The best books about summer

6 authors have picked their favorite books about summer and why they recommend each book.

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The Summer I Turned Pretty

By Jenny Han,

Book cover of The Summer I Turned Pretty

They say you never forget your first crush, and this young adult romance perfectly captures the headiness and angst of falling in love (at any age). Jenny Han pours emotion onto the page, and the love triangle between Belly and the Fisher brothers makes for the best kind of romantic tension. I devoured the whole series.


Who am I?

My dream of writing romance began during a semester in London, where I fell in love with the city, its history, and its pubs. A few years and careers later, I won the Golden Heart Award for Regency Romance, and I’ve been writing ever since. Now I’m living happily-ever-after in Maryland with my family, who try valiantly not to roll their eyes whenever I quote Jane Austen.


I wrote...

Girls Before Earls

By Anna Bennett,

Book cover of Girls Before Earls

What is my book about?

What a girl wants and what an earl needs lead to an irresistible deal…Miss Hazel Lively, headmistress of Bellehaven Academy, has finally realized her dream of opening a school for girls, and the last thing she can afford is a scandal. Which is why she simply cannot enroll the Earl of Bladenton’s troubled niece. But when Blade makes an offer she can’t refuse, Hazel has a demand of her own: the handsome earl must visit his niece every other week.

Blade soon discovers there’s more to Hazel than meticulous lessons. Their sparring leads to flirtation…and something altogether deeper. But their passion poses a threat to Hazel’s school and Blade’s battered heart. They say a good thing can’t last forever, but true love just might…

Finally, Something Mysterious

By Doug Cornett,

Book cover of Finally, Something Mysterious

This book had me with the title alone. Who hasn’t spent a boring school break looking for something – anything – mysterious to investigate? Paul and his two best friends live in a small town in which nothing interesting happens…until hundreds of rubber duckies appear in a nearby yard one morning. Together, Paul (the hilariously observant narrator), Shanks (tiny but tough), and Peephole (whose many fears include the sound of other people’s sneezes) figure out how all those ducks ended up on Mr. Babbage’s lawn. The friendship here is comfortable and worn in, based on fond tolerance of one another’s quirks – as the best friendships usually are. 


Who am I?

Friendship among three kids can be fraught, as any former kid (or current parent) knows. There’s always a chance that one member will be sidelined, and that often changes on a whim. But triangles can also be remarkably sturdy in spite or even because of the personality mix and occasional conflicts. I’ve been a member of several friendship trios, successful and not, so I’ve experienced both sides (all three sides?) of the issue. My books often feature triangular friendships because they naturally give rise to complex, personality-driven bickering, which is one of my favorite things to write.  


I wrote...

Double the Danger and Zero Zucchini

By Betsy Uhrig,

Book cover of Double the Danger and Zero Zucchini

What is my book about?

When Alex’s aunt offers to pay him to point out the boring parts in her children’s book, he sees a quick way to make ten easy bucks. But her book is about a grumpy frog and a prizewinning zucchini. It doesn’t have a few boring pages…the whole thing is a snore.

Alex gives her some great ideas—like adding danger and suspense. And ditching the frogs and the zucchini. But books have to be believable as well as exciting. So he recruits his two best friends to help him act out scenes so he can describe the details realistically. This is when Alex discovers that being a stunt double for a fictional character can land you in lots of nonfictional trouble.

Summersaults

By Douglas Florian,

Book cover of Summersaults

I love wordplay, and Douglas Florian is a master. His poems are short, fun, and well-crafted. He also illustrates his books, in a style that is sketchy, childlike, and textural. When I need a bit of lighthearted inspiration for my own poetry, Florian always delivers. He has written dozens of books, but his book about summer called Summersaults captures the essence of his style. Here’s a delicious sample:

"A Summery"

June: We seeded.
July: We weeded.
August: We eated.


Who am I?

Many people are intimidated by poetry. For a big part of my life, I was too. So much of the poetry I had been exposed to was either indecipherable or irrelevant to me. Then I discovered some poems that I loved—accessible poems about subjects I related to. I started collecting poetry books, by both adult and children’s poets. Eventually, I was inspired to write poetry of my own. Today, I’m a poetry advocate, recommending my favorites to anyone who shows interest. The satisfaction I get from poetry boils down to this: When I read a good poem, I think to myself, “Wow, I didn’t know words could do that.”


I wrote...

Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems

By Bob Raczka,

Book cover of Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems

What is my book about?

I don’t remember when I saw my first concrete poetry (also known as shape poetry), but I was hooked from the get-go. I remember reading all the concrete poems I could find, and realized there was room to push the boundaries of this form. So in this book, not only does every poem have a shape, but every title as well. For example, in my poem "Dominoes", the letters of the title are shown on the page falling into each other liked stacked dominoes, while the lines of the poem itself are shown the same way, stacked vertically and falling into each other.

Wet Cement was a long time in the making, so when it received five starred reviews, I was thrilled.

The Other Side

By Jacqueline Woodson, E.B. Lewis (illustrator),

Book cover of The Other Side

I’m a big fan of the art of E. B. Lewis, especially his award-winning picture books. (He illustrated my book.) This book is one of my favorites that he’s illustrated. It’s a story about growing up. And friendship. And how kids know what’s right and wrong even if we as adults get it muddled at times.


Who am I?

As a bestselling and award-winning KidLit author of more than 100 books, I’ve been blessed to specialize in writing for kids about the amazing and inspiring legacy of African Americans. From an alphabet book for even the youngest readers to biographies with hands-on activities for middle graders and up, both nonfiction and fiction as well, these stories are my passion because many of these individuals are my personal heroes as well. I want kids to love and honor these men and women who have made a difference in our world as much as I do!


I wrote...

D Is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet

By Nancy I. Sanders, E.B. Lewis (illustrator),

Book cover of D Is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet

What is my book about?

Inspirational. Motivational. Encouraging. Empowering. D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet introduces young readers to the African American heroes and heroines, the inventors and explorers, and the leaders and influencers since our nation was born. With engaging and beautiful art by renowned children’s illustrator E.B. Lewis, this award-winning and bestselling picture book has garnered enthusiastic acclaim. Its rhyming and lyrical text are just right for even the youngest listener to learn about each topic from A-Z. Sidebars for every spread include university-level information for parents, grandparents, librarians, and educators to continue the discussion and share with older students as well. 

The Summer Book

By Tove Jansson, Thomas Teal (translator),

Book cover of The Summer Book

This little book is a gem that I just read for the first time recently. It’s the kind of book I would read with a pencil nearby for there are gems here, of descriptive prowess and of wisdom. It is the story of a grandmother and her young granddaughter alone on a remote Finnish island spending the summer at their little cottage as they always do. The days are long, sleepy, and lush with swims in the sea, berry collecting, and conversations between an inquisitive seven-year-old and her grandmother. The grandmother has a way of guiding the child in and out of life’s daily progress that is soft and wry. But odd and intrusive things happen as well. The landscape begins to change. The rocky island has boundaries, the sea makes itself known. You could read this book to a seven-year-old, or read it to yourself, and when you are…


Who am I?

I’m a poet more than anything else, and perhaps that is why I'm drawn to books with well-developed landscape and subterranean lines of thought more than plot or human characters. The natural world and the magical universe are intertwined in my writing as a way to convey the importance of our place, or responsibility in the world. I'm always aware of how much work an author has done to know his landscape. When I lived overseas in Iran, I spent the hot summer days reading through my mother’s library. She had been an English teacher and so I had available all of the classics which I read–often at an earlier age than I should have.


I wrote...

The Navigator's Wife

By Jane Galer,

Book cover of The Navigator's Wife

What is my book about?

In 1810, the Russian fur trade expedition ship Sv. Nikolai wrecked off the Northwest Olympic Peninsula coast en route from Sitka, Alaska to California. On board with the crew and officers were several indigenous natives of Hawaii and Alaska, and the wife of the incompetent captain, Anna Petrovna. This story is the telling of the tale from a woman’s point of view. The skeletal facts available to us from historical records provide an intriguing and exciting canvas from which to imagine what became of Anna Petrovna, and why.

If Winter Comes, Tell It I'm Not Here

By Simona Ciraolo,

Book cover of If Winter Comes, Tell It I'm Not Here

I’m a big fan of Simona Ciraolo, and the cover of this book is so perfect! Every spread is filled with brilliant moments of the four seasons. Especially the rainy day spreads are my favorites. It makes you anticipate rainy days even though you’re not a rain person.


Who am I?

I hate rainy days, I check the weather forecast diligently to make sure I don’t have to go out on a rainy day. However I became a mother of two boys and with little kids, I had to go out rain or shine. My kids don’t get bothered by the rain, they rather love it, so I learned to enjoy the rainy days just like the grumpy old man from RainI And we enjoyed rainy day activities like drawing, reading about rainy day stories while cuddling on the sofa. These books remind me of those happy rainy days and they will certainly brighten up your rainy days.


I wrote...

Puddle

By Hyewon Yum,

Book cover of Puddle

What is my book about?

One rainy day, a little boy is upset because he can't go out and play. His mom comes up with a way to keep him entertained--by drawing a picture of herself and him going outside, playing in the rain, and splashing in a giant puddle. They have so much fun drawing themselves that they decide to venture out and make the most of the rainy weather.

The Summer of Lost Letters

By Hannah Reynolds,

Book cover of The Summer of Lost Letters

I am a sucker for contemporary romances with a hint of historical sprinkled in, so when I saw that The Summer of Lost Letters took place on Nantucket (gorgeous), and followed a modern teenage girl whose late grandmother’s love letters to a man other than her grandfather mysteriously show up on her front steps, I knew it was for me. Romance, mystery, and family secrets combine for a compelling summer read!


Who am I?

Growing up, I always loved reading young adult romances where first love and growing up seemed like the perfect kind of summer story. As an adult, and especially as an educator, I have too often seen the likes and interests of my female students dismissed as silly or frivolous, romance being at the top of this list. I love cultivating a diverse classroom library, one that includes books for everyone’s interest and background. Writing stories for young readers and about what interests them has been the great privilege of my life.


I wrote...

The Edge of Summer

By Erica George,

Book cover of The Edge of Summer

What is my book about?

Saving the whales has been Coriander Cabot and her best friend Ella’s dream since elementary school. But when tragedy strikes, Cor is left to complete the list of things they wanted to accomplish before college alone, including a marine biology internship on Cape Cod.

Cor's summer of healing and new beginnings turns complicated when she meets Mannix, a local lifeguard who completely takes her breath away. But she knows whatever she has with Mannix might not last, and that her focus should be on rescuing the humpback whales from entanglement. As the tide changes, Cor finds herself distracted and struggling with her priorities. Can she follow her heart and keep her promise to the whales and her best friend?

Rules of Summer

By Shaun Tan,

Book cover of Rules of Summer

This is a picture book of very few words. If you Google it (which I just did, in case I missed the whole point), you’ll find it described as being about “two boys, one older, one younger.” They are not identified as brothersbut they sure feel like brothers. For me, this book captures so many of the emotions of a younger sibling: being protected; being left out; being the person someone is stuck with. Trust; mistrust; adventure; terror; not-quite-knowing-what’s-going-on-but- suspecting-someone-does-and-they’re-not-going-to-tell-you. It’s one of my favourite unsettling picture books. There’s raw childhood here in its mysterious words and images. And siblings. These are siblings. For sure. 


Who am I?

I’m the youngest of five, and my siblings are what shaped me and my world. Growing up, I never felt alone, except climbing the stairs to bed half an hour before anyone else (such an injustice!). We played cards and games and had noisy discussions throughout my childhood and youth, and we still do. I wouldn’t be me without siblings. It’s the relationship that most fascinates me. There are siblings in all the books I’ve written and probably in all the books I’ll ever write. It’s not a theme I look for when I read, but I recognize the feeling when I encounter it and it feels like home.


I wrote...

All Good Children

By Catherine Austen,

Book cover of All Good Children

What is my book about?

It's the middle of the twenty-first century and the children of New Middletown are lined up to receive a treatment that turns them into obedient, well-mannered citizens. Maxwell Connors, a self-absorbed graffiti artist, doesn’t initially believe his little sister, Ally, when she tells him her schoolmates have changed. Then Ally herself comes home changed, and the treatment is extended to the higher grades. Will Max be "zombified" and turned into the boy his teachers always wanted him to be? Or will the family escape into the unknown world beyond New Middletown's borders? Can Max’s creativity save him? And can anything save Ally?

This One Summer

By Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki (illustrator),

Book cover of This One Summer

Okay, this one isn’t scary. But This One Summer is an awesome coming-of-age GN about two young girls who spend a fateful summer at a lake house. While the themes of family dysfunction and the onset of sexual understanding make this skew a little older, the Tamakis really capture the details of not just summer, summer crushes, and summer communities, but also friendship and tween girls in general. Funnily enough, the two of us always hated summer – as kids, we spent them indoors with equal parts air conditioning, books, TV, and for Susan, cats. (Umm, and it hasn’t really changed that much since then.)


Who am I?

Both of us grew up in the suburbs, which were honestly kind of boring, especially in the summer—so early on, we turned to books and telling stories to entertain ourselves and others. Susan writes stuff that relies on imagination, fantasy, and creepy stuff—and because she’s kind of immature (what nice people call “a kid at heart”), she also writes a ton of kids’ TV. Laurence’s imagination is more about mysteries and humor—he’s written detective novels and short stories. Writing together is awesome: despite minor differences, we share anxiety, similar senses of humor, and a love of storytelling. In addition to Brain Camp, we wrote the graphic novel City of Spies, as well as the YA dystopian trilogy, Wasteland.


I wrote...

Brain Camp

By Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan, Faith Erin Hicks (illustrator),

Book cover of Brain Camp

What is my book about?

Neither artistic, dreamy Jenna nor surly, delinquent Lucas expected to find themselves at an invitation-only summer camp that turns problem children into prodigies. And yet, here they both are at Camp Fielding, settling in with all the other losers and misfits who've been shipped off by their parents in a last-ditch effort to produce a child worth bragging about.

But strange disappearances, spooky lights in the woods, and a chilling alteration that turns the dimmest, rowdiest campers into docile zombie Einsteins have Jenna and Lucas feeling more than a little suspicious... and a lot afraid.

The Thing about Yetis

By Vin Vogel,

Book cover of The Thing about Yetis

You’ve never seen a Yeti as cute as the one in Vin Vogel’s charming The Thing About Yetis. Everyone assumes that Yetis love winter and cold weather activities, but what do they do for the rest of the year? Readers will learn all sorts of things they never knew about these mysterious creatures in this cozy read. When deciding between a Yeti, Bigfoot, or a Sasquatch in If I Had a Gryphon I went for the Canadian option (Sasquatch), but I’m so glad to see a great Yeti book!

Who am I?

When I worked at a children’s bookstore I noticed there were tons of books about dragons and unicorns, but not a lot of picture books about other kinds of mythological creatures. I thought this was strange, especially since Harry Potter was so popular and those books were full of magical creatures. I have always loved pets and mythology, so I thought maybe I could write a primer on magical pet care. I also noticed how much the kids at storytime loved rhyming books, so I put all of these things together and If I Had a Gryphon was born!


I wrote...

If I Had a Gryphon

By Vikki VanSickle, Cale Atkinson (illustrator),

Book cover of If I Had a Gryphon

What is my book about?

Dragons and unicorns get a lot of love in picture books, but what about gryphons and krakens and chupacabras? This delightful picture book imagines what it would be like to take care of 20 magical creatures drawn from mythology and lore from around the world. When a kitten sneezes it’s adorable, but when a dragon sneezes? DISASTER! Kids and adults will love this primer on magical pet care featuring clever rhyming text and hilarious illustrations.

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