Can you believe it’s already time to start thinking about summer reading lists? Every year, I put together a few different types of lists for different age groups. This year, I decided to focus more heavily on middle-grade kids and adults, since I have a middle-grader and, most days, I am an adult. I’m kicking off the season with this ultimate list of fabulous summer reading books for middle graders.

2016 Summer Reading List for Middle Grade Kids

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 Summer reading is all about letting kids choose their own literary adventures after a year of having everything chosen for them. My 2016 summer reading list for middle-grade kids is filled with 37 books that your middle graders will actually WANT to read. I know, because I vetted them with an actual middle-grader!

I went with books that either came out in the last few months, are coming out before the end of the summer (those are noted with a release date) or older books that have a more recent tie-in (a movie, a new installment, similar to another book on the list, etc). I’m also trying out the Amazon embed feature on some of the books. You can click “preview” to check out the Kindle preview right here without leaving the page.  Let me know how it works for you.


My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights

In My Seventh Grade Life in Tights, Dillon just wants to be a dancer. In order to do that, he feels he needs to win a scholarship to a prestigious dance studio. The problem: his dad wants him to play football instead and his other dance pals think studios are for sellouts. While this book is filled with humor and fun, I chose it because I think it sends a good message about following your own heart and dreams.


The Wild Robot

Find out what happens when nature and tech collides in The Wild Robot, an action-packed survival adventure about a robot named Roz who wakes up in the middle of the wilderness. After a rocky start, she learns she has to rely on her instincts and adapt to her surroundings to make it out, um, alive?


For any child who has ever suffered a loss, Summerlost is there to help get them through. When Cedar loses her father and brother in an accident, she and the rest of her family head back to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. There, Cedar meets a new friend and finds herself embroiled in a mystery that just might help her get past her loss.

More 2016 summer reading books that explore loss and the bonds of friendship:


Once Was a Time

Once Was a Time is part time-travel fantasy, part coming of age and part historical fiction. In a war-ravaged England, Charlotte Bromley is sure of only one thing: Kitty McLaughlin. Kitty is her best friend in the world. Yet when Charlotte’s dad makes a huge discovery that the German’s would, quite literally, kill for, Charlotte has to decide between her best friend and staying safe. Her decision triggers some massive consequences, not just for Charlotte, but for the world.


Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Book 1: The Sword of Summer

Rick Riordan set the mythological kid-lit world on fire with his Percy Jackson series. Will he do it again, this time with the Norse gods? Magnus Chase is living the life of a street kid after his mom’s mysterious death. Then one day, an uncle he’s never really known comes along and tells him that Magnus is the child of a Norse God. Worse, Ragnorak is imminent, and Magnus needs to track down an ancient weapon to save the world.  The Sword of Summer is book one in the Norse Mythology series.

More summer reading books for fantasy fans

The Nest

Fans of books like Coraline will love The Nest, a creepy Gothic tale about a boy named Steve who would do just about anything to save his baby brother, including make deals with mysterious wasp queens who show up in his dreams.



Pax is the powerful story of a boy and his fox. Yes, his fox. Peter and Pax are inseperable. When Peter’s dad enlists in the military, he insists that Pax be returned to the wild. Yet Peter just doesn’t feel right without his best friend. As he sets out on a journey back to Pax, the fox begins an adventure of his own. Will the two find their way back to each other? I hope so!

More books for kids who love animals:


Big Nate: Thunka, Thunka, Thunka

Big Nate

Jacob recently discovered the Big Nate series, his favorite of which is Big Nate: Thunka, Thunka, Thunka. Fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kids and Captain Underpants will love Big Nate, a 6th grader who has a knack for getting into (and apparently out of) all sorts of crazy trouble. In this particular volume, Nate discovers the cure for all that ails him: an empty soda bottle. I’m kind of wondering if his trick of rhythmically smacking it against his head will work for my stress!

More humorous books for middle-grade kids:


Book Scavenger

Book Scavenger is the perfect adventure story for kids to start off their own summer reading adventure. Twelve-year-old Emily thinks the best thing about moving to San Francisco is that it’s the home city of her favorite literary genius: Garrison Griswold. Griswold isn’t just any writer, he’s the creator of Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles). When she gets to San Francisco, though, Emily finds out her idol is comatose after an attack. Then she and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold himself, and might contain the only copy of his mysterious new game. They race against time to solve the puzzle before Griswold’s attackers come after them too!

Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood

We’ve been seeing a lot of reimagined fairy tales lately, with just about every story getting a makeover. As the title suggests,  Red promises to tell the “true” story of Red Riding Hood. In this version, Red isn’t afraid of the big bad wolf at all. The only thing she fears is magic and losing her grandmother. When Granny gets sick, Red goes on an epic journey to find her a cure, with a little help from a certain blonde girl from another fairy tale (you know, the one that likes to break and enter into bear’s houses).

More fun spins on old tales:


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts I & II (releasing July 31st)

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I am both nervous and excited about the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a story that takes place when Harry is all grown up and his children are in school. Nervous because the series tied everything up so perfectly at the end of book 7, so I’m worried that continuing it will diminish that perfect ending or worse, not be as good as the original series. Excited because, well, it’s Harry Potter! I guess we’ll just have to see what happens with it! It doesn’t come out until the end of July, so in the meantime, check out these other great Harry Potter books:

Gravity Falls: Journal 3 


Fans of the show Gravity Falls will love this journal-style book packed full of  monsters and secrets, notes from Dipper and Mabel and the Author’s full story. Jake recently got into this show, so I’ll be picking this one up for him! It comes out on July 26th.

More cool summer reading books based on hit shows & movies:

The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure

The Gutsy Girl book isn’t exactly a fictional book, but the activities throughout are often accompanied by tales of famous “gutsy girls” who never let anyone tell them that they couldn’t do something just because they were a girl. It’s a fun way to keep your daughter active and laughing this summer.

If my count is right (should be, I counted like four times), that’s 37 fabulous summer reading books for middle-grade kids! Even if your kids only like half the books on this list, that’s still more than enough for a book a week this summer. If you’re looking for ways to really encourage your kids to read, check out my ideas for creating your own summer reading program.

Still need ideas? Browse through last year’s list, which topped out at around 50 books. Chances are there’s still something on it that your kids haven’t read yet. If you need book ideas for younger kids, OurFamilyWorld will be covering the preschool to young elementary school age group, starting with these 11 book ideas to spark kids’ imaginations.

One more thing: If you’re trying to save space in your house (and a little money), I highly recommend grabbing a Kindle Fire. It’s even more worth it if you take advantage of the Amazon Underground apps too. Most of these books (if not all) are available on Kindle.

Check back from now throughout the rest of the summer for more summer reading fun! In the mean time, tell me what’s on YOUR list!