Top 5 Summer Reads for the Whole Family

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Vancouver Public Library and V.I.A. have teamed up to help you discover new reads, hidden book gems and surprising literary finds. Check back every couple of weeks for the latest reading recommendations from the experts at Vancouver’s library.

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Summer is in full swing! Whether you’re packing for a beach day, picnic in the park or relaxing on the patio, make sure to bring along one (or many) of these top summer reads. VPL’s reading experts break down their top five picks for the whole family.

Grown-up reads:

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

This debut novel is generating a lot of buzz. Follow the story of Tom Barren, a young man living in an ideal future. When a time-travelling error drops him into our flawed reality, he must learn to navigate today’s world while trying to return home.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Modern-day lovers Saeed and Nadia flee a war-devastated city to embark on a journey through a magical black door. The story weaves together magic and their harsh reality to create a fascinating and timely novel.

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

George Woodbury is a heroic and popular teacher living with his family in an affluent Connecticut town. When George is charged with sexual misconduct with a minor, the shock sends waves through the town and the Woodbury family has to deal with the unimaginable in different ways.

Men Walking on Water by Emily Schultz

Alfred Moss – a driver taking cash and whiskey across the frozen Detroit Lake during the Prohibition – is in his car when it plummets through the ice. The people he leaves behind – wife, child and gang bosses – scramble to come to terms with this personal and business disaster.

Little Sister by Barbara Gowdy

Rose and her mother, Fiona, run a movie theatre in Toronto. While Fiona slowly succumbs to dementia, Rose experiences her own loss of identity with recurring out-of-body incidents that channel her long-dead sister, Ava.

Teen reads:

Flannery by Lisa Moore

Sixteen-year-old Flannery has it bad. She’s been in love with Tyrone since the days she still believed in Santa Claus. But Tyrone has grown from a dorky kid into an outlaw graffiti artist – the rebel-with-a-cause of Flannery’s dreams.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

Rose and Windy’s families have always spent their summers at Awago Beach since they were little. It’s always been their summer getaway – a refuge. But this summer is different, and they find themselves navigating the complexities of teen love and family secrets.

We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen-Fernlund

Teenager Stewart Inkster is academically brilliant but “ungifted” socially. Ashley Anderson is the “It” girl of ninth grade, but her marks stink. Their worlds collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom.

Uncertain Soldier by Karen Bass

Set during the Second World War, this story follows the unlikely friendship of Erich, a young German prisoner of war who dislikes Nazism, and Max, the son of German immigrants. But with a saboteur running loose and anti-German feelings running high, their friendship puts them both in danger.

Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff

Thirteen-year-old Maresi awaits the call to serve in one of the houses of the Red Abbey, a remote island sanctuary for girls. When a new girl with a dark past arrives, danger follows her to this sacred space and Maresi must act to protect her sisters and their home.

Big kid reads:

The End of the Wild by Nicole Helget

Fern’s single step-father is unemployed and struggling to find work. The only thing keeping the family afloat is the forest behind their home, where Fern forages for food. When a local fracking company threatens her beloved woods, Fern sets out to demonstrate the importance of wild spaces.

The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi

When Farah’s brother disappears into a mysterious board game, she and her friends pursue him into a world where they must follow the rules and win, or be trapped forever. School Library Journal described this story as “steampunk Jumanji with Middle Eastern flair.”

Jake the Fake Keeps It Real by Craig Robinson

Jake has just been accepted into a prestigious art and music school under false pretences, so he quickly comes up with a plan to divert attention away from his dubious artistic talents. Fans of Big Nate and Wimpy Kid will enjoy Jake’s adventures as he tries to fit in by being as weird as possible.

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

When a mean prank goes awry, Virgil is left trapped at the bottom of a well alongside his guinea pig, Gulliver. Virgil finds friendship and bravery he didn’t know he had. Full of well-rounded and nuanced characters, this story reminds us to embrace our differences.

Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee

Young Mattie has had a crush on Elijah for a long time. Then Gemma enters the scene, and Mattie wonders if it’s possible to have two crushes at once. When Mattie is unexpectedly playing Romeo in the school play, guess who’s playing Juliet? A fun read about young love.

Reads for the little ones:

Bee: A Peek-Through Picture Book
by Patricia Hegarty and illustrated by Britta Teckentrup

With bright illustrations and fun windows to peek through, this picture book packs in details about bees in a colourful, readable way. A timely read – given the declining bee populations – and a friendly introduction to flying insects little ones are sure to encounter in summer.

Bunny Island by Pippa Kennard and photography by Yukihiro Fukuda

Incredibly fluffy photos of wild rabbits will enthral you. This book has simple activities to make up a child and bunny’s day of fun. Hop, wiggle, yawn and giggle along with the adorable bunnies of Bunny Island.

Counting with Barefoot Critters by Teagan White

Follow along as these animal friends fill their day with pond-wading, fort-building, campfire-cooking and more! Full of ideas to add to your summer bucket list and detailed illustrations to pore over, your little ones won’t even notice they’re learning to count!

Laundry Day by Jessixa Bagley

Two badger brothers declare they are bored, having exhausted every possible summer activity. When their mother suggests they help hang the laundry, giggles and chaos ensue as they discover all the items around the house that can be hung on a laundry line.

Still a Gorilla! by Kim Norman and illustrated by Chad Geran

Willy, a silly little gorilla, tries to imitate other animals at the zoo. None of his attempts work out, but he sure has fun trying. Read along through the rollicking rhythm and tongue-twisting rhymes, as Willy discovers no matter what his disguise, he’s still a gorilla.

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