Need suggestions for beach reading or books to bring to summer camp? We’ve hand-picked our top ten in each age range, all published 2013–2014, that are ideal for the season. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion. For a handy take-along list of titles, follow this link to a printable PDF.
Intermediate Fiction and Nonfiction
Suggested grade level for all entries: 4–6
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt; illus. by Jennifer Bricking (Atheneum)
A gang of feral hogs is thundering toward Bayou Tourterelle, delirious at the prospect of wild sugarcane; raccoon Swamp Scouts Bingo and J’miah are ready for them. A human drama unfolds, too, as Chap Brayburn and his mother try to save the bayou from being turned into a theme park. 330 pages.
Doll Bones by Holly Black; illus. by Eliza Wheeler (McElderry)
Newbery Honor Book
Twelve-year-old Zach and his friends Poppy and Alice play an elaborate game with their dolls. When Poppy is haunted by dreams of a girl whose ashes are inside the game’s queen doll, the kids embark on an adventure to lay the girl’s ghost to rest. 247 pages.
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo; illus. by K. G. Campbell (Candlewick)
Newbery Medal Winner
Ten-year-old Flora’s life changes when she saves a squirrel from a near-death experience with a vacuum cleaner. Flora’s lively imagination allows her to believe resilient “Ulysses” is bound for superhero greatness. There’s only one problem: her self-absorbed, squirrel-hating mother. 232 pages.
From Norvelt to Nowhere by Jack Gantos (Farrar)
In 2012 Newbery Medal winner Dead End in Norvelt, Mr. Spizz allegedly poisoned seven old ladies to get to his true love, Miss Volker. Now Miss Volker enlists narrator Jack to accompany her on a wild road trip as she hunts down Spizz. 278 pages.
The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata; illus. by Julia Kuo (Atheneum)
National Book Award Winner
Twelve-year-old Summer’s parents are helping relatives in Japan so they can’t go “on harvest” this year. Summer’s grandfather, Jiichan, comes out of retirement to drive a combine, while her grandmother, Obaachan, cooks for the work crew. When a crisis hits, Summer gathers her courage and saves the day. 273 pages.
Bluffton: My Summers with Buster by Matt Phelan; illus. by the author (Candlewick)
This graphic novel tells the fictionalized story of young Buster Keaton’s summertime stays in Bluffton, Michigan, with the Actor’s Colony. Townie Henry is enchanted by the acting folk, and begins to dream of joining the show. 227 pages.
Romeo Blue by Phoebe Stone (Levine/Scholastic)
This sequel to The Romeo and Juliet Code continues the adventures of Flissy and the Bathburn clan in 1942 Bottlebay, Maine. Though the Coast Guard is patrolling for U-boats, life goes on, with boy-girl crushes, school dances, and, as always, secrets. Then a surprise arrival upends Flissy’s expectations in ways that are breathtakingly complex. 350 pages.
One Came Home by Amy Timberlake (Knopf)
Newbery Honor Book
In this gripping and entertaining mystery set in 1870s Wisconsin, protagonist Georgie’s older sister Agatha is found dead (but unrecognizable). Sure there has been a mistake, Georgie and her sister’s unwelcome suitor Billy McCabe set off to find Agatha — or, at least, to find out how she died. 259 pages.
How I Became a Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story by Tim Tingle (RoadRunner)
Narrator Isaac – a ghost – is alive and well at the start of this Trail of Tears story, beginning in the Choctaw Nation in Mississippi in 1830. But soon there is Treaty Talk, followed by the arrival of Nahullo (white) men, and the Choctaw must begin their journey west. 145 pages.
The Dolphins of Shark Bay [Scientists in the Field] by Pamela S. Turner; photos by Scott Tuason (Houghton)
In the ocean waters of Western Australia, scientists investigate the behaviors of the highly intelligent bottlenose dolphin, which, unique among the species, uses tools. The detailed descriptions of the scientists’ day-to-day activities provide a window into the practice of animal behavior studies. 76 pages.
For past years’ summer reading lists from The Horn Book, click on the tag summer reading.