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10 Must-Read Books for Your Child’s Summer List

ADDitude readers share their kids’ favorite books and characters highlighting and celebrating brain differences. From fantasy and graphic novels to mysteries and Y.A. romance novels, our ultimate summer reading list includes perfect page-turners for neurodivergent readers.

Dog Man: The Scarlet Shedder, by Dav Pilkey
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1. Dog Man: The Scarlet Shedder

by Dav Pilkey

Reading Age: 8-10 years

Dog Man introduced the robot 80-HD (a play on ADHD) as a character, and we are big fans!”

With far-fetched escapades, lovably flawed characters, and loads of potty humor, Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man series is tough to resist for even the most reluctant reader. The latest installment, Dog Man: The Scarlet Shedder, opens with the title character getting sprayed by a skunk. After he bathes in tomato juice, the smell disappears, but the juice’s red coloring doesn’t, causing some community members to shun Dog Man for looking different. His friends, including 80-HD, come to his rescue in this graphic novel that touches on A.I., bullying, and doing the right thing even when it feels bad.

Buy Dog Man: The Scarlet Shedder (#CommissionsEarned)

Finding Perfect, by Elly Swartz
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2. Finding Perfect

by Elly Swartz

Reading Age: 8-12 years

“My daughter told me I had to read Finding Perfect. I’m so glad she recommended it. I loved it! I laughed and cried. So many kids will relate to the themes of wanting to be in control and the pressure of making sure everything is ‘perfect.’”

When Molly Nathan’s mother takes an out-of-state job, Molly tries to bring her back home by winning her middle school slam poetry contest. She becomes so fixated on her plan that she alienates her friends and family, and her ‘annoying habits’ of counting, cleaning, and organizing worsen. Finding Perfect follows Molly’s journey to hide her obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) behaviors until the stress of middle school and family make that impossible, and she must develop a new understanding of what ‘perfect’ really means.

Buy Finding Perfect (#CommissionsEarned)

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Chalice of the Gods
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3. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Chalice of the Gods

by Rick Riordan

Reading Age: 12+ years

“My 12-year-old (AuDHD) son loves the Percy Jackson series, which actually helped him identify that he might have ADHD and started our conversation about getting him evaluated. It also helped that the depiction of ADHD in the series is positive, so he has been very positive about getting the diagnosis.”

The series hero was first introduced in Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, when he was a 12-year-old boy with dyslexia and ADHD who learns his dad is Poseidon. In Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Chalice of the Gods, the now high school senior faces a challenge almost as grueling as saving the world: college admissions. When Percy learns he must complete three quests to earn recommendation letters from the gods, he enlists his old friends Grover and Annabeth to help. Their reunion blends the thrills, humor, heart, and nod to Greek mythology that has made the series a beloved classic.

Buy Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Chalice of the Gods (#CommissionsEarned)

Buy Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series (#CommissionsEarned)

Tiny Tantrum, by Caroline Crowe
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4. Tiny Tantrum

by Caroline Crowe

Reading Age: 3-7 years

“My 3-year-old loves Tiny Tantrum — it’s all about a little girl who struggles with emotional volatility and outbursts. It helps normalize my daughter’s big feelings and teaches her fun ways to address her big feelings in a silly way.”

Tiny Tantrum is the best-behaved child — if she gets her way. Tell her to brush her teeth, eat her vegetables, or share a toy, and she goes into full-on meltdown mode. That is, until a friendly crew of monsters summoned by her tantrums helps her understand emotional dysregulation.

Buy Tiny Tantrum (#CommissionsEarned)

Fifty-Four Things Wrong with Gwendolyn Rogers by Caela Carter
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5. Fifty-Four Things Wrong with Gwendolyn Rogers

by Caela Carter

Reading Age: 8-12 years

Fifty-Four Things Wrong with Gwendolyn Rogers is a great book for any kid who struggles to fit in.”

After secretly reading her IEP report, fifth-grader Gwendolyn Rogers is shocked to discover she has not one — but 54 — supposed flaws. Sure that she must fix them in order to attend summer camp with her half-brother, Tyler (“who only has ADHD wrong with him”), Gwendolyn devises a plan for self-improvement. But does she really need to be fixed? Fifty-four Things Wrong with Gwendolyn Rogers challenges the stereotypes of neurodivergent behaviors and celebrates what makes us unique.

Buy Fifty-Four Things Wrong with Gwendolyn Rogers (#CommissionsEarned)

The Dark Artifices Series by Cassandra Clare
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6. The Dark Artifices Series

by Cassandra Clare

Reading Age: 14+ years

“The Dark Artifices series features a character with autism in a world that doesn’t believe in ‘mortal conditions.’”

Neurodivergence isn’t just misunderstood in The Dark Artifices series — it doesn’t exist. However, author Cassandra Clare deftly incorporates traits of autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and neurodivergence into the main characters’ backstories as they navigate love, friendship, and life as shadowhunters (demon killers). In this young adult fantasy series, readers will connect with a world lacking the vocabulary or knowledge to fully explain all of the neurodivergence it experiences.

Buy The Dark Artifices Boxed Set (#CommissionsEarned)

The Easy Part of Impossible, by Sarah Tomp
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7. The Easy Part of Impossible

by Sarah Tomp

Reading Age: 14+ years

“I loved the main characters in The Easy Part of Impossible. Ria and Cotton are both neurodivergent and completely relatable.”

Neurodivergent thinking, perfectionism, and mental health are just a few topics explored in The Easy Part of Impossible. Diving makes Ria Williams, an elite athlete, forget about her struggles in school (mainly due to her ADHD). When an injury sidelines her Olympic dreams, she finds solace and an unlikely friendship with Cotton, an old classmate from elementary school with autism spectrum disorder. Cotton’s unique perspective on life empowers Ria to re-evaluate her relationship with her toxic coach, reframe her views on friendship, and reclaim her self-worth.

Buy The Easy Part of Impossible (#CommissionsEarned)

A Perfect Mistake, by Melanie Conklin
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8. A Perfect Mistake

by Melanie Conklin

Reading Age: 8-12 years

“Max from A Perfect Mistake reminds me of my middle schooler.”

In A Perfect Mistake, Max is not only teased for being the tallest kid in the sixth grade, but he is recently diagnosed with ADHD, and his friend Will is in a coma following a mysterious incident in the woods. Max doesn’t remember what happened on that fateful night, so he embarks on a quest to find out with an unlikely ally. What follows is a compelling mystery for anyone navigating adolescence and identity.

Buy A Perfect Mistake (#CommissionsEarned)

Lakelore, by Anna-Marie McLemore
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9. Lakelore

by Anna-Marie McLemore

Reading Age: 12+ years

Lakelore is a thought-provoking book about two non-binary neurodivergent teens and the lake that serves as a metaphor for their pain and struggles.”

Anna-Marie McLemore’s coming-of-age novel, Lakelore, brings a magical twist to a story about friendship. Sixteen-year-olds Bastián Silvano and Lore Garcia are drawn into a secretive realm where half-air and half-water worlds coexist. The underwater world gives them an escape from their ADHD-related anxiety, frustrations with having dyslexia, and trauma due to bullying. However, when the boundaries between the two realms blur, Bastián and Lore must confront their fears, secrets — and identities.

Buy Lakelore (#CommissionsEarned)

Gordy the Rabbit Has ADHD, by Jessie Shepherd
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10. Gordy the Rabbit Has ADHD

by Jessie Shepherd

Reading Age: 4-8 years

“I like Gordy the Rabbit Has ADHD by Jessie Shepherd for kids and normalizing mental health.”

Part of the mental health children’s book series What Mental Disorder? Gordy the Rabbit Has ADHD takes readers through a typical day for Gordy as he uses his coping skills to manage his ADHD symptoms successfully — and sometimes not-so-successfully. The picture book’s simple illustrations help explain the nuances of ADHD to kids; caregivers will gain actionable tips to help their children thrive.

Buy Gordy the Rabbit Has ADHD (#CommissionsEarned)