First Book Staff Picks 10 Summer Reads

The countdown to summer break is on! Whether you’re sending books home or planning lessons for the summer months, our Staff Picks for Summer Reading are the top titles we recommend to keep kids of all ages turning the pages all summer long!

If the First Book staff was sending a summer reading list home, these would be our top picks:

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty-and fun-in their routine and the world around them.

This energetic ride through a bustling city highlights the wonderful perspective only grandparent and grandchild can share.

(Ages 4-9)

Elephant and Piggie: Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems

Piggie can’t wait to go play in the sunshine. But will a rainy day ruin all the fun? The Elephant and Piggie Books are vetted by an early-learning specialist and early learners themselves, so they’ll be right on target for new readers.

(Ages 4-9)

Flip Flop! by Dana Meachen Rau

Two best friends ponder over and partake in summer’s seemingly endless possibilities. There’s fun to be had at the sunny shore, fireworks to watch, and amusement parks to visit. This Step 1 story has big type and easy words, rhyme and rhythm, picture clues and includes two sheets of stickers!

(Ages 4-9)

Get a Hit, Mo! by David A. Adler

Mo Jackson is a small boy with a big passion for sports. He may not be the biggest, the fastest, or the strongest kid on the team, but he won’t let that stop him from playing!

(Ages 4-9)

Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson’s Journal by Jeff Kinney

Rowley Jefferson ‘s best friend Greg Heffley has been chronicling his middle-school years in thirteen Diary of a Wimpy Kid journals. But it’s finally time for readers to hear directly from Rowley in a journal of his own. Rowley writes about his experiences and agrees to play the role of biographer for Greg along the way. But Rowley is a poor choice for the job, and his “biography” of Greg is a hilarious mess.

(Ages 7-12)

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden

Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Unfortunately, she’s not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way. Can she find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she’s ever had?

(Ages 7-12)

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Eleven-year-old Delphine has it together. Even though her mother, Cecile, abandoned her and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, seven years ago. Even though her father and Big Ma will send them from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with Cecile for the summer. And even though Delphine will have to take care of her sisters, as usual, and learn the truth about the missing pieces of the past.

(Ages 10-12)

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Eleanor & Park meets Bollywood in this hilarious and heartfelt novel about Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel, two Indian-American teens whose parents conspire to arrange their marriage. Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.
(Ages 13-18)

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school and your fridge at home is empty. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral… for all the wrong reasons.
(Ages 13-18)

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America by Ibi Zoboi

Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi and featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today, “Black Enough” is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America. Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—because there are countless ways to be Black enough.
(Ages 14-18)

Want more great summer reading options? Visit our Staff Picks for Summer Reading section!

Need more resources for summer fun? Dive into the Summer Hub on the First Book Marketplace!