Summer Reading Guide: Early Elementary School

This week, I am going to channel my inner Prince Humperdink (a sentence I never imagined myself using, by the way) and…

“Skip to the end.”

I am tired. You are tired. This seems like a good week to just “skip to the end” and get right on with listing good books.

We already have lists for the junior high aged kids and the upper elementary school kids. This week, I am recommending books for the early elementary school students, which for my purposes would probably be first through third grade. Although, advanced Kindergarten readers could likely be included. There are so very many books for this age group. It can be overwhelming standing in front of the beginning chapter book section of your library trying to decipher the quality differences between eighty-eight Rainbow Fairies books, one hundred two A to Z Mysteries books, and five million Magic Tree House books. Although I can make this particular scenario simple. Given those three options, always go with the Magic Tree House. But that’s not the point. The point is there are way too many options in this particular reading category. And no one has time for that.

To that end, here are some books for this summer that your chapter book reader will enjoy.

If they like adventurous kids like themselves:

Jaden Toussaint, The Greatest (Marti Dumas) – If I sound like a broken record at this point, you will just have to forgive me. The Jaden Toussaint books belong in every library. Your children (and you) will immediately be drawn to Jaden’s character, his cleverness, his hijinks, and his humor. As an added bonus, Dumas leaves Easter eggs for her adult readers throughout her books, just check out the title of this one.

Jada Jones (Kelly Starling Lyons) – I just discovered these books this year at the book fair at my children’s school. In full disclosure, I have not read one all the way through yet, but the parts I have read lead me to recommend them as an excellent choice for this age.

Clementine (Sara Pennypacker) – Clementine is the answer for all your Junie B. Jones woes. I have checked these books out more times than I can count.


If they like problem solving:

Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet (Jacqueline Kelly) – These illustrated chapter books follow the beloved character of Callie Vee from The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. The books pick up her story with herĀ  now as a vet in training. These are definitely ones to read.

Keena Ford (Melissa Thompson) – Much like Clementine, Keena has a knack for finding herself in problematic situations and trouble. Thankfully, she also has a knack for getting herself out of these circumstances.

Clubhouse Mysteries (Sharon M Draper) – Because there are only so many Boxcar Children books a person can read, we all need another alternative. The Clubhouse Mysteries are just the thing. Sharon Draper is a wonderful writer and these books do not disappoint.


If they like stories with animal personification:

Fantastic Mr. Fox (Roald Dahl) – Fantastic Mr. Fox is an absolute delight of a book. Like most of Dahl’s work, this book has twists and turns, humor, unique character perspectives, and thoroughly enjoyable storytelling.

Mercy Watson (Kate DiCamillo) – While Mercy Watson is no Wilbur, she is just as endearing. My kids have like these books a great deal.

Ralph S. Mouse books (Beverly Cleary) – I mean, a mouse who just wants to ride a motorcycle and see the world, how can you not want to read about that?! These books are fun, funny, and, in true Cleary fashion, connecting.


If they like dragons and fantasy:

My Father’s Dragon (Ruth Stiles Gannett) – One boy goes on an adventure that leads him on an improbable rescue mission. If that’s not classic fantasy fiction, I’m not sure what is. There is a good reason these books have endured for the last fifty years.

Princess in Black (Shannon Hale) – Somehow, it has not been until this year that my younger kids discovered the Princess in Black books. They were an instant hit. These books will see your dragon and raise you a unicorn and they will do it successfully.

How to Train Your Dragon (Cressida Cowell) – As usual, before there was a movie, there were the books. And again, the books are better.


If they like a twist on “the classics”:

My Weird School Fast Facts (Dan Gutman) – Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the rhyming teacher related titles as much as the next person. However, I have found that, although there is no limit to the number of My Weird School books one could read, there definitely is a limit to the number one should read. When you find yourself needing to suggest your children take a break from said books, the new-ish “Fast Facts” series is an excellent switch.

Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Mary Ann Osbourne Pope) – Sometimes its a good idea to substitute the magical world for the real world. Sometimes. In those times, these are an excellent switch. (Yes, I know I just used that same sentence for the last books, but I meant it when I said I was just tired. I will get back to the regularly programmed originality next week, hopefully.)

If you have other books you would add to this list, I would love to hear them.