to my trumpet! (Mo Willems)
Piggie tries to play her new trumpet for Gerald.

Children’s Fiction
EllRay Jakes is Not a Chicken (Sally Warner)
EllRay vows to stay out of trouble, but how can he deal with the class bully?

Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict (Trenton Lee Stewart)
An orphan, a mystery, and a prequel to the Mysterious Benedict Society series.

False Prince (Jennifer A. Nielsen)
Four orphans are forced into a brutal competition by a devious nobleman.

The Haunting of Charles Dickens (Lewis Buzbee)
Meg enlists the help of the famous author to search for her missing brother.

The Last Apprentice: Grimalkin the Witch Assassin (Joseph Delaney)
Grimalkin the witch and her ally, spook’s apprentice, Tom Ward battle with the forces of evil.

The outcasts (v. 1) and The Invaders(v. 2) from the Brotherband Chronicles (John Flanagan)
A continuation of the world from the Ranger’s Apprentice series.

Children’s Nonfiction
Bird Talk: What Birds are Saying and Why (Lita Judge)
Delightful drawings and descriptions of the sounds birds make and why.

Citizen Scientists (Loree Griffin Burns)
Learn about nature in your own backyard.

Gardening with Kids (Catherine Woram)
Ideas for kids to have fun while getting their hands dirty.

Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the True Story of an American Feud (Suzanne Jurmain)
Perfect for an election year! Political bickering with a happy ending.

Vickie Pasicznyuk is the Children’s Services Coordinator at the Iowa City Public Library. This article is scheduled to appear, in a shorter form, in both the Gazette and Press-Citizen newspapers.  Register your child for ICPL’s Summer Reading Program through July 15 in the Children's Department. All children who finish 15 tasks win a prize book and special gifts. For more information on Children's Summer Events, call 319-356-5200, option 6, email or visit Vickie Pasicznyuk at and be sure to visit for a full list of Summer Reading Program events.

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Great list!! Thanks!

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