2020 Summer Reading Picks

Background of stars with the words "Summer Reads" and the logos for the Library District, School District and School District Media Department.

Looking for a summer read? Check out these award winners and critically acclaimed books! This collaboration between Alachua County Public Schools and Alachua County Library District is sure to be a hit for any child!

Join the Alachua County Library District’s Summer with the Library: Blast Off into Reading for fun virtual programs and chances to win cool prizes May 30-Aug. 2 at www.aclib.us/summer.

Grades K-2

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

“This (is an) ode to inspiring African American heroes in the fields of sport, the arts, and political activism, as well as everyday champions ... Nelson’s photo-realistic illustrations, rendered in oil, include action shots (Jesse Owens, mid hurdle), portraits (Martin Luther King Jr. and an African American Union soldier), composites (of jazz and sports greats… the poem closes with a hopeful nod to the rising generation.” Booklist starred (February 15, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 12))


Bear Came Along by Richard T Morris

Bear Came Along by Richard T Morris, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

“A big brown bear doesn’t know what a river can do—until he falls in. As the water rushes on and he floats away on a log, Bear inadvertently finds a number of new friends. ... Anyone who fondly remembers the similarly themed Little Golden Book Big Brown Bear (and everyone else!) will have warm feelings toward this river- riding fellow who isn’t expecting what he finds but embraces the experience and happily accepts the friendships that come along with it.” Booklist starred (March 15, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 14))


Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

“Maillard and Martinez-Neal bring depth, detail, and whimsy to this Native American food story, with text and illustrations depicting the diversity of indigenous peoples, the role of continuity between generations, and the adaptation over time of people, place, and tradition. Fry bread becomes a metaphor for resilience.” Booklist starred (September 1, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 1))

Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor

Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Rafael Lopez

“12 friends are planting a garden. Each child is distinct in appearance and personality, but other differences are harder to see or to understand. Seven-year-old Sonia tells of pricking her finger to measure her blood sugar and giving herself insulin shots to manage diabetes ... Next, Rafael talks about having asthma …Ten more children in succession talk about their wheelchair, blindness, deafness, dyslexia, autism, stuttering, Tourette’s syndrome, ADHD, nut allergy, or Down syndrome … each child handles a challenge with courage and grace.” Booklist starred (October 1, 2019 (Online))


Book Hog by Greg Pizzoli

Book Hog by Greg Pizzoli

“A beret-sporting pig adores books so much that he acquires them anywhere….He harbors a secret shame: he can’t decode the words inside them. Or he can’t, at least, until he … meets Miss Olive, a spectacle-sporting elephant-slash-librarian who offers him kindness and patience. With lots of practice, he becomes not just a book lover but also a book reader.” Booklist (January 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 9))

Grades 3-5

The New Kid

New Kid by Jerry Craft

“Jordan Banks may be the new kid at his upper-crust private school, but this remarkably honest and accessible story is not just about being new; it’s unabashedly about race. ... Jordan’s parents tussle over the question of what’s best for their son—to follow the world’s harsh rules so he can fit in or try to pave his own difficult road.” Booklist starred (November 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 6))


Blended by Sharon M. Draper

Blended by Sharon M. Draper

“Every week, Isabella has to change gears. She alternates between her white mom and her black dad, who have completely dissimilar lifestyles. ... Though Isabella’s mixed race and struggle to find identity in a world where racism exists are strong components of this book, it is primarily about a child of divorce finding her place in two different families. ... Readers will enjoy the short chapters and Isabella’s questioning, conversational tone.” Booklist (November 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 5))


Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

“Ever since Salvador Vidón lost his mami at the age of 8, he has used sleight-of-hand magic as both a way to forget about the loss and as a way to make others happy. ... Artfully balancing comical antics with a meaningful exploration of grief, Hernandez fills his fastpaced novel with an intriguing blend of sf, folklore, and Cuban culture and populates it with delightfully well-rounded, clever, and exceptionally kind characters, all in a lively, distinctive voice.” Booklist starred (February 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 11))

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel

“Mr. Rylance, a famous graphic novelist, is battling a bad case of writer’s block after the death of his wife. Meanwhile, his son, Ethan, is struggling to complete a school graphicnovel project and frustrated with his father’s inability to move on. When an inkblot that can write, listen, learn, and create beautiful pictures pulls himself from Mr. Rylance’s sketchbook, Ethan names him Inkling and thinks the blot could solve their problems. ... Smith’s energetic and expressive ink drawings are the perfect complement and contribute to the storytelling in playful ways.” Booklist (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))

Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly

Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly

“Iris, the only Deaf student in sixth-grade class, struggles to communicate well with kids at school, and feels a strong connection with Blue 55, a lone whale who can’t communicate with others because its voice is on a different frequency. … The strength of the book is its strong portrayal of Iris as a Deaf girl in a hearing world and an intelligent 12-year-old in headlong, single-minded pursuit of her goal.” Booklist (November 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 6))

Grades 6-8

Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan

“In a small town located “somewhere in the Américas,” eleven-year-old Max has been raised by his no nonsense father and head-in-the-clouds grandfather, ever since his mother disappeared. Longing to find her, the fútbol-loving … Max … uncovers secrets about his family’s past and embarks on a dangerous mission to help a refugee from a dictator-led country find her way to Mañanaland. The two traverse rocky terrain, hide from those looking to collect a reward for the missing refugee, and follow the map that Max learned through his grandfather’s nightly bedtime story.” Booklist starred (January 1, 2020 (Vol. 116, No. 9))

The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy

The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy

“Rahul, an Indian American boy in a small Indiana town, finds seventh grade unsettling, especially … when … his longtime best friend, Chelsea, suddenly blushes and stammers around a friendly eighth-grader. And Brent, a bully, repeatedly makes disconcerting innuendos about Rahul having a crush on a boy he admires. After talking with a therapist, he thinks through his worries, confronts his nemesis, and finds that his friends are fully with him.” Booklist starred (September 1, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 1))


Book cover of two boys walking under a twilight sky with title "When stars are scattered."

When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson

“Omar Mohamed was a child when soldiers attacked his village in Somalia. Separated from his parents, he and his younger brother, Hassan, eventually made their way to Dadaab, a crowded refugee camp in Kenya where he now spends his days scrambling for food and taking care of Hassan. A chance to attend school is a dream come true, but the opportunity weighs heavily on Omar; school is a selfish choice when you have no parents and a brother who needs constant looking after.” Booklist starred (March 15, 2020 (Vol. 116, No. 14)


Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

“Growing up in a coastal town in Syria, Jude’s days revolve around her family and best friend, watching movies, and going to school. But there’s trouble on the horizon, and Jude’s brother, Issa, gets involved in the resistance movement. Jude and her mother leave, moving in with Uncle Mazin and his family in Cincinnati and friendships, complicated family relationships, Islamophobia, and a new language [are just a few of the things Jude must now contend with.]” Booklist starred (April 15, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 16))


Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds

“Ten stories are told in parallel, each following different middle-graders home from school. On Marston Street, TJ lays out his hilarious hypothesis that ‘we all boogers.’ On Placer Street, we meet the Low Cuts, a four-kid crew that hustles for spare change to help their cancer-stricken parents. Cynthia, who learned joke telling from her grandpa on Southview Avenue before his health began to decline. As the chapters pass, readers will sink into the more-and-more familiar neighborhood, getting so invested in these linked human experiences that, when the bus finally falls, it’s only to remind us that we’re all connected.” Booklist starred (August 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 22))

Grades 9-12

The Field Guide to the American Teenager by Ben Philippe

The Field Guide to the American Teenager by Ben Philippe 

“For Norris Kaplan, Austin, Texas—location of his mother’s new professor gig—is the antithesis of his true home in Montreal, Canada. Gone are hockey hooligans and routinely spoken French, replaced by relentless heat and the ubiquitous orange of the UT Longhorns. Compounding these differences is the fact that Norris is a black Haitian Canadian kid stuck in cowboy country. … Readers looking for a diverse, fun, coming-of-age tale need not look any further than this fantastic debut.” Booklist (November 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 6))


Cover of Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

“(This novel) tells the story of a girl named Jam who lives in a world without evil—or so she’s told. In the town of Lucille, monsters were overcome in a long-past revolution, so Jam is more than a little surprised when Pet, a creature her mom paints, comes to life and declares that he has come to hunt a monster—and he needs her help. … Younger readers will enjoy the fantastical story line itself, while older readers will be able to look more deeply into its themes and pull out the social commentary on the hidden evils of our world...” Booklist (July 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 21))


Frankly in Love by David Yoon

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

“Frank Li has always known his parents expected him to date a fellow Korean American. It was an unspoken rule he tried not to think about until he finds himself kissing, texting, and overall obsessing over Brit—who’s white. To save himself from his parent’s disappointment (or outright condemnation) Frank hatches a plan to create a faux relationship with longtime family friend Joy, who has also fallen for a non-Korean. It seems like the perfect plan, at least, for a little while. … Even readers who aren’t fans of romance will be drawn into this beautifully written exploration of family, identity, and self-discovery.” Booklist starred (July 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 21))

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

“With a veteran father whose PTSD steered the family directionally, and a mother who didn’t deal with things head-on, Anderson began life with ‘the inherited, / trauma-fed ability / to stay silent in every situation.” … Anderson’s focused, first-person narrative becomes more of a chorus as she recounts the stories that readers, female and male, adults but especially teenagers, have shared with her about their own experiences with sexual assault and harassment…It is a captivating, powerful read about clawing your way out of trauma, reclaiming your body, and undoing lifetimes of lessons in order to use your voice as the weapon it is.” Booklist starred (January 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 9))


Black Enough by Collected Authors

Black Enough by Collected Authors

“What is it like to be young and black, and yet not black enough at the same time? That’s the question explored in this poignant collection of stunning short stories by black rockstar authors, including Justina Ireland, Jason Reynolds, Nic Stone, and Brandy Colbert. The stories center on the experience of black teens, while driving home the fact that they are not a monolith; one person’s experiences, reality, and personal identity can be completely different from another’s.” Booklist starred (November 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 5))