Summer Reads 2020 for Kids, Young Adults and Adults

July 13, 2020

By Amber McClarin, IEA Enrollment Coordinator 

Summer plans may not be shaping up the way we had imagined, but that doesn’t mean that traveling to new and exciting places are off the table. There are no limits to where our minds can take us. No matter where we find ourselves, there is always an opportunity for adventures and self-discovery right at the tip of our fingers!


Summer magic is manifested in books! Let the adventure begin.


Elementary School


Summer by Cao Wenxuan, illustrated by Yu Rong

Readers find out how some of their favorite animals stay cool during the summertime in this whimsical, poetic book. The animals fight until they are inspired by an act of love to offer shade to one another. Through lyrical text from Hans Christian Andersen Award winner Cao Wenxuan, the story comes alive with bright, delicate art from award-winning illustrator Yu Rong.


Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan

New York Times best-selling author Pam Muñoz Ryan is an American writer for children and young adults, particularly in the multicultural genre. In this magical story, Maximiliano Córdoba goes on a dangerous journey armed only with a compass, a mysterious stone rubbing, and legends about traveling mythical gatekeepers.


Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia, illustrated by Frank Morrison

When his beloved grandfather, the blues man Cool Papa Byrd, dies suddenly, Clayton’s anger and misplaced alliances get him into trouble. This story of family grief, reconciliation, and the power of music is set in New York City.


Mindy Kim Series By Lyla Lee illustrated by Doug Ho

Lyla Lee’s Mindy Kim series is a heartwarming, authentic look at an 8-year-old girl trying to navigate life in a new state where her Korean heritage makes her stand out., launched in January 2020 with books,  Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade and Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business.


Just in Case You Want to Fly by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Christian Robinson

What do you need for your next adventure? Explore this nurturing tale through colorful pictures and lyrical text. A joyful, inclusive cast of children fly, sing, and wish their way across the pages, with everything they could ever need-a cherry if you need a snack, and if you get itchy here’s a scratch on the back-to explore the world around them.


Middle School


Wink By Harrell Rob

A wrenching and hilarious story about embracing life’s weirdness and surviving an unthinkable diagnosis, based on the author’s own experience with a rare eye cancer. Twelve-year-old Ross Maloy just wants to be normal. Not to have a rare eye cancer, not to lose his hair, not to have to wear a weird hat or have a goopy eye full of ointment. Just normal. 


Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis, illustrated by the author

Cult graphic novelist Dylan Meconis offers a rich reimagining of history in this hybrid novel loosely based on the exile of Queen Elizabeth I by her sister, Queen Mary. As an added bonus Candlewick Press is offering a Drawing demo with Dylan, premiering July 24th .


The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

Runaway sisters Viji and Rukku end up living on the streets of Chennai, where they find a new family of friends who help them to survive by scavenging the city’s mountains of rubbish. Penguin Middle School hosts an Q&A with the Author for added context after reading the book.


The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

Coyote Sunrise and her dad travel the country in their school bus. Along the way, they meet new friends who help them see their world in a new way and heal from the tragedy that hit their family five years earlier.


High School


Aix Marks the Spot by S.E. Anderson

Jamie has been dreaming of this summer forever: of road trips and intensive art camps, of meeting cute boys with her best friend Jazz. What she didn’t count on was the car accident. Anderson recently took part in YA Thriller Con, an online two-day event to celebrate and talk about all thinks YA Thriller.


Swing By Kwame Alexander & Mary Rand Hess

Kwame Alexander might be more well known for The Crossover series but these New York Times bestselling authors team up to tell this lyrical story about hope, courage, and love that speaks to anyone who’s struggled to find their voice. And the surprise ending shines a spotlight on the issues related to our current social divide, challenging perspectives and inspiring everyone to make their voice heard.


CIRCE by Madeline Miller

A bold and subversive retelling of the Circe from Homer and the Odyssey. This goddess’s story, a #1 New York Times bestseller. This remarkable journey into mythology brings the ancient gods directly and viscerally into the present. Circe is a perfect mashup of elegant language, glorious storytelling, and exquisitely modern sensibilities. 


American Road Trip By Patrick Flores-Scott

With a strong, loving family, an incredibly loyal best friend, and a budding romance with the girl of his dreams, life shows promise for seventeen-year-old Teodoro “T” Avila. But he takes some hard hits the summer before his senior year when his nearly perfect brother Manny returns from a tour in Iraq with a devastating case of PTSD.




Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang (Chiang Feng-nan)
This is a perfect example of why science fiction now calls itself speculative fiction. No aliens, no space travel, no dystopias. Only nine mind-stretching tales based on technological or historical hypotheses. From an award-winning science fiction writer (whose short story “The Story of Your Life” was the basis for the Academy Award-nominated movie Arrival), the long-awaited new collection of stunningly original, humane, and already celebrated short stories


The Peanuts Papers: Writers and Cartoonists on Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and the Meaning of Life: A Library of America Special Publication By Andrew Blauner (Editor)

This collection offers a delightful range of commentaries, by authors from Umberto Eco to Maxine Hong Kingston, including analyses of Lucy’s incongruity as a psychiatrist and Snoopy’s triumphant narcissism, to a Jonathan Lethem parody of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.”


On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to the Art of Observation by Alexandra Horowitz

From the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Inside of a Dog. Walk as Horowitz did, in the company of observers, from a toddler to a typographer, a diagnostician to an urban designer, a doctor to a sound engineer, your walks will soon exemplify Proust’s observation,“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”


The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli

Any writer on physics who’s praised by novelist John Banville, naturalist Michael Pollan, and actor Benedict Cumberbatch, as well as his professional colleagues, must be exceptional—and Rovelli is. He uses analogy, witty diagrams, a sense of drama, and quotations from Horace, Shakespeare, Rilke, and the Grateful Dead to make his explanations of space-time, gravitational fields, and such, as Einstein said “as simple as possible, but no simpler.”


If you shop through IEA’s Amazon Smile link, Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase to IEA. Click here to shop through our Amazon Smile link. Let us know which books you will be reading this Summer in the comments below!