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2016 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: Early Readers and Primary Grades


Need suggestions for beach reading or books to bring to summer camp? Here are our top ten books for different age ranges — including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry — all published 2015–2016 and ideal for the season. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion.

For a handy take-along list of titles, download our printable PDF.

Picture Books | Intermediate | Middle School | High School

Early Readers and Primary Grades

Suggested grade level for all entries: 1–3

bond_outofwoods_170x213Out of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable Event by Rebecca Bond; illus. by the author (Ferguson/Farrar)
Bond relates a story from 1914 when her grandfather, Antonio, lived at a lakeside hotel in Ontario when he was a boy. A forest fire breaks out, driving everyone toward the only safe place — the lake. As animals, too, make their way into the lake, young Antonio gets a close-up look at every forest creature imaginable. 40 pages.

brown_slickety quickSlickety Quick: Poems About Sharks by Skila Brown; illus. by Bob Kolar (Candlewick)
In this playful and illuminating volume, poems almost as varied as the creatures themselves introduce such species as the great white shark, wobbegong, goblin shark, and frilled shark. Kolar’s dynamic digital illustrations in blues, greens, and browns immerse readers in the underwater habitat. 32 pages.

davis_flop-to-the-top_170x256Flop to the Top! by Eleanor Davis and Drew Weing; illus. by the authors (TOON)
Young Wanda is a superstar — in her own mind. After posting a selfie taken with her droopy-faced dog, Wilbur, she scores millions of online likes. Hordes of admirers fill her street — but they only want to see “FLOPPY DOG!” 38 pages.

hopkins_amazing placesAmazing Places poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins; illus. by Chris Soentpiet and Christy Hale (Lee & Low)
Each of fourteen poems centers on one particular location in the U.S. The focus is as much on people as on scenery, with many of the poems written in the first person. The illustrations showcase the special elements of a place as well as visitors’ responses to it. 40 pages.

jenkins_flying frogs and walking fishFlying Frogs and Walking Fish: Leaping Lemurs, Tumbling Toads, Jet-Propelled Jellyfish, and More Surprising Ways That Animals Move by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page; illus. by Steve Jenkins (Houghton)
The authors’ latest collaboration features the many intriguing — and sometimes quite surprising — ways that animals move from place to place. Dozens of colorful creatures swim, climb, fly, and roll, in Jenkins’s vivid trademark torn- and cut-paper collage illustrations. 40 pages.

lin_ling-and-ting-together-in-all-weatherLing & Ting: Together in All Weather by Grace Lin; illus. by the author (Little, Brown)
In this fourth book in the sweet and funny easy-reader series, six brief chapters take the twins through the seasons, together. As always, the girls’ personalities shine through in both text and illustrations; Ting is still identifiable by her jagged bangs. 44 pages.

liniers_written and drawn by henriettaWritten and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers; illus. by the author (TOON) 2016 Batchelder Honor Book
Young Henrietta creates a thrilling story about a girl named Emily and the monster in her wardrobe. Emily’s adventure is illustrated with brightly colored, childlike scrawls. At the same time, neat, contained panels show Henrietta drawing the story. Concurrently published in Spanish as Escrito y dibujado por Enriqueta. 62 pages.

mattick_finding winnieFinding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick; illus. by Sophie Blackall (Little, Brown) 2016 Caldecott Medal Winner
A boy’s mother tells him the story of his great-great-grandfather, owner of a baby bear named Winnie, and the circumstances that led to another boy, Christopher Robin Milne, befriending Winnie — inspiring that boy’s father to write some beloved children’s tales. Blackall creates carefully composed accompanying images that are warm and captivating. 56 pages.

raczka_wet cementWet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka (Roaring Brook)
Graphic design meets riddle meets visual wordplay in this collection of sturdy and joyful concrete poems about the ordinary stuff of the world. The poems variously invite readers to read aloud, turn the page upside-down, and in one case, read in a mirror. 44 pages.

tonatiuh_funny-bones_170x204Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh; illus. by the author (Abrams) 2016 Sibert Medal Winner, Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book
José Guadalupe Posada didn’t invent those iconic Day of the Dead skeletons, but they attained their greatest popularity in the years he drew them. The narrative incorporates biographical highlights and personal anecdotes; Posada’s own artwork accompanies Tonatiuh’s illustrations in his signature flat, Mesoamerican-inspired style. 40 pages.

For past years’ summer reading lists from The Horn Book, click on the tag summer reading.

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