Summer reading recommendations for my son, Reed

Type of reader: Reed (age 10) is an escapist reader — he loves reading to escape real life (in a way, don’t we all?), so he leans heavily toward fantasy, mystery, and graphic novels. He doesn’t like being talked down to, so it’s important to find him books that treat him like the smart reader he is — which means my main challenge is finding books that are slightly higher than his typical age reading level, yet don’t have content beyond his years. That, and prying him away from only reading Harry Potter for the 437th time.

El Deafo

The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear—sometimes things she shouldn’t—but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.”

See You in the Cosmos

11-year-old Alex loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977.

The Dark is Rising

Will Stanton discovers that he is the last of the Old Ones, immortals dedicated to keeping the world from domination by the forces of evil. He’s plunged into a quest for the six magical Signs that will one day aid the Old Ones in the final battle between the Dark and the Light. Any in the series.

The London Eye Mystery

Ted and Kat watched their cousin Salim board the London Eye, but after half an hour it landed and everyone trooped off—except Salim. Where could he have gone? How on earth could he have disappeared into thin air? Ted and his older sister, Kat, become sleuthing partners, since the police are having no luck.

Hero on a Bicycle

Italy, 1944: Florence is occupied by Nazi forces. The Italian resistance movement has not given up hope, and neither have thirteen-year-old Paolo and his sister, Costanza. As their mother is pressured into harboring escaping POWs, Paolo and Costanza each find a part to play in opposing the German forces.


Mice have gathered in Mossflower Wood to celebrate a year of peace and abundance. All is well until a sinister shadow falls across the ancient stone abbey of Redwall. It’s rumored that Cluny, the one-eyed rat, and his savage horde are coming to conquer Redwall Abbey. The only hope for the besieged mice lies in the lost sword of the legendary Martin the Warrior. And so begins the epic quest of a bumbling young apprentice.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba’s tiny village in Malawi, his family lost all of the season’s crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell. William began to explore science books in his village library, looking for a solution. There, he came up with the idea that would change his family’s life forever: he could build a windmill.

The Colossus Rises

Jack McKinley is an ordinary kid with an extraordinary problem: in a few months, he’s going to die. He needs to find seven magic loculi that, when combined, have the power to cure him. The loculi are the relics of a lost civilization and haven’t been seen in thousands of years… because they’re hidden in the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Any in the series.

The Unwanteds

When Alex finds out he is Unwanted, he expects to die. That is the way of the people of Quill. Each year, all the thirteen-year-olds are labeled as Wanted, Necessary, or Unwanted. Wanteds get more schooling and train to join the Quillitary. Necessaries keep the farms running. Unwanteds are set for elimination. Any in the series.

Keeper of the Lost Cities

Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. The reason? Sophie’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. No one knows her secret—at least, that’s what she thinks…

Bridge to Terabithia

Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, outpaces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia.

The Golden Compass

Lyra Belacqua is an orphan whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors: her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe, and Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. Any in the series.


In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned 3 continents. This is the story of the plotting, the risk-taking, the deceit, and genius that created the world’s most formidable weapon.

The Egypt Game

When they stumble upon a deserted storage yard behind the A-Z Antiques and Curio Shop, Melanie and April decide it’s the perfect spot for Egypt Game. Before long there are six Egyptians instead of two. After school and on weekends they all meet to wear costumes, hold ceremonies, and work on their secret code. Everyone thinks it’s just a game, until strange things begin happening to the players.

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