Summertime Favorites

2012 Summertime Reading List Image
Photo caption

2012 Summertime Reading List Image

(June 1, 2012)

NEH Summer Booklist for Young Readers

The year was 1988. Ronald Reagan was retiring after eight years as president, Mikhail Gorbachev led the Soviet Union, and Nelson Mandela was spending his twenty-fifth year in prison. Rain Main was a popular movie, and a third of Yellowstone National Park was burned when 250 fires spread wildly under drought conditions.

Here at NEH, a twenty-year, multimillion dollar effort to save endangered brittle books was just getting started. The agency was leading efforts to develop standard guidelines for Internet texts and supporting innovative state reading initiatives for parents and children. Toward the end of the school year, NEH published its first Summertime Favorites reading list. Selections were based on an informal survey of sixty public and private schools around the country. Every book had been published before 1960 and so had stood the test of at least one generation. Kept in circulation through reprinting and republication on the NEH website, Summertime Favorites for K-8 readers proved enormously popular.

From then on, the list was updated occasionally, but after more than two decades a great many new and beloved books have been published. NEH enlisted the help of the American Library Association to reconsider all the selections. Building on the 1988 list, our goal was to recommend children's books that met the standard of "lasting value." NEH staff members read every proposed title and strove to come up with a reading list, not just for the summer, but for a lifetime. The Endowment hopes that this effort, which will grow and evolve over time, has produced a selection of books kids will save to read to their own kids in the future. We welcome your thoughts and suggestions. Have we left off essential books? Are there enough that appeal to both girls and boys? Are some works no longer classic but just old? Please send your comments to We cannot promise to reply to each query or to agree with all your suggestions, but we will take every one seriously.

For college bound students, please access EDSITEment’s recommended summer reading list.

For a list of children's nonfiction, check out our new Nonfiction Booklist.

The entire Summertime Favorites list appears below. You can also view the list by age group:


Recommended for K-3, either for reading by children or for reading to them.

Aardema, Verna and Leo & Diane Dillon Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale
Aesop Aesop’s Fables
Allard, Harry and James Marshall Miss Nelson Is Missing!
Atwater, Richard and Florence Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Barrows, Annie and Sophie Blackall Ivy + Bean
Becker, Bonny and
Kady MacDonald Denton
A Visitor for Bear
Bemelmans, Ludwig Madeline
Blume, Judy Freckle Juice
Brown, Marcia Stone Soup
Brunhoff, Jean de The Story of Babar, The Little Elephant
Burton, Virginia Lee Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Cameron, Ann and Ann Strugnell The Stories Julian Tells
Cleary, Beverly The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Cronin, Doreen and Harry Bliss Diary of a Worm
DePaola, Tomie Strega Nona
Dorros, Arthur and Elisa Kleven Abuela
Duvoisin, Roger Petunia
Estes, Eleanor and Louis Slobodkin The Hundred Dresses
Freeman, Don Corduroy
Gag, Wanda Millions of Cats
Gannett, Ruth Stiles and
Ruth Chrisman Gannett
My Father’s Dragon
Garza, Carmen Lomas and
Harriet Rohmer
In My Family / En Mi Familia
Grahame, Kenneth and
Michael Hague
The Reluctant Dragon
Grimes, Nikki and Javaka Steptoe A Pocketful of Poems
Guest, Elissa Haden and Christine Davenier Iris and Walter
Hamilton, Virginia and
Leo & Diane Dillon
The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales
Harper, Charise Mericle Just Grace
Henkes, Kevin Chrysanthemum
Hoban, Russell and Garth Williams Bedtime for Frances
Hodges, Margaret and Trina Schart Hyman Saint George and the Dragon
Hoff, Syd Danny and the Dinosaur
Hoffman, Mary and Caroline Binch Amazing Grace
Howe, James and Marie-Louise Gay Houndsley and Catina
Johnson, Crockett Harold and the Purple Crayon
Keats, Ezra Jack The Snowy Day
Kraus, Robert and Jose Aruego Leo the Late Bloomer
Krauss, Ruth and Crockett Johnson The Carrot Seed
Kvasnosky, Laura McGee Zelda and Ivy: The Runaways
Le Guin, Ursula K. and S.D. Schindler Catwings
Leaf, Munro and Robert Lawson The Story of Ferdinand
Lear, Edward A Book of Nonsense
Lin, Grace The Year of the Dog
Lionni, Leo Frederick
Lobel, Arnold Frog and Toad are Friends
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth Paul Revere’s Ride
Lopshire, Robert Put Me in the Zoo
Marshall, James George and Martha
McDermott, Gerald Anansi the Spider
Milne, A.A. and Ernest H. Shepard Winnie-the-Pooh
Minarik, Else Holmelund and
Maurice Sendak
Little Bear
Munsch, Robert and
Michael Martchenko
The Paper Bag Princess
Myers, Christopher Wings
Noble, Trinka Hakes and
Steven Kellogg
The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash
Numeroff, Laura Joffe and
Felicia Bond
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
Parish, Peggy and Fritz Siebel Amelia Bedelia
Pennypacker, Sara and
Marla Frazee
Piper, Watty and Loren Long The Little Engine that Could
Portis, Antoinette Not a Box
Potter, Beatrix The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Prelutsky, Jack and Marc Brown Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young
Rey, H.A. Curious George
Ringgold, Faith Tar Beach
Rylant, Cynthia and
Suçie Stevenson
Henry and Mudge
Say, Allen Grandfather’s Journey
Scieszka, Jon and Lane Smith The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
Sendak, Maurice Where the Wild Things Are
Seuss, Dr. Green Eggs and Ham
Sharmat, Marjorie Weinman
and Marc Simont
Nate the Great
Silverman, Erica and Betsy Lewin Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa
Silverstein, Shel Where the Sidewalk Ends
Slobodkina, Esphyr Caps for Sale
Smith, Jeff Little Mouse Gets Ready
Steig, William Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
Steptoe, John Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale
Stevenson, Robert Louis A Child’s Garden of Verses
Thurber, James and Louis Slobodkin Many Moons
Udry, Janice May and Marc Simont A Tree is Nice
Ungerer, Tomi Crictor
Van Allsburg, Chris The Garden of Abdul Gasazi
Viorst, Judith and Ray Cruz Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
White, E.B. and Garth Williams Charlotte’s Web
Willems, Mo There is a Bird on Your Head!
Wood, Audrey and Don Wood The Napping House
Yashima, Taro Crow Boy
Yee, Wong Herbert Mouse and Mole: A Winter Wonderland
Zion, Gene and
Margaret Bloy Graham
Harry the Dirty Dog
Zolotow, Charlotte and
William Pène Du Bois
William’s Doll


Alexander, Lloyd Prydain Chronicles
Andersen, Hans Christian Fairy Tales
Avi and Brian Floca Poppy
Babbitt, Natalie Tuck Everlasting
Baum, L. Frank The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Birdsall, Jeanne The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
Boston, L.M. The Children of Green Knowe
Brooks, Gwendolyn and Faith Ringgold Bronzeville Boys and Girls
Burnett, Frances Hodgson The Secret Garden
Byars, Betsy The Summer of the Swans
Carroll, Lewis Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Clements, Andrew and
Brian Selznick
Collins, Suzanne Gregor the Overlander
Collodi, Carlo The Adventures of Pinocchio
Cooper, Susan The Dark is Rising
Creech, Sharon Bloomability
Curtis, Christopher Paul Bud, Not Buddy
D’Aulaire, Ingri and
Edgar Parin D’Aulaire
D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths
Dahl, Roald and Quentin Blake Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
DiCamillo, Kate Because of Winn-Dixie
Dowd, Siobhan The London Eye Mystery
DuPrau, Jeanne The City of Ember
Eager, Edward Half Magic
Erdrich, Louise The Birchbark House
Estes, Eleanor The Moffats
Farley, Walter The Black Stallion
Fitzhugh, Louise Harriet the Spy
Freedman, Russell Lincoln, A Photobiography
Gaiman, Neil Coraline
Gantos, Jack Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key
George, Jean Craighead My Side of the Mountain
Grahame, Kenneth The Wind in the Willows
Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Henry, Marguerite Misty of Chincoteague
Hiaasen, Carl Hoot
Hoberman, Mary Ann and
Wendy Anderson Halperin
Strawberry Hill
Howe, Deborah & James
and Alan Daniel
Hughes, Langston The Dream Keeper and Other Poems
Ibbotson, Eva and Sue Porter Secret of Platform 13
Irving, Washington Rip Van Winkle
Jansson, Tove Moominland Midwinter
Juster, Norton and Jules Feiffer The Phantom Tollbooth
Kipling, Rudyard The Jungle Book
Konigsburg, E.L. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Lamb, Charles and Mary Tales from Shakespeare
Lawson, Robert Ben and Me
Lenski, Lois Strawberry Girl
Lewis, C.S. The Chronicles of Narnia
Lin, Grace Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Lindgren, Astrid Pippi Longstocking
Lofting, Hugh Doctor Dolittle
Lovelace, Maud Hart Betsy-Tacy
Lowry, Lois Number the Stars
Macaulay, David Castle
MacLachlan, Patricia Sarah, Plain and Tall
Mathis, Sharon Bell and
Leo & Diane Dillon
The Hundred Penny Box
McCloskey, Robert Homer Price
Merrill, Jean The Pushcart War
Montgomery, L.M. Anne of Green Gables
Murphy, Jim The Great Fire
Nesbit, E. The Railway Children
North, Sterling Rascal
Norton, Mary The Borrowers
O’Brien, Robert C. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Park, Linda Sue When My Name was Keoko
Paterson, Katherine Bridge to Terabithia
Pearce, Philippa Tom’s Midnight Garden
Perrault, Charles The Complete Fairy Tales
Reiss, Johanna The Upstairs Room
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Ryan, Pam Munoz Esperanza Rising
Sachar, Louis Holes
Selznick, Brian The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sewell, Anna Black Beauty
Sharp, Margery The Rescuers
Sperry, Armstrong Call It Courage
Spyri, Johanna Heidi
Stewart, Trenton Lee and
Carson Ellis
The Mysterious Benedict Society
Sutcliff, Rosemary The Wanderings of Odysseus
Taylor, Sydney and Helen John All-of-a-Kind Family
Travers, P.L. Mary Poppins
Wilder, Laura Ingalls and
Garth Williams
Little House on the Prairie
Woodson, Jacqueline Locomotion
Wyss, Johann Swiss Family Robinson


Alcott, Louisa May Little Women
Almond, David Skellig
Bagnold, Enid National Velvet
Bradbury, Ray Fahrenheit 451
Cleaver, Vera and Bill Cleaver Where the Lilies Bloom
Cooper, James Fenimore The Last of the Mohicans
Defoe, Daniel Robinson Crusoe
Douglass, Frederick The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Dumas, Alexander The Count of Monte Cristo
Eckert, Allan W. Incident at Hawk’s Hill
Engdahl, Sylvia Enchantress from the Stars
Forester, C.S. The Horatio Hornblower Series
Frank, Anne The Diary of a Young Girl
Frost, Robert Poems
George, Jean Craighead Julie of the Wolves
Hamilton, Virginia M.C. Higgins, the Great
Hautzig, Esther The Endless Steppe
Hilton, James Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Hinton, S.E. The Outsiders
Hoose, Phillip Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
Hugo, Victor The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hunt, Irene Across Five Aprils
Hunter, Mollie A Stranger Came Ashore
Irving, Washington The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Johnson, Angela Heaven
Keith, Harold Rifles for Watie
Keller, Helen The Story of My Life
Korman, Gordon No More Dead Dogs
LaFleur, Suzanne Love, Aubrey
Le Guin, Ursula K. A Wizard of Earthsea
L’Engle, Madeleine A Wrinkle in Time
Lester, Julius and Tom Feelings To Be a Slave
London, Jack Call of the Wild
Malory, Sir Thomas Le Morte d’Arthur
McCaffrey, Anne Dragonsong
O’Dell, Scott Island of the Blue Dolphins
Oppel, Kenneth Airborn
Paterson, Katherine Jacob I Have Loved
Paulsen, Gary and Drew Willis Hatchet
Peck, Richard A Long Way from Chicago
Peck, Robert Newton A Day No Pigs Would Die
Pratchett, Terry The Wee Free Men
Pyle, Howard The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan The Yearling
Rawls, Wilson Where the Red Fern Grows
Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de The Little Prince
Schaefer, Jack Shane
Schmidt, Gary D. The Wednesday Wars
Scott, Sir Walter Ivanhoe
Shelley, Mary Frankenstein
Smith, Betty A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Speare, Elizabeth George The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Steinbeck, John The Red Pony
Stevenson, Robert Louis Treasure Island
Taylor, Mildred D. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Tolan, Stephanie S. Surviving the Applewhites
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit
Twain, Mark TheAdventures of Tom Sawyer
Uchida, Yoshiko Journey to Topaz
Verne, Jules 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Webster, Jean Daddy-Long-Legs
Wells, H.G. The War of the Worlds
Wilder, Thornton The Bridge of San Luis Rey
Yep, Laurence Dragonwings
Zindel, Paul The Pigman
Zusak, Markus The Book Thief
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Funding information

This list was developed in part by the Quicklists Consulting Committee of the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.