Most of the time, when a kid gets assigned “summer reading,” it is something they really aren’t looking forward to. Summer is a time for adventure, even with many states prioritizing stay-at-home orders. Kids would rather explore the outdoors, swim in the pool or make up games in the backyard to pass the time. Although reading is important, academics just aren’t at the top of a kid’s to-do list during summer break.

But this isn’t your typical summer reading list.

We’ve compiled a few books for each age group that will immerse your kids in personal growth this summer. These books teach self-improvement in ways that are engaging, interesting and entertaining. Your kids will become more confident, motivated and empowered in their daily lives — qualities that have become increasingly necessary as rates of youth anxiety rise.

Encourage your kids to squeeze in a few of these pages between each summer activity. If your kids are younger, read these books with them! You may even incentivize these readings with a special treat or activity once your kid finishes the book. Try not to force them into it — instead, sell them on the benefits of the content for their mental health, emotional health and personal development.

Without further ado, here are a few personal growth books for kids separated by age group.


  • “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss — This timeless classic teaches kids that they can be anything they want to be — the power is within them! The colorful illustrations complement a strong message. Although we have this one for the kids, it’s also a perfect read for high school grads!
  • “Salt in His Shoes” by Deloris Jordan and Rosyln M. Jordan — A small boy who wants to become a pro-basketball player feels he’s too short to succeed. Written by the family of NBA superstar Michael Jordan, this tale teaches kids just how far practice and determination can take you.
  • “The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes” by Mark Pett — An endearing story about a 9-year-old perfectionist who lives in fear of making a mistake, until something happens that makes her realize it’s okay to mess up every now and then, because we’re always learning. 

Tweens and Teens

Talk to your kids about the benefits of absorbing this content, and you may find them spending more time hitting the books than the pool!