14 Books to Keep Young Readers Happily Busy (For at Least a Few Days)

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Shop dog Bear stands ready to help you browse.

If you’ve got voracious young readers in your house, you may already be looking to refresh their stack of summer reads. And if you have not-so-voracious readers? Well, maybe they just haven’t met the right book yet. Either way, now’s the perfect time to look into the latest favorites from our kid-lit specialists. Here are a few — and we’d love for you to stop by so we can show you more!

 Picture books:

Recommended by Rae Ann

What's Your Favorite Color? Cover ImageWhat’s Your Favorite Color?

This collection is great for young readers, who will enjoy it as a book of colors, and older readers, who will appreciate the diverse styles of each artist’s spread in this beautiful book.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Dad and the Dinosaur Cover ImageDad and the Dinosaur 

This story of a boy conquering fear with help from his father and a plastic T. Rex is a perfect read for dads and kids.

Recommended by Jackie

The Forever Garden Cover ImageThe Forever Garden

Honey has a wonderful backyard garden, and her young neighbor Laurel loves to help out with the chores. One day, Laurel learns Honey is going to move away, and Laurel is worried about losing both her friend and the garden. Luckily, gardens can keep on growing with care, and new friendships can bloom too.

Recommended by Keltie

The Three Billy Goats Gruff Cover ImageThe Three Billy Goats Gruff

Three cheers for this gorgeous new rendition of a beloved tale by famed illustrator Jerry Pinkney! And three cheers for parents everywhere who read tales like they’re actors playing all the parts.

Recommended by Grace

Even Superheroes Have Bad Days Cover ImageEven Superheroes Have Bad Days

A fabulous and funny book about what superheroes could do but wouldn’t when they have a bad day. A great book to help you through the bad days and a fun read on the good days.

A fun chapter book:
Recommended by Ashley

Captain Pug Cover ImageCaptain Pug

This one is a must for readers who love animal-driven stories. Join Pug on his swashbuckling adventure as he faces his fear of the water, and his lovable owner, Lady Miranda, tries to find him. The gorgeous blue and orange illustrations in this book are half the charm. I dare you not to fall in love with Captain Pug.

For independent readers (in older elementary / middle grades):
Recommended by Rae Ann

The Girl with the Ghost Machine Cover ImageThe Girl with the Ghost Machine

Emmaline’s father builds a ghost machine after her mother’s death. Emmaline is shocked when it works. Her father swears her to secrecy, but a secret this big is hard to keep.

Recommended by Jackie

The Gauntlet Cover ImageThe Gauntlet

Farah’s younger brother, Ahmed, gets sucked into a board game that has come to life. Farah and her two friends enter the magical world to rescue him, but the only way to escape is not only to play the game, but to win. The Architect has trapped countless other children who now live in the Gauntlet because they lost a challenge. Will Farah and her friends find her brother and win their way out?

Recommended by Catherine

The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre Cover ImageThe Lost Kingdom of Bamarre

Full of adventure and unforgettable characters! Perry is raised by Lakti parents in the conquered kingdom of Bamarre where the Lakti rule. But when she discovers she is actually an adopted Bamarre her view of her world shifts — as does her understanding of her place in it and who she is.

Graphic novels:
Recommended by Rae Ann

Sunny Side Up Cover ImageSunny Side Up

Sunny’s summer in Florida doesn’t turn out as expected when she’s one of two kids at her grandfather’s retirement community. This entertaining graphic novel is layered with family issues and the real reason for her solo summer vacation.

Recommended by Katherine

Invisible Emmie Cover ImageInvisible Emmie

Fans of Raina Telgemeier and the Dork Diaries series will love Invisible Emmie, the funny story of two totally different yet equally realistic middle school girls whose lives become intertwined one day when an embarrassing note falls into the wrong hands. I laughed out loud throughout!

YA fiction we love:
Recommended by Devin

The Names They Gave Us Cover ImageThe Names They Gave Us

When Emery Lord has a new book out, I don’t even need to know the synopsis anymore — I just know to buy it immediately. The stories she creates around Lucy Hansson’s unexpected summer experiences are so full, and the relationships between each character so potent that I felt like I was sitting side-by-side with them. Also, I could stare at this cover for hours. Maybe I have.

Recommended by Ashley

Words in Deep Blue Cover ImageWords in Deep Blue

Honestly, I’d read a book in which Cath Crowley explains how she makes toast, but since she wrote this beautiful book, I’ll read it instead. If you love dual-point-of-view romances, second chances, and quirky bookstores, you will love Crowley’s latest. Grief plays a large role in this story, and it is handled with such care and nuance. This book is a summer gem!

ParnassusNext — June Selection

When Dimple Met Rishi Cover ImageWhen Dimple Met Rishi

As you might guess from the title (a nod to fans of classic romantic comedies like When Harry Met Sally, perhaps?), When Dimple Met Rishi is everything you could want in a fun, sweet, will-they-or-won’t-they-end-up-together novel. This delightful “meet-cute with a refreshing twist” (Chicago Tribune) tells the story of two contemporary Indian-American teens whose parents are trying to arrange their marriage. Readers, we fell for it, head over heels.

Ashley Herring Blake, YA novelist and Parnassus bookseller, says: “Take Dimple, the girl who has it all figured out and very little interest in romance; add Rishi, the hopeless romantic hoping for insta-love with the girl his parents have chosen as his future wife; stir in one summer at a program for aspiring web developers . . . and VOILA! You’ve got the makings of the YA rom-com you didn’t even know you’d been waiting for.”

We’re not the only ones in love with this book. Check out the glowing reviews:

“Full of warm characters and sweet romance. Fans of contemporary young adult novels will want to pull up a chair and read all about When Dimple Met Rishi.” –Entertainment Weekly

“The arranged marriage YA rom-com we’ve been waiting for.” –Bustle (which also named Dimple to its list of “9 Contemporary YA Heroines To Read In A Time Of Resistance”)

“While Menon’s portrayal of the struggles of Indian-American teens is both nuanced and thoughtful, it is her ability to fuse a classic coming-of-age love story with the contemporary world of nerd culture, cons, and coding camp that will melt the hearts of readers.” – Booklist

“Heartwarming, empathetic, and often hilarious — a delightful read.” – Kirkus, in a starred review

Sign up for a ParnassusNext subscription now, and you’ll be just in time to receive the June box, with your signed copy of When Dimple Met Rishi.

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Every member of ParnassusNext receives a first edition hardcover of each month’s  selected book, signed by the author. There is no membership fee to join — and no line to stand in for the autograph. You’re billed just for the cost of each book (+ shipping). Not only will you have one of the best YA books of the month when it comes out, you’ll have it straight from the author’s hands, with an original, authentic signature! Choose 3, 6, or 12 months for yourself, or buy a gift membership for your favorite YA reader.

A few more summer survival tips:

Going on vacation, sending the kids off to camp, or facing a few weeks with a wide-open calendar? Come by and let us help you stock up with plenty of new books to read. While you’re here, don’t forget to grab your school-approved titles. Find everything you need in our special summer reading section!

Storytime: Bring the littlest book-lovers over for picture books and fun — Thursdays at 3:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m.

And don’t miss our special summer storytime residency with entertainer Emily Arrow — open to all ages, but perfect for those ages 3-9 who enjoy an interactive singalong! She’ll be here at 11 a.m. on the following Tuesdays: June 20 and 27, and July 11, 18, 25.

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