School’s out for summer… but most parents cringe, because that usually means a whole lot of boredom for our kids.  As a latchkey kid myself, back in the eighties and nineties, I thrived on summer reading lists.  My mom would take me to our small-town library on the first Saturday of summer break, and I’d fill my arms with as many toppling piles of books as I could hold.  And while she and my dad were working and my brother was out playing street hockey all day, I was traveling Middle Earth, roaming the woods with Anne-with-an-E, and disappearing through the back of a wardrobe to explore Narnia.  I lived dozens of lifetimes in those books, and I grew to value summer reading lists from my teachers, librarians, and other friends as if they were nuggets of gold.

Here are a few books that have gotten my kids hooked on reading over the years.  Once they get started on a series or fall in love with an author, your next problem becomes how to get their noses out of their books so they can do the dishes or come to dinner.



Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book One: The Lightning Thief

by Rick Riordan

For ages: 10-12

Themes of friendship, courage, coming-of-age

If you want your younger kids to learn about Greek mythology, introduce them to Percy Jackson.  My son is a veritable expert after devouring this series and everything else Rick Riordan has written.  This is the story of twelve-year-old Percy Jackson, a good-hearted kid who struggles in school.  When his mother sends him to Camp Half Blood, a camp for demigods, he learns that he is actually the son of Poseidon, God of the Sea.  He and his new friends, a satyr and the daughter of Athena, embark on a dangerous journey to recover Zeus’ master bolt and prevent war amongst the gods.



Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland

For ages: 10-12

Full disclosure, I have not read this series myself.  However, my son raves about them and has given me full details of every dragon race, their strengths and weaknesses, their friends and enemies, et al.  The book contains epic battles, a crazy queen, long-standing feuds, and, of course, dragons.  Who doesn’t love dragons?



Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

For ages: 10-12+

Themes of friendship, magic, coming of age, and overcoming adversity.

This was my go-to book for kids who “didn’t like reading.”  My philosophy on that, by the way, is that every child is a reader – they just haven’t found the right book yet.  Well, in all cases, this was the book to make readers out of the anti-readers.  This is the story of Harry Potter, a young man living in terrible circumstances who discovers that he is, in fact, a wizard.  The book follows his adventures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, his friendship with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, and his conflict with the dark wizard Lord Voldemort.  There are seven books in the series, so this is definitely one to introduce your kids to.



Teen Reading List USA 2024

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery

For ages: 12-14

Themes of pride, selfishness, forgiveness, religion, the struggle to become an artist.

From the author of Anne of Green Gables, this is the story of Emily Starr, a bold, creative, candid young lady whose father dies of consumption, leaving her to live with her snobby relatives at New Moon Farm.  This is a darker tale than the Anne series, but L.M. Montgomery admitted that this was the most autobiographical of all her works.  Emily is a writer, and this book shines a light on the sometimes complicated life that can create, especially when those around you don’t understand the world of an artist.  There are three books in this series.



The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

For ages: 12-14

Themes of heroism, good versus evil.

The Book of Three is the story of Taran, assistant pig-keeper, and his unlikely quest to become a hero.  It is the first in a five-part series, two of which are Newbery Medal winners for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”  In my opinion, this is one of the most underrated fantasy series for kids.



A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

For ages: 12-14

Themes of friendship, family, and overcoming all odds for those you love.

Follow the adventures of Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and her friend Calvin as they travel through space to find her father and bring him home.  With the help of supernatural beings, they discover deep truths about the universe.  If your child falls in love with this book, there are four others in the series: A Wind in the DoorA Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters.



The Giver Summer Reading List for Teens

The Giver by Lois Lowry

For ages: 14-16

Themes of individuality, freedom, and the value of memories.

In The Giver, society has taken away pain and suffering by creating “Sameness,” which removes emotion, color, and memories from the minds of citizens.  12-year-old Jonas is chosen to take on the role of Receiver of Memory, the person who stores all the memories of life before Sameness.  The memories are transferred from the current Receiver, also known as The Giver.  Jonas must learn to accept the memories with all their pain and loss, as well as joy and life like he has never seen.  This book is a wonderful exploration of good and evil and their balance in this universe.  This dystopian novel explores deep, philosophical concepts about life and livingness.



High School Reading for Boys 16-18

The Daybreakers by Louis L’Amour

For ages: 16-18

Themes of justice, honor, family.

Tyrel Sackett is a magnet for trouble, but he was practically born with a pistol in his hand – so he can take care of himself.  When he is forced to kill a man in Tennessee, he must travel west to meet his brother Orrin, and together the Sackett family brings law and order from Santa Fe to Montana.  For those who love good, old-fashioned cowboys and stories about the American West, you can’t go wrong with Louis L’Amour.



A Man Called Ove Teen Reading List

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

For ages: 16-18

Themes of love, old age, community.

Yes, this book is about a grumpy old man.  No, it is not a particularly thrilling plot.  There is no teen drama, romance, or coming-of-age.  So why would I recommend this book for teens?  Because it is about the inexplicability of true love.  Not love when it is easy, lit by the flames of youth, blazing in with passion – no, this is about love that is forever, love that matters even when they are gone.  This book is true and real and it is about all the ups and downs of life, yet it is told with a delightful sense of humor.  My daughter read it when she was about 16, and she loved it.



The Host Teen Reading List

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

For ages: 16-18

The Host is a science fiction romance novel written by the author of the Twilight series.  It takes place on an apocalyptic earth, when parasitic aliens have taken over the minds and bodies of humans.  Melanie Stryder is occupied by Wanderer, the alien “soul” who is surprised to find her host unwilling to give up her body.  Melanie fills Wanderer’s mind with yearning for a man she has never met, and together they set off to find the man they both love.


D.N. Moore is an author of Young Adult fiction. She particularly loves speculative fiction ranging from fantasy to paranormal, but she will read or write in any genre. She is currently writing a dystopian novel for teens. Her previous works include Ballad of the Dead: A Modern Fairy Tale and The Blandford Fly and Other Tales, and they have received critical acclaim both online and in the Writers of the Future contest.

Her writing has been described as “lyrical,” “chilling,” and has been praised for its diverse themes, page-turner plots, and relatable characters. She has been compared to Neil Gaiman and Naomi Novik and her work is loved by teens and adults alike.

As a former teacher and a mother, she loves starting and nurturing the reading “bug” in children and young adults.  Her blog offers suggested reading to teens, teachers, and parents, with a focus on quality literature and age-appropriate themes.  Sign up for her newsletter here to be notified of new reading lists as they come out.