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Launching Our Summer Reading List

All of us at the Mission Society are excited to kick off July with the launch of our 2021 summer reading list. Enjoying new books and encouraging learning, growth, and exploration beyond the classroom is one of our favorite yearly journeys, and we're looking forward to diving into another round of enriching reads.

Created by Adrienne Betz and our partners at Scholastic, our list includes a handful of incredible recommendations for our K-8th grade students. The titles feature out-of-this-world adventures, diverse characters, impactful lessons, vibrant art, and so much more - a perfect addition to your summer plans.

If you're looking for new books to add to your library this July and August, check out the reading list below!


Brave/Valiente by Stacy McAnulty and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

Summary: Brave/Valiente encourages children to be brave in all the ways they can: trying new things, speaking their mind, confronting bullies, and more. Thoughtful text and colorful illustrations show that superheroes are not the only ones that can save the world—every child can be brave and show courage, no matter the situation.

Why We Love This Book: This bilingual story is filled with a diverse cast of characters, allowing readers the opportunity to identify with—and to see themselves in—the pages of the book. Brave/Valiente encourages children to discuss how they can show bravery and courage in their everyday lives.

Layla and the Bots: Built for Speed by Vicky Fang and illustrated by Christine Nishiyama

Summary: Blossom Valley is hosting a go-kart race, and the go-karts are provided for all the kids in town. One racer, Tina, who uses a wheelchair, needs a new cart that uses hand-controls and additional features. In this installation of a popular series, Layla and her robots use their engineering talents to collaborate with Tina to build a perfect go-cart.

Why We Love This Book: With vibrant artwork and the incorporation of speech bubbles throughout, this early chapter book brings STEAM topics to young readers. Aside from being an author, Vicky Fang has also designed technology for children—including designing robots—which may provide children with the opportunity to discuss how interests and hobbies can intersect.

Look Up with Me: Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Life Among the Stars by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Lorraine Nam

Summary: This inspiring biography of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson introduces Tyson as a child filled with curiosity, exploring the night sky through his telescope. Then, readers witness his journey to become a world-renowned scientist and Director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium.

Why We Love This Book: This energetic picture book biography introduces young readers to the topics of astrophysics and astronomy. Tyson’s story will inspire children to discuss how anything is possible if you are passionate, determined, and curious.


Race the Wild: Mountain Mission by Kristin Earhart

Summary: In this installation of a popular series, a group of young adventurers compete on a wilderness competition reality television show, jam-packed with twists and turns. The last leg of the race has the teams traversing the Himalayas, one of the most treacherous mountain ranges in the world. When a rockslide occurs, Russell and his teammates must decide whether it’s more important to go on a rescue mission or win the race.

Why We Love This Book: This book includes brilliant illustrations and interesting wildlife facts that engage young readers. The story is full of diverse characters, adventure, and plot cliffhangers that keep the reader guessing! Additionally, Russell and his friends teach readers about creative problem-solving and the importance of teamwork.

How Do You Burp in Space? by Susan E. Goodman

Summary: This funny, factual book is aimed at the first generation who may become space tourists and travelers, offering advice on how to prepare for the trip and including playful as well as informative comments from space scientists and astronauts.

Why We Love This Book: The engaging photos, paired with playful cartoon images by Scott Gidiwitz and clever text features, help young readers imagine the possibilities of space travel –as well as the scientific and technological breakthroughs that are needed to make this kind of travel possible, now and in the future.

The Unicorn Rescue Society: The Basque Dragon by Alan Gidiwitz and Jesse Casey and illustrated by Hatem Aly

Summary: Elliot and Uchenna are enlisted by Professor Fauna to save mythical creatures. In this adventure, they must travel to the mountains of the Basque Country to track down a missing dragon. Has the dragon been kidnapped? And for what purpose? Elliot and Uchenna must brave all kinds of obstacles to save the day!

Why We Love This Book: This is a fun, illustrated fantasy and a perfect fit for readers looking for a story full of adventure and friendship. This book gives students an opportunity to experience a humorous, fast paced story based on an old myth, and to get to know memorable characters.


Refugee by Alan Gratz

Summary: This historical novel braids the stories of three young refugees in three different time periods and settings: 1938 Berlin, 1994 Cuba, and 2015 Syria. The circumstances of all the kids and families are dire, and their journeys are fraught with danger—but fueled by hope.

Why We Love This Book: This book paints a vivid, empathetic picture of the difficult circumstances that refugees endure. The characters portrayed in the story feel real and relatable, making this a good book for sparking discussion with friends and families.

New Kid by Jerry Craft

Summary: In this relatable, autobiographical graphic novel, Jordan Banks loves drawing cartoons and dreams of going to art school. Instead, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

Why We Love This Book: This award-winning graphic novel tackles themes of growing up and identity in an engaging, often-humorous format. The book also helps pose questions to readers about how they want to be perceived and what’s most important to them about their identity, their friendships, and their relationships.

Chasing Space: Young Reader’s Edition by Leland Melvin

Summary: In this moving and uplifting memoir, Leland Melvin leads readers to understand that grit and grace are the keys to adversity and rising to success. A former NFL wide receiver, Melvin was training to become an astronaut. The training at NASA was challenging, leaving him deaf and no longer a candidate for space travel. How did this remarkable man become the first person in history to catch a pass in the league and in outer space?

Why We Love This Book: This inspiring book introduces readers to the memoir format and poses questions about the importance of patience, dedication, and perseverance while pursuing a dream.

Thank you to the team at Scholastic for your summer reading support - from providing these amazing recommendations, to sharing books with each of the students participating in our summer program. We hope you have a chance to enjoy a few exciting stories with your families this summer!

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