With the challenges the end of this school year has brought, many of us are having to put our summer travel plans on hold. Don’t let that set you back from journeying to all the destinations you had planned. It’s possible it could lead to a few more if you grab a good book! Plus, this way, you’ll have some change to spare. Here are our summer 2020 reading list suggestions for third through fifth grade!

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Podkin One-Ear by Kieran Larwood

Journey to the fantasy land of the five realms to meet Podkin One-Ear. The story, told by a traveling bard, is about a young rabbit and how he is thrust into an epic adventure to save his life and those of his family members. My favorite aspect of the book is the change that Podkin’s character undergoes as he faces challenges throughout the story. The lessons he learns are applicable to all who read it. He begins as a lazy, rude bunny, but transforms into a great warrior and legend.

Why does he have one ear, you may ask? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out!

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

It’s possible that summer road trips are your favorite type of travel. You enjoy seeing a little bit of many different places across this great nation of ours. If that’s the case, then you should read The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise.

Coyote and her dad, Rodeo, travel around the country in a school bus for five full years. Along the way they encounter a motley crew of folks who are each on their own adventure. When young Coyote learns that a beloved park in her home town is being demolish, she comes up with a sneaky plan to convince her dad to drive back to their home state of Washington.

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

If you are unsure of where to visit this summer, you might want to check out Echo. The setting changes from Germany to Pennsylvania and then to Southern California, following the stories of three musically inclined children.

It is a beautiful tale that begins as a fantasy telling of a prophesy and the importance of a harmonica. Then, it turns into a work of historical fiction that takes place during WWII.

I would highly recommend that you listen to the audio book! Because there is such a strong theme of music, there are musicians playing all of the pieces mentioned throughout the story. They talk about a number of famous composers and their works, so it is very exciting to hear the pieces as you are reading.

Read our more detailed review, including great questions for teaching opportunities throughout the story!

Wish by Barbara O’Connor

Enjoy the scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina by reading Wish. This story is about a young girl named Charlie who learns the hard lesson that what we often desire isn’t always what we need.

Catch our full review of this book in our Library!

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

This book will have you on a middle-of-the-night-road-trip traveling North from Florida to Georgia with Louisiana Elefante and her very strange grandmother. Granny is certain that it is the day of reckoning and they must not return to the small town of Louisiana’s best friends and the life she so enjoyed. As strange as she is, Granny is one of my favorite characters in this book. She brings a lot of humor to the frustrating situations that she creates for herself and her granddaughter.

Louisiana is unsettled by the fact that she does not have a place that feels like home. On some level, I think we can all relate to this unsettling feeling. What is it that gives us a feeling of home?

As the pair rest from their journey for a few days in Georgia, Louisiana makes friends with some unlikely folks around the hotel. She also learns some interesting details about herself and her past; details that help to shape her future and lead her home.

Kristy’s Great Idea (Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #1) by Raina Telgemeier

What better way to spend your summer than by earning a little extra money babysitting? If you were a fan of the Baby-Sitters Club (I still have quite a few of these around!) when you were younger, then you will love the graphic novel editions of the stories. Graphic novels are a great transition for younger readers who are moving from picture books to chapter books.

The first of the series is where Kristy gets her big idea for the business and incites her friends to join in on the adventure. Of course, there is a little drama and fun along the way.

Guts by Raina Telgemeier

This is the third, and newest graphic novel book, in the Smile Series by Raina Telgemeier. Raina is writing a memoir about important moments from her childhood. My students adore this series and I often hear them recommend it to one another.

In this book, she discusses some tough topics in a very approachable way. Worries about school, changing friendships, and puberty are all addressed. These concerns trigger stomach issues for Raina and she finds herself working through these problems with a counselor. I appreciate that the troubles aren’t swept aside or even normalized since she is just a young girl. I think it helps young readers to know their worries are valid and it’s possible to work through them.

The Deceivers (The Greystone Secrets #2) by Margaret Peterson Haddix

You can travel to another dimension in this exciting sci-fi novel by Margaret Peterson Haddix. It was just released in the beginning of April. The Greystone kids and their friend Natalie work together to find their moms who are seemingly lost in this new world.

This is one that I have personally added to my summer reading list because I am a big fan of the author’s other works. She wrote Among the Hidden. I think this will be a fun adventure worth checking out!

Based on the author’s interviews that I have followed (she’s a lot of fun on Facebook!) , there is a strong message of the importance of supporting your family members and an emphasis on working together in order to be successful. I appreciate that the kids, although working through their own character flaws, respect and support one another.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Young Readers Edition) by William Kamkwamba

Travel to the country of Malawi in Africa by snagging this true story told by an aspiring young scientist. Children will have the opportunity to learn about a culture that is likely very different from their own.

I had the privilege of reading The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind with my students the last two years. This was the first book I read aloud that kids constantly went home and searched for information to learn more about it. They searched Google Earth to find William’s home in Wimbe and they watched his Ted Talks. One of them also discovered that it was on Netflix. With that knowledge, their enthusiasm for the story sky rocketed. They were so excited to go home and watch it with their families. They sent me pictures of themselves sitting with popcorn on the couch while watching the film. It’s extremely powerful.

I would recommend this for more advanced readers, and I would also encourage you to read it with your child to ensure their comprehension of the story. William gets pretty detailed in his explanations of his experiments and it’s easy to get lost in the information. However, the exposure to the science and the mistakes he is able to learn from along the way are great for teaching a growth mindset!

Also, I would caution you that there is one scene where William was forced to abandon his starving dog because he could no longer afford to feed it; he could barely feed himself. I have cried in front of my students both times that I read this aloud. It’s important for kids to see that books create emotions, so I wouldn’t shy away from this unless you feel your child just can’t handle it yet.

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition) by Malala Yousafzai    

I highly recommend that you add Pakistan to your travels by reading about women’s education activist and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai. In this true story, fifteen year-old Malala humbly shares about the courage she has to speak up for women’s rights. In response, the Taliban find her and shoot her at point blank range in the head.

She spends time recovering in Europe and then attends college there in Oxford. She has traveled the world sharing her story and her passion for all women to receive an education.

The reality of this book may be too dark for many children. Although, Malala’s description of the shooting is very matter-of-fact because she does not remember the experience at all. There is very little gory detail. This book may serve as a good introduction to this culture and the beauty found in many of the caring people here.

I hope you have found a few books to add to your summer 2020 reading list. Wherever your reading takes you, I hope you have a fantastic adventure.

We also have recommendations for your younger kids, too:

Board Books (Baby – Age 4)
Primary Grades (Kindergarten – 2nd)