Youth Services’ Picks to Kick off Summer Reading Challenge

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With so many tales to explore it could feel like a never-ending jungle of options. We can help! Check out some of our favorite picks for the whole family to enjoy during this year’s Tails and Tales Summer Reading Challenge. Don’t forget to log your adventures on Beanstack to win fantastic library loot all summer long. 

Picture Books

Because by Mo Willems
This book really celebrates music and arts and the illustrations are absolutely beautiful. It shows how everyone plays a part in something bigger and it only takes one little thing to change someone’s life. This book is perfect for music lovers and readers of all ages who enjoy inspirational stories.
Recommended by Tristen from the Ozark Community Branch, for ages 4 and up.



Madeline Finn and The Therapy Dog by Lisa Papp
This is a beautiful story about a little girl named Madeline who is training her dog, Star, to be a therapy dog. She visits a retirement home where the dog has to go through a series of tests to see if he has what it takes to be a therapy dog. He passes them all with flying colors, as the residents adore him and he is well trained, but there is one man whom he has trouble getting through to. This story teaches a wonderful lesson about friendship, patience, and kindness. The illustrations are vibrant and detailed, which would be very eye-catching for any child.
Recommended by Amber from the Nixa Community Branch, for ages 4-8.


In a Garden by Tim McCanna
I love spring and all things related to it and this adorable book embraces the life found in the gardens. The author uses fun rhymes and colorful illustrations to describe planting and the seedlings growing. He also uses descriptive and sensory words to describe the relationship between plants and animals found in the garden. This book is for families that want to learn about nature, spring, gardening, and the habitats of animals.
Recommended by Jill from the Ozark Community Branch, for ages 4-8.


Feathered Serpent and the Five Suns: a Mesoamerican Creation Myth by Duncan Tonatiuh
Feathered Serpent and the Five Suns is a captivating retelling of a Mesoamerican creation story. In this story, the gods try over and over to create humans from a set of sacred bones. Each time they fail, handing over the sacred bones to the lord of the underworld. The god Feathered Serpent, however, is determined to create humans and travels through the underworld to take back the sacred bones. The heroic journey is illustrated in a unique, powerful style. The details in the illustration and writing are captivating and invite repeated readings. For families looking for heroic stories of creation tales from around the world, this book would be an excellent read-aloud.
Recommended by Joe from the Sparta COmmunity Branch, for ages 7 and up.


Middle Grade

The Wild Robot (The Wild Robert #1) by Peter Brown
The Wild Robot series is a great read-aloud for families. The story of robot Roz learning how to become more than just her programming after being shipwrecked on a remote and uninhabited island is a great introduction to the science fiction genre for readers in upper elementary and middle school.
Recommended by Emily from the Nixa Community Branch, for ages 8-12.



Endling: The Last by Katherine Applegate
This middle-grade novel takes place in a fantasy setting where Byx, a dog-like creature whose species has been hunted to near extinction because of its unique ability to tell when other creatures are lying, believes she may be the last of her species. She sets out to find others of her kind and meets both friends and foes along the way in this wonderful adventure. There are many twists and turns, to keep readers of all ages engaged. This book is great for fans of the Redwall Series and The Unnaturals.
Recommended by Lia from the Clever Community Branch, for ages 10-14



The Line Tender by Kate Allen
For readers who like their stories emotionally charged with uplifting endings, look no further than Kate Allen’s The Line Tender. The characters are detailed and memorable. Lucy’s journey through grief is heartbreaking but also hopeful. Lucy is also working on an animal guide throughout the story so there are interesting small illustrations and interesting animal facts, particularly about sharks. For readers who like coming-of-age stories.
Recommended by Emily from the Nixa Community Branch, for ages 10-14.



Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Don’t let the large page count of this book intimidate you! The authors play with page layouts and images to help tell a story that results in a visually appealing, edge-of-your-seat adventure through space. Teen romance is sprinkled through this tale of an illegal mining colony in deep space, the rival corporations fighting over it, and the cast of teenagers who lead a rebellion. For fans of The Hunger Games and The Lunar Chronicles.
Recommended by Emily from the Nixa Community Branch, for Ages 14 and up.


Internment by Samira Ahmed
This dystopian novel takes place in the United States and follows 17-year-old Layla Amin, who is thrown into a Muslim American internment camp with her family. She struggles with whether or not she should be complicit or speak out against the injustices. With help from friends inside the camp and her boyfriend on the outside, Layla is able to fight for her fellow Muslim Americans. Dealing with racism and religious intolerance, this book is perfect for readers who enjoy dystopian stories.
Recommended by Miranda from the Ozark Community Branch, for ages 16 and up. 



On the go and still want to participate in the Summer Reading Challenge? Whether you are planning for a long car trip or just hanging around the house, audiobooks are a great way to fit your reading into your summer activities!

Kids & Families

The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
The beginning adventures of Ralph S. Mouse in The Mouse and the Motorcycle is a great read for the whole family. Ralph lives in a knothole in a hotel room and when a new family checks into the room, Ralph has a chance to live out his adventuring dreams when one of the new occupants brings along a toy motorcycle. A classic story from beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary, The Mouse and the Motorcycle is the first book in a trilogy about adventure, friendship, and courage. A perfect summer read! Available on CD and Hoopla.
Recommended by Emily from the Nixa Community Branch.

Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship by Jessica Kensky
This is based on a truly inspiring story about love, hope, and resilience that families can enjoy together. It is about a girl and her service dog overcoming obstacles. Available on CD and Hoopla.
Recommended by Jill from the Ozark Community Branch.


Rosetown by Cynthia Rylant
This is a sweet and cozy story perfect for readers of middle grade but will appeal to younger readers as well. Set in 1972, this story follows nine-year-old Flora as she spends time at one of her favorite places on earth, the Wing and a Chair Used Book Shop. A sweet realistic fiction story for book lovers of all ages. Available on Hoopla.
Recommended by Emily from the Nixa Community Branch.


Middle Grade

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
This fresh take on Peter Pan is one you won’t want to put down. Get to know the story behind Peter and how he came to be. Adventure with the secret society of the Starcatchers aboard the pirate ship Never Land. Get lost on a remote island with mermaids, treasure, and magic crocodiles, reminiscent of the classic J.M. Barrie tale. Available on CD and Playaway.
Recommended by Miranda from the Ozark Community Branch.


Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith
Hoodoo combines fantasy, folk magic, horror, and historical fiction into a captivating story full of action, humor, and chills. The story takes place in Alabama in the 1930s and follows Hoodoo Hatcher, a boy who can’t seem to cast a spell despite his magical family and name. An eerie prediction from a carnival fortune teller sets Hoodoo off on an adventure to understand his family’s mysteries. Available on Hoopla.
Recommended by Joe from the Sparta Community Branch.


Midsummer’s Mayhem by Rajani LaRocca
This book is great for middle-grade readers and is a perfect blend of the magic of baking and mystery with a cute take of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Mimi’s family is very talented and she is trying to find her talent when a bakery contest comes up in town. Available on CD and Hoopla.
Recommended by Jill from the Ozark Community Branch, for ages 10-14.


The Light in Hidden Place by Sharon Cameron
This is a novel for any young person who enjoys historical fiction about World War II. Stefania Przemysl is a sixteen-year-old girl living in Poland, when the German army arrives and she makes the hard choice to hide her friend’s brother from invading Nazis. While taking care of her little sister she also hides twelve more Jewish people. With themes of survival and bravery, this is an incredible true story about an unsung hero. Available on Hoopla and Libby.
Recommended by Lia from the Clever Community Branch, for ages 14 and up.

I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal
This novel follows two teen girls from two completely different backgrounds who must rely on each other when a riot breaks out at their high school football game. Throughout the night they confront physical obstacles as well as their own assumptions about racial inequality. This is a book all about empathy and understanding people who you thought you knew. Available on Hoopla.
Recommended by Lia from the Clever Community Branch, for ages 16 and up.