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This summer has been red-hot. The season is also a red-hot time for your kids to read for fun. “Summertime is one of those times when kids like to choose what they’re reading,” says Ellen Riordan, the assistant director for youth and family services at DC Public Library. “What the library really does is represent the reading that isn’t compulsory, and is more about self-driven interests.”

Letting children choose what they want to read is essential, Riordan says. Choice fosters reading. “If it looks a little hard or a little easy, parents should still encourage that love of reading and stories,” says Riordan. 

Here are just a few of the titles kids can’t put down, along with Riordan’s age recommendations and descriptions. 

Baby Monkey, Private Eye by David Serlin and Brian SelznickGood for 5 to 8. “It’s a mystery and kids really love mysteries. It’s hard to find the right balance between complexity and simplicity, and Baby Monkey, Private Eye has really hit that sweet spot.”

Dog Man by Dav PilkeyGood for 7 to 9. “He’s an action hero who’s part dog and part man. Dog Man hits the humor bone of emerging readers. He’s their buddy, and they appreciate the puns.”

Squish series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew HolmGood for 8 to 12. “It’s about an amoeba trying to find his place in the world. He really speaks to the middle grade readers.” 

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian FlocaGood for 8 to 12. “It’s one of the more accessible books about Apollo 11—a nice mix of fact and presentation. It’s written in clear but involving language, and sits nicely between age ranges, so families can read it. If you have a particular space fan in your group, they would really find it accessible.”

Apollo 8: The Mission That Changed Everything by Martin W. SandlerGood for 10 and up. “An Association for Library Service to Children notable children’s book of 2019, it’s accessible to everyone.”

A Parade of Elephants by Kevin HenkesGood for 3 to 5. “It’s what’s known as a concept book—it’s essentially about counting and spatial concepts. It’s a great book for little guys, and opens a closeness with the person reading it to them.” 

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie BlackallGood for 4 to 8. “It’s a beautiful, detailed book that really brings children into the world of lighthouses when lighthouse keepers lived in them.”

Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica LoveGood for 4 to 8. “A little boy has an encounter with mermaids in the subway. He is inspired to create his own mermaid costume. It really celebrates children being who they are regardless of gender stereotypes.”

Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg MedinaGood for 8 to 12. “She’s a Cuban American living in Florida with a multi-generational family, and she is adept at changing gears—she’s very interested in bicycles and getting her own.”

Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James RansomeGood for 8 to 10. “A picture book biography of Venus and Serena Williams, this has been popular with tennis on TV. It’s very accessible and has lovely illustrations.”

The Poet X by Elizabeth AcevedoGood for 14 and up. “An amazing book that was also noted by many award committees for young adult books, it’s written in verse and shows the importance of poetry as an outlet for self-expression.”

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