A Mighty Girl's top picks of books for children and teens about girls' summertime adventures, growth, and discovery!.
Many kids think of summer as a break — school is out and they're free to do what they please! But summer is a time of growth for kids! Whether they're enjoying classic summer experiences like a day at the beach, a long hike, a camping trip, or a stay at summer camp, when kids have the time and opportunity to explore and adventure, they're often working harder than ever: discovering new talents and interests, handling unexpected challenges, and learning more about themselves than they'd ever thought possible.
In this blog post, we're sharing our favorite stories for children and teens that celebrate the joys and growth that comes with summer. These Mighty Girls take on all the adventures of summer — some with gusto and some with hesitation — and come out stronger, braver, and more confident. Sometimes, they even manage to bring much-needed growth and change to their families as well. One thing is certain: whatever they're doing with their summer, it's a summer to remember.
Mighty Girl Books About Summer Adventures
Stella and her little brother Sam are off for a day at the beach! Exuberant Stella is excited, but Sam, who's never been there before, is nervous So he tries to avoid the possibility of going for a swim with endless questions: does a sea horse gallop? What are starfish? Stella is full of imaginative replies, including telling Sam you can ride a sea horse bareback and that starfish are shooting stars that fell in love with the sea. In the end, her creativity and excitement win Sam over, and soon both siblings are happily floating in the waves. Fans of this book can also check out Stella and Sam's forest adventure in Stella, Fairy of the Forest.
On a hot summer day, this little girl finds all sorts of ways to entertain herself: butterfly catching, swimming, picnics, and lemonade are just the beginning! Nighttime brings its own special things to explore: owls, frogs, and more. But even this bundle of energy can’t stay awake forever, and soon she’s dreaming of more adventures to come! This cute story celebrates the small but special details of summer. Fans of this story will want to check out two other books starring this irrepressible girl, Tracks In The Snow and Who Likes Rain?.
Fans of Ladybug Girl (and her alter ego, Lulu) will love this story of finding the courage to try new things! Lulu has been dying to go to the beach but when she gets there, the ocean is so much bigger than she expected. At first, she keeps to the sand, but when a wave scoops up her favorite pail, Lulu will need Ladybug Girl’s courage to go in for the rescue! This story is perfect to share with any young child who’s looking forward to a beach trip — or wondering nervously if the beach is really all it’s cracked up to be.
In this classic Mighty Girl picture book, a little girl named Sal heads out with her mother to pick blueberries — right around the time a little bear cub and his mother do the same! Thanks to a pair of youngsters who are paying more attention to the sweet blueberries than to where they’re going, the two families get mixed up, and soon it’s Sal tailing the mother bear and the bear cub following Sal’s mom. Fortunately, in the end two children — with very full tummies — end up in their homes where they belong. This Caldecott Honor book will get kids giggling at this unexpected summer adventure.
On a long hiking and camping trip with her aunt and uncle, Rhoda makes a beeline for what she loves most: rocks! Everywhere she looks there are rocks with different patterns and colors and textures, and all of her treasures end up in her increasingly heavy backpack. By the last day, though, her pack is too heavy to lift. Fortunately, she comes up with a clever solution — one that will allow her to share the beauty of her finds with future hikers. This charming story of a nature-loving girl will inspire kids to indulge their own scientific curiosity this summer.
Chick's dad is a surfing legend, so she decides she wants to learn to surf too. Dad buys her a board just her size, takes her to the water, and gives her a few pointers. But it turns out that surfing isn't as easy as she expected: at first, she can barely stay on her board! In fact, her mood gets downright foul as she falls in over and over... Fortunately, she sticks with it, and soon, she's not just catching the waves, she's also trying some of her dad's trademark tricks! This rhyming story full of surfer lingo is a celebration of sun, waves, and a loving father-daughter pair.
A little girl takes a trip to the beach where she finds herself exploring the playful, unpredictable ocean. illustrator Suzy Lee makes effective use of only two colors, grey and blue, and cleverly uses the gutter of the book as the shoreline, with the girl on the left page and the waves on the right — until the little girl dares to cross. The surf takes on the character of a new friend as the pair chase, duck, dodge, and splash; it even reveals some special treasures for the little girl to find. It’s sure to inspire dreams of special trips to the beach! Fans of this book will also want to check out Lee’s Shadow, which explores light, shadow, and the power of imagination.
On a swelteringly hot summer day — after many such days — Tessie waits and waits for the rain to cut through the heat. When it finally does, it is such a welcome relief that even the mamas come out to dance and play in the rain! The refreshing, cool rain leaves everyone ""purely soothed,/ fresh as dew,/ turning toward the first sweet rays of the sun." John J Muth’s vivid watercolors capture the arid feeling of too many hot days in a row — and then the relief when the rain finally falls — while Karen Hesse’s dreamy, poetic text depicts an optimistic little girl and a special friendship between neighbors that's strengthened by a celebration of summer rains.
While her little girl gets excited for their trip to the beach, Sukie the dog is dreading it. After all, the beach is so big... the waves are so whooshy... and there might be lobsters! Sukie uses her fears as a justification for staying up on the sand, but when beloved stuffed animal Chunka Munka gets swept out to sea, Sukie is able to overcome all of it to swim out and save the day. A charming and funny story with clever details in the illustrations — including plenty of lobsters — this book will remind readers that overcoming a fear is a truly empowering summer experience!
Dance-crazy Tallulah is back, and this summer, she's super excited for dance camp... except for one thing. At dance camp, you dance both ballet and tap, and Tallulah's never tap danced before! Tallulah's not used to being a beginning dancer again, and it only adds to her frustration when another girl her age is extremely good at tapping. Then Tallulah realizes that Kacie may be a whiz at tap, but she's struggling in ballet... By the end of camp, both girls have developed new skills — and met a new friend! This book is a great reminder to kids that there's always something new to learn.
Hattie McFadden loves paddling her canoe out on the lake every morning, singing a song as she goes. One day, though, a huge mysterious beast emerges to listen to her song! Hattie looks into the creature's friendly, curious eyes and knows that this is no monster, even if the town is terrified. How can she make the frightened, hostile townspeople see that Hudson isn't scary or dangerous at all? Chris Van Dusen brings his colorful, perspective-bending artwork to this satisfying story about acceptance, friendship, and sticking up for those who are different, which is sure to make kids peek at the depths this summer... and wonder.
Judy Moody is expecting a BOR-ing summer: her parents are heading to California and leaving her and her brother Stink with Aunt Awful (oops... Opal) and her best friends are going away too! But it turns out that Aunt Opal is remarkably supportive of the kids' ideas, including Stink's plans to hunt for Bigfoot and Judy's big idea: a dare race, in which every dare completed earns points! Except that Judy's RARE dares don't quite work out... The tenth book in this popular early chapter book series captures a summer that both doesn't meet expectations — and also wildly exceeds them!
When 9-year-old Ruby’s grandmother Miss Eula goes to visit a new grandchild thousands of miles away, Ruby wonders how she will manage a summer without her. The summer ends up being a busy one: Ruby makes new friends, helps with a school play, and finally wrestles with her grief over her grandfather’s death. All the while, letters between Ruby and her grandmother fly back and forth, keeping them close until they’re finally reunited. This timeless story about the bond between grandparent and grandchild recognizes the "small" day to day events that make up the emotional landscape of a child.
The Penderwick sisters are spending the summer on a sprawling estate, and as the girls meander through the gardens and nose through the attics, they also meet a fascinating new companion: Jeffrey, the son of the estate’s owner, Mrs. Tifton. Mrs. Tifton doesn't approve of these antics, and Jeffrey's on the verge of being sent to a military school. Will the sisters' adventures save their new friend from such a terrible fate, or just get him deeper into hot water? It will be a summer of full of trouble, laughter, mischief, and confusion — definitely one that no one on the estate will ever forget! Fans of the Penderwicks can find more of their adventures in our Penderwicks Collection.
11-year-old Stella's mom is unreliable, so when she drops her off one summer with her Great-aunt Louise in Cape Cod, Stella is secretly delighted: Louise is a fan of order and routine, and helps run the local vacation cottages with a steady hand. The only wrinkle is Angel, Louise's foster kid, who's tough and prickly and not at all like Stella. But when Louise dies unexpectedly, the girls are terrified of being sent to foster homes who knows where... so they decide to bury Louise in her beloved garden and try to survive on their own. It will be a difficult summer, but it may just be the summer both Angel and Stella find a real family.
Sheila the Great is outgoing, fearless, and ready to take on the world but secretly, Sheila Tubman is afraid of spiders, dogs, the dark, swimming... So when her family decides to spend the summer in the country, Sheila comes face to face with almost everything she dreads. Her new best friend, Mouse Ellis, loves almost everything Sheila fears, so in addition to facing her fears, Sheila also has to face the most difficult task of all: admitting that she’s not fearless to someone she deeply wants to impress. It's going to be a tough summer, but Sheila will come out of it with a new sense of confidence that she can achieve anything.
Last summer, Quinnen was a star pitcher, with her whole family there to cheer her on — including her big sister Haley. This summer, everything is different: Haley has died, Quinnen's family is still reeling, and baseball seems like the least important thing in the world. But when Quinnen's family is picked to host one of the players for the Bandits, the local minor-league baseball team, it might just be the glimmer of hope the whole family needs — and the push that gets Quinnen back up on the pitcher's mound. Told in chapters that alternate between the previous summer and the current one, this poignant novel explores grief, resiliency, and the difficulty of forgiving yourself.
It’s 1976, and instead of spending the summer with her friends, 10-year-old Sunny has been banished to her grandfather’s retirement community in Florida while her parents struggle to get her brother’s drug and alcohol problems under control. Sunny isn’t thrilled initially, but as time goes on, she develops a closer relationship with her grandfather, meets a new friend, and discovers a new art form: comic books! This funny but heartfelt graphic novel tackles the issue of addiction and how it affects a family with sensitivity, and all the self-discovery that can come in a single summer. Fans of Sunny can continue her story in Swing It, Sunny.
12-year-old Izzy is helping unpack after yet another move when she discovers a baseball marked with the words: "Because... magic." Her curiosity is piqued, but she knows her mother never answers any questions about her father, who died before she was born. When her mother declares that Izzy will be saying with her Nana in New Mexico for the summer, Izzy realizes she has a chance to learn more. Nana's community welcomes Izzy with open arms, and soon she's making tortillas, watching her grandmother's work as a curandera providing folk remedies, and even uncovering a few of those family mysteries she's always wanted to know. This gentle story with appealing characters is sure to be a favorite.
When Astrid discovers a new passion one summer, she suddenly realizes that her best friend Nicole may not be willing to follow her everywhere: instead of joining Astrid at roller derby camp, Nicole signs up for dance camp! The summer is hard enough without her friend by her side, and gets harder when Astrid discovers that roller derby is hard work. But her first bout might just turn things around — and not just in the roller rink. This fun and heartfelt graphic novel, written by a real-life derby girl, takes a light but honest look at how friendships evolve, and the joy of finding your identity by experimenting with a summer activity.
For Derby's dad Garland, a life homeschooling while the family meanders the highways means freedom, but for Derby, it means loneliness, especially since she's still wrestling with the disappearance of her mother. Summers are her favorite time of year, when they settle in Ridge Creek, Virginia to sell food near the minor baseball team's stadium. This summer, things are different: her friendships are changing and the neighbors she loves are struggling... but it might also reveal both surprises, secrets, and the key to finding "home" for Derby. This charming story with an unforgettable main character celebrates the many ways we find our home and family.
Delphine may only be eleven, but she's used to caring for her sisters, Vonetta and Fern, since her mother left seven years ago for California. But the summer of 1968 is going to be different: their father is sending all three girls to visit Cecile in Oakland. They're expecting family trips to Disneyland to meet Tinkerbell; instead, Cecile sends them to youth programs at a Black Panther center and tells them to stay out as long as they can while she writes poetry. They may not be getting the maternal experience they expected, but over one crazy summer, they'll learn a lot about their family, their country, and themselves. Fans of this book can continue the sisters' story in P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy In Alabama.
Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are best friends who are looking forward to a fun few weeks at camp, that is, until they see a woman turn into a giant bear! Suddenly, the friends find themselves in the midst of mysterious and supernatural adventures. Fortunately, “Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types” can provide them with all the skills they need. It’s going to be quite the unexpected summer! This collection gathers issues 1 to 4 of this fun series, which also makes reference to inspiring women of history. Fans of the first volume will also want to check out more of the Lumberjanes series.
In this coming-of-age graphic novel from Hope Larson, 13-year-old Bina has one more summer before eighth grade, and it's going to be a tough one: her best friend Austin usually sets their course but he's away at soccer camp (and he hasn't been acting himself anyway.) Without Austin, Bina discovers a passion for the guitar and makes some new friends — including Austin's older sister, who loves music too. But when Austin comes home, Bina will need to find a way to establish her own identity but reconcile their differences so their friendship can survive. In a summer where Bina's mom observes she's "becoming more you every day," a lot can change, but that makes old friendships all the sweeter.
It's the first summer since Cedar's father and brother were killed in an accident, and Cedar and what's left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek. Cedar's mom sets herself to fixing up the house, leaving Cedar and her younger brother to explore on their own. When Cedar sees a boy in a costume ride by on a bike, she's curious enough to follow him — and discovers the renowned local theater festival. With a new friend, a job at the festival, and a mystery to occupy her mind, Cedar might find the most valuable thing of all: healing. This touching and tender novel uses lyrical language and vibrant characters to tell a heartfelt story about grief and resilience.
Vera is desperate to fit in with her suburbian friends — but for a Russian immigrant with a single mother, that's not easy. The other girls in the neighborhood all go to summer camp, so when she finds out that her family's church will help pay for a Russian Orthodox camp, she convinces her mother to let her go. The reality of camp, though — complete with Russian history lessons, stinky outhouses, and peer drama — isn't quite what she imagined! Fortunately, with time, Vera achieves some real triumphs. Author / illustrator Vera Brosgol deftly combines emotional honesty and belly laughs in this autobiographical graphic novel.
12-year-old Evie and her best friend, Chelsea, are both from single parent families; they're used to spending their summers lurking in quiet, cool places in the local elite tennis club. But when a local teen beauty is found dead in the club pool, their summer is turned head over heels. As suspicion (and temperatures) start to rise, Evie and Chelsea become determined to crack the case, following on the heels of the lead detective. At the same time, Evie discovers a talent for tennis — even though her tennis pro father doesn't seem to notice. This story captures the transformation a summer can bring alongside its satisfying mystery with an unexpected twist at the end.
It's 1926, and Garnet has been sent away from the city to escape the polio epidemic raging there. She expects a quiet summer, indulging her love for ornithology, before she returns to finish high school, marry, and settle in to a life as wife and homemaker. But when she meets Isabella, a daring flapper, Garnet is shocked to find herself drawn to the unconventional young dancer. Can Garnet give up the dream of a university degree — and a life with someone like Isabella — to fulfill her mother's expectations? Against an elegantly realized historical backdrop, Garnet will spend a summer discovering surprising truths about herself... and have to decide if she's willing to pursue them.
Odilia and her four sisters are planning on enjoying a summer swim when they discover a dead body in the swimming hole. Odilia wants to call the authorities, but her sisters beg her to help them return him to his family in Mexico, arguing that they can visit their grandmother along the way. But to get there, they'll need to outsmart a witch and her evil minions, including a warlock, a coven of half-human barn owns, and a chupacabras! On the way they'll have to he of La Llorona, but will they be ready to face the test of returning home to the real world, where magic can't help them? This fantasy inspired by The Odyssey adds a little of the fantastic to a summer tale of sisters and motherly love.
Maggie Thrash has always loved her summers at the one-hundred-year-old Camp Bellflower for Girls, and she's secretly always hoped she'd be named Honor Girl, the girl who most exemplifies the camp's spirit. But the summer she is fifteen, things are different. A chance contact between Maggie and Erin, one of the counselors, sets off unexpected feelings for Maggie — and Camp Bellflower is not the place for a girl to fall in love with another girl. On top of that, her proficiency at the rifle range is setting her at odds with one of the other campers. In this graphic memoir, Maggie will learn a lot about her self at camp this summer... including the power of creating your own identity.
Every summer, Rose looks forward to time at the cottage with her summer friend, Wendy, who is like the little sister she never had. But this year is different: Rose’s parents won’t stop fighting, about something that happened last year — something they’ve never explained to Rose, but that has sent her mother into a spiral of depression and anger. And when one of the local teens finds herself in a terrible situation of her own, Rose and Wendy realize how lucky they each are to have one person they know they can always depend on. This story is a true slice of life, combining the ordinary details of a summer vacation with the difficult process of a family dealing with loss.
Additional Recommended Resources
- For books to encourage your Mighty Girl to enjoy the great outdoors this summer, visit our blog post Explore Your World: 30 Mighty Girl Books About Outdoor Discovery.
- If a good book (or several!) is part of your Mighty Girl's summer plans, check out our summer reading blog series for ideas for all ages.