Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

100 (Plus 5) Must-Read Books for Young Readers

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Karina Glaser

Contributing Editor

Karina Yan Glaser is a full-time writer and illustrator with a varied career teaching and implementing literacy programs in family homeless shelters and recruiting healthcare professionals to volunteer in under-resourced areas around the world. Karina is the New York Times bestselling author of the middle grade books, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street and The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden. She lives in Harlem with her husband, two daughters, and an assortment of rescued animals. One of her proudest achievements is raising two kids who can't go anywhere without a book. Website:; Twitter: @KarinaYanGlaser; Instagram: @KarinaIsReadingAndWriting

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Those moments when a child begins to read can be the most magical time in a young child’s life. So many kids fall in love with reading during that time and become more independent and confident in their literacy skills.

However, the problem I ran into when my daughters were just learning to read was the large amount of books available to young readers in drastically different levels of difficulty. Numbered readers often varied in level from one publisher to another. Then there were readers geared for beginning readers that had sophisticated words and themes. As my kids progressed in their reading, I found some great books for their reading levels shelved with middle grade books while others were shelved in early chapter books.

In this list of 100 best books for young readers, I found it easiest to categorize the books in three groups:

In Beginning Readers, I put books that were very heavy with illustrations and contained words that beginning readers would be able to sound out or be familiar with. An example of a book in this category is The Fire Cat by Esther Averil.

In Intermediate Readers, I listed books that still mostly had pictures on every page but contained more advanced words as well as longer, more complex paragraphs. An example of a book in this category is The Princess in Black by Shannon and Dean Hale.

In Early Chapter Books, I put books that had a lot more text and fewer (if any) illustrations, but with content that was still relatable to young readers. This category is also great for read alouds, in addition to younger advanced readers who are ready for more complex reading but may not prepared the more mature themes of middle grade literature. An example of a book in this category is Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke.


As always, the person best equipped to know what books are appropriate are the adults who are closest to the child: parents, guardians, family members, caretakers, and teachers. This list is meant as a guide, not a definitive reading list. If you find your child is connecting with one of these books and you would like additional recommendations, find me on Twitter at @KarinaYanGlaser !

Enjoy, and happy reading!


Beginning Readers

ling-and-ting-book-by-grace-lin1. Ling and Ting (series) by Grace Lin

2. The Fire Cat by Esther Averil

3. What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig by Emma J. Virjan

4. A Pig, a Fox, and a Box by Jonathan Fenske

5. Bink and Gollie (series) by Kate DiCamillo

6. Mouse and Mole (series) by Wong Herbert Lee

7. Henry and Mudge (series) by Cynthia Rylant

8. Mr. Putter and Tabby (series) by Cynthia Rylant

little-bear-book-by-else-holmelund-minarik9. Little Bear (series) by Elsa Holmelund Minarik

10. Elephant and Piggie (series) by Mo Willems

11. Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa (series) by Erica Silverman

12. Houndsley and Catina (series) by James Howe illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay

13. Dodsworth (series) by Tim Egan

14. Frog and Toad (series) by Arnold Lobel

rabbit-and-robot-book-by-cece-bell15. Rabbit and Robot (series) by Cece Bell

16. Mercy Watson (series) by Kate DiCamillo

17. Poppleton (series) by Cynthia Rylant

18. Ballet Cat (series) by Bob Shea

19. Horrible Harry (series) by Suzy Kline

20. Pete the Cat (I Can Read) series by James Dean

21. Mac and Cheese by Sarah Weeks

mouse-soup-book-by-arnold-lobel22. Mouse Soup by Arnold Lobel

23. Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel

24. Pigsticks and Harold (series) by Alex Milway

25. Sammy the Seal, The Horse in Harry’s Room, Oliver, Danny and the Dinosaur, and many other books by Sid Hoff



Intermediate Readers 

26. Princess in Black (series) by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale

lulu-and-the-brontosaurus-book-by-judith-viorst27. Lulu and the Brontosaurus (series) by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Lane Smith

28. The Chicken Squad by Doreen Cronin

29. Daisy Dawson (series) by Steve Voake

30. The School for Cats (series) by Esther Averil

31. Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot (series) by Anna Branford

32. Doodle Adventures: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs (series) by Mike Lowery

my-happy-life-book-by-rose-lagercrantz33. My Happy Life (series) by Rose Lagercratz, illustrated by Eva Eriksson

34. Detective Gordon: The First Case (series) by Ulf Nilsson, illustrated by Gitte Spee

35. Amelia Bedelia “I Can Read” books by Herman Parish and Lynne Avril

36. Princess Posey and the First Grade Parade (series) by Stephanie Greene and Stephanie Roth Sisson

37. 26 Fairmount Avenue (series) by Tomie dePaola

lulu-and-the-duck-in-the-park-by-hilary-mckay38. Lulu and the Duck in the Park (series) by Hilary McKay

39. Nate the Great (series) by Marjorie Weinman

40. Jaden Toussaint (series) by Marti Dumas

41. Tales From Deckawoo Drive (series) by Kate DiCamillo

42. Sofia Martinez (series) by Jacqueline Jules

43. The Flying Beaver Brothers (series) by Maxwell Eaton III

the-chicken-squad-book-by-doreen-cronin44. The Chicken Squad (series) by Doreen Cronin and Kevin Cornell

45. The Pirate Pig by Cornelia Funke

46. Katie Woo (series) by Fran Manushkin

47. Pedro’s Big Goal (series) by Fran Manushkin

48. Digby O’Day (series) by Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy

49. Cam Jansen (series) by David A. Adler and Susanna Natti


Early Chapter Books (57)

50. Clementine (series) by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee


51. The Contract (series) by Derek Jeter

52. Dumpling Days by Grace Lin

53. The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng

54. The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies

55. Clubhouse Mysteries by Sharon M. Draper

56. Marty McGuire (series) by Kate Messner, illustrated by Brian Floca

57. Ruby and the Booker Boys (series) by Derrick Barnes

58. Donavan’s Word Jar by Monalisa DeGross illustrated by Cheryl Hanna

59. Dory Fantasmagory (series) by Abby Hanlon

60. The Doll’s House by Rumer Godden

61. Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems by Eloise Greenfield

62. Grandpa’s Face by Eloise Greenfield

63. Anna Hibiscus (series) by Atinuke

rickshaw-girl-book-by-mitali-perkins64. Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins

65. Gooney Bird Greene (series) by Lois Lowry

66. Amber Brown (series) by Lois Lowry

67. The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

68. Ranger in Time (series) by Kate Messner

69. The Vanishing Coin (series) by Kate Egan

70. Woundabout by Lev Rosen, illustrated by Ellis Rosen

71. Ruby Lu (series) by Lenore Look

clara-lee-and-the-apple-pie-dream-book-by-jenny-han72. Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han

73. The World According to Humphrey (series) by Betty G. Birney

74. My Name is Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ada

75. The Report Card by Andrew Clements

76. Ivy and Bean (series) by Annie Barrows

77. The Hamster Princess (series) by Ursula Vernon

my-fathers-dragon-book-by-ruth-stiles-gannett78. My Father’s Dragon (series) by Ruth Stiles Gannett

79. The Magical Animal Adoption Agency (series) by Kallie George

80. The Buddy Files (series) by Dori Hillestad Butler

81. Pony Pals (series) by Jeanne Betancourt

82. The Boxcar Children (series) by Gertrude Chandler Warner

83. The Lucky Stone by Lucille Clifton

84. Gooseberry Park (series) by Cynthia Rylant

tumtum-and-nutmeg-book-by-emily-bearn85. Tumtum and Nutmeg (series)

86. Nurse Matilda: The Collected Tales by Christianna Brand, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone

87. Milly Molly Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brinkley

88. Mostly Monty (series) Johanna Hurwitz

89. Lady Lollipop by Dick King-Smith

mrs-piggle-wiggle-book-by-betty-macdonald90. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (series) by Betty MacDonald and Alexandra Boiger

91. The Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner

92. Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew (series) by Carolyn Keene and Macky Pamintuan

93. Judy Moody (series) by Megan McDonald

94. Sophie the Awesome (series) by Lara Bergen

95. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

nikki-and-deja-book-by-karen-english96. Nikki and Deja by Karen English, illustrated by Laura Freeman

97. Heidi Heckelbeck (series) by Wanda Coven

98. The Worst Witch (series) by Jill Murphy

99. Sugar Plum Ballerinas (series) by Whoopi Goldberg

100. June Peters, You Will Change the World One Day by Alika Turner, illustrated by Naafi Rohma

who-was-jackie-robinson-book101. Who Was Jackie Robinson? (“Who Was?” series) by Gail Herman and Nancy Harrison

102. The Puppy Place (series) by Ellen Miles

103. The Carver Chronicles (series) by Karen English

104. Hook’s Revenge (series) by Heidi Schulz

105. Lola Levine is Not Mean (series) by Monica Brown, illustrated by Angela Dominguez