Build your summer reading list with these fun-filled and kid-approved chapter books. They’re perfect for reading aloud as a family and inspiring your own adventures this summer.
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One of my VERY favorite parts of being a mom is reading aloud to my kids. Just about every night, I read a chapter or two of a novel to my older two boys (ages 6 and 9) at bedtime. I take turns snuggling them in their beds, and we explore far off places and have wild adventures in the pages of the books we read together.
To me, it’s a special time. No matter what has gone wrong during the day, I love to end the day with the positive experience of reading together. Research abounds on the many benefits of reading aloud to kids, even once they are old enough to read to themselves. But I don’t need research to tell me that reading is critical…and it’s enjoyable! I don’t have to run around. I don’t have to nag anyone. I just sit and spin tales that light up our imaginations and bind us closer together.
With summer coming, I’ll be happy to take off my homeschool teacher hat and let go of formal curriculum, but one thing we will definitely keep doing is reading. every. single. day.
One of the things I love about summer is that it gives us more breathing room in our schedule for learning in fun, natural, play-based ways. And it gives us lots more time for reading!
Whether you read outside on a picnic blanket in the sunshine, call a jammie day and read snuggled up in bed, or listen to the audio version on a road trip, these chapter books are perfect read-alouds for summertime.
So, if you’re looking for a book to catch your kids’ attention this summer, try one of our favorites below!
Fabulous read-aloud chapter books for kids
The Wild Robot (and sequel)
This was one of the first chapter books I read to my boys, and it is still one of our favorites. I wasn’t sure at first if it would hold their attention with its lyrical writing style, but they absolutely LOVED the story of Roz the robot who gets shipwrecked on an island and slowly learns what it means to live…and love. It’s Swiss Family Robinson meets The Iron Giant. Highly recommend it!
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
I’m not the biggest Roald Dahl fan (sometimes he gets just a bit too weird and creepy for me), but it’s hard to resist loving the rags-to-riches story of a kid whose whole world changes when he gets a golden ticket to visit Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. It was one of the first audio books we listened to with our kids, and it was a hit!
Dragons in a Bag
We discovered this book on the shelf of Beehive Book Award nominees at our library, and we really enjoyed it! It has everything a good fantasy book needs: an unlikely hero, a mean old lady who turns out to be a witch, baby dragons who LOVE candy, and a portal to a magical realm. If you like dragons, this one is well-told story you won’t want to miss.
The Very Very Far North
If you want a book that will help you escape the heat, this is the one. It’s the charming story of Duane the polar bear and his friends in the Arctic…quirky, laugh-out-loud funny, and yet quietly thought-provoking, too. A little reminiscent of Winnie the Pooh, it’s one of our very favorites we’ve read in the past year–the kind of book where you don’t want to turn the last page and say goodbye to the characters. This one is a must-read!
Fortunately, the Milk
This crazy, off-the-wall story by Newberry Medalist Neil Gaiman is just so much fun! It’s a wild mash up of everything kids love, including dinosaurs, time-travel, unicorns, pirates, and even aliens. It’s completely over-the-top, and we loved it! If you can, get the audio version and listen to it when you need a way to keep everyone happy in the car…it’s read by the author himself with the perfect comic timing befitting his quirky British humor.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
This story of the unlikely friendship between Keith (a young boy) and Ralph (the mouse who becomes fascinated by his toy motorcycle) is a great read-aloud for younger kids. It’s fairly short, the plot is easy to follow, and kids will love hearing all about Ralph’s crazy adventures (and mis-adventures) on the motorcycle.
The Chocolate Touch
In this fun reimagining of the classic tale of King Midas, a boy gets “cursed” to have everything his lips touch turn to chocolate! It’s an easy read, a perfect choice for shared reading with a child who is new to reading chapter books, and it’s great for discussing how too much of a good thing is not so good after all.
What if you had a magic coin that made all your wishes come true?…but only half way. That’s the trouble the children in this book have, and it had my boys giggling every night as they listened to all the trouble the kids had as they tried…and failed…and tried again to get their wishes to turn out just right.
The Boxcar Children
When I was in elementary school, I’m pretty sure I read every single Boxcar Children book ever published. I would go through a book a day in the summertime, never tiring of the predictable but fun adventures of the Alden family. I’m happy to report, my kids love them as much as I did. I read book #1 to them last summer, and we quickly flew through 15 more stories before I set them loose to read the rest on their own.
Tuesdays at the Castle
Boy moms, don’t make the mistake of thinking that your sons won’t like this one because it’s “a princess book”. My boys LOVED this story of Princess Celie (who is a pretty tough cookie!) and her adventures thwarting a coup on her family in the magical Castle Glower. We read the whole series and we were all sad when it was over!
The Castle in the Attic
I remember loving this book as a kid, so I was excited to share it with my boys (and relieved when they loved it, too!) After all, how many of us have wished our toys would come to life and we could walkaround in their world for just a little while? That’s just what happens in this story, and it turns into quite the epic adventure!
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
It’s a classic. In my opinion, every kid needs to know the story of what happened when Lucy and her siblings went through the wardrobe into Narnia. My mom read it to me as a child. I have now read it to my boys, and maybe someday they will read it to their own children. I hope you’ll read it to yours, too.
The Secret Zoo
This book is a little longer (308 pages), so it may be a better choice for kids who are experienced with listening to read-alouds, but if they’ve got the attention span to keep track of a longer story, your kids will love it! Part fantasy, part mystery, kids will love this story that answers the question: ” What if the zoo had secret doors that led to a hidden dimension? Bonus: Currently, the Kindle version is FREE if you have Amazon Prime. Hooray for free books!
This island adventure is the perfect beach read for summertime. Nim, a machete-wielding and iguana-befriending young girl, is excited to have her island home to herself for a few days while her dad heads off to study plankton in the surrounding ocean. But things get a little wild while he’s gone, and Nim finds help from an unlikely ally. It’s a great quick read, and you’ll have fun imagining what life would be like if you had your own private island! P.S – The movie is quite different from the book, but it’s still fun to watch and compare.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library
This Willy Wonka-esque story is equal parts fun and games. Readers are invited to solve puzzles alongside the characters in the story as they compete to escape from the coolest library in the world. Even though the main characters are in middle school, the story plays well to a younger audience, too (I’d recommend it for elementary age and up). It’s a sure-fire kid-pleaser, and if you’re a book nerd like me, you’ll love all the references to literature that pop up throughout the book!
What’s next on our to-read list:
- The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
- Houdini and Me by Dan Gutman
- The Wishmakers by Tyler Whitesides
- Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede
- Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Now, it’s your turn! Leave a comment below telling me your favorite read aloud chapter books for kids…
Have you read any of these chapter books? What else do I need to add to my “to read” list?!
And if you looking for more great books to read aloud to kids, try one of these lists:
- My absolute favorite children’s picture books of all time
- 10 Laugh-out-loud Funny Children’s Books
- Terrific Dinosaur Books for Kids (that actually teach you about dinosaurs)
- The Best Train Books for Kids of all Ages