Kick Off Summer with New Books for Kids and Teens

Whale spotting, dragon slaying, and an alien invasion should perk up lazy sunny days.
Regan McMahon Senior Editor, Books | Mom of two Categories: Reading, We Recommend
Senior Editor, Books | Mom of two

Finding the right book for your kid can be a challenge. But if you guess right and keep new ones coming, you may be on your way to raising a lifelong reader.

Check out our Essential Books for Kids and Teens guide to find more than 150 of our perennial favorites. Plus, every month, we highlight a few books for different ages -- some exceptional titles that could be the perfect thing to perk your kid's interest, get your reader hooked on a new author, or rediscover an old favorite. Here are our picks for June:

  • For kids 4 to 7, there's If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead -- the team that created last year's New York Times Best-seller And Then It's Spring. The two books have a similar pastel palette, a soft, lyrical tone, and lots of waiting. In the duo's first book, a little boy and his dog waited for the seeds he planted to grow. Here, a different boy and dog wait to spot a whale as the text warns of distractions on the horizon -- birds, boats, clouds, flags -- and sweet-smelling roses and a bug nearby. Patience is rewarded in this quiet adventure that celebrates imagination and observation.
  • For readers 8 to 12, check out Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell, an exciting, fast-moving tale set in medieval Germany, with dragons, magical horses, brave teens, and a 13-year-old princess who's running from an evil knight who wants to kill her. The thrilling plot, appealing characters -- including strong female protagonists -- and engaging presentation of the Middle Ages will make many young readers want to learn more about the period's history and legends.
  • For teens 13 to 17, the book everyone's talking about is Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave, an emotionally intense science-fiction adventure set in the aftermath of an alien invasion of Earth that has killed billions. All that keeps protagonist Cassie Connors going is her promise to her younger brother, and she'll do almost anything to be reunited with him. After she's grievously wounded, she's nursed back to health by a mysterious stranger who seems to be keeping secrets from her. Readers will find echoes of The Hunger Games and Ender's Game, but The 5th Wave displays plenty of originality. It's a nail-biter from beginning to end.

For more suggestions, check out our "top picks" lists, including Books Like The Hunger Games and our 50-title list of Summer Reading for Kids.

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About Regan McMahon

Regan has been reviewing children's books for more than a decade. A journalist and former book editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, she cites as one of her toughest assignments having to read and review the 784-page... Read more

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