As my boys get older, they seem to have less time to read for pleasure. Homework, sports, lessons, and friends are all competing for their attention. Much like a lot of adults, they enjoy reading but are struggling to find time to fit it into their increasingly busy lives.
Check out all of our Summer Reading Lists!
Summer provides a great time for kids to unwind and spend time diving into a good book. For teens and tweens, I’ve found that books with great stories and slightly older themes really resonate and help them see reading as a hobby they can carry into adulthood. The books on this list fit that bill, with diverse characters and compelling narratives.
I’ve chosen these books with rising 7th graders in mind, but that is just a suggestion. The best books for your child are the ones they can read and enjoy, no matter the suggested age or grade level.
7th Grade Summer Reading List
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Starr feels caught between two worlds: the black world of her neighborhood Garden Heights, and the white world of the private school she attends. School Starr and Home Starr are two vastly different people.
Starr’s two worlds collide when her friend Khalil is shot by a police officer, right in front of her. Suddenly, Starr is faced with life-changing decisions about how to move forward. Does she risk it all to speak out for her friend that the media is calling a thug and a drug-dealer? Or does she stay quiet and let a false narrative take over?
This book is one of the best I’ve read, and I really think everyone should read it. It’s appropriate for kids ages 12 and up.
Paperboy by Vince Vawter
Little Man has a great arm, but he’s not so great with words. He has a stutter that makes communication difficult, so he’s a bit nervous to start a paper route and talk with his neighbors every day.
As Little Man delivers papers, he learns more and more about the people in his town and the problems they face. He learns that adults don’t always do the right thing, and that sometimes standing up for yourself means challenging people you never thought you would.
This powerful novel, set in 1959, perfectly captures the feeling of growing up and finding both disappointment and wisdom in the people around you. My oldest son really enjoyed this book and has read it more than once.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
I could not put down this compelling story about love and family. In the Dominican Republic, Camino is waiting for her father’s plane to land, so he can spend the summer with her. In New York, Yahaira has just learned her father died in the plane crash.
The death of their beloved father leads these two sisters to find out more about his life, and the secrets he kept. Eventually, their quest leads them to each other, for the very first time.
I recommend this book for readers ages 14 and up.
Atomic Women: The Untold Stories of the Scientists Who Helped Create the Nuclear Bomb by Roseanne Castillo
When my son was in 6th grade, he read Steve Sheinkin’s Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon, and he enjoyed it so much he asked me to buy him his own copy. That book sparked his interest in World War II and the atomic bomb, so we made Atomic Women our next read.
Atomic Women is a non-fiction book that tells the story of the women behind the development of the atomic bomb. The book profiles these little-known world changers, and also delves into the moral questions raised by the creation and use of such a weapon. The story shows how things like war rarely have clear, black-and-white moral answers.
This book is engaging and thought-provoking, and it led to lots of good discussion in our household.
Kate In Waiting by Becky Albertalli
Kate and Anderson share almost everything: an amazing friendship, a love of theatre, and even their crushes. However, when the two best friends both fall for Matt Olsson, things get complicated. Kate really, really likes Matt…and so does Andy. Kate’s feelings grow when she’s cast as Matt’s love interest in the school play. If Kate ends up winning Matt’s affection, she may just lose her best friend in the whole world. How can she choose between her best friend and her crush?
This modern take on a classic romantic trope is a fun and entertaining read. As a former theatre kid, this one really took me back to my own teenage years! It’s a very honest look at navigating friendships and relationships as a young adult.
Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez
Camila Hassan is quiet and obedient at home, growing up in the shadow of her talented brother, and working hard to avoid the ire of her parents, particularly her father. But on the soccer field, Camila is La Furia, a bold and strong fútbol player who puts her everything into the sport.
Camila wants to play fútbol more than anything, and maybe even get a scholarship to a North American college. But her conservative parents don’t know she plays, and they would never allow a girl to pursue a career in fútbol. On top of this dilemma, Camila’s crush is back in town. She doesn’t want to be distracted by him, but that’s easier said than done.
This is an empowering story about finding your own way and standing up for your own future.
When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson, Omar Mohamed, and Iman Geddy
Omar lives in a Kenyan refugee camp with his younger brother, Hassan. Life in the camp is difficult, and all the two brothers have are each other. Omar is especially protective of Hassan, who is nonverbal. Omar serves as his brother’s protector, interpreter, and best friend.
When Omar gets the opportunity begin attending school, he knows it could be a game changer for him. But going to school every day means leaving Hassan behind while he’s there. Can Omar leave Hassan behind to build a better future for both of them?
This graphic novel shares a truly moving story of family, love, and hope. It will definitely bring a tear to your eye.
Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
This unique graphic novel tells a highly personal story for the author. Gene Luen Yang never had much talent at baskeball; stories were always more his thing. But at the school where he’s a math teacher, the success of the basketball team dominates the conversation.
When Yang takes a closer look at the team and its diverse roster of players, he realizes that there’s a powerful story to tell. This book tells their story, as Coach Lou and the Dragons basketball team strives to win the California State Basketball Championships.
We Are Not from Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez
When life gets too dangerous in their Guatemalan town, Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña know that they have to leave. They begin the long journey along the La Bestia route, from Guatemala to Mexico to the United States border, with only the packs on their backs.
As these young people embark on their journey, readers learn more about their history and their struggles. The book also gives an intimate glimpse of what the day-to-day life of a fleeing immigrant is like. This book does have some mature themes, but it also puts a human face on the challenges of those who are fleeing their homeland in search of a safer, better life.
All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney
Allie is a model American high schooler in just about every way: good grades, lots of friends, and a super cute boyfriend. But the one thing that makes Allie different? Allie is Muslim, and her boyfriend happens to be the son of an infamous conservative radio “shock jock.” So it makes sense that Allie has never told her boyfriend about her faith, especially since her family isn’t particularly observant.
Allie’s feelings begin to change after she witnesses Islamophobia in her community. She begins to take an interest in her Muslim faith, and wonders what would happen if she shed her perfect facade and lived her life as who she really is — smart, hard-working, and proudly Muslim.
I absolutely adored meeting Allie and reading her story.
Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
This graphic memoir tells Krosoczka’s story of growing up as the child of an addict. Young Jarrett’s family life is not typical; his mother is often in and out of rehab, and he doesn’t know his father. He spends most of his childhood being raised by his grandparents and trying to live as normally as possible.
As Jarrett becomes a teen, he dives into his family’s history, seeking to learn more about the father he never knew and the mother who floats in and out of his life.
This is a heartwrenching story, but also an important one. Jarrett Krozoczka has taken his experiences and used them to create a work of art that will help many young people.
If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur
This books starts with the story of a young girl named Kiran. Pregnant after a sexual assault, Kiran flees her home in India to attend college in Canada. As Kiran attends school and raises her daughter, she ends up overstaying her visa. She must then learn to navigate the world as an undocumented immigrant.
We then jump ahead to the story of Sahaara, Kiran’s daughter. Sahaara loves her mother more than anything, and when she finds out the truth about her mother’s past, she wants nothing more than to stand up for her mother and make things right — no matter the risk involved.
This story is so powerful and compelling, it’s hard to put down. I definitely recommend it for more mature 7th graders, due to the serious nature of the content.
Finding My Voice by Marie Myung-Ok Lee
It’s not easy being the only Korean American student at an all-white school. Ellen Sung is tired of standing out and feeling different. When she begins dating her crush Tomper, she thinks that maybe she will finally begin to fit in.
But dating Tomper brings on new challenges she didn’t expect. Ellen must find the strength to challenge her parents’ strict expectations for her life, and to stand up to her classmates’ racist words and actions. Ellen has to find her own voice, and determine her own path, no matter what anyone else thinks.
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Liz Lightly has one foot out the door as she prepares to leave her small Indiana town behind so she can attend her dream college. But when her financial aid falls through, Liz finds herself suddenly stuck. Now her best shot at getting out of Indiana is by winning her school’s prom queen scholarship.
However, that means jumping into the catty, competitive world of her school’s social scene, and that doesn’t feel easy for a girl that feels like she’s never fit in. Things get even more complicated when Liz develops feelings for the new girl at school, who also happens to be her competition.
This book is fantastic and I think parents will love it, too!