School’s Out: 19 New Reads for the Young & Young at Heart

It’s officially summertime for students here in Nashville, so the time has come for what every kid has been eagerly anticipating since this time last year… Summer reading! Just kidding. We know that y’all are ready to go swimming, hang out with friends at camp, and cool off with lots of ice cream cones. And we get it! This break from school to have fun and enjoy the outdoors truly is the best. But we think we have some books for you that you’ll like. They may even enhance your summer experience. Give it a try, and let us know how it goes. We’ll be here when you want some more recommendations!

Recommended by Rae Ann

Music Is a Rainbow Cover ImageMusic Is a Rainbow

A beautiful picture of music’s power to inspire.

Recommended by Madeline

Let's Do Everything and Nothing Cover ImageLet’s Do Everything and Nothing

By Julia Kuo

A mother and her daughter venture outside and idle at home all in the same day, and it’s the time together–no matter what’s done or isn’t done–that counts the most.

Recommended by Sarah

Sylvie Cover ImageSylvie

By Jean ReidyLucy Ruth Cummins (Illustrator)

From the creators of Truman comes another delightful book about taking risks and stepping into the spotlight to bring joy to those around you.

Recommended by Aly

Mushroom Rain Cover ImageMushroom Rain

By Laura K. ZimmermannJamie Green (Illustrator)

Everything you ever did or didn’t need to know about mushrooms in a gorgeously aesthetic picture book.

Recommended by Madeline

The Summer of June Cover ImageThe Summer of June

June Delancey kicks off summer by shaving her head as an act of defiance against her crippling anxiety. However, she quickly loses all self-confidence as summer really starts. With the help of the staff at her mother’s library and a little garden therapy, she strives to learn how to thrive with her anxiety.

Recommended by RJ

Answers in the Pages Cover ImageAnswers in the Pages

A tender and timely look at what happens when a group of parents try to get a book banned from a 5th grade classroom over its queer content. Featuring interwoven plotlines, including excerpts from the fictional book itself, this is a realistic picture of the power stories have and the courage it takes to defend them.

Recommended by Chelsea

Yonder Cover ImageYonder

With Danny’s father away fighting WW2 and his mom expecting a new baby at any time, Danny cherishes his friendship with Jack, an older boy, more than ever. When Jack goes missing from their small Appalachian town, Danny is determined to find out what happened, even if Danny is forced to answer big questions about prejudice, injustice, and how one person can make a difference

Recommended by Ashby

This Is Not a Drill Cover ImageThis Is Not a Drill

Things keep piling up – Ava’s parents are divorcing, she fights with her best friends, she forgot to charge her phone. What does she do? Hide in the bathroom. Then what? A lockdown drill. Only it isn’t a drill. This book explores how much can get piled on and how to face it. It is told through text messages so it moves quickly, includes funny parts, and has twists and turns.

Recommended by Aly

Best Friends, Bikinis, and Other Summer Catastrophes Cover ImageBest Friends, Bikinis, and Other Summer Catastrophes

When you’re 12 years old, summer is supposed to be all about fun, but everything starts falling apart for Alex when her best friend, Will, gets a crush. How dare he! AND on the most popular girl in school?!

Recommended by Madeline

A Wish in the Dark Cover ImageA Wish in the Dark

A Newberry Honor, this is an important tale that preaches empathy in a Thai-inspired fantasy. Two opposing worlds collide between Pong, a boy born in prison who escapes, and Nok, the prison warden’s daughter. Laws are questioned and morals are tested. What will you do for the right thing?

Recommended by Ashby

Out of Range Cover ImageOut of Range

If you are addicted to devices, what camp would be the worst? Camp Unplugged. No phones. No internet. No connection to the outside world. Send three sisters who are at war with each other. No training. No supplies. No food. Now what?

Recommended by Chelsea

Melt With You Cover ImageMelt With You

Fallon would rather forget about her hookup with her BFF Chloe right before Chloe left for college, but her mom’s ice cream truck business has other plans. Fallon is a protagonist who is easy to cheer for, and I was so invested in the rivals-to-lovers, will-they-won’t-they romance. This is a delightful, perfect novel for summer, made even better by the ice cream puns.

Recommended by Sissy

Kings of B'more Cover ImageKings of B’more

R. Eric captures the essence of teen friendship in Kings of B’More. His characters all have really interesting relationships with both peers and parents – no one is having the same experience, yet they are all listening to and supporting one another. R. Eric is the funniest man on earth, and I absolutely loved this book.

Kings of B’more is our June ParnassusNext pick! Scroll down to read more about it.

Recommended by RJ

A Little Bit Country Cover ImageA Little Bit Country

A Little Bit Country is a charming love story set against the backdrop of a Dollywood-esque amusement park in Tennessee. An aspiring gay country singer and the closeted descendant of one of country music’s lost superstars must navigate a secret summer romance, familial expectations, and new jobs at the park. A fun story about dreaming big, working hard, and finding love along the way.

Watch our virtual event with Brian in conversation with Erica Waters from earlier this month!

Recommended by Aly

Flip the Script Cover ImageFlip the Script

By Lyla Lee

Up-and-coming KDrama star, Hana, finds more than she bargains for when she agrees to a staged romance with her co-lead. However, it’s not the incredibly famous boy band member who catches her eye…

Recommended by RJ

Man o' War Cover ImageMan o’ War

Man O’War is a heart-wrenching story following River, a trans competitive swimmer, through their years-long journey of self-discovery. Hope, anger, and pain are all drawn in a devastating clarity as River draws parallels between their story and the lives of the captive sea creatures kept in their hometown’s run-down marine park.

Recommended by Chelsea

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet Cover ImageThe Summer of Bitter and Sweet

Lou’s last summer is supposed to be predictable, but it’s turning out to be anything but, especially with the appearance of her biological father. An emotionally honest first-person narrative that deals with topics such as generational trauma, colonialism, and sexual identity, this debut stayed with me long after the last page.

Sprout Book Club: June Selection

To Make Cover ImageTo Make

By Danielle DavisMags DeRoma (Illustrator)

The June 2022 Sprout Book Club selection is To Make by Danielle Davis and Mags DeRoma.

This delightful picture book is a celebration of making things, art, a cake, or a garden. The rhythmic text and the mixed-media illustrations pair beautifully together to remind us that all things worth making take time.

Early praise for the book:

“Sure to inspire all sorts of creativity.” – Booklist

Sprout Book Club is the book subscription box for picture book lovers. Every month members will receive a first edition picture book. Set up a subscription for yourself or buy a gift membership for your favorite picture book lover for 3, 6, or 12 months. 

Spark Book Club: June Selection

Wretched Waterpark (The Sinister Summer Series #1) Cover ImageWretched Waterpark (The Sinister Summer Series #1)

The June 2022 Spark Book Club selection is Wretched Waterpark by Kiersten White.

The Sinister-Winterbottom siblings are dropped off at their Aunt Soffronia’s for the summer. This aunt they’ve never met seems to glide across the floor without feet, have no food in her refrigerator, and doesn’t know what a smart phone is. She buys them a week’s pass to Fathoms of Fun Waterpark. At this water park, people are disappearing and a strange goo is seeping into the pool. A fun, creepy mystery!

Early Sparks for the novel:

“The creepy gothic setting, the relationships between the siblings, the cast of unusual characters, and the teasers that this episode is just one part of a much larger puzzle will keep readers hooked. Young goths will be all-in for the trippy mysteries.”–Kirkus

“Gleefully macabre.” – Publisher’s Weekly

Spark Book Club is the first editions club for middle grade readersEvery month members will receive a first edition middle grade novel — plus a letter written by the author especially for club members. Makes a great gift for the independent reader! Sign ups are available for 3, 6, or 12 months.

ParnassusNext: June Selection

Kings of B'more Cover ImageKings of B’more

The June 2022 ParnassusNext selection is Kings of B’More by R. Eric Thomas.

When Harrison finds out his best friend, Linus, is moving away, he plans an epic day for the two of them a la Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This day of adventure is a tribute to platonic friendship, LGBTQ teens, and hometowns.

Early praise for the novel:

“Thoughtful, poignant, fun.” – Kirkus

“Employing a charismatic cast, expert comedic timing, and moving prose, Thomas artfully composes a raucous and tenderhearted story.” – Publisher’s Weekly, starred review

ParnassusNext is the book subscription box for YA lovers. 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. 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! Set up a subscription for yourself or buy a gift membership for your favorite YA reader for 3, 6, or 12 months.