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This season, make sure this is the only “summer slide” your kids experience:

GIF of person sliding down a water slide

Summer is here, which means it’s the perfect time for all of us to get in a bit of adventure, discovery, and relaxation. But did you know that the summer season is also a time when students can experience learning loss?

This learning loss—nicknamed the “summer slide”—happens when children do not complete or engage in educational activities during summer months. And this loss can be pretty tough on young learners: in fact, research shows that up to two months of reading skills could be lost due to the lack of educational activity during the season.

Fortunately, daily reading can help stop the summer slide! Children who read every day during summertime strengthen their vocabulary, language fluency, and reading comprehension skills while also building up their knowledge about the world in which they live. And considering that literacy—or the ability to read, write, speak, and listen effectively—is an essential skill for everyday life, children who dedicate at least two to three hours per week reading and practicing literacy skills during summer months are building great habits that can lead to later achievement in school and beyond.

Overhead view of young child reading a book on its own

Let young learners read aloud to you. You might also want to try reading a page to your child and then asking them to read the same page back to you. (Photo by Lina Kivaka. Original can be found on Pexels.)

As we approach the halfway mark for the summer season, now is as good a time as any for City families to encourage their children to dive into new books! Below, you will find lists of books organized by grade range (3-K/Pre-K, Grades K–2, Grades 3–5, Grades 6–8, and High School) pulled from our official 2023 Guide to Summer Reading (opens PDF). We encourage you to check out these titles by borrowing them from the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library, or the Queens Public Library—and don’t forget to get library cards for the kids if they don’t already have them!

Summer Reading Suggestions for Young Readers

Grades 3-K/Pre-K

  • Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Peña; art by Christian Robinson
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
  • Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors by Hena Khan; art by Mehrdokht Amini
  • I Am Enough by Grace Byers; art by Keturah A. Bobo
  • Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña; art by Christian Robinson
  • Llama Llama Red Pajama by Ann Dewdney
  • Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai; art by Kerascöet
  • Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin; art by James Dean
  • We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell; art by Frane Lessac
  • You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith; art by Danielle Daniel
Family of five sitting on a sofa together reading a story, with two young children mouths agape in wonder.

Set up comfortable spaces in your home for reading, free from distractions like TVs, videogames, and phones. (Photo by cottonbro studio. Original can be found on Pexels.)

Grades K–2

  • A Gift from Abuela by Cecilia Ruiz
  • All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle; art by Mark Curato
  • Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus; art by Kadir Nelson
  • Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel
  • Monsoon Afternoon by Kashmira Sheth; art by Yoshiko Jaeggi
  • Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe
  • Sugar Hill: Harlem’s Historic Neighborhood by Carole Boston Weatherford; art by R. Gregory Christie
  • The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander; art by Kadir Nelson
  • Under My Hijab by Hena Khan; art by Aaliya Jaleel
  • Where Are You From? by Yamile Saied Méndez; art by Jaime Kim

Grades 3–5

  • Alvin Ho: Allergic to the Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace, & Other Tourist Attractions by Lenore Look; art by LeUyen Pham
  • Ana Maria Reyes Does Not Live in a Castle by Hilda Eunice Burgos
  • Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
  • Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
  • Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah
  • Don’t Feed the Geckos! by Karen English; art by Laura Freeman
  • Escape from Syria by Samya Kullab; art by Jackie Roche
  • Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome
  • Grand Canyon by Jason Chin
  • Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith; art by Jim Madsen
  • Lark and the Dessert Disaster by Natasha Deen; art by Marcus Cutler
  • Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation by Edwidge Danticat
  • Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
  • Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present by Jamia Wilson; art by Andrea Pippins
  • When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin
Older woman sitting on a bed in between two young children, one boy and one girl, and reading a book together.

Practice the sounds in words with your child. Young children often do not hear all the sounds that make up words, so use rhyming words to help, like: cat/hat/mat/bat. Sound words out, too: “Where’s your book? B-b-b-booo-kk-k.” (Photo by Mikhail Nilov. Original can be found on Pexels.)

Grades 6–8

  • Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
  • Booked by Kwame Alexander
  • Cat Girl’s Day Off by Kimberly Pauley
  • Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
  • Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan
  • Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton; art by Liz Amini-Holmes
  • For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama J. Lockington
  • Gaawin Gindaaswin Ndaawsi (I Am Not a Number) by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer
  • In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III
  • Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar
  • Maximilian and the Lucha Libre Club: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller by Xavier Garza
  • Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
  • Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson
  • Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
  • The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor

High School Students (Grades 9–12)

  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
  • The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman
  • Dear Martin by Nic Stone
  • Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle
  • Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
  • House of Purple Cedar by Tim Tingle
  • Lights, Camera, Disaster by Erin Dionne
  • On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
  • Pride: A Pride and Prejudice Remix by Ibi Zoboi
  • Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
  • The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
  • Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
Open book sitting on a wooden bridge, pages flapping

Beginning this September, our schools will be launching a new literacy initiative called NYC Reads, which will phase in new phonics-based curricula that is proven to help students become strong readers. Learn more about this new initiative on our “Literacy” webpage. (Photo by Lauren Finkel. Original can be found on Flickr.)

Interested in other book suggestions? Check out:

Finally, did you know that City families have free access to hundreds of eBooks and audiobooks through the Citywide Digital Library on Sora? All summer long, NYC families with children of all ages can access titles available on Sora, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, on any web-enabled device. To log into Sora, students should use their DOE Student Account usernames and passwords. For more information about Sora, visit the reading app’s official webpage.

There is a whole world of books out there waiting for each of you; we hope you use the rest of this summer to discover them! On behalf of NYC Public Schools, we wish you and your family a great reading season!

Jerry reading a book while sitting on a pool chair on a pool deck

Banner photo by Ron Lach. Used under Creative Commons license. Original can be found on Pexels.

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