2023 OwlCrate Jr Summer Reading Guide!

By: Cheryl Long

Sometimes there is nothing better than lounging by the pool/outdoor patio/chair in-front-of-a-fan during the summer with a summer themed book! But, it isn’t always easy to find. Enter this handy summer reading list with nine great titles to get you in the summery mood or pair with your summer vibe.


Make a pitcher of fresh lemonade and read on, readers!


The Swallowtail Legacy: Wreck at Ada's Reef by Michael D. Beil

The Swallowtail Legacy: Wreck at Ada’s Reef by Michael D. Beil: Whip-smart Lark Heron-Finch is preparing to spend her first summer on Swallowtail Island after the death of her mother. She and her biological sister inherited their mother’s home on the island and they, along with their stepfather and stepbrothers, will be spending the summer there … and Lark isn’t very happy about it. But when she meets Nadine, an old family friend, who tells her of a long ago unsolved mystery on the island involving a tragic boat accident, Lark sets out to help solve the mystery while working with Nadine as a research assistant. This middle grade mystery is a fantastic summer read with the perfect summer island setting, fabulous characters, enormous heart, and just a plain good mystery to boot!


Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron

Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron: 12-year-old Maya has always seen odd things around her Chicago neighborhood, like were-hyenas, and other odd things that strangely seem to come straight from the stories her dad tells her. Maya is looking forward to the blissful days of summer stretching ahead, but her summer plans take a 180 when her father disappears. Suddenly she is thrust into a dark underworld fighting against an army led by the Lord of the Shadows as she tries to find her father — who apparently is the guardian of the veil between our world and the Dark! Talk about one busy summer!!


A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan

A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan: Calling all lovers of books set in bookish locations! A Kind of Paradise follows Jamie Bunn as she works as a volunteer at her local library over the summer. But get this! She isn’t too happy about it! (I know book lovers, I know.) Jamie made a mistake at the end of her grade seven year and as a consequence was assigned some community service hours at the library. But as Jamie works through the summer she will befriend a whole cast of quirky characters who help her to recognize the strength she has inside, and to stand up for and forgive herself.


Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff

Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff:  It’s the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug’s best friend Moira wants to spend the summer preparing to be super cool middle schoolers - learning make-up, fashion, and talking about cute boys. But Bug is realizing none of this is very appealing, nor is spending time trying to understand how to be a girl. Even more, there appears to be a ghost haunting Bug’s eerie old house! As Bug unravels the mystery of this house, they all unravel important truths about their own identity in this powerful middle grade story.



To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan

To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan & Meg Wolitzer: Epistolary fans rejoice, this fun summertime novel is told completely in letters! Avery Bloom is bookish, cautious and afraid of most things. Bett Devlin is fearless and outgoing. When their fathers fall in love and marry, Bett and Avery are sent to sleep away camp in order to bridge some of their differences, hoping to find some common ground, and possibly even learn to be friends & sisters. But plans are made to be broken and nothing about this summer goes right! Now they are on an adventure that neither of them saw coming!



Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tola Okogwu

Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tola Okogwu: If you’re looking for just a really good fantasy this summer, pick this one up pronto! Black Panther meets X-Men in this fast paced middle grade story about a girl who discovers the hair she has always hated actually has telekinetic powers when it saves her best friend from drowning. After this discovery comes another great shock, Onyeka is a Solari — a secret group of people with superpowers unique to Nigeria. Now that her powers have awoken she is whisked off to the Academy of the Sun to be trained … this is one of two books on the list that don’t actually take place over the summer break, but will have you feeling the summer heat anyway!


Wretched Waterpark by Kiersten White

Wretched Waterpark by Kiersten White: We all love a good summer day at the waterpark … but the waterpark that twins Theodora and Alexander (along with their phone-obsessed older sister) find themselves at is a bit, odd. For starters there are not many customers and everything is rather ghoulish. Mausoleums instead of cabanas, waterslides with gargoyle tongues as slides, and very odd staff … vampires?? When the owner of the park and their sister goes missing, risk-taker Theo and cautious Alexander will have to work together to rescue her. This book is such a fun escape and a must read for any fans of Scooby-doo and A Series of Unfortunate Events.


Twelfth by Janet Key

Twelfth by Janet Key:  I am a major sucker for summer stories set at camp and Twelfth hits that note perfectly. Twelve-year-old Maren is NOT looking forward to her summer stay at theatre camp - this was her older sister’s thing, not hers! But theatre camp might not be too bad after all and when a prank goes wrong Maren finds herself, along with her bunkmate, drawn into a hunt for a missing person & diamond ring. But they aren’t the only ones hunting for the ring, people with dangerous intent are hot on their heels! Connecting clues to Shakespeare’s famous Twelfth Night play, will Maren be able to solve the riddle before it’s too late?


Spineless by Samantha San Miguel

Spineless by Samantha San Miguel: Okay, this one doesn’t actually take place over the summer holiday but it does take place on a holiday in the muggy, hot swampland of Florida … you won’t notice! The action in this genre mashup middle grade of magical realism, historical fiction, and steampunk, starts immediately and so it’s perfect for any reader with a short attention span. 12-year-old Algie is a hopeful, budding naturalist who, one chilly winter in Chicago, travels with his mom and older brother to Florida where the warmer climate will be easier on his asthma. Set in the later half of the 19th Century treatments for asthma were not well known or readily available and Algie lives in a shadow of constant fear of being unable to breathe. As his steamboat arrives in the Florida harbour, his path immediately crosses with a mischievous young Octopus that he rescues - a young friend that will continue to surface throughout the story! Here at the Hotel Paraiso, there are all manner of oddities and strange occurrences - from swimming pools full of ink, to dead creatures washing ashore, and odd lights at night in the gardens. Pairing up with the two daughters of the hotel’s owner, Lulu and Frankie (smart young naturalist’s themselves), Algie and the girls will fight to save the creatures of the swamp while trying to figure out what it is that is hurting them. A little bit creepy, a little by mysterious, and whole pile of steampunk fun await in this middle grade!


Need some help with your reading goals this summer? Try out our Summer Reading Bingo! 

Summer Reading Bingo