Now, more than ever, is a great time to discover (or rediscover) the joy of reading. Whether you and your kids are looking for ways to fill extra hours at home, find some balance vs. screen time, or simply escape for a little while to an alternate reality (aren’t we all!) – a good book can deliver on all those things. Great reading requires great books. To help provide recommendations for our Summer Reading List, we asked our KiwiCo Editorial Team for their favorite books by age. Our editors review hundreds of books each season to handpick selections to pair with our monthly crates, which we send as part of our Deluxe subscription. (PSA: you can upgrade your subscription – for any line except Maker and Eureka – and get a book delivered every month selected to complement that month’s crate theme!). Since our crates are designed to spark curiosity, learning and innovation, we love books that do the same.
For little ones, we love beautifully illustrated board books for kids to chew on. Have a reluctant reader? We’ve found that elementary age kids LOVE nonfiction and graphic novels. Does your kid love hands-on activities? Keep your kids busy with crafty DIY workbooks all summer long.
Below is a list of recommended books curated by our editors. We’ve organized the list by age group but some of the ages overlap. Each age group includes STEM and STEAM learning titles and all of them are seriously fun!
When you upgrade your KiwiCo subscription to Deluxe, we’ll choose a unique title to extend the fun and learning of each month’s crate topic! Most importantly the age level of the book corresponds to your child’s literacy to help expand your child’s reading skills.
Books to Read to Babies (0 to 24 months)
Being read to in early childhood helps babies develop language and listening skills and stimulates their imagination. Our editors recommend durable boardbooks that babies can chew on–both mentally and literally–with illustrations and ideas that engage and delight parents and babies alike.
- My First Little Library by Alain Gree. Created with adorable illustrations, this little library includes essential volumes for your baby’s first books: My First Book of Colors, My First Book of Animals, My First Book of Numbers and My First Book of Letters. The back cover of each book doubles up as a puzzle!
- Play? by Linda Olafsdottir. Phil and his buddy, Puff, a stuffed puffin, do everything together. They hide and jump and crawl and growl! This sweet and spare picture book captures the delicate negotiations and simple joys of play.
- Unseen Worlds by Helene Rajack. Discover a hidden universe of microscopic monsters right before your eyes. Unfold each page to reveal stunningly detailed illustrations bursting with jelly-like amoebae, predatory centipedes, ravenous mosquitos and more mites than you could imagine.
- Music is… by Brandon Stosuy. From music writer Brandon Stosuy comes an entertaining new board book that introduces the many moods, styles, and senses of music to the youngest audiophiles by transforming our sense of hearing into a visual experience. Music is for everyone, and music is for you!
- Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. A box is just a box… unless it’s not a box. From mountain to rocket ship, a small rabbit shows that a box will go as far as the imagination allows. We love this book both for its simplicity in illustration and text and for the way it fosters creativity and imagination.
Books for Kids 2 to 4 Years Old
Filled with beautiful illustrations and engaging themes about the world around us, we look for books that spark meaningful conversations between young kids and their parents. Picture books can help young children transition to independent reading.
- Tiger Walk by Dianne Hofmeyr. A tiger and a little boy embark on a magical and life-changing adventure, as the tiger helps the boy to overcome some of his biggest fears.
- Before you were Born by Deborah Kerbel. This touching and evocative story about welcoming a baby to the world is a love letter to young children, tenderly expressing the joy and promise a new life brings.
- Tiny T Rex by Jay Fleck. This little dinosaur has a HUGE problem. His friend Pointy needs cheering up and only a hug will do. But with his short stature and teeny T. Rex arms, is a hug impossible? This book teaches an important lesson about overcoming obstacles.
- Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester. Rodney is a rat who can’t say his “r’s” and the rodents tease him mercilessly. But his bravery against a bully makes him the hero of this book! Children will cheer as Rodney triumphs over all!
Books for Kids 5 to 8 Years Old
We recommend books will help kids expand their independent reading ability while learning about STEM-related topics through storytelling, nonfiction, biographies, non-fiction, and more. These books are meant to inspire curiosity, creativity, and learning about the world.
- Acrobat Family by Anouk Boisrobert. Up and up they go, watch the family of acrobats balance on top of each other to create a magnificent show! This charming, collectible pop-up teaches valuable counting skills and the joys of working as a team.
- Sun and Moon by Lindsey Yankey. Sun and Moon have always held their own places in the sky, but after a lifetime of darkness Moon wants to trade. Sun agrees, but only if first Moon takes a careful look at his night, before making his final decision. Beautifully illustrated with mixed-media art, this tale is a story of discovery and appreciation.
- On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne. This beautifully illustrated book uses Einstein’s story to connect science and creativity.
- Tree Lady by H. Josheph Hopkins. This wonderful biography of an activist scientist will inspire kids to become inventors.
- Find the Constellations by H.A. Rey. From the beloved author of the Curious George series; this is an accessible guide to stargazing.
- The Quest to Digest by Mary Corcoran. This playful picture book introduces readers to the science of the human digestive system. Humorous text and colorful illustrations follow an apple’s journey at each stage of digestion through the human body.
- Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry. In this funny story about kindness and friendship, Stick and Stone join George and Martha, Frog and Toad, and Elephant and Piggie, as some of the best friend duos in children’s literature. We loved the illustrations in this book and how the story highlights the meaning of friendship.
Books for Kids 9+
These middle-grade readers, graphic novels, and STEM project books inspire creativity, delve into history, and offer creative activities for kids to make and do.
- The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. This New York Times bestseller and Newbery Medal–winning book is vividly brought to life as a graphic novel with stunning illustrations by Dawud Anyabwile.
- Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. Inspired by the author’s childhood experience as a refugee—fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama—this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child’s-eye view of family and immigration.
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madelein L’Engle. Two kids embark on a journey through space and time, from universe to universe, to save the world. The novel offers a glimpse into the war between light and darkness, and goodness and evil, as the young characters mature into adolescents on their journey.
- Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang. This series introduces computer science concepts in graphic novel style and is very cool, especially for reluctant readers.
- The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid by Rosemary Mosco and Dylan Thuras. Full of illustrations and engaging facts, this book will fully immerse kids in countries around the world.
- The Beginner Art Book for Kids: Learn How to Draw, Paint, Sculpt, and More! By Daniel Freeman and Korri Freeman. This creative compendium is the latest and greatest in art books for kids, packed full of imaginative art projects and inspiration for budding artists.
- Recycled Science: Bring Out Your Science Genius with Soda Bottles, Potato Chip Bags, and More Unexpected Stuff by Tammy Laura Lyn Enz and Jodi Lyn Wheeler-Toppen. For the creative who is stuck at home, this book includes seriously scrappy projects that kids can make using what they already have in their house.
Are you interested in STEM, STEAM and receiving hands-on projects each month? Check out all of our crates at KiwiCo!