Woo-hoo, it’s summertime! Time to kick back and do some serious reading—and when I say “serious” I mean seriously fun.
The only thing better than a great new book is a great new book that’s part of a series. When I make friends with a new character, one book just isn’t enough. I want to spend more time hanging out with them and tagging along on their adventures.
I made a list of 20 series that are perfect for summer reading. Fantasy, mystery, mermaids, restaurant critics, dogs…you’ll find it all here. There’s a link to the first book in each series so you can start at the beginning. Or start at the end and go backwards, if you want. You do you!
And if you don’t get through them all by the end of summer, don’t worry: they’re great for fall/winter/spring reading, too.
Can’t get enough great series? Check out The 20 Best Middle-Grade Books and Series With Dragons and a set of “super” series Magical Schools for Back to School. Plus, I post a lot of books in series on my Instagram page so join me there for even more.
1. The High-Rise Mysteries by Sharna Jackson (2 books)
This series only has 2 books (so far) but it’s set in a high-rise apartment building in London, so reading them is kind of like a vacation where you solve mysteries at the same time.
Start Here: High-Rise Mystery
Summer in London is hot, the hottest on record, and there’s been a murder in THE TRI: the high-rise home to resident know-it-alls, Nik and Norva. Who better to solve the case? Armed with curiosity, home-turf knowledge and unlimited time – until the end of the summer holidays anyway.
2. Keeper of the Lost Cities Series by Shannon Messenger (9 books)
If you love Harry Potter (and who doesn’t?) check out this award-winning series.
Start Here: Keeper of the Lost Cities
Twelve-year-old Sophie has a secret—she’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. One day Sophie meets Fitz, a mysterious (and adorable) boy, and learns she’s not alone. He’s a Telepath too, and it turns out the reason she has never felt at home is that, well…she isn’t. But Sophie still has secrets, and they’re buried deep in her memory for good reason: The answers are dangerous. What is her true identity, and why was she hidden among humans? The truth could mean life or death—and time is running out.
3. The Penderwicks Series by Jeanne Birdsall (5 books)
Don’t let the title of the first book fool you. This New York Times-bestselling series is not just for girls.
Start Here: The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate with sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. Bonus: Jeffrey Tifton, son of the estate’s owner, quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures. Will they manage to stay out of trouble? Maybe…but either way, it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget.
4. Peter and the Starcatchers by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry (5 books)
You know the story of Peter Pan…or do you? This series explains so much, like how Tinkerbell got her name and why Peter keeps losing his shadow…
Start Here: Peter and the Starcatchers
This fast-paced adventure starts in an old English orphanage and sets sail in a rickety ship called the Never Land. On board is an orphan boy named Peter, his mysterious new friend named Molly, and a trunk of magical stuff that can change the world. There are pirates, cannibals, a flying crocodile, biting mermaids, talking porpoises…what more could you possibly want?
5. The Devlin Quick Mysteries by Linda Fairstein (3 books)
Nancy Drew fans, this one is for you. Devlin is smart, strong and on the case—even if she is only twelve.
Start Here: Into the Lion’s Den
Someone has stolen a page from a rare book in the New York Public Library. At least, that’s what Devlin’s friend Liza thinks she’s seen, but she can’t be sure. But who is this thief? And what could the page—an old map—possibly lead to? With her wits, persistence, and the help of New York City’s finest (and, okay, a little bit of help from her police commissioner mother, too), Dev and her friends piece the clues together to uncover a mystery that’s bigger than anyone expected—and more fun, too.
6. Theodore Boone by John Grisham (7 books)
A legal thriller for kids! Theo Boone may only be thirteen years old, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a lawyer…does it?
Start Here: Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer
Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk—and a lot about the law. He dreams of being a great trial lawyer, of a life in the courtroom. But Theo finds himself in court much sooner than expected. Because he knows so much—maybe too much—he is suddenly dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial. A cold-blooded killer is about to go free, and only Theo knows the truth. The stakes are high, but Theo won’t stop until justice is served.
7. The Gaither Sisters Trilogy by Rita Williams-Garcia (3 books)
Did you know that “trilogy” means “a group of three”? Each book in this trilogy follows the Gaither sisters as they grow up during the 1960’s.
Start Here: One Crazy Summer
Eleven-year-old Delphine is like a mother to her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. She’s had to be, ever since their mother, Cecile, left them seven years ago for a radical new life in California. But when the sisters arrive from Brooklyn to spend the summer with their mother, Cecile is nothing like they imagined. The girls hope to go to Disneyland and meet Tinkerbell, but their mother sends them to a day camp run by the Black Panthers. Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern learn much about their family, their country, and themselves during one truly crazy summer.
8. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett and Brett Helquist (4 books)
Fans of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler will love this series that sends friends on art-based adventures. Bonus! There are codes hidden in the illustrations.
Start Here: Chasing Vermeer
Three mysterious letters carry a warning; a young girl stumbles onto an old book; a young boy finds messages in 12 puzzle pieces. Seemingly unconnected events weave together and catapult 12-year-old friends Petra and Calder into a mystery so tangled, it’s stumped the art world for centuries. Now the duo must rely on each other and trust in themselves, the future of a priceless piece of art — and their very safety — depend on it.
9. The Theodosia Series by R. L. LaFever (4 books)
Theodosia’s father may be head curator at the Museum of Legends and Antiquities in London, but only Theo can see all the black magic and ancient curses that cling to the artifacts in the museum.
Start Here: Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos
When Theo’s mother returns from her latest archaeological dig bearing the Heart of Egypt—a legendary amulet belonging to an ancient tomb—Theo learns that it comes inscribed with a curse so black and vile that it threatens to crumble the British Empire from within and start a war too terrible to imagine. Theo devises a daring plan to put things right. But even with the help of her younger brother, a wily street urchin, and the secret society known as the Brotherhood of the Chosen Keepers, it won’t be easy…
10. The Mother-Daughter Book Club Series by Heather Vogel Frederick (7 books)
Will being forced to read a book together turn four wildly different girls into friends? And if it does, what will happen next?
Start Here: The Mother-Daughter Book Club
It was their moms’ idea. None of them want to be there, especially with each other. Megan would rather be at the mall, Cassidy is late for hockey practice, Emma’s already read every book in existence, and Jess just misses her mom. But their new book club is scheduled to meet every month and somehow reading Little Women helps the girls navigate middle school. As they deal with stolen journals, secret crushes, a fashion-fiasco first dance, and more the girls can’t help but wonder: What would Jo March do?
11. The Mysterious Benedict Society Series by Trenton Lee Stewart (4 books)
The first book in this bestselling, award-winning is now on Disney Plus!
Start Here: The Mysterious Benedict Society
“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?” Dozens of children respond to this peculiar ad in the newspaper and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests. Only four children–two boys and two girls–succeed. Their challenge: to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened. What they’ll find in the hidden underground tunnels of the school is more than your average school supplies. So, if you’re gifted, creative, or happen to know Morse Code, they could probably use your help.
12. Fenway and Hattie Series by Victoria J. Coe (4 books)
How can you not love stories from a dog’s eye view? This series gets two paws up from my pups, Snowball and Sandy.
Start Here: Fenway and Hattie
Fenway lives in the city with Food Lady, Fetch Man, and—of course—his beloved short human and best-friend-in-the-world, Hattie. But when his family moves to the suburbs, Fenway faces a world of changes. He’s pretty pleased with the huge Dog Park behind his new home, but he’s not so happy about the Evil Squirrels that taunt him from the trees, the super-slippery Wicked Floor in the Eating Room, and the changes that have come over Hattie lately. His friends in the Dog Park next door say Hattie is outgrowing him, but that can’t be right. And he’s going to prove it!
13. Agatha Oddly Series by Lena Jones (3 books)
Meet thirteen-year-old Agatha Oddly – a bold, determined heroine, and the star of a stylish new detective series.
Start Here: The Secret Key
Agatha Oddlow has been a detective for as long as she can remember – she’s just been waiting for her first big case. And nothing gets bigger than saving the City of London from some strange goings-on. With a scholarship to the prestigious St Regis School, a cottage in the middle of Hyde Park, a room full of beloved sleuthing novels, and a secret key that gives her access to a whole hidden side of London, Agatha is perfectly poised to solve the mystery of what’s going on. But just who can she trust when no one is quite who they seem… (Amazon description)
14. Framed Series by James Ponti (3 books)
Middle school is hard. Solving cases for the FBI is even harder. Doing both at the same time—well that’s just crazy. But that doesn’t stop Florian Bates!
Start Here: Framed!
Florian is twelve years old and has just moved to Washington. He’s learning his way around using TOAST, which stands for the Theory of All Small Things. It’s a technique he invented to solve life’s little mysteries such as: where to sit on the on the first day of school, or which Chinese restaurant has the best eggrolls. But when he teaches it to his new friend Margaret, they uncover a mystery that isn’t little. In fact, it’s HUGE, and it involves the National Gallery, the FBI, and a notorious crime syndicate known as EEL. Can Florian decipher the clues and finish his homework in time to help the FBI solve the case?
15. The Melendy Quartet by Elizabeth Enright (4 books)
Meet the Melendys! There’s thirteen-year-old Mona, who has decided to become an actress; twelve-year-old mischievous Rush; ten-and-a-half-year-old Randy, who loves to dance and paint; and thoughtful Oliver, who is just six.
Start Here: The Saturdays
Tired of wasting Saturdays doing nothing but wishing for larger allowances, the Melendys jump at Randy’s idea to start the Independent Saturday Afternoon Adventure Club (I.S.A.A.C.). If they pool their resources and take turns spending the whole amount, they can each have at least one memorable Saturday afternoon of their own. Before long, I.S.A.A.C. is in operation and every Saturday is definitely one to remember.
16. A Mermaid in Middle Grade Series by A.M. Luzzader (6 books)
School is tough—even underwater! A fun fantasy adventure series set under the sea.
Start Here: The Talisman of Lostland
Brynn Finley is the only mermaid in class who hasn’t been able to learn mer-magic. Without it, she can’t be a guardian of the sea with her parents and friends. On her quest for answers, Brynn encounters a loveable sea turtle, a pair of selkie sisters, and Phaedra, the great and terrible sea witch. Soon Brynn is over her head in trouble, and she must learn to ask for help if she’s going to follow the merfolk oath to be a protector of the ocean and a guardian of the sea. (Amazon description)
17. Stars Series by Tara Dairman
Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.)
Start Here: All Four Stars
Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brûlée accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for one of the largest newspapers in the world. But in order to meet her deadline and keep her dream job, Gladys must cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy and sneak into New York City—all while keeping her identity a secret! Easy as pie, right? (Amazon description)
18. The Emily Series by Lucy Maud Montgomery (3 books)
Another heartwarming series by the author of the Anne of Green Gables books.
Start Here: Emily of New Moon
When Emily Starr’s father dies from tuberculosis, she moves to New Moon Farm to stay with relatives. It’s a jarring change of pace and scenery that pits Emily against her strict aunt Elizabeth and new classmates. Despite the circumstance, she forges friendships with local children: Teddy Kent, Ilse Burnley and Perry Miller. Together, they engage in adventures.
19. The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander (5 books)
This classic series has been around for decades and it’s still magical. Anyone who likes fantasy needs to read these books.
Start Here: The Book of Three
Taran longs to become a hero like the High Prince Gwydion, but that’s not easy when you’re the Assistant Pig-Keeper (to a very special pig). Taran gets his chance for adventure when his pig makes a break for the forest. Before long he’s teamed up with a strong-willed princess named Eilonwy; Fflewddur Fflam, a bard who likes to embellish the truth more than he should; a dwarf and a…Gurgi. They’ll have to work together and face many challenges if they have any hope of defeating the evil Arawn Death-Lord of Annuvin.
20. The Vork Chronicles by Gracie Dix (2 books)
What’s better than one superhero? TWO superheroes…who are twins!
Start Here: Journey to Superhero School
Imagine four-year-old twins…with superpowers! Once their family realizes little Jessica and Oliver Fletcher have powers, their lives will never be the same. This prequel to Welcome to Superhero School follows little Jess and Oliver as they try to hide their powers at school, battle living room décor, and so much more. Our young heroes through it all with family support, love for each other, and their own unique brand of sibling sarcasm.
Is there a series you love that’s not on the list? Don’t keep it to yourself! Stop by my Instagram page and share your fave.