On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

Book your summer: 13 great picks for young readers

Share story

Summer reading: Kids' book picks
Summer reading: Kids' book picks
Courtesy of publishers

For Children's Book Week, we asked a bookseller and a librarian for their favorite books of the moment. Check out their recommendations, just in time for summer reading lists. 

The list runs from picture books to young adult novels. 

The recommendations come from Holly Weinkauf, owner of the Red Balloon Bookstore in St. Paul, and Lisa Von Drasek, curator of the Children's Literature Research Collections at the University of Minnesota libraries. 

And we got a young reader in on the mix, too: 11-year-old Bea shared her favorite reads.

Unless otherwise noted, the descriptions below come from the publishers.

Bookseller and librarian picks

"Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel" by Adam Rubin

Age 3 to 5

News alert! It has just been discovered that there are NO MORE TACOS left anywhere in the world. This is a huge problem because, as you know, dragons love tacos. If only there was a way for the dragons to travel back in time, to before tacos went extinct. Then they could grab lots of tacos and bring them back! It's the perfect plan, as long as there's no spicy salsa. You remember what happened last time...

Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel  Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel

"Poor Louie" by Tony Fucile

Age 3 to 7

Louie's life is great! A walk on the leash every morning, ice cream on Sundays, snuggling in bed at night with Mom and Dad. Even the play dates with Mom's friends — despite their little crawling creatures who pull Louie's ears — aren't all that bad. But then things get weird: cold food on the floor, no room in the bed, and lots of new stuff coming into the house in pairs — two small beds, two little sweaters, two seats in the stroller. Does that bode double trouble ahead, or could there be a happier surprise in store for Louie? With perfect visual pacing, Tony Fucile takes a familiar story and gives it a comic spin.

Poor Louie  Poor Louie

"Charlie & Mouse" by Laurel Snyder

Age 4 to 8

Four hilarious stories, two inventive brothers, one irresistible book! Join Charlie and Mouse as they talk to lumps, take the neighborhood to a party, sell some rocks, and invent the bedtime banana. With imagination and humor, Laurel Snyder and Emily Hughes paint a lively picture of brotherhood that children will relish in a format perfect for children not quite ready for chapter books.

Charlie & Mouse  Charlie & Mouse

"You Can't Be Too Careful!" by Roger Mello, translated by Daniel Hahn

Age 5 to 8

In "You Can't Be Too Careful!", Mello explores an idea he had as a child: that one small action can have marvelous consequences. Through wordplay, dreamlike images, and a playful lightness of touch, "You Can't Be Too Careful!" expresses serious questions about the importance of kindness and the dangers of greed.

You Can't Be Too Careful!  You Can't Be Too Careful!

"CatStronauts: Mission Moon" by Drew Brockington

Age 6 to 10

When the world is thrust into darkness due to a global energy shortage, the World's Best Scientist comes up with a bold plan to set up a solar power plant on the moon. But someone has to go up there to set it up, and that adventure falls to the CatStronauts, the best space cats on the planet. Meet the fearless commander Major Meowser, brave-but-hungry pilot Waffles, genius technician and inventor Blanket and quick-thinking science officer Pom Pom on their most important mission yet.  

CatStronauts: Mission Moon  CatStronauts: Mission Moon

"One Hundred Spaghetti Strings" by Jen Nails

Age 8 to 12

Since Steffy was little, she and her older sister, Nina, have lived with beloved Auntie Gina. But when Steffy and Nina's dad comes home to live with them, everything changes. So Steffy does what she does best: She cooks her way through the hardest year of her life. But sometimes her life feels like a kitchen-sink meal — too many ingredients that don't quite work. All Steffy wants is for her family to be whole again. Can her recipes help bring them back together?

One Hundred Spaghetti Strings  One Hundred Spaghetti Strings

"Real Friends" by Shannon Hale

Age 8 to 12

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen's #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top ... even if it means bullying others. Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group or out?

Real Friends  Real Friends

"See You in the Cosmos" by Jack Cheng

Age 10 to 14

Eleven-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan — named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he'll uncover — from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

See You in the Cosmo  See You in the Cosmo

"The Takedown" by Corrie Wang

Age 12 and up

Kyla Cheng doesn't expect you to like her. For the record, she doesn't need you to. On track to be valedictorian, she's president of her community club, a debate team champ, plus the yummy Mackenzie Rodriguez has firmly attached himself to her hip. She and her three high-powered best friends don't just own their senior year at their exclusive Park Slope, Brooklyn high school, they practically define the hated species Popular. Kyla's even managed to make it through high school completely unscathed. Until someone takes issue with this arrangement.

The Takedown  The Takedown

"American Street" by Ibi Zoboi

Age 14 and up

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie — a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola's mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit's west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

American Street  American Street

Kid's choice: An 11-year-old picks her favorite reads

"The Lost Property Office" by James R. Hannibal

"It's about a boy named Jack whose father went missing. Jack finds a place called the Lost Property Office where he meets a girl named Gwen who wants to help him find his father. I liked it because there's a lot of adventure and mystery. I would recommend this to people who like treasure hunt mysteries like 'Walls Within Walls' and 'Book Scavenger.'" – Bea

The Lost Property Office  The Lost Property Office

"Alex and Eliza: A Love Story" by Melissa de la Cruz

"It's about Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler's romance. It's historical fiction — they definitely involve real events. I liked it because it had a lot of detail. It told me stuff I didn't know; it gave more information about the ball where they met, the one they call Winter's Ball in 'Hamilton.' And it gave more information about Eliza, having to do with the Revolutionary War." – Bea

Alex and Eliza  Alex and Eliza

"Long May She Reign" by Rhiannon Thomas

"It's about a girl named Freya who is in 23rd place to get the throne to her country. But then there is a tragedy at the King's banquet and she becomes Queen. Then Freya is being hunted down by people who think she killed everyone else. It's interesting and there are big reveals that you couldn't have guessed were coming. Freya likes doing science experiments and inventing things, so I liked her." – Bea

Long May She Reign  Long May She Reign