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Summertime Favorites offer lasting value for young readers
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In 1988, the National Endowment for the Humanities published its first Summertime Favorites reading list. Selections were based on an informal survey of 60 public and private schools around the country. Every book had been published before 1960 and so had stood the test of at least one generation. Kept in circulation through reprinting and republication on the NEH website, Summertime Favorites for K-8 readers proved enormously popular.

From then on, the list was updated occasionally, but after more than two decades a great many new and beloved books have been published. NEH enlisted the help of the American Library Association to reconsider all the selections. Building on the 1988 list, NEH’s goal was to recommend children's books that met the standard of "lasting value." NEH staff members read every proposed title and strove to come up with a reading list, not just for the summer, but for a lifetime.

The Endowment hopes that this effort, which will grow and evolve over time, has produced a selection of books kids will save to read to their own kids in the future. The following is an excerpt of the NEH Summertime Favorites reading list. The entire list can be found at


Kindergarten to Grade 3

Recommended for K-3, either for reading by children or for reading to them.

“Aesop’s Fables” by Aesop

“Mr. Popper’s Penguins” by Richard and Florence Atwater

“Ivy + Bean” by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall

“Madeline” by Ludwig Bemelmans

“Freckle Juice” by Judy Blume

“Stone Soup” by Marcia Brown

“The Story of Babar, The Little Elephant” by Jean de Brunhoff

“Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel” by Virginia Lee Burton

 “Stega Nona” by Tomie DePaola

“Abuela” by Arthur Dorros and Elisa Kleven

“Petunia” by Roger Duvoisin

“The Reluctant Dragon” by Kenneth Grahame and Michael Hague

“Harold and the Purple Crayon” by Crockett Johnson

“The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson

“A Book of Nonsense” by Edward Lear

“The Year of the Dog” by Grace Lin

“Winnie-the-Pooh” by A.A. Milne and Earnest H. Shepard

“The Little Engine that Could” by Watty Piper and Loren Long

“The Tale of Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter

“Curious George” by H.A. Rey


Grades 4-6

“Fairy Tales” by Hans Christian Andersen

“Tuck Everlasting” by Natalie Babbitt

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum

“The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll

“The Adventures of Pinocchio” by Carlo Collodi

“D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths” by Ingri D’Aulaire and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake

“Harriet the Spy” by Louise Fitzhugh

“Coraline” by Neil Gaiman

“The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales” by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

“The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer

“The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling

“Tales from Shakespeare” by Charles and Mary Lamb

“The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis

“Pippi Longstocking” by Astrid Lindgren

“Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH” by Robert C. O’Brien

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling

“Esperanza Rising” by Pam Munoz Ryan

“Swiss Family Robinson” by Johann Wyss


Grades 7-8

“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott

“National Velvet” by Enid Bagnold

“Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury

“The Last of the Mohicans” by James Fenimore Cooper

“The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

“The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank

“Poems” by Robert Frost

“The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by Victor Hugo

“A Stranger Came Ashore” by Mollie Hunter

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving

“Call of the Wild” by Jack London

“Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’Dell

“A Day No Pigs Would Die” by Robert Newton Peck

“The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood” by Howard Pyle

“The Yearling” by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

“Ivanhoe” by Sir Walter Scott

“Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley

“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith

“Treasure Island” by Robert Luis Stevenson