Our pick of summer reads for kids and grown-ups


Are you looking for great summer reading? We’ve put together our reading list for the summer! Whether you are looking for the best summer reads for young adults, summer reading challenge ideas or just the best beach reads to relax with, here are our suggestions of summer reading ideas for kids as well as the grown-ups to enjoy.

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Best summer reads

See the table below for a quick overview of our top summer reads. Scroll further down or click on the menu sections above to skip to a section and find full details on each title.

A quick overview of the books covered

You can find full information and our thoughts on each title below this table.

SectionCoverTitleAge guidelines, genres & topicsMore infoCheck
Kid's summer reading
Gangsta Granny 
by David Walliams.
Illustrated by Tony Ross
8-12 years

Middle Grade Fiction

Humour, family
304 pages, (paperback)

Harper Collins, 2012
price and availability
My Evil Twin is a Supervillain 
by David Solomons

Part 3 of My Brother is a Superhero series
8-12 years

Middle Grade Fiction

Humour, Family, Heroes, Science Fiction
288 pages, (paperback)

Nosy Crow, 2017.

price and availability
The Shapeshifter: Finding the Fox 
by Ali Sparkes

First part in series of The Shapeshifter six books
9-12 years

Middle Grade Fiction

Fantasy, Action and Adventure
271 pages, (paperback)

Oxford Press, 2006 (2016 edition)

price and availability
The Serpent's Shadow 
by Rick Riordan

Book 3 of The Kane Chronicles  series
10-16 years


Fantasy, Action and Adventure. Mythology, Magic
416 pages, (paperback)

Puffin, 2013
price and availability
Great picture books for summerHanda's Surprise
by Eileen Browne
4-7 years

Fiction, Picture Book

Fruit, Animals, Culture
28 pages, (paperback)

Scholastic / Walker Books, 2006
price and availability
by David McKee
3-5 years

Fiction, Picture Book

Animals, Family, Friends
32 pages, (paperback)

30th Anniversary Edition, Andersen Press, 2007
price and availability
Summer activity booksThe Grufallo Summer Nature Trail
by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
3-9 years

Activity Book

Nature, Activities, Walks
32 pages, (paperback)

Macmillan Children's Books, 2015
price and availability
Doodle Girl Summer Sticker Activity
by Suzanne Smith, Lindsay Taylor and Marnie Maurri
3+ years

Activity/Sticker Book

Summer, Travel, Adventure
24 pages, (paperback)

Simon & Schuster Children's UK, 2017
price and availability
Stitching with Jane Foster
by Jane Foster
5-10 years

Activity Book

Arts & crafts, Sewing, Hobbies
52 pages, (hardcover)

Walter Foster Jr, 2017
price and availability
Sewing Happiness
by Sanae Ishida
Lifestyle, Home, Arts & craft, Hobbies & Interests, Biography256 pages, (paperback).

Sasquatch Books, 2016
price and availability
Family readsHarry Potter and the Cursed Child 
by JK Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

Fiction, Playscript

Fantasy, Magic, Drama & performing
352 pages, (paperback)

Sphere, 2017
price and availability
YA summer readsThe Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas
YA (14+ years), Fiction

Social issues, Racism, Contemporary
448 pages,

Walker Books, 2017
price and availability
by Maggie Harcourt
YA Fiction

Contemporary, Romance, Fandom
464 pages, (paperback)

Usborne Publishing Ltd, 2017
price and availability
After the Fire
by Will Hill
YA Fiction, (14+ years)

Contemporary, Social Issues, Psychology
496 pages, (paperback)

Usborne Publishing Ltd, 2017
price and availability
Summer reading for the grown-upsEleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman

Social Issues, Mental Health, Humour
400 pages, (paperback)

Harper Collins, 2018
price and availability
Norse Mythology
by Neil Gaiman
Folklore, Mythology, Religion, Story-telling304 pages, (paperback)

Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018
price and availability
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet 
by David Mitchell
Historical Fiction, Science-Fiction, Culture560 pages, (paperback)

Sceptre, 2011
price and availability
The Bees
by Laline Paull
Literary Fiction, Nature352 pages, (paperback)

Fourth Estate, 2015
price and availability
The Power 
by Naomi Alderman
Dystopian Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Political Fiction, Science Fiction, Feminism352 pages, (paperback)

Penguin, 2017

price and availability

Summer reading for kids

There are many benefits of summer reading for children, it can help prevent children from losing the reading skills they have been developing and working on at school. It is also a great way to occupy children on train journeys and during the inevitable moments of boredom that will happen during the holidays! There are plenty of fun books to chose from, whatever your child’s interest or age.

If your kids are stuck for ideas for what to read this summer, here are some of my son’s favourite reading picks along with his comments:

Gangsta Granny by David Walliams

“This book is about a kid whose Granny is a gangster. He finds out about it and they try to steal the crown jewels! It’s funny and it keeps you reading.”

Abe Books Waterstones Amazon

My Evil Twin is a Supervillain by David Solomons

“This book is one of a series of novels from the My Brother is a Superhero author. You must read My Brother is a Superhero and My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord first to understand this new book! It is about a kid whose name is Luke and his twin from an alternate dimension. The twin comes to Luke’s dimension claiming that an all-powerful supervillain is threatening his world and he came to Luke’s world to enlist the help of Star Lad aka Luke’s brother!”

Abe Books Waterstones Amazon

The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan

“This book is about two siblings who practice the magic art of the Egyptian Gods. They must find the shadow of the chaos serpent Apophis and use it to destroy him!” This is the third book in Riordan’s Kane Chronicles series.

Abe Books Waterstones Amazon

The Shapeshifter: Finding the Fox by Ali Sparkes

“It’s about a boy called Dax Jones who can turn into a fox. His evil Principal wants to kill him and a reporter. The Principal ends up falling 250 fathoms underneath a college! Dax almost falls too… You will have to read it to find out what happens.”

Abe Books Waterstones Amazon

Those were my son’s top picks, now here are some good summer reads for younger children:

Great picture books for summer

Handa’s Surprise by Eileen Browne

Handa’s Surprise is a modern classic children’s picture book and with its colourful illustrations of fruit its one of the great books to read during summer. It is ideal for children age 4-7. The illustrations are so enticing and beautiful.

Abe Books Waterstones Amazon
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Elmer by David McKee

The charming story of the colourful and unique patchwork elephant Elmer is a great book to share with children, age 3-5. The story is fun and the illustrations are fantastic. Look out for tactile board books of Elmer stories like this, for even younger children.

Abe Books Waterstones Amazon

Summer activity books

One of my favourite summer reading tips is to keep reading fun and play based. In our selection of activity books, we have some bookish ideas to keep everyone in the family entertained. Not just for young children but for the grown-ups too!

The Grufallo Summer Nature Trail by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

We loved The Grufallo and read it over and over with my son when he was younger. How exciting would it be to go on an actual Grufallo hunt?  This book is a great way to get kids out and about enjoying nature and spotting tiny creatures and plant life. It has lots of activities and stickers to help families explore the natural world and due to flexible activities is suitable for children age 3-9.


Doodle Girl Summer Sticker Activity by Suzanne Smith, Lindsay Taylor and Marnie Maurri

Doodle Girl’s drawings come to life to create an amazing summer holiday! This lively sticker book is suitable for children age 3+.

Abe Books Waterstones Amazon

Stitching with Jane Foster by Jane Foster

When you need indoor activities for children to fill bad weather summer days, try checking out crafting and making books like this. It has quick and easily achieved stitching projects to help children age 5-10 build confidence with sewing.

Abe Books Waterstones Amazon

Sewing Happiness by Sanae Ishida

And here’s one for the grown-ups! This beautiful sewing book is perfect for parents who love crafting and making whenever the kids are occupied with their own books.

Abe Books Waterstones Amazon

Family reads

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

This book is a great family read for a rainy day if you are stuck inside. It’s fun to read the script out loud in a group and take different roles. I do a darn good Hermione voice surprisingly.

Forbidden Planet Abe Books Waterstones Amazon

YA summer reads

Teenagers in the family? Here’s our pick of young adult reads. (And many older adults will appreciate these amazing books too!)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This award winning book is shocking, powerful and a real must read that captures the perspective of a young black woman dealing with the aftermath of police violence. The Hate U Give is written with humour and humanity. Thomas’s book is gripping and moving as Starr weighs up the dangers of speaking up against the dangers of silence.

Signed copy – Abe Books Abe Books Waterstones Amazon

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt

This YA novel is gently funny, sweet and touching. It revolves around the world of bookish and geeky conventions, experienced through the eyes of teenager Lexie who helps keep her dad’s events running smoothly. But her routine convention world gets shaken up in a season of surprises. Read my full review here.

Abe Books Waterstones Amazon

After the Fire by Will Hill

In this unique YA contemporary novel, the story of how a cult community reaches a devastating crisis unfolds through the disjointed memories of one of its survivors, Moonbeam. In the aftermath of the destruction of the cult, Moonbeam has been placed in a Secure Unit. She paints scenes of a small house by the sea, perhaps visualising an early memory of her life before the cult. Through the course of the novel the teenager finds her voice and reveals the story of her experience of her life at her own pace.

Abe Books Waterstones Amazon

Recommended reads for the grown-ups

You may be thinking that with the children off school, you won’t have much time to get through your own summer reading list! See my tips on maximising your chance to read yourself here.

If you can manage it, here’s our grown-ups top books to read this summer.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This incredible book knocked me for six and was on my mind for a long time after I finishing reading it. If you are looking for a moving and thought-provoking read I’d recommend this book. Honeyman captures the voice of Eleanor, a complex character living with deep loneliness and emotional pain. Eleanor’s words are often grimly funny and always gripping, and you will find yourself worrying about her and rooting for her recovery.

Abe Books Waterstones Amazon

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

If you are looking for epic legendary tales, Neil Gaiman’s recent Norse Mythology could be the summer read for you. It came a long just at the right time for me. My son had been reading the Magnus Chase books by Rick Riordan, books that bring Norse myths to the modern world in children’s literature. Of course we have also become used to seeing Norse Gods like Odin, Thor and Heimdall in Marvel films and comics. Finding out for myself about the traditional stories that inspired these newer retellings not only provided a great read, but was also a great way to get involved in discussing the storylines of Magnus Chase with my son. It’s a win win!

Forbidden Planet Abe Books Waterstones Amazon

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

I love David Mitchell’s books, especially The Bone Clocks and Cloud Atlas with their unusual and rewarding structures. At first I found The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet was unusually realistic for a Mitchell book but eventually it became as mysterious and intriguing as his other works.

Abe Books Waterstones Amazon

The Bees by Laline Paull

This is an intriguing book, a fiction told from the perspective of a worker bee, Flora, who’s life is dedicated to the service of a failing hive. It’s quite an adjustment to read from the perspective of a bee, but Laline Paull did a great job of creating the voices of the bees and other creatures including spiders and wasps. Think Watership Down with bees! And if you like The Bees you may also want to check out The History of Bees by Maja Lunde. The book explores the issue of Colony Collapse Disorder from different perspectives. Read my full review of this extraordinary book here. 

Abe Books Waterstones Amazon

The Power by Naomi Alderman

A terrifying and shocking book, perfect if you like a challenging read during a relaxing holiday! Find out more about The Power here.

Forbidden Planet Abe Books Waterstones Amazon

Do you have any suggestions for unmissable books for adults and kids this summer? Are there genres or types of books we haven’t covered that you would like to here more about? Do you have any summer reading themes in mind, or do you prefer to chose as you go along? Let us know in the comments below and check out our other children’s and grown-up reading suggestions.

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Angela is the kind of parent who wants to discuss the latest hero movie or middle-grade book series on the school run. She grew up on the Lord of the Rings books and has a background in education & publishing. She believes all children & young people can enjoy wonderful story-telling and loves sharing ideas with others.