When I was a kid I loved getting my hands on the freshly-mimeographed (yes, I’m old) summer reading list full of books recommended by my teachers that I could find at my local public library, where I would then sign up for the summer reading challenge with the ultimate goal of writing my name on a colorful cutout of a leaf or a book or a rollerskate or whatever the theme was that year for each book I read.

Nowadays it’s not so different, really. I still love to pore over recommended reading lists and pick up a stack of books or add them to my kindle before setting off for pool or beach.

So here’s my list of recommended reading for the summer, especially for those with a bit of wanderlust.

I’ve linked most of the titles to Amazon – if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber you can get these books delivered to you in two days for free. If not, well, why not try it free for 30 days?

For the younger set:

The best thing we can do for peace in the future is to show our kids the great diversity that is our world.

How Penguin Says Please and How Tiger Says Thank You are part of the Little Traveler series by Abigail Simoun, and they are, yes, as cute as they look.

Choose your own adventure

What kid doesn’t love the power of the choose your adventure books? A six-year-old may not have much sway over where the family goes on vacation, but she can choose which path her protagonist takes through these mysteries. Tons of fun and they’ll learn a little something, too. You can choose (ha!) The Abominable Snowman/Journey Under the Sea/Space and Beyond/The Lost Jewels of Nabooti, Mystery of the Maya/House of Danger/Race Forever/Escape, Lost on the Amazon/Prisoner of the Ant People/Trouble on Planet Earth/War with the Evil Power Master

For Young Adults with a Global Focus

Does my head look big in this? By Randa Abdel-Fattah

Facing the Lion: Growing Up Masai on the African Savanna, by Joseph Ntkuton for National Geographic.

What Elephants Know by Eric Dinerstein

The Storyteller by Evan Turk – a beautifully illustrated picture book set in modern Morocco that follows a boy’s search for water in a drought and his discovery of the healing power of words.

Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy
A heart-wrenching tale about an Afghan girl facing changes in her country and changes in her life.

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

For the adventurer-in-training:

The Wander Society by Keri Smith

Much like her other best-selling book, Wreck this Journal, Keri Smith offers a place for people to explore their creativity in The Wander Society. Smith offers a history of The Wander Society, of which Walt Whitman was a member, and provides guidelines and inspiration for those who like to wander.


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