Summer Reading Challenge: Explore New Genres

Summer is almost here, and we are winding up our school year very rapidly. As I look forward to a nice relaxing little break, I’m also making plans for a summer of learning with interest-led unit studies, Five in a Row, nature study, and lots and lots of reading. More on this to come very soon!

Since I have an avid, independent reader as well as a beginner, I wanted to create a challenge for them to want to keep reading during the summer months. Year round schooling helps to keep us in books, but sometimes our motivation is lagging. I have created a Summer Reading Challenge for my kids to ensure we achieve specific reading goals.

Growing in His Glory: Summer Reading Challenge

Our summer reading goals for this year:

  • Continue to sharpen reading skills
  • Discover new authors, new genres, and new books we love
  • Read together & independently every day
  • Read, then discuss — A lot of times we will read together and never talk about what we’ve read. I want to start literary discussions with my little ones.

I envision a summer of great books and deep discussions. I want my girls to read more widely, to seek out historical fiction, poetry, science, and biographies, and to expand their repertoire of authors and titles. I read recently where a mom required her children to read 1 biography, 1 book of poetry, and 1 nonfiction book in addition to their regular book selections each week and how well-rounded their children turned out to be.

To help my children achieve these reading goals, I have created a Summer Reading Challenge.

What is the Summer Reading Challenge?

Growing in His Glory: Summer Reading Challenge

A challenge is always a good way to motivate kids, especially if there’s a prize involved. This year our theme is: “Explore New Genres.” My little readers are required to choose books from a variety of genres to expand their reading selections.

The Summer Reading Challenge is designed kind of like a BINGO card. The child should read at least one book from each genre listed and write the title on the lines provided. There are 5 “You Choose” spaces where the child can select a book of any genre. Of course some books overlap genres like Alice in Wonderland is adventure, fantasy, humor, and even includes some poetry. However, it should only be written down once.

Prize Suggestions

Summer Reading Challenge

Click on the image to download the printable.

Once your child has filled in the entire chart, he can turn it in to you for a prize. You can decide with your kids what will motivate them to read, but here are some ideas based on what my girls suggested and my own thoughts:

  • A new book
  • Get to stay up 30 minutes later than normal
  • Go out for ice cream
  • Extra snuggle time
  • A date with just you & that child
  • Money
  • A “Get Out of a Chore” card
  • A trip to the playground

My plan is for my children to complete the Summer Reading Challenge 2 or 3 times over the course of the summer, culminating in a family pizza & movie extravaganza to celebrate their success. Ultimately, though, the goal is to expand the variety of books read, hone and sharpen reading skills, and keep learning over the summer. I want our children to find pleasure and knowledge from reading from multiple genres so that in the future, they’ll seek it out.

Book Ideas by Genre

Growing in His Glory: Summer Reading Challenge

Here are some book suggestions to guide you with links to Amazon. Most of these can be found at your local library. I have included the Dewey Decimal System classification in brackets next to the genre to help you locate additional books in the nonfiction section.


An adventure book is filled with action. It may take place in an exotic location and events are typically extraordinary.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

The Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Autobiography [940]

An autobiography is a book in which the author shares events from his or her own life.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Roald Dahl’s Boy: Tales of Childhood

Tomie dePaola’s 26 Fairmount Avenue

Long Walk to Freedom: Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Biography [920, Biography & Genealogy]

A biography is a written account of a person’s life.

Daniel Boone by Janet Benge

Who Was Abraham Lincoln? by Janet B. Pascal

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story by Gregg Lewis

Drama [812, American Drama in English; 822, English Drama; 832, German Drama; 842, French Drama; 852, Italian Drama]

A drama is a piece of writing that tells a story & is performed on stage.

{Note: This genre might be a little hard to find or challenging for little ones. Still, introduce them to drama and give it a go. Because of the action, the characters, the dialogue, plays are really fun to read aloud.}

The BFG: A Set of Plays by Roald Dahl

Joe Turner’s Come & Gone & The Piano Lesson by August Wilson

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare {A great readable introduction to Shakespeare for little kids is E. Nesbit’s Shakespeare’s Stories for Young Readers.}

Fairy Tale [398, Folklore]

A fairy tale is a type of short story featuring folkloric fantasy characters like trolls, witches, goblins, mermaids, and fairies.

Hans Christian Andersen’s Complete Fairy Tales

The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang

Perrault’s Fairy Tales by Charles Perrault


Fantasy uses magic and other supernatural phenomena and take place in imaginary worlds where magical creatures are common.

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

At the Back of the North WindThe Princess & the Goblin by George MacDonald

Folklore [398]

Folklore consists of the legends, tall tales, fables, and fairy tales of a culture or group.

Aesop’s Fables

Paul Bunyan by Esther Shephard

Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti by Gerald McDermott

Why Mosquitos Buzz in People’s Ears: A Western African Tale by Verna Aardema

Strega Nona by Tomie DePaola

Historical Fiction

Historical Fiction takes place in a setting located in the past and presents the customs and social conditions of the time.

Sarah, Plain & Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

Locomotive by Brian Floca (Caldecott)

January’s Sparrow by Patricia Polacco

May B. by Caroline Rose Starr

History [900]

History relates to past events.

America’s Paul Revere by Esther Forbes

Sacagawea: Brave Shoshone Girl by Sneed B. Collard

What Was the Revolutionary War All About? by John Micklos

The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible…on Schindler’s List by Leon Lyson

Humor [817, American Humor & Satire in English; 827, English Humor & Satire]

Humor refers to comical writing or writing that is absurd or attempts to be amusing. Of course you can find humor within certain fictitious works, so a challenge might be to find a nonfiction work.

Knock-Knock Jokes for Kids & Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids by Rob Elliot

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems (or any of the Pigeon or Pig & Elephant books)

The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll


Mysteries have plots that involve a crime or other event that remains puzzlingly unsettled until the end.

Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

The Complete Father Brown Mysteries by G.K. Chesterton {I REALLY want to read these this summer.}

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Hidden Staircase & other Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene

Poetry [811, American Poetry in English; 821, English Poetry]

Poetry is a literary work in which feelings and ideas are expressed by the use of distinctive style and rhythm.

When We Were Very YoungNow We Are Six by A.A. Milne

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert L. Stevenson

A Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear

The Children’s Own Longfellow by Henry W. Longfellow {FREE on Kindle}

Science [500]

Science is the systematic study of the natural world through experimentation and observation.

Any of the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science books

Any of The Magic School Bus books

Animalium (Welcome to the Museum) by Katie Scott and Jenny Broom {This book looks really neat!}

The Moon Book (and any books) by Gail Gibbons

Science Fiction

Science Fiction is “based on imagined future scientific or technological advances and major social or environmental changes, frequently portraying space or time travel and life on other planets.”

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman

If You Decide to Go to the Moon by Faith McNulty

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle (Newbery)

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Charlie & the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl

Wordless Picture Books

Wordless picture books are books with pictures but no words 🙂 While they may seem infantile to older children, wordless picture books encourage readers to pay attention to details in the pictures and make their own assumptions about events, characters, and action. 

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day

Hug by Jez Alborough

Have You Seen My Duckling? by Nancy Tafuri

Whether you take my Summer Reading Challenge, create your own, or participate in a summer reading program at your local library, I highly encourage you to keep reading with your kids and to keep your kids immersed in good books this summer. Even if you don’t do anything else school-related all summer long, they will benefit tremendously.

Summer Reading Challenge

Click on the image to download the printable.

Get your FREE Summer Reading Challenge chart here

Are you in? Do your kids need a Summer Reading Challenge? What are YOUR plans to stay active readers this summer? I’d love your ideas!

*Please let me know if you have trouble downloading the chart.





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  1. Great post! You put an amazing amount of time and thought into this post with the printable and book suggestions. There’s so much wonderful material here. Would you allow me to link to this post on my blog or would you be interested in guest posting some time?
    Mary Ann Dennis recently posted…Review of The Secret Box by Whitaker RingwaldMy Profile

    • Thank you, Mary Ann. I would love for you to share my post on your blog. You have a lovely site. I would be glad to guest post in the future. Thank you for the offer.

  2. Keri – I love this! My kids go through spurts when it comes to reading, and this is a great tool. I also read that article about getting kids to read different genres. Love the idea, I’m not as well rounded in literary genres since I’ve been out of school for so many years, and know it could help us all out! Thanks for sharing with Cozy Reading Spot, I’m totally marking this for future use.