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Upper Elementary/Middle Grades Summer Reading List


Ah, summer. 

Chasing fireflies, afternoons by the pool, baseball games…and brains that slowly turn to mush.

Did you know that some kids regress as much as two months or more in reading achievement over the summer?  But there’s an easy way to keep kids caught up – a little summer reading.

summer reading list

As a 4th-6th grade Title I reading teacher, I was always looking for good books for my middle grade readers.  I know that fantasy is all the rage, but fantasy can be a tough read, too…long books, weird names, and make-believe worlds.

So here are a few alternatives – books that I recommend to middle grade/upper elementary readers – and as a bonus, the adults I know that have read these books loved them, too.


WestingGame1 The Westing Game (Puffin Modern Classics) by Ellen Raskin

I don’t know why it took me so long to read this book, but it was amazing! So clever and great for boys or girls.  I read it with two 6th grade boys who struggled with reading, and with a little help, they loved it, too! (Official recommendation Age Level: 10 - 18 | Grade Level: 5 – 8)

chasing vermeer Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett 

Another seriously clever book! Chasing Vermeer is a mystery with many levels of understanding for a variety of kids. The unlikely friendships and unlikely heroes were favorites when I read this aloud to my 4th grade students, too. (Official recommendation | Age Level: 8 - 12 | Grade Level: 3 – 7)

Ella_enchanted_(book_cover) Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine 

Although most of the boys I taught wouldn’t have chosen this book on their own, that didn’t stop them from loving it!  Ella is a strong female lead – one who breaks free of the chains that bind her in the end. (Official recommendation | Age Level: 8 - 12 | Grade Level: 3 – 7)

Almost-Super_final Almost Super by Marion Jensen

This brand new book by a brand new author is amazing for super hero fans. I read it to my own son this winter, and we both adored it.  A superhero story, yes, but also a story of friendship and believing in yourself. (Official recommendation | Age Level: 8 - 12 | Grade Level: 3 – 7)


A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck

What can I say about this book? It makes me laugh, and I love it!  Alice’s grandma reminds me of my own grandma, and I’ll re-read this book over and over thinking of her.  Oh, and the 6th graders I read it with loved it, too.  (Official recommendation | Age Level: 10 - 14 | Grade Level: 5 – 8)

esperanza rising

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Another historical fiction, like A Year Down Yonder, but this one is the story of a young Mexican immigrant in the American Southwest. Esperanza is also a strong female lead, who becomes the leader her family needs in times of despair.  I read this to my 4th graders, as well, and just like Ella Enchanted, although the boys wouldn’t have chosen this themselves, I think it’s safe to say that they thoroughly enjoyed it. (Official recommendation | Age Level: 8 - 12 | Grade Level: 3 – 7)

holes Holes by Louis Sachar

Amazing. Smart. Clever.  A story of kids rising above the odds and their circumstances. I’ve read it several times and wouldn’t mind reading it several more. It’s that good. (Official recommendation | Age Level: 9 - 12 | Grade Level: 4 – 7)

What other favorites should I add to my list?

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  1. Thank you for your list! My daughter is starting 3rd grade in the fall and she's a fairly advanced reader. I'm always looking for great recommendations!

    1. You are welcome! Let me know if she enjoys any of these!

  2. Clicked over from Twitterature link up....your post title stuck out at me from the link up. I specialized in middle grades when I went back to school for my teaching certificate. Fun to read your links. :-)

    1. Middle school is challenging, but fun! Thanks for stopping over!

  3. Anything by Brian Jacques is a great read. From the time Boy was 3 to about 11, I read nightly between 7 and 8 pm (sometimes a bit longer to finish up a chapter). In that time we read many of the Redwall series and up to Goblet of Fire in the Harry Potter series. I figured that I'd done my stint of reading out loud and Boy should carry on by himself. He did that, with a vengeance. Not long after that he discovered the joys of RR Tolkein and so many more authors.