Our best booklist for kids includes Diary of a Wimpy Kid

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Summer is in full swing and, if you’re like most parents, you are looking for any way you can to beat the summer brain drain. Enter: this book list for kids.

Most schools encourage kids to read 20 minutes or more a day. Studies show that 20 minutes of daily reading builds a wide variety of skills including stronger writing and vocabulary skills, improved memory function, non-linear reasoning, and empathy.

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The best way to get your kid on a path that builds a lifelong love of reading is to find the right books!

We polled parent groups and school librarians to get suggestions for our book list for kids, which includes the best early-reading chapter books that will not only engage reluctant readers but inspire budding bookworms.

Many of these books are short, sweet and part of a series (think Diary of a Wimpy Kid books)—so if your kid falls in love with one character there is a lot more to their story.

Read on for our best summer book list for kids of 2022.

1. The Bad Guys

The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey

You probably are already familiar with this series in the world of kids books, thanks to the recent Bad Guys movie that entered theaters earlier this summer.

The Bad Guys are a motley crew of characters who are trying to overcome their reputations and semi-checkered pasts to redeem themselves in the eyes of others.

It’s hilarious and fun to read, and it’s loaded with lots of funny pictures to keep early readers engaged.

$21 for the 5-book set

2. Hilo

Hilo by Judd Winick

An early-reader-friendly comic series, the Hilo kids books focus on a little boy from outer space who happens to actually be a robot. He lives for mangos, overzealous greetings, saving the world from the evil Razorwark, his best friends Gina and DJ and his sister Izzy.

Fun fact, this series is written by MTV Real World alum Judd Winick (for any Gen X parents out there).

$61 for the 6-book set

3. Yasmin!

Yasmin! by Saadi Faruqi

Yasmin! is a series of kids books about a can-do girl that approaches life with positivity, curiosity, and cultural pride.

Readers will love this one-of-a-kind character and will never grow bored of the adventures she faces and the dilemmas she tackles. Drawn in charming illustrations in bold colors, Yasmin’s confidence, empathy, and positivity are what make her so lovable.

Yasmin’s Pakistani culture plays a large role in these books for kids, with traditional foods and Urdu words sprinkled throughout.

$24 for the 4-book set

4. The Notebook of Doom

Notebook of Doom by Troy Cummings

They will be hooked on this epic series that spans 13 popular kids books.

Alexander moves to a new town, which definitely feels creepy, where he finds the Notebook of Doom. In it are drawings of monsters and other creatures.

When he finds out that these aren’t just sketches, he and his best friends Rip and Nikki set out to save their town from a monster takeover.

$51.95 for the 12-book series

5. Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot

Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot by Dav Pilkey

If your kid isn’t already into the Captain Underpants wildly popular kids books series trust us, they will be.

This is a lesser-known offshoot by Captain Underpants and Dogman creator Dav Pilkey, and it is gorgeously illustrated by Caldecott winner Dan Santat.

Every bit as hilarious as you’d expect from the mind behind Dogman and Captain Underpants, this series is a buddy adventure between a mouse and a robot.

Each book in the Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot kids books series is a battle between good and evil, with humor, adventure, and hilarious storytelling at its core.

$49.50 for the 9-book series

6. Alvin Ho

Alvin Ho by Lenore Look

A sweet little series about an anxious boy and the fears he faces. Girls, camping, birthday parties, babies—like many kids, Alvin struggles with new things.

These charming books follow Alvin Ho as he shrinks these mountains in his mind down to size and learns how to be brave while still maintaining healthy boundaries.

$41 for the 6-book series

7. Lunch Lady

Lunch Lady by Jarrett Krosoczka

What happens when the lunch lady is actually an undercover secret agent who serves up justice with a side of Sloppy Joes?

The crime-fighting cafeteria worker in the Lunch Lady series serves lunch to the unsuspecting students of Thompson Brook School, while also solving crimes.

MacGyver doesn’t have anything on this woman who can down a helicopter with a spatula and use a hairnet to entrap bad guys.

Starting at $6.99

8. Ivy + Bean

Ivy + Bean by Annie Barrows

This dynamic BFF duo has a fresh take on the odd couple dynamic that teaches kids not to judge a book by its cover.

With Bean having an inclination for mischief and Ivy the “nice girl” next door, this 8-book series takes these buddies on all sorts of adventures where they let big ideas and bold dreams take over.

Sometimes the adventures in Ivy + Bean lead to success, sometimes trouble, and sometimes mayhem, but—through it all—their bond as best friends never wavers.

$11 for the 3-book series

9. Julian’s World

Julian's World by Ann Cameron

This series opens up discussions about friendship, race and parent-child relationships.

Julian, his brother Huey, and Julian’s spectacular storytelling abilities are central to the stories in this series that is imbued with humor and positive family relationships.

Some of Julian’s stories can lead to him getting in trouble, but the ALA Notable Children’s Book series of Julian’s World is filled with black-and-white illustrations to anchor children to the humorous stories.

Starting at $4.99

10. Zoo Patrol Squad

Zoo Patrol Squad by Brett Bean

This zany and gripping 4-book series follows the Zoo Patrol Squad as they crack criminal cases.

Colorful, smart and completely hilarious, these graphic novels were written and illustrated expressly for young readers by Disney, Dreamworks and Marvel alum Brett Bean, and are filled with wacky animals, wild adventures and madcap mysteries.

No matter how reluctant a reader you may have, this can’t-put-it-down series of kids books is sure to grab their attention and their imagination.

Starting at $9.99

11. Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid

Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Adventure by Jeff Kinney

Fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid books will love this newer series about Greg Heffley’s best friend and naive neighbor Rowley.

Rowley lacks the sullen tween vibes that are Greg’s trademark and instead approaches life with positivity and humorous innocence. If you laughed at Diary of a Wimpy Kid books you will absolutely be charmed by the Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid series. 

Starting at $4.99

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