Looking for a diverse summer reading list for kids to help diversify your home library?
By now I’m sure you know the importance of reading with your kids especially when school is out to help avoid the dreaded summer slide. As a parent, I know how full life can be during the summer months (and all year round), but I’m a firm believer in prioritizing. If reading is one of your top priorities then you’ll make the time for it – period. No excuses. Even if you’re only able to read for just five minutes per day.
Before we get into the list, I wanted to highlight a few ways to make summer reading fun for kids (and you too!) These tips are probably ones you’ve heard many times before, but may help to serve as a reminder or spark some new ideas for you and your family.
- Plan regular trips to the library throughout the summer to refresh your book stack.
- Organize a book swap with friends or neighbors.
- Check out the Scholastic Reading Road Trip to see when/if they will be in an area near you!
- Curl up with your own book, magazine, or e-reader next to your kids so they can see you reading.
- Visit bookstores to attend author events and story times.
- Listen to audio books as a way to build listening skills. We love using audio books on long road trips!
- Read comic books, graphic novels or magazines – they all count!
- Create a challenge to read as many books in a series that your child enjoys.
- Change your story time environment – read outside at the park or in your backyard for a change of scenery.
- Start a kids book club.
- Organize your own outdoor story time hour with the kids in your neighborhood. Bring a blanket, provide snacks and the books you’re going to read. (We did this last year in our neighborhood.)
Ok, now on to the list! As always, I hope you and your kids find some books on this list that resonate with you. Happy Summer Reading!
Board Books (Suitable for babies – Age 3)
Littles: And How They Grow by Kelly DiPucchio and AG Ford
How adorable is this cover? This book has adorable scenes from the busy life of a baby—including peekaboo, feedings, tantrums, giggles—and a final scene that reminds us how they become big kids all too soon.
Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions by Abrams Appleseed
This board book introduces five essential expressions: happy, sad, angry, surprised, and silly. Each is introduced with a large image of a baby’s face.
Up! How Families Around the World Carry Their Little Ones by Susan Hughes
Up! depicts ten places around the world, from Afghanistan to northern Canada, Peru to West Africa. In each place, a mom, dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or sibling lovingly carries a baby.
I Love My Haircut! by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and E. B. Lewis
In this companion to the top-selling I Love My Hair! (originally titled and adapted from Bippity Bop, Barbershop), a young boy named Miles makes his first trip to the barbershop with his father–but he’s afraid that the haircut will hurt! With the support of his dad, the barber, and the other men in the barbershop, Miles bravely sits through his first haircut.
Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke and Angela Brooksbank (September 2017)
Join Baby and his doting mama at a bustling southwest Nigerian marketplace for a bright, bouncy read-aloud offering a gentle introduction to numbers.
Where’s Rodney? by Carmen Bogan (August 2017) Read my review here.
Little Rodney is a bit fidgety because all he wants to do is go outside. He doesn’t want to sit in Miss Garcia’s classroom and learn about the word of the week when there are so many other interesting things to see outside. But Rodney’s exposure to the great outdoors is limited because of the low-income neighborhood he lives in.
Sparkle Boy by Leslea Newman Read my review here.
LGBT Book for Kids: Casey loves to play with his blocks, puzzles, and dump truck, but he also loves things that sparkle, shimmer, and glitter. When his older sister, Jessie, shows off her new shimmery skirt, Casey wants to wear a shimmery skirt too. When Jessie comes home from a party with glittery nails, Casey wants glittery nails too. And when Abuelita visits wearing an armful of sparkly bracelets, Casey gets one to wear, just like Jessie. The adults in Casey’s life embrace his interests, but Jessie isn’t so sure.
The One Day House by Julia Durango (August 2017)
Wilson dreams of all the ways he can help improve his friend Gigi’s house so that she’ll be warm, comfortable, and happy. One day, friends and neighbors from all over come to help make Wilson’s plans come true. Everyone volunteers to pitch in to make Gigi’s house safe, clean, and pretty.
Hello Goodbye Dog by Maria Gianferrari (July 2017)
For Zara’s dog, Moose, nothing is more important than being with his favorite girl. So when Zara has to go to school, WHOOSH, Moose escapes and rushes to her side. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed at school and Moose has to go back home.
Sing, Don’t Cry by Angela Dominguez (August 2017)
In this story inspired by the life of Apolinar Navarrete Diaz―author Angela Dominguez’s grandfather and a successful mariachi musician―Abuelo and his grandchildren sing through the bad times and the good. Lifting their voices and their spirits, they realize that true happiness comes from singing together.
When Rosa Parks Went Fishing by Rachel Ruiz and Chiara Fedele (August 2017)
No discussion of the Civil Rights Movement is complete without the story of Rosa Parks. But what was this activist like as a child? Following young Rosa from a fishing creek to a one-room schoolhouse, from her wearing homemade clothes to wondering what “white” water tastes like, readers will be inspired by the experiences that shaped one of the most famous African-Americans in history.
Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown and John Parra (September 2017)
The fascinating Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is remembered for her self-portraits, her dramatic works featuring bold and vibrant colors. Her work brought attention to Mexican and indigenous culture and she is also renowned for her works celebrating the female form.
My Daddy Rules the World: Poems About Dads by Hope Anita Smith
Told through the voice of a child, Anita Hope Smith’s My Daddy Rules the World collection of poems celebrates everyday displays of fatherly love, from guitar lessons and wrestling matches to bedtime stories, haircuts in the kitchen, and cuddling in bed.
Early Sunday Morning by Denene Millner and Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Read my review here)
It’s almost little June’s big day to sing her first solo in the youth church choir and she couldn’t be more excited! But when it’s time to practice at choir rehearsal, June gets a little stage fright. As a result, her voice starts to tremble when she sings.
Princess Cupcake Jones and the Dance Recital (Princess Cupcake Jones Series) by Ylleya Fields (Read my review here)
Taking dance classes with her friends is the highlight of her week. But when Cupcake struggles to do everything ‘just right’ before the recital, she isn’t sure if she’ll be able to master it all in time. Perfect for little girls who love dancing, princesses, tutus and tiaras!
Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus and Kadir Nelson
An inspiring and patriotic tribute to the beauty of the American flag, a symbol of America’s history, landscape, and people.
Yo Soy Muslim: A Father’s Letter to His Daughter by Mark Gonzales (August 2017)
Written as a letter from a father to his daughter, Yo Soy Muslim is a celebration of social harmony and multicultural identities.
She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton
Chelsea Clinton introduces tiny feminists, mini activists and little kids who are ready to take on the world to thirteen inspirational women who never took no for an answer, and who always, inevitably and without fail, persisted.
All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle (August 2017)
Together, a boy and his parents drive to the city of Havana, Cuba, in their old family car. Along the way, they experience the sights and sounds of the streets―neighbors talking, musicians performing, and beautiful, colorful cars putt-putting and bumpety-bumping along. In the end, though, it’s their old car, Cara Cara, that the boy loves best. A joyful celebration of the Cuban people and their resourceful innovation.
I Got A New Friend by Karl Newsom Edwards
When a little girl gets a new puppy, they have a lot to learn about each other. The new friends can be shy, messy, and sometimes get into trouble. They get lost, but they always get found. Their friendship may be a lot of work—but at the end of the day, they love each other!
We Are Shining by Gwendolyn Brooks and Jan Spivey Gilchrist
Marking the 100th birthday of Gwendolyn Brooks, this powerful picture book is a celebration of the diversity of our world. This life-affirming poem is now illustrated for the very first time, with stunning, vibrant images.
Lola Gets a Cat by Anna McQuinn (Read my review here)
Lola wants a cat, but Mommy says taking care of a pet is a lot of work. So Lola does her homework. At the library she finds books about cats and pet care and she and Mommy learn as much as they can.
If Your Monster Won’t Go to Bed by Denise Vega
If you have a monster that won’t go to bed, don’t bother asking your parents to help. They know a lot about putting kids to bed, but nothing about putting monsters to bed. It’s not their fault; they’re just not good at it. Read this book instead.
Green Pants by Kenneth Kraegel
Jameson only ever wears green pants. When he wears green pants, he can do anything. But if he wants to be in his cousin’s wedding, he’s going to have to wear a tuxedo, and that means black pants.
Danza!: Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México by Duncan Tonatiuh (August 2017)
Award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh tells the story of Amalia Hernández, dancer and founder of El Ballet Folklórico de México.
I Just Want to Say Goodnight by Rachel Isadora
The sun has set and the moon is rising, and that means it’s bedtime. But not if Lala has a say—because she’s not ready to go to sleep! First she needs to say good night to the cat. And the goat. And the chickens.
Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation by Ted Staunton
Harry and Clare are stuck at home for their spring break. No exotic locations, no plane trips, no exciting plans. So they make their own fun: the living room becomes Mars, the diving board at the pool becomes a pirate’s plank and the local playground where the man-eating octopus lives.
Green Green: A Community Gardening Story by Marie Lamba and Baldev Lamba
Green grass is wide and fresh and clean for a family to play in, and brown dirt is perfect for digging a garden. But when gray buildings start to rise up and a whole city builds, can there be any room for green space?
We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio
We’re All Wonders may be Auggie’s story, but it taps into every child’s longing to belong, and to be seen for who they truly are. It’s the perfect way for families and educators to talk about empathy and kindness with young children.
Bravo: Poems About Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle
Musician, botanist, baseball player, pilot―the Latinos featured in this collection, Bravo!, come from many different countries and from many different backgrounds. Celebrate their accomplishments and their contributions to a collective history and a community that continues to evolve and thrive today!
Lucia the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza
Lucía zips through the playground in her cape just like the boys, but when they tell her “girls can’t be superheroes,” suddenly she doesn’t feel so mighty. That’s when her beloved abuela reveals a dazzling secret: Lucía comes from a family of luchadoras, the bold and valiant women of the Mexican lucha libre tradition.
Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey
The bold story of Maya Lin, the visionary artist-architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
A Different Pond by Bao Phi (August 2017)
A Different Pond is an unforgettable story about a simple event―a long-ago fishing trip.
When’s My Birthday? by Julie Fogliano (September 2017)
In this enthusiastic celebration of all things BIRTHDAY, acclaimed author Julie Fogliano and award-winning illustrator Christian Robinson bring you the perfect birthday book! An adorable narrator lists all the things that will make her birthday the BEST birthday.
Lotus & Feather by Ji-li Jiang
A winter illness left Lotus, a little girl, without a voice and without friends. A hunter’s bullet left Feather, a crane, injured and unable to fly. As Lotus nurses Feather back to health, their bond grows. Soon Feather is following Lotus everywhere, even to school!
Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education by Raphaële Frier and Aurélia Fronty
Malala Yousafzai stood up to the Taliban and fought for the right for all girls to receive an education. When she was just fifteen-years old, the Taliban attempted to kill Malala, but even this did not stop her activism.
Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis by Jabari Asim
John wants to be a preacher when he grows up—a leader whose words stir hearts to change, minds to think, and bodies to take action. But why wait? When John is put in charge of the family farm’s flock of chickens, he discovers that they make a wonderful congregation! So he preaches to his flock, and they listen, content under his watchful care, riveted by the rhythm of his voice.
The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks by Cynthia Levinson (Read my review here)
Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference.
Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe by Deborah Blumenthal
A beautiful picture book about Ann Cole Lowe, a little-known African-American fashion designer who battled personal and social adversity in order to pursue her passion of making beautiful gowns and went on to become one of society’s top designers.
The Legendary Miss Lena Horne by Carole Boston Weatherford
Celebrate the life of Lena Horne, the pioneering African American actress and civil rights activist, with this inspiring, beautiful and powerful picture book.
Muhammad Ali: A Champion Is Born by Gene Barretta (Read my review here)
Perfect for boxing lovers, for reading during Black History Month or anytime of the year. The back matter includes some additional facts about Ali’s life, a bibliography, photos and other resources for further reading.
Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander
This book contains original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors’ hearts sing and their minds wonder.
A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream by Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper
Little ballerinas have big dreams. Dreams of pirouettes and grande jetes, dreams of attending the best ballet schools and of dancing starring roles on stage. But in Harlem in the 1950s, dreams don’t always come true—they take a lot of work and a lot of hope. And sometimes hope is hard to come by.
Town is By the Sea by Joanne Schwartz
A young boy wakes up to the sound of the sea, visits his grandfather’s grave after lunch and comes home to a simple family dinner, but all the while his mind strays to his father digging for coal deep down under the sea
Little People, Big Dreams: Rosa Parks by Lisbeth Kaiser (September 2017)
Rosa Parks grew up during segregation in Alabama, but she was taught to respect herself and stand up for her rights. In 1955, Rosa refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
And Then Comes Summer by Tom Brenner
From flip-flops and hide-and-seek to fireworks and ice-cream trucks, from lemonade stands and late bedtimes to swimming in the lake and toasting marshmallows, there’s something for everyone in this bright and buoyant celebration of the sunny season.
The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: the Story of Dr. Patricia Bath by Julia Finley Mosca & Daniel Rieley (Sept. 2017)
The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath is the second book in a brand new educational series about the inspirational lives of amazing scientists! In addition to the illustrated rhyming tale, you’ll find a complete biography, fun facts, a colorful timeline of events, and even a note from Dr. Bath herself!
Breaking The Sickle: A Snippet of the Life of Dr. Yvette Fay Francis-McBarnette by Louie T. McClain II and Francis W. Minikon Jr. (Read my review here)
In this third book in the Melanin Origins series, little readers learn about Dr. Yvette Fay Francis-McBarnette, a Jamaican-born medical pioneer in treating children with sickle cell anemia.
The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires
Lou has always been brave enough for anything, but this latest adventure makes her feel nervous and scared since it involves climbing a tree. Will Lou overcome her fear and join her friends at the top of the tree?
Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler
A cute and fun picture book about sharing, friendship, kindness and playground politics.
My Kicks: A Sneaker Story by Susan Verde (Read my review here)
My Kicks is a charming story about a little boy who has outgrown his favorite pair of red sneakers during his summer vacation. When the boys’ mom tells him it’s time to to get a new pair, he starts reminiscing about all the fun he’s had with his favorite pair of kicks.
The Ring Bearer by Floyd Cooper (Read my review here)
Told from the perspective of the ring bearer, this book shows little readers that getting married symbolizes the start of something new. It also shows children how families grow and change and teaches them about responsibility and commitment. I think it’s the perfect book to gift to a little ring bearer or flower girl for an upcoming wedding as it may help them cope with feeling nervous about the wedding or adding new people to their family.
The Banana-Leaf Ball: How Play Can Change the World by Katie Smith Milway and Shane Evans (Read my review here)
Little Deo and his family must flee their home in Burundi after a war breaks out. Leaving with just the essentials (pots, blankets and food), Deo is saddened there is no room for his beloved his soccer ball made from banana leaves. His father promises him he can make one when he gets to the Lukole refugee camp in Tanzania.
Ahni And Her Dancing Secret by Shereen Rahming
Ahni dreams of being a prima ballerina so she joins Madam Sabina’s dance school. But her spirit is soon broken when she discovers that the other students are far more advanced than she is and not as friendly as she expected.
Brown Girl, Brown Girl, What Do You See? by Kisha Mitchell
This book takes young girls on a beautiful journey of self-discovery to unlock the beauty and opportunity that lies within each of them.
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World is the perfect introduction to just a few of the most incredible women who helped shaped the world we live in. List of women featured: Jane Austen, Gertrude Ederle, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Mary Anning, Mary Seacole, Amelia Earhart, Agent Fifi, Sacagawa, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks, Anne Frank.
Feel the Beat: Dance Poems that Zing from Salsa to Swing by Marilyn Singer
A vibrant collection of poems celebrating all forms of social dance from samba and salsa to tango and hip-hop.
La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya (September 2017)
The Princess and the Pea gets a fresh twist in this charming bilingual retelling.
When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner (Read my review here)
Told in rhyming and playful text with beautiful illustrations, When God Made You inspires young readers to learn about their own special gifts and how they fit into God’s divine plan as they grow, explore, and begin to create for themselves.
Princess and the Peas by Rachel Himes (Read my review here)
Set in the mid-1950’s in Charleston County, South Carolina this book features a vibrant African-American community with themes of love, family and of course – food and cooking. John’s mother, Ma Sally, cooks the best black-eyed peas in town. When her son John tells her he wants to get married, three women vie for his hand in marriage. The caveat? The lucky woman chosen must be able to cook black-eyed peas as well as John’s mother. A woman named Princess ends up winning the cooking contest hands down. Princess and John are two peas in a pod.
That’s Not a Hippopotamus! by Juliette Maclver and Sarah Davis
A funny and diverse rhyming book about a group of kids who take a trip to the zoo. Great for reading aloud during story time!
Why Am I Me? by Paige Britt (September 2017)
Presented as a thoughtful, poetic exchange between two characters — who don’t realize they are thinking and asking the very same questions — this beautiful celebration of our humanity and diversity invites readers of all ages to imagine a world where there is no you or me, only we.
Grandma’s Tiny House by JaNay Brown-Wood (August 2017)
This sweet, rhyming counting book introduces young readers to numbers one through ﬁfteen as Grandma’s family and friends ﬁll her tiny house on Brown Street. Neighbors, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and grandkids crowd into the house and pile it high with treats for a family feast.
Ivy and the Lonely Raincloud by Katie Harnett
Everyone loves the warm sunshine—except the lonely raincloud. No one wants to be his friend! But one day, he stumbles across a grumpy little florist . . . could she be looking for a friend too?
How to Find a Fox by Nilah Magruder (Read my review here)
Equipped with a camera and determination, a little girl sets out to track down an elusive red fox. But foxes are sneaky, and it proves more difficult than she thought.
Love Is by Diane Adams (Read my review here)
In this tenderly funny book, girl and duckling grow in their understanding of what it is to care for each other, discovering that love is as much about letting go as it is about holding tight. Children and parents together will adore this fond exploration of growing up while learning about the joys of love offered and love returned.
Hats Off to You! by Karen Beaumont
The girls invite you to dress up, too! Put on your favorite hat and join in the rhyming fun as they unveil a very special mother-daughter surprise. A perferct read-a-loud picture book for Mother’s Day or any day.
Chapter Books/Easy Readers
Sasha Savvy Loves to Code by Sasha Ariel Alston
Sasha Savvy, is a super smart 10-year old African-American girl, who lives in Washington, DC. Sasha must choose which class to take for summer camp. Her mom discovers that the camp is offering a new class for girls on how to code. Sasha thinks this will be boring and doesn’t believe that she is good at computer stuff.
Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen by Elizabet Vukovic and Debbi Michiko Florence (July 2017)
The first book in a new chapter book series featuring a spunky Japanese-American heroine! Eight-year-old Jasmine Toguchi is a flamingo fan, tree climber, and top-notch mess-maker! She’s also tired of her big sister, Sophie, always getting to do things first. For once, Jasmine wishes SHE could do something before Sophie―something special, something different.
Katie Fry, Private Eye #1: The Lost Kitten by Katherine Cox
Katie Fry may be little, but she’s got a big brain, and she uses it to solve mysteries. So when she finds a very cute, VERY lost kitten named Sherlock, she decides to take his case. Can Katie track down the clues to find Sherlock’s home?
Super Fluffy to the Rescue (Ellie Ultra Series) by Gina Bellisario and Jessika von Innerebner
As a superhero, Ellie can stop almost any foe—except for boredom. When all her friends are busy, Ellie has a brilliant idea: she’ll use her parents’ lastest invention—the Ultra Animator— to bring Super Fluffy, her favorite stuffed animal, to life.
Lily’s New Home by Paula Yoo and Shirley Ng-Benitez
In this early chapter book for beginning readers, Lily and her parents move from their suburban neighborhood to New York City. Lily is used to living in a house on a quiet street. When they arrive at their new apartment, Lily notices the amount of activity all around.
Rock Star #1 (Jada Jones) by Kelly Starling Lyons and Vanessa Brantley-Newton (September 2017)
When Jada Jones’s best friend moves away, school feels like the last place she wants to be. She’d much rather wander outside looking for cool rocks to add to her collection, since finding rocks is much easier than finding friends. So when Jada’s teacher announces a class project on rocks and minerals, Jada finally feels like she’s in her element. The only problem: one of her teammates doesn’t seem to like any of Jada’s ideas. She doesn’t seem to like Jada all that much, either. Can Jada figure out a way to make a winning science project and a new friend?
Jada Jones Class Act by Kelly Starling Lyons and Vanessa Brantley-Newton (September 2017)
As a candidate for class representative, Jada is ready to give the campaign her all. But when rumors start to fly about her secret fear of public speaking, she isn’t sure who she can trust. And the pressure to make promises she can’t keep only adds to her growing list of problems. Is winning even worth it when friendships are on the line?
Who Was Bob Marley? by Katie Ellison and Gregory Copeland
Who Was Bob Marley? tells the story of how a man with humble roots became an international icon
The Laura Line by Crystal Allen
Laura Dyson wants two things in life: to be accepted by her classmates and to be noticed by ultracute baseball star Troy Bailey. But everyone at school teases her for being overweight, and Troy won’t give her a second glance. Until one day, their history teacher announces a field trip to the run-down slave shack on her grandmother’s property.
President of the Whole Sixth Grade by Sherri Winston
Lola Levine and the Ballet Scheme by Monica Brown
When new classmate Bella, a ballet dancer, walks into Lola’s class at Northland Elementary, all Lola can see is pink everywhere–pink ribbons, a pink sweatshirt, and pink tennis shoes. Yuck! Pink is Lola’s least favorite color. Plus, Ballet isn’t nearly as hard as soccer, is it?
The Middle School Rules of Jamaal Charles by Sean Jensen
The Middle School Rules of Jamaal Charles features the stories and lessons of Jamaal’s childhood, defined by people overlooking him. Young readers will see how Jamaal deals with bullying and endures teasing because of a long undiagnosed learning disability that enabled him to participate in the Special Olympics as a 10-year-old.
The Case of the Missing Museum Archives (Museum Mysteries Series) by Steve Brezenoff
When the plans for the prototype of a failed flying machine go missing from the Air and Space Museum’s archives, Amal’s father, the assistant archivist, is blamed. No one suspects a crime has been committed ― except Amal and her friends.
King & Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats (King and Kayla Series) by Dori Hillestad Butler and Nancy Meyers
A lovable dog helps his human girl solve a mystery. Kayla made peanut butter treats for Jillian’s new puppy Thor. But now the treats are missing. What does Kayla know? There are three treats missing. King was in the kitchen. King s breath doesn t smell like peanut butter. What does King know? There s an intruder in the house. How will they solve the mystery?
Dragons and Marshmallows (Zoey and Sassafras) by Asia Citro
In the first book of this series, Zoey discovers a glowing photo and learns an amazing secret. Injured magical animals come to their backyard barn for help! When a sick baby dragon appears, it’s up to Zoey and Sassafras to figure out what’s wrong. Will they be able to help little Marshmallow before it’s too late?
Who Are Venus and Serena Williams? by Andrew Thomson and James Buckley Jr. (August 2017)
Who Are Venus and Serena Williams? follows the pair from their early days of training up through the ranks and to the Summer Olympic Games, where they have each won four gold medals—more than any other tennis players.
The Magnificent Mya Tibbs: Spirit by Crystal Allen and Eda Kaban
Nine-year-old cowgirl Mya Tibbs is boot-scootin’ excited for the best week of the whole school year—SPIRIT WEEK! She and her megapopular best friend Naomi Jackson even made a pinky promise to be Spirit Week partners so they can win the big prize: special VIP tickets to the Fall Festival.
You Should Meet: Katherine Johnson by Thea Feldman (July 2017)
Meet Katherine Johnson, a brilliant mathematician who worked at NASA in the early 1950s until retiring in 1986. Katherine’s unparalleled calculations (done by hand) helped plan the trajectories for NASA’s Mercury and Apollo missions (including the Apollo 11 moon landing). She is said to be one of the greatest American minds of all time.
You Should Meet: Jesse Owens by Laurie Calkhoven
Meet Jesse Owens, an African-American runner who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin!
Real Friends by Shannon Hale
March: Book Three by John Lewis
This book is the conclusion of the award-winning and best-selling MARCH trilogy. Congressman John Lewis, an American icon and one ofthe key figures of the civil rights movement, joins co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell to bring the lessons of history to vivid life for a new generation, urgently relevant for today’s world.
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Presented as a screenplay of Steve’s own imagination, and peppered with journal entries, the book shows how one single decision can change our whole lives.
I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina (October 2017)
Alfonso Jones can’t wait to play the role of Hamlet in his school’s hip-hop rendition of the classic Shakespearean play. He also wants to let his best friend, Danetta, know how he really feels about her. But as he is buying his first suit, an off-duty police officer mistakes a clothes hanger for a gun, and he shoots Alfonso.
Books for Tweens/Teens
Royal Crush: From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot (August 2017)
Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison is turning thirteen. Even better, she’s finally starting to get the hang of this princess thing. Just in time, too, since her half-sister, Princess Mia Thermopolis, is expected to give birth to twins any day now!
It’s pretty much the worst time possible for a school field trip, but everyone is insisting that Olivia must attend the Royal School Winter Games. Between Grandmère chaperoning, Olivia’s snobby cousin Luisa complaining about her relationship woes, and everyone insisting that Olivia has a crush on Prince Khalil (even though she isn’t sure that he even wants to be friends anymore!), things are quickly turning into a royal mess!
Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth
Everyone thinks Jarrett and Kevon should be friends — but that’s not gonna happen. Not when Kevon’s acting like he’s better than Jarrett — and not when Jarrett finds out Kevon’s keeping some major secrets.
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes.
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
A hilarious and heartfelt novel about two Indian-American teens whose parents conspire to arrange their marriage.
Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste (September 2017)
Corinne LaMer defeated the wicked jumbie Severine months ago, but things haven’t exactly gone back to normal in her Caribbean island home. Everyone knows Corinne is half-jumbie, and many of her neighbors treat her with mistrust. When local children begin to go missing, snatched from the beach and vanishing into wells, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne.
The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
Corinne La Mer claims she isn’t afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. They’re just tricksters made up by parents to frighten their children. Then one night Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden forest, and shining yellow eyes follow her to the edge of the trees. They couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they?
52 Positive Affirmations for Mocha Kids by Christin Armstrong
One year of positive affirmations that your Mocha Kid can memorize and apply on a weekly basis. Each week features an activity to help the child apply the affirmation including coloring pages, drawing exercises and thought provoking questions.
A Good Thing by Stacey Evans Morgan
From California to Canada, D.C. to Paris, Pilar is on a search for her soul mate. Of course, the journey won’t be all rosy, but it won’t take long for Pilar to discover anything worth having, is going to take a little work and a whole lot of patience. Just when Pilar settles on being single….she discovers the good thing she’s been missing!
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them.
She’s So Boss by Stacy Kravetz
Whether you already have an idea for a business or you’re mulling how to turn the things you enjoy into a self-sustaining enterprise, this book will connect the dots. From inspiration to execution, there are concrete steps every young entrepreneur, creator, or leader needs to take, and this book shows you how.
The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
The Perfect Find by Tia Williams
Jenna Jones, former It-girl fashion editor, is broke and desperate for a second chance. When she’s dumped by her longtime fiancé and fired from Darling magazine, she begs for a job from her old arch nemesis, Darcy Vale.
This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe
Gabourey Sidibe—“Gabby” to her legion of fans—skyrocketed to international fame in 2009 when she played the leading role in Lee Daniels’s acclaimed movie Precious. In This Is Just My Face, she shares a one-of-a-kind life story in a voice as fresh and challenging as many of the unique characters she’s played onscreen.
Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It by Charlamagne Tha God
In his new book, Charlamagne Tha God presents his comic, often controversial, and always brutally honest insights on how living an authentic life is the quickest path to success.
Step Up to the Plate Maria Singh by Uma Krishnaswami
Nine-year-old Maria Singh longs to play softball in the first-ever girls’ team forming in Yuba City, California. It’s the spring of 1945, and World War II is dragging on. Miss Newman, Maria’s teacher, is inspired by Babe Ruth and the All-American Girls’ League to start a girls’ softball team at their school.
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia
Clayton feels most alive when he’s with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and the band of Bluesmen—he can’t wait to join them, just as soon as he has a blues song of his own. But then the unthinkable happens. Cool Papa Byrd dies, and Clayton’s mother forbids Clayton from playing the blues. And Clayton knows that’s no way to live.
Mango Delight by Fracaswell Hyman
When seventh-grader Mango Delight Fuller accidentally breaks her BFF Brooklyn’s new cell phone, her life falls apart. She loses her friends and her spot on the track team, and even costs her father his job as a chef.
As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds
Genie’s summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia—in the COUNTRY! The second surprise comes when Genie figures out that their grandfather is blind.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.
Patina by Jason Reynolds (August 2017)
A newbie to the track team, Patina must learn to rely on her teammates as she tries to outrun her personal demons in this follow-up to the National Book Award finalist Ghost.
A Whole New Ballgame: A Rip and Red Book by Phil Bildner
Rip and Red are best friends whose fifth-grade year is nothing like what they expected. They have a crazy new tattooed teacher named Mr. Acevedo, who doesn’t believe in tests or homework and who likes off-the-wall projects, the more “off” the better. And guess who’s also their new basketball coach? Mr. Acevedo!
Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson
It’s Mississippi in the summer of 1955, and Rose Lee Carter can’t wait to move north. But for now, she’s living with her sharecropper grandparents on a white man’s cotton plantation.
Booked by Kwame Alexander
In this follow-up to the Newbery-winning novel THE CROSSOVER, soccer, family, love, and friendship, take center stage as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the Forest, Xan, is kind. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.
Kiki and Jacques by Susan Ross
Eleven-year-old Jacques’s mother has passed away, his father is jobless and drinking again and his grandmother’s bridal store is on the verge of going out of business. Plus he’s under pressure from an older boy to join in some illegal activities. At least Jacques can look forward to the soccer season.
One Last Word: Wisdom From the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes
In this collection of poetry, Nikki Grimes looks afresh at the poets of the Harlem Renaissance — including voices like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and many more writers of importance and resonance from this era — by combining their work with her own original poetry.
Gabby Garcia’s Ultimate Playbook by Iva-Marie Palmer
Meet your new favorite kid-next-door hero! Gabby Garcia an overly confident baseball-obsessed sport nut who’s going to win your heart. If life were a baseball game, all-star pitcher Gabby Garcia would be having her Best. Season. EVER! Until she’s suddenly sent to another school and her winning streak is about to disappear—both on and off the field.
Two Naomis by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Other than their first names, Naomi Marie and Naomi Edith are sure they have nothing in common, and they wouldn’t mind keeping it that way. Naomi Marie starts clubs at the library and adores being a big sister. Naomi Edith loves quiet Saturdays and hanging with her best friend in her backyard. And while Naomi Marie’s father lives a few blocks away, Naomi Edith wonders how she’s supposed to get through each day a whole country apart from her mother.
Twintuition: Double Vision by Tia Mowry
When their mother’s new job forces them to move from bustling San Antonio to middle-of-nowhere Aura, Texas, Caitlyn tries to stay positive, focusing on meeting new people and having new adventures. Cassie, on the other hand, is convinced that it’s only a matter of time until they’ll be sick of Aura and ready to move back to the big city.
Please support these additional self-published authors and look for their books in your local libraries:
The Missing President – located in public libraries in Durham, NC; Hampton, VA; Houston, TX; Benton Harbor, MI
The Birthright Trilogy by Necole Ryse – Available in all Maryland public libraries
The Adventures of Taylor The Chef – Available in all of The Miami-Dade Public Libraries in Miami, Florida
Janjay by Chantal Victoria – Available at Philadelphia public library, Philadelphia, PA
Little Tree by
Happy Hair by Mechal Renee Roe Available at Smyrna, GA public library and Ferguson, MO public library
The Hula Hoopin’ Queen by Thelma Lynne Godin and Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Stink Moves In by Tammi Landry-Gilder – Available at Commerce Township Public Library. Commerce Township, MI.
Poems for the Smart, Spunky, and Sensational Black Girl by Rachel Garlinghouse (Read my review here)
Want even more of my diverse book lists?
Your turn: What other books would you add to this list for summer reading? Feel free to share in the comments.