The Importance of Summer Reading (Plus Great Book Lists)

March 3, 2022

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Don’t put all the books away while you enjoy your summer homeschool break. Here’s why summer reading is important for your family, plus find a great Christian summer reading book list for all ages.

2 girls on porch reading with text The Importance of Summer Reading (Plus Great Book Lists)

Growing a Love of Reading in the Summer

If one goal of your homeschooling is to raise life-long learners and readers, then don’t stop pursuing that over the summer! In fact, the summer months can be one of the best times to focus in on a love of reading with your kids.

We know that readers typically do better academically. But what are the other benefits of encouraging a love of reading in your kids?

Mariah Evans, sociologist and researcher, explained that “(r)egardless of how many books the family already has, each addition to the home library helps children do better (on the standard test).”

Choosing Favorites

The summer provides a great time to give your kids more freedom to choose books they love. And while you let them choose their favorites, go ahead and model a reading life in front of your kids. In other words, grab your own stack of new books from the library and schedule in lots of free reading time all summer long.

Go ahead and make it even more fun to read this summer! Encourage your child to read to a pet. Your kids might even enjoy reading to the baby or younger siblings. 

Summer Reading

The focus of reading in the summer should be to read for pleasure rather than as a duty or for a school assignment. If this is the case, then let your children read books that are a bit below their ability level.

This will help your kids not to feel pushed or to struggle through a challenging book that might discourage them from reading. This will also help them increase their reading ability and confidence and grow into recreational readers.


Don’t forget to bring audiobooks along with you when you travel this summer. In fact, if you plan on visiting historic places or famous landmarks, see if you can find a read-aloud or audiobook that relates to where you will travel.

Summer Reading Programs

Does your local library have a summer reading program? You could consider joining it. Or you could even create your own. Plan a celebration together with your kids for the end of the summer. You could even invite your friends and plan a book club party. Ask your friends to join you in reading through specific books this summer and plan regular meet-ups to discuss your thoughts about the books. 

Finally, at the end of the summer, you could have a fun book swap party with homeschool friends and come home with a bunch of new titles to add to your library!

Summer Reading List

Now of course, when you’re making your list, you want great books for your summer reading. Homeschoolers have learned from Miss Mason to avoid “twaddle” or books full of fluff that lack depth of characters or well-developed plots. The best books help you experience emotion as you read. Even if you haven’t experienced a historical event or harrowing adventure, reading about it will cement it in your brain as if you had lived it. This is why reading great books is better than reading just about anything else, including textbooks.

This explains why having a robust summer reading list will be beneficial to your kids. Even while they are enjoying the storyline, they’ll be learning about scientists and explorers, theologians and brave children. Reading great books will expand their knowledge in an enjoyable way. In short, they will learn effortlessly.

Ready-Made Book Lists

If you want some made-for-you lists, then check out the summer readers from Sonlight. You’ll find titles organized by elementary, middle, and high school levels. Plus, you can find books that boys tend to like and those that girls love. Have you noticed? Books that are perfect for your boys are those that emphasize adventure and danger and tend to have main characters that are male. Your girls will love the books that have romance, courage, and beauty and include a female in the main role.

Of course, a Christian summer reading book list would not be complete without adding the Bible to that list! The summer months provide a wonderful opportunity to read through a book of the Bible with your kids.

Find a Sonlight book list, including downloadable book descriptions, summer readerslist of just great books, and more titles for your Christian summer reading book list.

Summer Readers - The Ultimate Summer Reading List - picture of books on shelf

Book Lists By Age

Elementary Reading Level

Your elementary students have a wide range of reading abilities, but there are amazing books which will open the whole world to their imagination. No matter which grade level your student is at, consider some of these classics for their summer reading.

Your avid reader will love the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. If the reading level is a bit too challenging for your kids, these stories are amazing on audiobook.

Some of your emerging readers will love the Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Your advanced readers in the elementary grades may still love this series as a quick read.

Here are some additional books to add to your list:

  • The House at Pooh Corner, by A.A. Milne
  • Rascal, by Sterling North
  • The Young Underground series, by Robert Elmer
  • Swallows and Amazons series, by Arthur Ransome
  • Daniel Boone: Young Hunter and Tracker, by Augusta Stevenson
  • Davy Crockett: Young Rifleman, by Aileen Wells Parks
  • Eight Cousins, by Louisa May Alcott
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg
  • The Green Ember, by S.D. Smith
  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo
  • The Prairie Thief, by Melissa Wiley
  • Redwall (series), by Brian Jacques

Middle School

Students from about the end of 5th grade to 8th grade are looking for engaging books that will grab their imagination and not let go. The middle school years are a great time to include historical fiction on the recommended reading list because they are absorbing so much more historical learning by this time in their education. Reading books from a time period that is being studied in their homeschool will help students retain information and understand context so much better.

Here are a few great titles to suggest to your middle schoolers looking for book recommendations:

  • The Magician’s Nephew, by C.S. Lewis
  • White Fang, by Jack London
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
  • The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare
  • The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom
  • The Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank
  • Wingfeather Saga series, by Andrew Peterson
  • The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer & the Plot to Kill Hitler, by John Hendrix

High School Students

Your high school students won’t even be tempted to be on social media this summer when they can dive into some of these amazing books. 

Mornings on Horseback, by David McCullough – This biography of Teddy Roosevelt will capture your teen’s imagination. Plus, anything written by McCullough is worth your time.

All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot – This realistic fiction of a small-town veterinarian in England will be an easy and enjoyable read for your high schoolers this summer.

Emma, by Jane Austen – Here’s another realistic fiction that most teen girls will enjoy.

The Glorious Cause, by Jeff Shaara – If your teens love history, then they’ll love the historical fiction by Jeff Shaara. This title explores the important personalities in the American Revolutionary War. If your teen wants to explore the Civil War and it’s most important generals, then check out Shaara’s Gods and Generals.

Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly – This historical biography will tell your teens the true story of the American dream and the black women mathematicians who helped win the Space Race. 

Whose Body?, by Dorothy Sayers – This book filled with intrigue will pull you right into the delights of an English murder mystery.

Leave it to Psmith, by P.G. Wodehouse – Take it from Hugh Laurie who said: “P.G. Wodehouse is still the funniest writer ever to have put words on paper.” 

Through Gates of Splendor, by Elisabeth Elliot – This biography of Jim Elliot is told through the eyes of his widow. Follow the true story of five American missionaries who were killed by the Auca Indians in Ecuador.

In Conclusion

There is much value in encouraging summer reading. Not only will it help you instill a love of good literature in your children, it will keep their mind’s sharp and lessen the time spent on electronics. We hope this post inspires you to gather more books around your family this summer. Happy reading!


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