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Covers of popular YA novels including The Fifth Season, A Psalm for the Wild-Built, A Deadly Education, The House in the Cerulean Sea, Black Sun, Any Way the Wind Blows, The Gilded Wolves, and The Bone Witch, showcasing diverse themes and captivating stories perfect for summer reading.

Covers of popular YA novels including The Fifth Season, A Psalm for the Wild-Built, A Deadly Education, The House in the Cerulean Sea, Black Sun, Any Way the Wind Blows, The Gilded Wolves, and The Bone Witch, showcasing diverse themes and captivating stories perfect for summer reading.

June 17, 2024

Sunlit Stories: Top Young Adult Novels to Read This Summer—for Adults and Teens Alike

Check out this list of must-read YA novels for summer, or anytime, that promise to captivate the imagination and leave a lasting impression.


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Ah, summer! One of my favorite times of the year to sit back, relax and take in the excellent weather. And there’s one thing that remains a constant from childhood into adulthood: the joy of losing yourself in a good book under the sun. Whether lounging on the beach, sprawled out in a hammock, or nestled in a cozy corner of your home, summer offers the perfect opportunity to dive into new adventures, explore different worlds, and connect with characters who inspire and entertain. For students seeking refuge—or distraction—from the sometimes harsh realities of growing up today, young adult (YA) books provide an escape, offering solace and understanding through relatable characters and engaging stories. So, what are your students, or you, reading this summer?

Did You Know?

Young adult fiction appeals to teens and adults alike, providing comfort, nostalgia and self-care through diverse and engaging narratives.

As a teenager who loved spooky YA stories, one of my favorite series was “Fear Street,” which was recently turned into a three-part series on Netflix. Looking at how YA novels have grown since then and exploded into a genre with so much content, it’s sometimes confusing where to start. That’s why I made this blog!

I’ve selected a list of must-read YA novels for summer, or anytime, that promise to captivate the imagination and leave a lasting impression. From epic trilogies tackling important social issues to heartfelt stories celebrating inclusivity, these books are perfect for those lazy, sun-soaked days. So grab your favorite spot, get comfortable and explore these fantastic reads.

Must-Read Summer Young Adult Fiction

the broken earth trilogy book number 1: the fifth season

Broken Earth Trilogy

This compelling YA trilogy by N.K. Jemisin is a must-read for young adults and adults alike, thanks to its gripping themes around climate change and systemic racism. The series weaves an exciting narrative that entertains while educating readers on pressing global issues. Each book delves into the complexities of human impact on the environment and societal structures, encouraging readers to reflect on their own roles in these dynamics. Educators and parents will appreciate the trilogy’s ability to foster critical thinking and empathy in young readers, making it a valuable addition to any summer reading list. The trilogy also fits well into the subgenre of problem novels, addressing overarching social problems similar to other notable works in YA fiction.

the monk and robot duology book 1 a psalm for the wild built

Monk and Robot Duology

This inspiring YA duology by Becky Chambers stands out for its exploration of humanity, technology and the search for meaning. The stories are imbued with deep philosophical thematic elements, presenting a future where cooperation and understanding between humans and robots lead to profound insights and personal growth. The gentle, hopeful tone of these books makes them perfect for readers seeking thought-provoking yet uplifting narratives. With the rise of artificial intelligence in our own lives, these tales are even more poignant. Educators and parents will find these books excellent tools for discussing themes of coexistence, empathy, and the essence of being human. Written specifically for young adults, this duology also appeals to a broader audience, offering comfort, nostalgia and self-care through its plot-driven escapism.

The Scholomance Trilogy book 1 a deadly education

The Scholomance Trilogy

For those who crave excitement and a touch of the macabre, The Scholomance Trilogy by Naomi Novik offers a thrilling journey through a magical and perilous world. With high-stakes adventure and complex characters, this series keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Themes of bravery, friendship and resilience in the face of danger make these books both exciting and enriching. The main character exemplifies the unique attributes of young adult fiction, navigating challenges that resonate with adolescent readers. Educators will find these themes valuable for sparking discussions about courage and perseverance, making the books a great choice for summer reading.

the house in the cerulean sea book cover

The House in the Cerulean Sea

TJ Klune’s beloved novel is a heartwarming tale of acceptance, love and the importance of inclusivity. Set in a magical world, the story follows a government worker sent to evaluate an orphanage for magical children. What he discovers is a heartwarming and transformative journey that emphasizes the beauty of diversity and the importance of LGBTQIA+ inclusivity. This book, along with others by Klune, is perfect for sparking conversations about acceptance and kindness. Readers will appreciate the positive messages and engaging storytelling, making it a wonderful addition to any reading list. Additionally, the novel touches on themes common in “new adult” fiction, such as developing identity and navigating life transitions.

Book cover of 'Black Sun' by Rebecca Roanhorse, featuring a dark face adorned with blue feathers and a radiant headdress, set against a black background with golden text

Between Earth and Sky Trilogy

Dive into the immersive world of Rebecca Roanhorse's "Between Earth and Sky" trilogy, a spellbinding series combining indigenous mythologies and epic fantasy elements. Set in a richly detailed universe inspired by pre-Columbian Americas, this trilogy offers a unique and refreshing perspective in the YA fantasy genre. Black Sun, the first book in the trilogy, introduces readers to a world where celestial prophecies and political intrigue intertwine. The narrative follows several characters whose destinies are bound by an impending solar eclipse, promising a thrilling and unpredictable adventure. 

The Simon Snow Series book 1 cover

The Simon Snow Series

This delightful series by Rainbow Rowell follows the adventures of Simon Snow, a young magician, and his friends at the Watford School of Magicks. With themes of self-discovery, love and friendship, the series offers an uplifting and affirming message about identity and acceptance. Simon’s journey of understanding his own identity and the dynamics of his relationships is portrayed with sensitivity and humor. Readers will value the series’ exploration of LGBTQIA+ themes and the positive, affirming portrayal of diverse characters. This series is perfect for readers looking for a magical escape that also provides meaningful reflections on personal growth and acceptance. 

The Simon Snow Series book 1 cover

The Gilded Wolves Series

This enchanting YA series by Roshani Chokshi is set in a darkly glamorous version of 19th-century Paris. The story follows a diverse group of treasure hunters on a mission to uncover hidden artifacts and secrets. With rich cultural lore and an intriguing blend of history and fantasy, the series explores themes of identity, belonging and the power of teamwork. Chokshi’s lyrical prose and complex characters make this series a must-read for fans of intricate world-building and diverse narratives. Readers will appreciate the series' themes and the way they resonate with contemporary issues.

The Bone Witch Triology book 1 cover

The Bone Witch Triology

In this dark YA fantasy series, Rin Chupeco introduces readers to a world of necromancy and magic. The story follows Tea, a young witch with the rare ability to raise the dead. As she trains to control her powers, Tea faces political intrigue, forbidden romance and a looming war. The trilogy delves into themes of power, loyalty and the consequences of choices. Chupeco’s intricate storytelling and rich cultural influences make this trilogy a compelling addition to any YA reading list. The series also bridges the gap between YA and adult fiction, appealing to a broader audience with its mature themes and complex characters.

What Summer YA Novels Are You Reading?

So, what are you reading this summer? If your book wasn’t on this list, and given the amount of excellent reading out there, let us know in the comments or connect with us on social media on Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), Facebook or Threads.

Your Summer of Learning

Looking for summer PD hours, ideas for back to school, or just ways to relax? Visit Share My Lesson's Summer of Learning page for upcoming summer webinars, teaching resources, blogs, self-care ideas and more.

Andy Kratochvil
Andy Kratochvil is an SML team member who loves hiking, video games, scary books, Mexican food, and finding great content for the Share My Lesson community. He studied political science and French at California State University, Fullerton and received his Master’s in International Affairs from... See More

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