20 Must Read Children’s Books for the summer holidays

With longer days and better weather, it’s not long until the summer holidays are upon us. For 6 whole weeks, teachers and children alike can get out of the classroom and enjoy a much deserved break. Even though the summer holidays provides a perfect time to relax, it’s a great time for children to keep developing their reading fluency skills and encourage a love for story-telling. Below I’ve listed 20 must-read children’s books for this summer. This book list is aimed at 8 – 10 year olds. I’ve also included 3 freebies in this post. You can download a bronze, silver or gold reading certificate if your child has successfully read 5, 10 or 20 books. Enjoy!

  1. The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien

The hobbit

The Hobbit is a children’s fantasy novel, written by J. R. R. Tolkien. This book is a wonderful read for children who love adventure. The story maps the journey of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins and his quest to acquire the treasure, belonging to Smaug the dragon. Along his journey, Bilbo faces all manner of challenges that require him to call upon his knowledge, strength and courage. The hobbit is a beautifully told story and perfect for the summer holidays.

2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling

harry potter

Harry Potter is one of the most famous and popular children’s books of the 21st Century. The story begins with a ten year old boy who discovers that he has magical abilities. Harry Potter learns about a whole other magical world which leads him to make friends, face challenges and have adventures during an exciting year at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.

3. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is the first part of the trilogy of books set in a dystopian reality.  The series follows the trials and tribulations of characters Katniss Everdeen and Peter Mellark. Within the story, it is clear that there is a great deal of unfairness between the rich elite and poor masses. The poverty-stricken districts are given the opportunity to compete in deadly games once a year, resulting in one winner and many losses. The Hunger Games cleverly raises themes relating to struggle and injustice, as well as persistence and the triumph of friendship over division.

4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis

the lion the witch and the wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is an absolute classic and a fantastic read for children. The story is set during wartime in England and follows the path of four siblings who are evacuated from London. These children arrive in a country house and discover a magical world inside a wardrobe. The story is set in the fantasy land of Narnia and contains mythical creatures, good and bad.

5. Northern Lights, Philip Pullman

northern lights

Northern Lights is a fantasy novel written by Philip Pullman. The main character, Lyra Belacqua journeys to the Arctic in search for her friend, Roger Parslow and uncle, Lord Asriel. In this fantasy world, souls can exist outside of the body and present themselves in the form of different animals. Lyra Belacqua goes in pursuit of her friend and uncle, battling different challenges along the way.

6. Carrie’s War, Nina Bawden

carrie's war

Carrie’s War is set during the second world war and follows two children’s experiences of being evacuated. The main characters, Carrie Willow and her brother Nick and evacuated to Wales, where they stay with an unkind shopkeeper. Carrie and Nick make new friends and begin to share stories with each other. The story highlights what life was like for children evacuated during the second world war.

7. The Witches, Roald Dahl

the witches

A young boy goes to live with his Norwegian grandmother and listens to her wonderful, but terrifying stories. She tells him about witches and how they live among ordinary people. The young boy is horrified, but interested to learn ways to spot a witch. The story follows his grandmother’s tales about witches and and how dangerous they are. Once the main character begins spotting the witches around him, he finds himself in a world of trouble.

8. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl is part of an 8 book adventure series. The story centers on a criminal mastermind who also happens to be a teenage genius. Artemis captures a fairy in the first book and holds her to ransom so that he can recover his family fortune. As the story continues, Artemis Fowl begins to assist the fairy people and demonstrates more heroic qualities.

9. Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz


Alex Rider is the protagonist of this series of adventure books. The story begins with a tragedy in the family. Alex discovers that his guardian and uncle, Ian Rider has died in mysterious circumstances. Alex is given details from different sources that just don’t seem to add up. Stormbreaker is the first book in a series of adventure spy novels that follows the brave pursuits of a young teenage boy.

10. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

roald dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a fantastic Roald Dahl story, focusing on the life of Charlie. Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory is opening it’s doors again, but only to a select few individuals. Children and adults alike search for the rare golden tickets in bars of chocolate. Charlie was able to buy a chocolate bar with surprising results. The story is full of wonderful chocolate inventions.

11. Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain (Usborne Classic Re-told)

tom sawyer

Tom Sawyer is a 12 year old boy living in St. Petersburg, Missouri in 1845. Tom and Huck carry out adventures together throughout the story. They are particularly concerned with freeing the runaway slave Jim. Tom’s obsession with stories puts this plan in jeopardy. Both boys learn that Jim’s owner has already died which sets him free. The story details a journey of intellectual and emotional development.

12. Dracula, Bram Stoker (Usborne Classics Re-told)


Dracula is a gothic horror story, written by Bram Stoker. This story is adapted to suit younger readers. The story begins with Jonathan Harker, an English solicitor, who visits Count Dracula in Transylvania. While there, he soon realises that he has become Dracula’s prisoner. It is Dracula’s intention to leave Transylvania and move to England where he can spread the undead curse.

13. The Midnight Gang, David Williams

the midnight gang

The Midnight Gang is an entertaining and light-hearted read, perfect for the summer holidays. When most children are fast asleep, the midnight gang are searching for adventures. The central character, Tom is hit on the head with a cricket ball, finding himself in hospital. Things seems to go from bad to worse when Tom is introduced to the wicked Matron. However, Tom’s life is also set to become more interesting.

14. Horrible Histories, Terrible Tudors, Terry Deary

terrible tudors

Even though reading fiction is a great way to escape during the summer holidays, if your child prefers to read non-fiction, then the horrible histories series is a great alternative. The Terrible Tudors is packed full of interesting facts about the tudor family, represented in a funny and entertaining way. These books are wonderful for memorising facts about tudor history and developing pleasure for reading.


15. Horrible Histories, Ruthless Romans, Terry Deary

ruthless romans

Finding out more information about the ruthless Romans couldn’t be more interesting or entertaining as this addition to the Horrible Histories series. This is a great non-fiction read for children who are more obsessed with facts than fiction. There are wonderful illustrations and wealth of facts. This can help to enhance children’s understanding of history as well as develop reading fluency.

16. Tales of the Trojan War, Usborne Classics Re-told


The Trojan War, retold by Usborne Classics, is a wonderful introduction to Greek mythology. This is an action-packed text that offers children a real insight into some mythological stories. The Trojan War details the classic story of epic Greek heroes and their mission to avenge a Troy army of 100,000 men. This story is written in a modern and approachable way, ideal for children interested in mythological stories.

17. Horrible Histories, Awful Egyptians, Terry Deary

awful egyptians

The Horrible Histories, Ancient Egyptians book includes all manner of interesting and gruesome facts about the Ancient Egyptians. This is a great read for children as many history and topical subjects overlap with the Ancient Egyptians during school time. Reading about the Ancient Egyptians will keep children both informed and help to develop a curiosity about historical facts.

18. Tales of King Arthur (Usborne Classics Retold)

the king arthur

The Tales of King Arthur is a modern and approachable read for children. Inside this book, the author retells stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the round table. This is an adventurous and fast-paced read for children. The author saves the best story for last, retelling the events of the sword in the stone.

19. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson

double act jacqueline wilson

Jacqueline Wilson is a fantastic children’s writer and explores a range of themes that impact children’s lives. The story Double Act is based on the lives of twin girls, whose lives are thrown into turmoil after their dad finds a new girlfriend, Rose. Emotions run high as the girls comes to terms with the changes in their lives and react in mischievous ways.

20. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

good omens

Good Omens is  based on the premise that ‘end times’ are coming. One of the characters, ‘Warlock’, considered to be the anti-christ, is just a normal 11 year old boy. Instead, due to a mix up at birth, a boy named Adam Young is actually the harbinger of doom, but has no knowledge of the true powers he possesses. The story follows Adam and the creation of his gang, resulting in his decision to either exacerbate or end the apocalypse.

As promised, here are three freebie certificates. You can click to download and receive a bronze, silver and gold award reading certificate.

Click Here: reading certificates

tes reading certificates




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