Summer Reads for Kids

With these great stories, you won't have any trouble getting your teens and tweens to hit the books.

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Falling for Hamlet


By Michelle Ray

Teens will happily brush up on their Shakespeare in this wickedly smart retelling of the moody Prince of Denmark. The updated Hamlet, as seen through the eyes of his on-again, off-again girlfriend Ophelia, is a troubled texting teen with parent and paparazzi issues. To read or not to read—most definitely not the question.

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Theodore Boone: The Abduction


By John Grisham

The best-selling kid lawyer-amateur sleuth is back on the case when his childhood friend April goes missing. It's Hardy Boys-esque with realistic touches—fast-talking Theo's tendency toward truancy, mild references to drugs, and search parties using iPad, Google Earth and GPS. Grisham's trademark twists make this a pint-size legal thriller.

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By Kevin Henkes

When things don't go as planned during Alice's annual family trip and birthday celebration, she learns that dealing with disappointment and the unexpected is part of growing up. This artful, charming novel can be enjoyed by the young reader, but don't underestimate its appeal for slightly older kids. Just as he does in his whimsical picture books—like Chrysanthemum and Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse—Henkes captures the honest frustrations and not-so-nice moments of kid-dom, wrapped in spare, lilting language and evocative illustrations.

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Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life


By James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

The beyond-prolific Patterson is passionate about creating fiction for reluctant young readers—particularly boys. His latest focuses on sweet but struggling Rafe, who is dealing with poor grades, a bully and an annoying sister. Charming drawings and a funny, misguided but relatable antihero add up to a too-good-to-resist read.

Originally published in the August 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.