Can the Summer Reading List Be Saved?

Can the Summer Reading List Be Saved? An Annotated Booklist

Erin Lavery and Terry Ain

June 2012

[Editor’s Note: The following summer reading list is an addition to Can the Summer Reading List Be Saved? Five Tips to Create a Reading List That Works for Libraries, Schools, and Students in the June 2012 issue of VOYA.]

This summer reading list is the result of our collaboration with the district middle school and is the first time the list has been updated since 2005.  The school provided us with the categories they wanted represented; we recommended titles and wrote the annotations.  As with any collaboration, this involved lots of discussion and compromise.  Some of our favorite titles were omitted such as One Crazy Summer by Rita Garcia Williams, Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys and Pick-Up Game: A Full Day of Full Court edited by Marc Aronson and Charles R. Smith Jr.,  and of course books were included that we might not have selected.

We believe the end result is a good one and hope this list will encourage kids to read this summer. We know that the list must be updated regularly to stay relevant. Using feedback from students, teachers, parents and staff we will continue to modify the list.  After the positive experience we had this year, we hope the school will continue to work with us to address summer reading annually.

Grade 6

Core Curriculum

Alcott, Louisa May.  Little Women. Penguin Classics, 1989.  544 pg.  $9.  978-0-14-039069-8.

Laugh and cry with the four March sisters as they argue, fall in love, and have their hearts broken during and after the Civil War.


Wells, H.G.  The Time Machine. Bantam Classics, 1984.  128 pg.  $4.95.  978-0-553-21351-5.

Follow the Time Traveller on his journey to the year 802,701.  At first you think you’ve discovered the perfect world, only to find the horrible truth hidden beneath the surface.

Juster, Norton.  The Phantom Tollbooth. Bullseye Books, 1988.  272 pg.  $6.99.  978-0-394-82037-8.

Imagine if on the most boring day of your life, a magic tollbooth appears so you drive your toy car through to find adventure.

Anti-Bullying / Tolerance

Preller, James. Bystander. Square Fish Reprint, 2011.  256 pg. $7.99. 978-0-312-54796-7.  VOYA October 2010.  4Q 4P M J

Bullies…If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.  Will you just stand there and watch or will you do something?

Social Studies

Fleming, Candace.  Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart. Schwartz & Wade, 2011.  118 pg.  $18.99.  978-0-375-84198-9. 

In 1937, a woman pilot attempts to do the impossible, circumnavigate the globe, but she vanishes without a trace, never to be seen again.

Anderson, Laurie Halse.  Chains. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010.  336 pg.  $6.99.  978-1-4169-0586-8.  VOYA 2008.  5Q 4P M J S.

Isabel, a slave sold to a cruel Loyalist couple in Manhattan (yes even New York had slaves), puts her life on the line for freedom by spying for the Patriots. If you like this, read companion Forge.

Science / Technology

Gilbert, Sara .  The Story of Apple. Creative Paperbacks, 2012.  48 pg.  $12.00.  978-0-89812-659-4.

Have an iPhone, an iPod?  It’s time to learn more about this amazing company and how it changed music.

Biography / Autobiography

Sheinkin, Steve.  The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery. Flash Point, 2010.  352 pg.  $19.99.  978-1-59643-486-8. VOYA December 2010.  3Q 3P J S.

How did Benedict Arnold go from being a colonial hero to the Revolutionary War‘s ultimate traitor? This thrilling tale contains actual letters and journal entries.


Senzai, N.H.  Shooting  Kabul. Simon and Schuster Reprint, 2011.  288 pg.  $6.99.  978-1-4424-0195-2.  VOYA August 2010.  3Q 3P M.

Just months before 9/11, a family escapes Afghanistan to the U.S., but in the chaos gets separated from six-year-old Mariam.  Desperate to find her, her older brother creates a plan.

Challenges / Sports

Feinstein, John.  Rush for the Gold: Mystery at the Olympics. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012.  320 pg.  $16.99.   978-0-375-86963-1.

Shady business at the 2012 London Summer Olympics leads to a mystery that could tarnish the gold.  If you like this book, try the other sports mysteries by this author.

Adventure / Survival

Grisham, John.  Theodore Boone:  Kid Lawyer. Puffin Reprint, 2011.  272 pg.  $7.99.  978-0-14-241722-5.   VOYA October 2010. 3Q 4P M J.

This lawyer finds himself in too deep in a huge murder trial, and he is only 13! Book one of a series.


Dashner, James.  The Maze Runner. Delacorte Press Reprint, 2010.  400 pg.  $9.99.  978-0-385-73795-1.  VOYA December 2009. 5Q 4P J S.

You wake up with no memory of who you are, where you are or how you got there.  You need to escape, but how? Book one of a trilogy.


Paulsen, Gary.  How Angel Peterson Got His Name: And Other Outrageous Tales About Extreme Sports. Yearling, 2004.  128 pg.  $6.99.  978-0-440-22935-3.  VOYA April 2003.  3Q 3P M J S.

Before helmets and other safety gear, fun could be dangerous.  Find out how, laugh out loud, but don’t try it at home!

Prose Poetry / Verse

Lai, Thanhha.  Inside Out and Back Again. HarperCollins, 2011.  272 pg.  $15.99.  978-0-06-196278-3.

New country, new school, new language.  Talk about a triple challenge.

Good Reads

Sitomer, Alan Lawrence.  Nerd Girls: The Rise of the Dorkasaurus. Hyperion, 2011.  224 pg.  $16.99.  978-1-4231-3996-6. VOYA August 2011. 4Q 4P M.

Will the 3 Ps (pretty, popular and perfect) and winners of every talent show finally be taken down?  Nerd girls unite!

Other Good Reads

Sonnenblick,  Jordan.  Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie. Scholastic, 2006.  273 pg.  $7.99.  978-0-439-75520-7. VOYA December 2004. 4Q 4P M J.

Steven’s an awesome drummer, he likes a cute girl, life is good.  But everything changes when his younger brother is diagnosed with leukemia.

Grade 7

Core Curriculum

Taylor, Mildred D. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Puffin, 2004.  288 pg.  $7.99.  978-0-14-240112-5.

The Logans struggle with racism during the dark era of the Depression as they try to hold on to their land and pride.  Read more about this determined family in the author’s other books.


Tolkien, J.R.R.  The Hobbit. Ballantine Books; Revised Edition, 1986.  320 pg.  $7.99.  978-0-345-33968-3.

The saga of the rings starts here when Bilbo Baggins is dragged from his cozy hobbit hole into adventure.  Prequel to The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Lewis, C.S.  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. HarperCollins Reprint, 2004.  208 pg. $7.99.  978-0-06-440499-0.

The White Witch and Aslan the lion await you. Open the wardrobe and enter the magical world of  Narnia.  Enjoy all of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series.

Anti-bullying / Tolerance

Howe, James.  The Misfits. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2003.  288 pg.  $6.99.  978-0-689-83956-6.  VOYA December 2001. 5Q 4P M J.

Tired of being bullied, four friends try to end name calling once and for all by forming a new student council political party, “The No Name” party.  Read the companion books.

Social Studies

Smith, Sherri L.  Flygirl. Speak, 2010.  288 pg.  $7.99.  978-0-14-241725-6.  VOYA February 2009.

Before World War II, women only dreamed of being pilots. But Ida breaks color and gender barriers by flying to help the war effort.

Haddix, Margaret Peterson.  Uprising:Three Young Women Caught in the Fire That Changed America. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Reprint, 2011.  352 pg.  $8.99.  978-1-4169-1172-2. VOYA June 2008. 4Q 3P J S.

One hundred forty-six girls not much older than you perished in the NYC Triangle Shirt Waist Factory fire.  Experience this tragedy through these girls.

Science / Technology

Hasday, Judy L.  Facebook and Mark Zuckerburg. Morgan Reynolds Pub, 2011. 112 pg.  $28.95.  978-1-59935-176-6.

Like this book.  Learn how Facebook came to dominate your social life.

Biography / Autobiography

Pollack, Pam & Belviso, Meg.  Who Was Steve Jobs? Grosset & Dunlap, 2012. 112 pg.  $4.99.  978-0-448-46211-0.

Can’t live without your iPhone and iPod? Read about the guy who planted Apple’s seed.


*Park, Linda Sue.  When My Name Was Keoko. Sandpiper, 2012.  208 pg.  $6.99.  978-0-547-72239-9.  VOYA April 2002. 5Q 4P M J.

During WWII, life in Korea changes dramatically when Japan invades and tries to destroy Korean culture.  A brother and a sister share their stories.

Challenges / Sports

Cochrane, Mick.  The Girl Who Threw Butterflies. Yearling, 2010.  192 pg.  $6.99.  978-0-375-84610-6.

The pitcher on the boy’s baseball team throws a great knuckleball…but the pitcher is a girl.

Adventure / Survival

Sedgwick, Marcus.  Revolver. Square Fish, 2011.  240 pg.  $8.99.  978-0-312-54797-4.

A teen returns to his isolated cabin to find his father frozen to death and a gun toting stranger demanding stolen gold in this chilling Arctic mystery.


Pfeffer, Susan Beth.  Life As We Knew It. Graphia, 2008.  360 pg.  $7.99.  978-0-15-206154-8.  VOYA October 2006. 4Q 4P M J S.

A meteor hits the moon and in one moment the whole world changes.  Food and heat are almost nonexistant. One girl journals her family’s desperate struggle for survival. Book one of a trilogy.


Van Draanen, Wendelin.  Flipped. Ember Reprint, 2010.  240 pg.  $8.99.  978-0-375-86347-9.  VOYA December 2001. 3Q 4P M J.

There’s two sides to every story, his side, her side and then the truth. An eighth grade boy and girl tell their sides.

Prose Poetry / Verse

Wolf, Virginia Euwer.  Make Lemonade. Square Fish, 2006.  208 pg.  $7.99.  978-0-8050-8070-4.  VOYA October 1993.

To save money for college, LaVaughn babysits for a poor family with a very young mother.  Together they struggle to find hope and make lemonade from lemons. Book one in a trilogy.

Good Reads

Hinds, Gareth.  The Odyssey: The Graphic Novel. Candlewick, 2010.  256 pg.  $14.99.  978-0-7636-4268-6.  VOYA April 2011. 4Q 3P S A/YA.

Like Percy Jackson? Try this retelling of Greek hero Odysseus’ battles with gods, witches, and creatures of all types as he returns home after the Trojan War.

Other Good Reads

Law, Ingrid.  Savvy. Puffin, 2010.  368 pg.  $7.99.  978-0-14-241433-0.

Turning 13 is hard enough, but try doing it while discovering you have a magical power, saving your dad’s life and maybe the world. Read the companion book.

Grade 8

Core Curriculum

Zusak, Markus.  The Book Thief. Alfred A. Knopf, 2007.  576 pg.  $12.99.  978-0-375-84220-7.  VOYA February 2007. 5Q 4P J S.

Death narrates the story of a young German girl who endangers her life saving books and telling stories to help her family survive WWII.


Austen, Jane.  Pride and Prejudice. Vintage, 2007.  384 pg.  $7.95.  978-0-307-38686-1.

The ultimate romance.  He’s proud, she is judgmental.  Will they ever get together? This classic was written long ago and is still true today.

Carroll, Lewis.  Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland. Random House UK, 2007.  336 pg.  $11.95.  978-0-09-951207-3.

Down a rabbit hole, Alice finds a weird world of wacky creatures and crazy tea parties.  Want more, read Through the Looking Glass.

Anti-Bullying / Tolerance

Shulman, Mark.  Scrawl. Roaring Brook Press, 2010.  240 pg.  $17.99.  978-1-59643-417-2. VOYA October 2010. 4Q 3P M J S.

Enter the mind of a bully by reading his journal.

Social Studies

Swanson, James L.  Chasing Lincoln’s Killer. Scholastic Press, 2009.  208 pg.  $16.99.  978-0-545-20470-5.

Follow in the footsteps of the 12-day manhunt for President Lincoln’s killer.  Follow up with Bloody Times: The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Manhunt for Jefferson Davis.

Science / Technology

Scally, Robert D.  Jeff Bezos: The Founder of Amazon & the Kindle. Morgan Reynolds Pub, 2011.  112 pg.  $28.95.  978-1-59935-178-0.

If you are reading this book on your Kindle, you have him to thank.

Biography / Autobiography

Hoose, Phillip.  Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice. Square Fish Reprint, 2010.  160 pg.  $9.99.  978-0-312-66105-2. VOYA February 2009.  4Q 3P M J S.

Before Rosa Parks, teenage Claudette was dragged off a bus and arrested for refusing to give her seat to a white person. So why haven’t you heard of her?


Nanji, Shenaaz.  Child of Dandelions. Boyds Mill Press, 2008.  214 pg.  $17.95.  978-1-932425-93-2.  VOYA June 2008. 5Q 3P J S.

In 1972, Sabine and her family have 90 days to flee their privileged life in Uganda.  Friends become enemies, heroes and villains battle in this harrowing tale.

Challenges / Sports

Halpin Brendan.  Shutout. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010.  192 pg.  $16.99.  978-0-374-36899-9.

Freshman year gets more complicated for two best friends when only one is picked for varsity soccer.

Adventure / Survival

Hobbs, Will.  Take Me to the River. Harper Collins Reprint, 2012.  208 pg.  $5.99.  978-0-06-074146-4. VOYA June 2011. 5Q 3P M J.

A canoe trip down the Rio Grande turns into a treacherous struggle for survival in the wake of a deadly hurricane.

Shusterman, Neal.  Unwind. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Reprint, 2009. 352 pg. $9.99.  978-1-4169-1205-7.  VOYA October 2007. 4Q 4P J S.

In the future, after the Second Civil War, parents of problem children can have their kids “unwound” and their body parts donated.  Three teens go AWOL in this struggle to survive and escape this terrible fate.


Pearson, Mary E.  The Adoration of Jenna Fox. Square Fish Reprint, 2009.  288 pg.  $8.99.  978-0-312-59441-1.  VOYA August 2008. 5Q 4P J.

If you are more fake parts than original, are you still you? How far would your parents go to save your life?  Also try the sequel, The Fox Inheritance.


Lieb, Josh.  I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President. Razorbill, 2009.  304 pg.  $15.99.  978-1-59514-240-5.

A mad evil genius who wants to dominate the world settles for the middle school class elections instead.

Prose Poetry / Verse

Wolf, Allan.  The Watch that Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic.  Candlewick, 2011.  480 pg.  $21.99.  978-0-7636-3703-3.  VOYA October 2011. 3Q 4P S A/YA.

The sinking of the Titanic told through 26 voices from the richest man in the world to the lowliest rat.

Good Reads

Haddon, Mark.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Vintage, 2004.  226 pg.  $14.95.  978-1-4000-3271-6.  VOYA December 2004. 5Q 3P S A/YA.

A math genius who is afraid of people pretends to be Sherlock Holmes and investigates the murder of a neighbor’s dog.  He uncovers more mysteries than he expected.

Other Good Reads

Williams-Garcia, Rita.  Jumped. Amistad Reprint, 2010.  192 pg.  $8.99.  978-0-06-076093-9.  VOYA August 2009. 4 Q 4P M J S.

If you see something, should you say something to prevent people from getting hurt?  Or should you not get involved because it’s not your problem?  Girls and after school drama.

Erin Lavery and Terry Ain are youth services librarians at the Rockville Centre Public Library and have worked together for four years. During this time, they have coauthored two articles; the first, At Your Service: Community Service Week on Long Island, was published in VOYA in October, 2011. They find potential articles in almost everything they do.



  1. Philip says:

    I’d love to hear how you persuaded each other to accept a favorite title for the list when you didn’t initially agree.

  2. KR says:

    This is a great list. Thank you for the time. I do wonder that each of your science books is a biography of a person or company instead of about a science topic. They seem more like business books.Anyway, I see I need to do some more reading too. Thanks.

  3. Renee McGrath says:

    Great list! You guys are the best!

  4. Kathryn Lukian-JRHS says:

    Dear Erin and Terry,
    Thank you for your hard work it is truly appreciated. I am a high school librarian and wanted to start summer reading lists for our teens grades 7-11. The lists of titles for Grade 7 and 8 will be extremely helpful . These titles will be entered in the 2014-2015 summer reading list a long with other titles selected by teachers and students from all levels. Titles will also be selected from the classic, contemporary and our e-book collection.  The main purpose of summer reading is to encourage students to continue reading, build their reading skills and increase their interest in other subjects which would normally not appear during school time.Students should be given a chance to read 2 books from the lists pertaining to their forthcoming school year and one of their own interest . Provide a brief review of the book selected and a well thought of question for discussion with the class upon return to school.
    Kathryn Lukian-JRHS

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