Must-Haves: Summer Reading Essentials For Every Age

Since I was little, I have turned to books - for entertainment, for curiosity's sake, at times for comfort, and at other times for my education. Throughout the years, certain books have stuck with me as pivotal books in my life. Reading Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes in the 4th grade taught me that you cannot judge a book by it's cover, or even by it's back cover synopsis; A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett showed me that books can present a reader with real magic; and, reading Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt and Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson allowed me to find intense emotion in the best stories. As I got older, and began to read even more, books such as Sloppy Firsts by Meghan McCafferty (and the entire Jessica Darling series), The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder, and even Harry Potter by J.K. Rowlng, continued to open up the literary world for me. When I was in college, summer became the time that I read the most, and so, as the summer is fast approaching, I want to share my Summer Reading Essentials list with you.

All Images from Amazon or Wikipedia 
I've divided this into categories - from books to read to your small children, young adult fiction, and then from college and up. These books are some of my favorites - ones that I have read over and over again. And not all of these are "classics," although some are, since, for the most part, I feel like reading the classics is a given when it comes to summer reading material.

Summer Reading Essentials for the ... Small Child

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

1. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
2. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
3. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
4. Hey Willie, See The Pyramids and all of the other Max the Dog books by Maira Kalman (especially including Ooh-la-la (Max in Love)
5. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault

Summer Reading Essentials for the ... Tween

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
1. Redwall, and the entire Redwall Series, by Brian Jacques

2. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
3. Holes by Louis Sachar
4. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (To date, this is still one of my all-time favorite books and I used to dream about running away from home to live to in the MET.) 
5. James and the Giant Peach, and all other novels, by Roald Dahl

Summer Reading Essentials for the ... High School Student

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
1. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
3. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Summer Reading Essentials for the ... College Aged (and Everyone Else) Crowd 

I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe
1. Room by Emma Donoghue

2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
3. I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe (a must-read for any college student)
4. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Series by Steig Laarson
6. Harvard Yard by William Martin
7. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
8. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
9. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (read The Fountainhead first!)  
10. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Of course, there are so many more must-reads, and these don't even scratch the surface of what a fully comprehensive list would look like. They are, however, a small sample of some amazing pieces of literature that you should make sure to include in your reading repertoire. 

What were your favorite summer reading novels when you were in the above age groups? Did you used to stay up late reading books under your covers? Have you read any (or all) of the books I mentioned above?


P.S. I would be remiss in writing this post if I didn't mention my amazing parents who instilled in me the importance of reading, especially my mother, without whom I would not be the avid reader that I am.
P.P.S. Today, I'm linking up to parties at House of Hepworths, A Creative Princess, Suzy's Sitcom, From My Front Porch to Yours, We Are THAT Family, The NY Melrose Family, The Johanson Journey, The Brambleberry Cottage and Shabby Creek Cottage



  1. Sara great options! I need to get pick a few out for the summer. Thanx for coming to THT!

  2. Chicka chicka boom boom is an every night read for us. We even have to listen to it in the car. Lucky us. I love your selection. Thanks so much for sharing at Whimsy Wednesdays.

    1. I could recite the entire thing by memory when I was in 2nd grade - my favorite!


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