Hidden Shelf
June 3, 2020

Summer 2020 Reading List: Children’s Books

15 min read

Summer 2020 Reading List: Children’s Books

From picture books to middle-grade chapter books, roughly ages 2-8


We’ve been reading a lot of the same books over and over these last couple of months.  So I was really excited to start thinking about what books I would add to a summer reading list, to freshen up our reading routine. With more libraries opening up with limited services, curbside hold pick ups, and even some libraries offering deliveries, I am looking forward to checking out more and more books! One of the places I go when I am seeking out new books to read is the Black Children’s Books and Author’s webpage. One of the things I love about this site is that each month it lists new releases that will be coming out that month. Some of the books in the list came from that site, and some of them are just books I have heard about recently that I can’t wait to check out! 

My “to be read list” is a mile long, and I am constantly adding more books to it than I can get through, but there’s just such great stuff out there, and more coming out all the time! 

Here’s what I am starting with for my “to be read list, for kids” I am sure I will be adding to this as we roll through summer.


It’s Not My Fault, Jory John

From the author of the Bad Seed, and the Good Egg (both books my kids love), is a clever story with a helpful message. With the kids home, and bored, and spending A LOT of time together, there tends to also be more fighting and blaming than usual. It’s Not My Fault uses humor to teach accepting responsibility. And surely, my kids are going to be more apt to listen to this message from a silly, fun book, than me. I can not get this book in my hands (and my kids’ ears) fast enough!

I Promise, Lebron James

We are a basketball loving family. Our team might be the Portland Trail Blazers, but I am rooting for Lebron James and his I Promise school and book! Bright illustrations, rhyming text, and inspiring goals for kids to learn about how the promises they make can have a great impact on their future, and the future of their community.

Magnificent Makers Series, Theanne Griffith

A middle grade chapter book, and a modern take on the Magic School Bus. Science, facts, adventure, friendship, feelings, acceptance, riddles, courage, jealousy, STEM. These chapter books roll together real life issues for kids, fun engaging adventure, and learning about science. AND that is not all, each chapter book also includes two science activities to do at home! There are a lot of great books on this list, but I think I am most excited about this one.

When Stars are Scattered, Omar Mohamed and Victoria Jamieson 

I am also really excited about this book! A graphic novel about two brothers who have spent most of their lives in a refugee camp in Kenya. Omar gets the opportunity to go to school — but going to school would mean leaving his nonverbal brother, the only family member he has left, every day. This book gives a glimpse into the everyday life of kids living in a refugee camp, the bond of brothers and family, humor and hope — all presented in an interesting, accessible graphic novel.


Ways to Make Sunshine, Renee Watson

Award Winning author, Rene Watson, brings this fun middle grade chapter book series that has the makings of a modern day, diverse Ramona The Brave. We recently read Ramona and Pest, and Henry and Ribsey. My seven-year-old loved reading these stories, and I loved these stories as a kid. But, I am desperate for a book that contains silliness and humor, day to day adventures, strong female characters, and that ALSO is more relatable to current day with more diversity. I can’t wait to get started on this series!

Jiemba and Friends, Scott and Mariah Ziemer

Books that come with bonus material are a quarantine parent’s dream! And, this book checks that box. Coloring pages, word searches, animal facts, and art lessons with the illustrator all accompany this story that cleverly reveals everyone needs a friend! Written and illustrated by a debut father-daughter team.


Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao, Kat Zhang

I love children’s books that introduce new food items and give us a chance to expand our minds and our palates! This book has simple sentences that my seven-year-old will easily be able to read to his younger brother. It’s a story with humor, determination, family, and of course, FOOD!


My Ocean is Blue, Darren Lebeuf

When you can’t visit the ocean, this book might provide the next best thing. Written in short descriptive sentences, “my ocean is…” Once again, I love that this is a book that my kids can read independently together. This book can be used to talk about descriptive language, and provide examples for how to improve our own stories, journal entries, and quarantine/summer school work! Oh and there is also My Forest is Green!

Alice in Wonderland: A Puzzle Adventure, illustrated by Aleksandra Artymowska

Talk about a book that will keep your kids entertained for a while! Riddling through the pages, cracking clues, seek and find objects, and mazes, all the while referencing the classic Lewis Carroll tale.


Bob Ross and Peapod the Squirrel Robb Pearlman, illustrations by Bob Ross and Jason Kayser
We could all benefit from choosing to embrace “happy little accidents!” My son loves to draw and create, but he often gets down on himself when he can’t produce the image he has in his head, or he makes mistakes. What better teacher than Bob Ross to assure him that “accidents” in creativity don’t need to be a problem, but can be part of the masterpiece. I am hoping this book can provide a fun introduction to Bob Ross, and I can transition them to using their screen time to watch the soothing presence of Bob Ross. I think we could all use more of that in our life right now!

Written by Rachel Wickstrom 

Rachel Wickstrom coordinates marketing at Hidden Shelf Publishing house. She’s an avid reader, master party-planner, craft enthusiast, a mom to two young boys with wildly long hair, and is married to a hospital chaplain. As an Oregon native, Rachel’s childhood memories are scented with juniper berries and the crisp mountain air of Central Oregon. She currently lives in Boise, Idaho where her days are scented with lukewarm coffee, and spilled snacks.

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