Summer Reading: The Best Books for Your Kids

Summer must-reads from parenting contributor Ann Pleshette-Murphy.

June 24, 2010— -- Summer is here. So if your kids have some time on their hands, "Good Morning America" has a list of fun books to get teens and younger kids excited about reading. With these picks, your kids are sure to want to put their kicks up and enjoy.

These selections are divided into four categories -- dystopian/post-apocalyptic, magic and the supernatural, words and pictures, and kids on the job. And all are perfect for tweens and teens as they enjoy their summer vacations.

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There are several really popular series in this category, which is hot with teens in part because there's a video game quality to the settings and the action scenes, but the world they inhabit -- no matter how futuristic -- is still filled with familiar teen angst and drama.

'Mocking Jay,' by Suzanne Collins

This is the final book in the "Hunger Games" trilogy and it is going to be THE hot title this summer -- the first two volumes sold more than 2 million copies. Unfortunately, fans will have to wait until Aug. 24 to find out what happens to Katniss Everdeen, including the resolution of her love triangle.

'This World We Live In,' by Susan Beth Pfeffer

"This World We Live In" by Susan Beth Pfeffer is another engrossing, post-apocalyptic novel for teens -- this one (also the third in a series) takes place one year after a meteor has collided with the moon, dramatically altering Earth's climate. Think "The Road" in terms of intense portrayals of a family struggling to survive in a very hostile landscape -- but there's also a little romance and plenty of inspiring examples of self-sacrifice, bravery and love.

'The Gardener,' by S.A. Bodeen

Next up is "The Gardener," perfect choice for teens with a taste for sci-fi mysteries. Main character is a 15-year-old boy named Mason, who stumbles into a discovery that involves his single mom, his mysteriously absent dad, a strange beautiful girl named Laila, and most importantly, the ominous TroDyn Industries, a research facility in his tiny hometown.

Magic and the Supernatural

Our next category -- Magic and Supernatural, featuring vampires, angels, pixies -- is still huge.

'Sisters Red,' by Jackson Pearce

For teens addicted to vampire novels, "Sisters Red" features another sort of fanged predator -- werewolves. The book is cleverly based on the story of Little Red Riding Hood: The main character, Scarlett, who is scarred from a childhood battle with the werewolf who killed her grannie, wears a red cloak to attract Fenris, who look like hot guys on the outside, but become terrifying beasts when their lust for blood takes over. She's the vigilante, but her sister Rose is softer, gentler and in love with the boy next door. There is plenty of werewolf fighting and flesh-ripping to keep boys entertained and a romance for girls.

'The Red Pyramid,' by Rick Riordan

This is a great book for younger teens and tweens, especially fans of adventure stories like "Harry Potter." Riordan wrote the very popular "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series, so fans of those books are going to love this first in his new series, "The Kane Chronicles," where he switches from Greek gods to Egyptian deities and follows the adventures of 14-year-old Carter Kane and his 12-year-old sister Sadie as they band together to find their dad, a magical archeologist, and save the world from Set, an evil, power-mad Egyptian god.

'Unfamiliar Magic,' by R.C. Alexander

For middle grade readers, this is a sweet, funny, very entertaining story about a 12-year-old girl named Desi whose mother is a witch, but reluctant to share her magic or speak about Desi's dad. When mom suspiciously disappears early in the novel, she transforms her cat into a teenage girl named Cat, and leaves her in charge of Desi. So not only does the heroine have to try to sort out her parents' mysterious past, but cope with a babysitter who likes to snack on Kibbles.

'The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner,' by Stephenie Meyer

The last book I have to mention, "The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner," by Stephenie Meyer, is a novella about a young vampire who appears in "Eclipse," the third novel in the "Twilight" series.

Words and Pictures

'Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 (The Twilight Saga),' by Stephenie Meyer

And speaking of Stephenie Meyer, our next category -- Words and Pictures -- starts with the graphic novel version of "Volume 1" of "Twilight." If you have a tween or teen who isn't up to tackling the 500 pages of the book, this is a perfect beach read -- and the graphics are wonderful.

'Big Nate: In a Class by Himself,' by Lincoln Peirce

For the really reluctant reader, there's no better book than "Big Nate: In a Class by Himself," Lincoln Pierce's first foray into books. And this is the first in a six-book series from the very popular syndicated cartoonist. Big Nate is a 4-foot-tall, 11-year-old boy with a highly inflated sense of his own importance, but a keen and very funny take on the world around him. Perfect for younger readers.

'Countdown,' by Deborah Wiles

This is the first in a trilogy of documentary novels set in the 1960s. This one follows Franny, a fifth grade air force brat, in 1962, the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and it combines fantastic photos, ads and historical biography with the text. So it's a wonderful artifact, beautifully packaged -- and full of references to everything from Buster Brown shoes to "duck and cover" drills. A great story about a little girl set against a dramatic and historically accurate backdrop.

Kids on the Job

Our final but not-to-be-missed category is Kids on the Job. Inspire your teen with tales of peers such as a boy who acts as his blind uncle's eyes, a wanna-be teen lawyer, and some prequel action from everyone's favorite baby-sitters.

'The Cardturner,' by Louis Sachar

"The Cardturner," by Louis Sachar, whose previous novel, "Holes," is one of my all-time favorites -- made into a movie.

In this novel, a 17-year-old named Alton Richards gets roped into an unusual summer job. He accompanies his cantankerous, elderly rich uncle Lester to his bridge club every week so that he can act as Lester's eyes -- because Lester is blind. It's a testament to this book that, even though I have never been a bridge player, I immensely enjoyed every page -- and learned a lot about the game and the culture of bridge. Of course there's a lot more to this novel than bridge lessons. And like "Holes," it's wonderfully written.

'Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer,' by John Grisham

This is the first book for kids by John Grisham, whose name is synonymous with legal thrillers. Needless to say, it's a page-turner. Thirteen-year-old Theo Boone has two lawyer parents, and he's, well, obsessed with the law, trials and justice. When a sensational murder case is tried in his local courthouse, he arranges for his class to attend the opening arguments. He becomes more than a passive viewer, though, getting actively involved as a legal sleuth -- and running risks that keep readers engrossed. Ends in a cliff-hanger that promises more to come.

'The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before,' by Ann M. Martin

Several parents might remember lazy afternoons reading "The Baby-Sitters Club" series, by Ann M. Martin during their own childhood. If you loved that series, now's the time to introduce it to the tween in your life. Scholastic has just re-released three books in the series and has published a new prequel, "The Summer Before," which takes readers back to the summer before the infamous baby-sitters club was founded.

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