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 long hike, a day at the beach, or a camping trip, 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.
Saturday is for swimming lessons... and this little girl hates them. It's too loud, the floor is too wet, her swim cap is too tight, and she has a stomachache! Fortunately, her kind swimming instructor, Mary, knows just how to gently urge her to take one step each week... and before long, she discovers that swimming day is fun. This story will be relatable to any child who's found something a little too new and scary to dive in — but urges them to find the combination of courage and patience they need to face their fears.
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.
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.
This girl and her family are spending the summer in Alaska — 4,000 miles from home. Alaska isn't just a place where she'll see grizzly bears and sockeye salmon; it's also a place where she can finally join her family's fishing crew! The job requires waking up at midnight, gathering supplies, and hauling full nets out of the ocean, none of which are easy... but with the help of her family, she can do it all, and grow stronger and more confident with every day. This stunning picture book that celebrates the capability of kids — who are sometimes ready for more than we think they are! — and includes extensive back matter about Alaska and traditional fishing practices that families just like this one still participate in today.
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, and give them new perspective on the things they see every day.
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.
Ernestine has a big adventure planned for this weekend: her first camping trip! Her single dad helps her pack everything on the list her aunt Jackie gave, and even helps her make some special trail mix. But when she gets to the campsite with Jackie and her cousin Samantha, Ernestine gets intimidated. Putting up a tent is hard, there are FISH in the lake she's supposed to swim in, and everything is so quiet and big. Fortunately, with a little encouragement (and a few s'mores), Ernestine realizes that she's up for these challenges! This exuberant story about both the joys and the downsides to a first camping trip provides a powerful lesson about the confidence that comes from getting out of your comfort zone.
A girl and her family have just lost their beloved family dog, and all of them are grieving. Eons earlier, a meteor strike creates a strange yellow stone, which humans quarry and carve. As the centuries pass, the stone is broken and re-crafted over and over again, before finally being lost in the ocean and polished by the waves. And when the girl finds the stone at the beach and presses it against her face, she finds a sense of peace: perhaps nothing in life is ever truly lost. Author / illustrator Aaron Becker's first picture book following the conclusion of his best-selling Journey trilogy is an emotionally powerful, achingly satisfying story.
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!
11-year-old Julie and her 6-year-old sister, Martha, never expected to find a baby abandoned on the steps of the brand new children's library in Belle Beach, Long Island. 12-year-old Bruno, Julie's on-again, off-again friend, doesn't know what to think when he sees Julie carrying the baby off — is she a kidnapper? He's curious enough to abandon his plan to ride the train to New York City on a mission to help his brother, who is overseas fighting in World War II. And then there's the mysterious woman who arrives in a limo; who is she, and why is she in Belle Beach? Through the eyes of three children from two families, this story gently unfolds both sorrow and joy over one life-changing summer.
Olive is sure this will be the best summer ever — she and her friend Willow are heading to camp together! But while Olive makes friends fast, Willow struggles, and latches onto Olive for companionship. It's not long before Olive is fed up and they have a full-on fight. Summer camp was definitely not supposed to be the end of their friendship! Fortunately, a little time apart gives them the chance to find their own way — and their way back together. Tween readers will sympathize with both Olive and Willow during this graphic novel sequel to Click that celebrates how summer adventures can help you discover new strength. Olive's story continues in Act and Clash.
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.
In this quirky story, 12-year-old introvert Bicycle has been raised by Sister Wanda in the Mostly Silent Monastery since she was left there as a three-year-old. But Sister Wanda is worried that Bicycle doesn't have any friends, so she declares that she's going to sleepaway camp at the Friendship Factory (“Three Guaranteed Friendships or Your Money Back.”) Bicycle has other ideas, and sets off on her own bike for California, aiming to meet her hero, Polish cycling racer Zbig. Along the way, she encounters a good-natured ghost, a mysterious woman in black, and an unexpected number of new friends! Hilarious and charming, this adventure celebrates the call of the open road and the joy of friendship.
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.
11-year-old Yumi would be a terrific stand-up comedian... if she had a stage to perform on, and the courage to do it. Instead, she stands out at school, where kids tease her for smelling like her parents' Korean restaurant, and she's a disappointment compared to her over-achieving, med-school-student sister. Her parents enroll her in hagwon — Korean summer school — in hopes that she'll win a scholarship to private school. Instead, she stumbles across a comedy camp... and accidentally takes the place of a girl who was registered for it. But keeping the deception going is a lot of work, and Yumi realizes she may have to admit what happened... even if it means disappointing literally everyone. This laugh-out-loud story about a girl struggling to find her place in both her culture and her family will delight middle grade readers.
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.
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.
After breaking her middle school's honor code, 13-year-old Jamie is assigned to volunteer at the local library 15 hours a week for community service all summer long. What's worse, everyone at her school knows what happened thanks to a social media post by Trina, her nemesis — and twin sister of her crush, Trey. As Jamie gets to know the library, though, she gains a new appreciation for the part it plays in supporting people in the community she normally wouldn't give a second glance. And when the library's funding is threatened, the whole community pulls together. Jamie's growing awareness of the library's power is heartfelt and real, encouraging readers to see it in a whole new way.
Stella and Josie are half-sisters who spend most of their years apart but delight in their summer beach vacation together with their dad. But this year starts off a bit rough: Stella is about to enter high school and thinks Josie is "too childish," and their favorite Water Ice shop is closed! But when the girls discover that the business that replaced the shop has a dark secret that endangers marine life, the boardwalk, and everyone who enjoys the beach, they put aside their differences to prove it. Before long, they're caught up in a mystery — and some hijinks — involving a pop singer, dead jellyfish, and a whole lot of trouble. Told in alternating voices, this light and fun environmental mystery is also a celebration of sisterhood.
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.
When 11-year-old Carolina's Papi loses his job, her family has to move from Puerto Rico to upstate New York, where her Tía Cuca and Uncle Porter live. That means a summer at Silver Meadows Camp, under the shadow of her imperious cousin Gabriela. But Caroline develops a friendship with a fellow artist, Jennifer, and discovers an abandoned cottage where she can create art and explore her feelings. And when Silver Meadows (and the cottage) are threatened, she and Gabriela even manage to work together in an effort to save them. This charming and touching story about finding friendship and home in a new land is as warm as a summer's day.
12-year-old Piper has heard rumors that her wealthy grandmother, Melena M. Mallory, is a witch — but when her father has to undergo chemotherapy, she has no choice but to spend summer vacation at the Mallory Estate. There, she's surprised to meet three other children — foster kids Julius, Kenji, and Camilla — and to discover that the rumors are true, and that the garden on the estate holds magical secrets... including, perhaps, something that could save her father. Piper will have to believe in her new friends, and in her own developing magical powers, if she's going to find the truth. This charming and magical middle-grade adventure is perfect for fans of Harry Potter and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Lou feels squashed and smothered in her grandmother's house, where she shares a room with her mom, so the woodshop-loving girl comes up with a solution: this summer, she's going to build a "tiny house,", which she can put on land she inherited from her dad when he died before she was born. But building a house is tricky (even when it's tiny) and worse, the land might have to be sold to pay off back taxes and fund a move. Fortunately, both Lou's devoted friends and her loving Filipino family are there to help her achieve her dream... even if it doesn't look quite like she imagined. Full of details about Filipino life and culture, this warm story celebrates the true meaning of 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.
Cat is one of the only people who can keep her special-needs brother Chicken happy, and since her father passed away, she's become almost completely responsible for his care. But when a plan for a summer trip falls through, Cat and Chicken suddenly find themselves in the North Carolina home of their grandparents, Macon and Lily, who have been estranged from the family as long as Cat can remember. Cat's determined to protect Chicken, but as the summer goes on, she begins to realize just how overwhelmed she has been by caring for him — and that, if she starts to speak up, her whole family might be better off. Emotional and real, this touching debut novel is perfect for fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt or Ali Benjamin.
13-year-old Blue loves family stories about how her "great-times-twelve grandparents" left treasure underwater near her Sag Harbor home — and she dreams of being the one to track it down. But even with Otis, her diabetic alert dog, Blue's parents are overprotective, and she knows they'd never agree to let her try. When a movie star's daughter, Jules, shows up, Blue is surprised to discover they make a good pair. With Jules' help, Blue might get her adventure — and finally get to escape her reputation as "Diabetes Girl." The challenges of life with diabetes are realistically portrayed in this heartfelt adventure celebrating friendship and self-discovery.
12-year-old Shayne is full of fond memories of summers with her grandparents in Maine. But this summer, her grandfather is gone; her BFF Poppy is more interested in boys than Shayne; and grandmother Bea, who's always been a collector, is now more of a hoarder, with the pile Shayne jokingly called "Junk Mountain" getting out of control. With the help of Linc, the eccentric Civil War-obsessed boy next door, Shayne will have to fight for the things that are most important to her — including her grandmother's happiness. It turns out that both growing up and growing old mean some of the same challenges, including being wiling to let go of the past. This sensitive story featuring a strong grandmother-granddaughter relationship is touching and relatable.
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.
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 the rest of the Sunny series.
Last summer, 13-year-old Leah's brother Sam drowned, and since then, she's felt like a ghost herself, imitating a normal life and lacking support from her parents. Now that it's summer again, all of Leah's friends are away and she has nothing to distract her from her grief. Then she meets 14-year-old Jasper, a gregarious and mysterious redhead who almost seems like she stepped out of a fairy tale, with her overgrown cottage and her chores like doing laundry in the creek. The friendship gives Leah solace, but Jasper is hiding her own painful past — and as both girls' truths come out, they have to figure out if they can save one another. This poignant novel tackles difficult issues with gentleness and grace, and recognizes the strength to be found in friendship.
13-year-old Vic normally loves summer camp at Meadow Wood, but this year, she was hoping to hang out at home with her friend Jamie. Instead, she discovered that her parents are having marriage problems, and they're shipping both her and her brother out. Vic doesn't want to be at camp, and she doesn't want to tell her camp friends what's going on at home, but with the help of her counselor and the camp's co-director, Vic not only opens up a bit about her feelings, but also becomes a mentor to a few new friends. Subtle and sweet, this book by the author of A Kind of Paradise explores the comfort and warm traditions that summer camp can provide.
It's the last day of seventh grade, and everything is about to change for best friends Jaime and Maya. Jaime has noticed the group poking fun at her and freezing her out ever since Celia took over — but she hasn't gotten up the courage to talk to Maya, her best friend since first grade, about it. Meanwhile, Celia's told Maya that she has to kick Jaime out of the group... for her sake, since she doesn't fit in. Over the course of one middle school day, Jaime and Maya will find their friendship tested in a shocking way — and figure out a way to move forward. This graphic novel by the author of the best-selling Emmie and Friends series explores cliques, frenemies, and the importance of being true to yourself.
12-year-old Claire has grown exasperated with her father's fantastical tales: they may have been delightful as a child, but now she believes she's old enough to know the truth. She's especially frustrated at his stories about her absent mom's "adventures" when she's seen the divorce papers. Then her dad sells their house and moves her and her 8-year-old brother into a van with sleeping hammocks, with promises of a grand road trip to find her mom. Claire has to decide if she'll play along with the lie or reveal the truth... or if the stories her dad tells are actually a little of both. This coming-of-age adventure about a girl discovering the power of stories and hope will encourage kids to ponder how we decide what is true.
12-year-old Delsie has always been content living with her kindhearted Grammy in her Cape Cod home, but recently she's started wondering what it would be like to have a "normal" family. And, when Delsie's best seasonal friend, Brandy, returns to her cottage for the summer hanging out with a snobby new friend who scoffs at Delsie's immaturity, Delsie starts to feels like the world doesn't make sense anymore. So when she meets Ronan, a new neighbor who is known as a liar and a thief, she thinks he's just another storm on the horizon. After he stands up for her, however, Delsie discovers that Ronan is caring and courageous but, like her, is lonely and troubled by his own losses. This touching story by the author of Fish in a Tree features a resilient Mighty Girl who discovers that, with real friends and loving family by your side, you can stand strong through just about any weather.
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.
Seventh-grader Mia is recovering from a broken arm after falling off a balance beam — and hiding a secret that might be enough to make her want to give up her dream of competitive gymnastics. Her former entomologist grandmother had a mild stroke a few months ago, so her family is spending the summer in Vermont helping her with her cricket farm. But everything seems to be going wrong, and Gram is sure someone is sabotaging her. Mia makes a few new friends who help her investigate the farm's problems — and admit the truth about a gymnastics coach's unwanted and inappropriate touches and texts. Best-selling author Kate Messner weaves #MeToo themes into an empowering story about friendship, courage, and finding your voice.
12-year-old June feels like her anxiety makes her "broken," so this summer she's determined to conquer it and become the lion she dreams of being. She begins by shaving her head and creating a secret library garden at the public library where her mother works; it's all a great start. But for every step she takes forward, it feels like she takes some back, and when her worries rise out of control again, everything feels like it's falling apart. It will take the help of old friends — and an unexpected new one — and a good therapist for June to find a way to turn this summer into the time of new beginnings, just like she planned. The acclaimed author of Tune It Out and Roll with It has created a relatable and real story about one girl's struggle with her anxiety.
The day before 13-year-old Melly goes off to Camp Rockaway, her parents tell her they're getting a divorce. Not only that, but her best friend, Olivia, is drifting away as she gets more interested in boys... while Melly finds herself crushing on her bandmate, Adeline. And Melly loves the drums, but she's not sure she's got what it takes to be a rock n' roll drummer. Fortunately, when her heart is full of noise, a pair of drumsticks and a good kit will help her understand and express how she feels. This light-hearted and empowering story of two weeks that change everything for one girl includes a sweet and gentle telling of a first romance.
12-year-old Jessie is going to have a lonely summer at her aunt and uncle's house, now that her cousin has a new best friend. So she convinces Wes, the crotchety neighborhood dog walker, to taker her on as an assistant/apprentice. Wes' Rules of the Ruff dog-walking code helps Jessie handle some of the challenges... until a rival dog walker moves in and snatches up most of Wes' business. When Jessie decides to take action, though, she'll soon realize that good intentions don't outweigh the damage that you do. This fun story with an industrious main character also conveys thoughtful messages about friendship and coming of age.
12-year-old Lilla has spent years hiding her feelings — from her divorced parents, from her friends Vivi and Knox, and maybe even from herself. But things are getting tougher: her parents are pushing her towards a competitive magnet school (where she'll have to choose between art and science,) she's getting unwelcome comments about her body, and to her surprise, she's discovered she's developing a crush on Knox. When Vivi challenges her to tell the truth as part of a summer goal to be brave, Lilla has to figure out the balance between worrying about other people's feelings and protecting her own. This timely and important novel explores the power of acknowledging — and speaking — your truth.
12-year-old Cady's life has been constantly unstable; her mother is dead, and her father's struggles with alcoholism have meant homelessness and time in and out of the foster care system. But when it looks like she's going to have to go into care again, Aunt Shell suddenly appears to whisk her away to the small mountain town of Julian. In her mother's old room, and helping in Aunt Shell's pie shop, Cady finally starts to feel safe and at home. So when she learns that the shop is failing, Cady becomes determined to save the day — with the help of some new friends. This heartwarming story of family and friendship is as sweet as Cady's pies.
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.
When adventurous 12-year-old Bett Devlin peeks at her single father's emails, she's horrified to discover that her father is in love — and that he and his new boyfriend are planning to send their daughters to sleepaway camp together, so they can "accidentally" meet one another. Avery Bloom is Bett's opposite, bookish and fearful, and the girls agree they'll NEVER become friends. Except while they're at camp, friendship blossoms anyway, and when it appears that their dads are going to part ways, the two girls are determined to find a way to be sisters after all. Told entirely in letters and emails, and written by two bestselling authors, this laugh-out-loud novel celebrates the many ways that people can become family.
13-year-old Annabelle is a star swimmer, and when she's asked to join the high school swim team over the summer, she thinks it's the key to a positive start to high school — even if her mom does insist on tutoring for her struggling schoolwork as a condition. At practices, she proves her mettle and even attracts the interest of a high school boy. But in her desperation to fit in, she blows off her friends and her tutoring, and when an injury keeps her out of the pool, she loses the boy whose attention she craved and the one thing she felt like she was good at. This relatable story about the struggle for self-worth captures all the uncertainly of middle school.
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.
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.
17-year-old Abby's summer is starting poorly: she just broke up with her first boyfriend, and all her friends are away for three months. Then a packet of letters show up: letters between Abby's recently deceased grandmother, O’ma, and a mysterious suitor named Edward, written after O'ma fled to the US to escape the Holocaust but before she became a wife and mother. To learn more about the letters (and her grandmother's secrets), Abby heads to Nantucket, where Edward lived, only to bump into Edward's grandson Noah, who doesn't want her investigating at all. But the pair starts growing closer, and soon they're working together to unravel the mystery of a missing necklace and O'ma and Edward's stories. A slow-burn romance and a story rooted in Jewish culture make this sweet story a tale to savor.
Georgina's family is full of magic, but with her 18th birthday fast approaching, it seems she'll never develop a gift. But she has no time to worry about that this summer: a rare, 300-year-old bird, Annabella’s Woodpecker, brings tourists to the island every year... but this year, the bird is found dead, deliberately killed by something. Georgina swears to track down the killer, and soon gains the help of Prue, a visitor to the island. As her relationship with Prue blossoms, Georgina will learn about many forms of love, and learn harsh truths about people she believed she could trust. Full of wonder, complexity, and magical realism, this book will make teens wish they could dive into its world.
Quiet and intellectual Spider loves her grandmother's summer home in the Adirondacks — but her family is thinking about selling it to help ease financial stress. Instead, Spider proposes that she find three teenage girls who will rent the rooms for a month. She chooses drama queen Britta, who's trying to avoid her mother's creepy new boyfriend; overachiever Meredith who's wondering if her mother's plan for her is all there is in life; and debutante Kate, who's father is having legal trouble she wants to keep a secret. The four girls are very different, but over the summer they'll not only become friends, but support one another in ways they never expected. Heartfelt and evocative, this book is as relaxing as a summer at the cottage.
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, Megan and Cass vacationed at the same Michigan cottage, and they forged a deep friendship based on their love of art. But when they were 13, Cass' parents got divorced, and the summer vacations ended. Several years later, Megan has finally convinced her protective parents — who don't think art is a real career — to let her visit Cass in New York. Cass seems determined to shock her Midwestern friend with her tattoos and the exotic foods she eats, and she also wants to challenge Megan to develop her art, exploring more mature topics. Their collaboration could even end up in an art show! But when Megan's parents show up unexpectedly, she makes a decision that could cost her friendship... Fans of This One Summer will love this thoughtful graphic novel about friendship, art, and choosing your path as you come of age.
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.