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Staff Picks: Our favorite books to get your family reading this summer

by | Jun. 17, 2021

For long summer days spent at home, we've rounded up quite the list of books for readers of all ages. Consider this your one-stop for all your family's summer reading. Many of these titles are available on Bookshelf PLUS+ and your whole family can use the same account—which gives you access to listen to and read unlimited books available from Deseret Book! 

Plus, with the Deseret Book Summer Reading program, you can bundle and save! Your discount will automatically be applied at checkout for qualifying online orders.

Buy 3 books and save 10%, Buy 4 books and save 15%, Buy 5 or more books and save 20%. 

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Click on the links below for easy navigation.

Elementary Reads
Middle School Reads
High School Reads
Adult Reads


For Elementary School Readers

Girls Who Choose God | By McArthur Krishna

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

Dive into church history with compelling stories of trail-blazing women. Mothers, midwives, miracle-workers, suffragists, state senators, visionaries, and missionaries—women from our Church history have done it all. In choosing God in their moments of challenge, they were a tremendous force for good in the world. Come to know more of your old favorites such as Lucy Mack Smith and Jane Manning James. And get introduced to new trail-blazers such as Ellis Shipp and Mattie Cannon. Paving the way for us to follow, these 15 extraordinary women can lead us to make our own godly choices.

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Standout Saints: Church History Heroes from Around the World | By Sierra Wilson

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

From prophets to pioneers and from songwriters to scientists, Standout Saints: Church History Heroes from Around the World presents the fascinating true stories of 20 women and 20 men from Church history. Readers will encounter well-known and beloved Saints such as Joseph Smith and Eliza R. Snow along with lesser-known heroes from around the world such as Hu Wei-I, who miraculously translated the Book of Mormon into Chinese, and Mere Mete Whaanga, a prominent Maori woman who helped the Church spread into New Zealand.

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My Little Latter-day Saint Library: Heavenly Parents | By Samantha Millburn

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

Introduce your little ones to their divine heritage with Heavenly Parents, the first book in the Little Latter-day Saint Library board-book set. This engaging book features age-appropriate discussions at three different learning levels on topics such as our Heavenly Parents, the plan of salvation, and the power of prayer. Combining lovely illustrations with gospel learning, this durable book is perfect for tiny hands to cherish as children discover who they are, who their heavenly parents are, and what their purpose is here on earth.

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The Wonderous Restoration | By Darryl Quinn

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

Share the story of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ with your children and follow the Saints from the First Vision to the arrival in the Salt Lake Valley and the many wondrous events in between. Share, teach, and testify of the truths found in this book with your children, and see the wonder of the story through the eyes of the animals.

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For Middle School Readers

Legend of the Dragon Slayer | By Brandon Mull

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

In ancient times, dragons were the ultimate threat to the rest of the mythical world. At the height of the Age of Dragons, it appeared that dragons might not only gain dominion over the magical races, but could potentially overrun the non-magical world as well. A group of specially-trained dragon slayers called Dragonwatch banded together to stand against the dragons. Together, these dragon slayers confined the majority of them to dragon sanctuaries. Legend of the Dragon Slayer is the illustrated story of the very first dragon slayer who took to battle, coming to life with imaginatively rendered full-color illustrations.

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Real | By Carol Cujec

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

Charity may have mad math skills and a near-perfect memory, but with a mouth that can't speak and a body that jumps, rocks, and howls unpredictably, most people incorrectly assume she cannot learn. Charity's brain works differently from most people's because of her autism, but she's still funny, determined, and kind. So why do people treat her like a disease or ignore her like she's invisible? When Charity's parents enroll her in a public junior high school, she faces her greatest fears. Will kids make fun of her? Will her behavior get her kicked out? Will her million thoughts stay locked in her head forever? With the support of teachers and newfound friends, Charity will have to fight to be treated like a real student. Inspired by a true story, Real speaks to all those who have ever felt they didn't belong and reminds readers that all people are worthy of being included.

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Stella | By McCall Hoyle

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

Ever since she was a puppy, Stella was trained to use her powerful beagle nose to sniff out dangerous chemicals and help her handler keep people safe. But after an explosion, Stella is unable to go back to work because of her anxiety. When a young girl name Cloe wants to adopt Stella, the beagle knows this is her last chance to prove her worth. But how? Stella smells a strange chemical inside Cloe's body, a scent that surges just before the girl has a seizure, and Stella's nose makes the connection. But how can Stella warn her new family without them thinking she's having an anxiety attack? How can she convince others that she can be a new kind of service dog and hopefully save Cloe's life? Told from Stella's perspective, this story is about a special dog who must find the courage to overcome her fears in order to help save a young girl with epilepsy.

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Strong Like the Sea | By Wendy S. Swore

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

Even though 12-year-old Alexis was born in Hawaii, she won’t surf or swim with her friends—not since the ocean and its hidden creatures swept her out to sea. Alex’s mom works in counterintelligence and leaves codes, ciphers, and puzzles behind for Alex to solve, always with a “treasure” at the end. It’s a brilliant game between them, and Alex loves figuring out her mom’s puzzles—especially the tricky ones—but when an emergency at sea puts her mom in possible danger, solving the next one suddenly feels far more urgent. Friends help as Alex races to decipher each clue before time runs out, but the challenge changes into something bigger than any before. With storms on the horizon and lives on the line, Alex must face her fears to solve Mom’s challenge and save those she loves. With her ohana to help, she must be strong like the sea.

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Mustaches for Maddie | By Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

Twelve-year-old Maddie has a quirky sense of humor and loves making her classmates laugh by slapping on fake mustaches every chance she gets. Being funny gets her noticed by class queen Cassie, and things are looking up when Maddie is cast as Juliet in the school play. But when Maddie starts tripping when she walks, a doctor confirms Maddie has a brain tumor. In an instant, her world is turned upside down. What about Maddie's chance to play Juliet opposite the cutest boy in the sixth grade? What if the doctors can't get the ugly tumor monster out of her brain? As Maddie's surgery approaches, she wonders if her illness is giving her superpowers because her imagination is bigger than ever, her courage is stronger than ever, and her compassion is about to be felt by more people than she ever imagined.

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For High School Readers

What the Other Three Don’t Know | By Spencer Hyde

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

If Indie had it her way, she would never choose to river raft with three other high school seniors, mostly strangers to each other, from her journalism class: a loner, a jock, an outsider, and Instagram influencer. At first they can’t see anything that they have in common. As the trip unfolds, the unpredictable river forces them to rely on each other. Social masks start to fall as, one-by-one, each teen reveals a deep secret the other three don’t know. Before they get to the end of the canyon, they’ll know the truth about each other and, more importantly, learn something new about themselves. What the Other Three Don't Know is a poignant and gripping young adult novel about the unlikely friends who accept you for who you really are and the power of self-acceptance.

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Spirit: The Gift that Connects You to Heaven | By David Butler

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

Although anyone can feel the power of the Holy Ghost and be guided by it, it's not until baptism that we are promised the gift of the Holy Ghost: the Holy Ghost will stay with us at all times if we are worthy to receive Him. This is a promise so incredible that at times it can be hard to wrap our minds around, much less apply. What, exactly, does it mean to have the gift of the Holy Ghost daily, and how can it help us? Following David Butler's best sellers Almighty and Redeemer, this engaging new book walks readers through the various roles the Holy Ghost takes in our lives. Spirit helps readers learn what the Holy Ghost can do for them, from comforting them to acting as a witness and a guide or a companion. It also helps readers recognize promptings and know-how to use the Spirit's promises and privileges in their lives on a day-to-day basis.

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A Captain for Caroline Gray | By Julie Wright

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

Caroline Gray would rather be daring and intelligent than demure and insipid, which is why she is still unmatched after her third season in London and sent to India, where the son of a family friend is willing to consider an engagement to her. Captain Thomas Scott loves the open sea as much as he despises the three-month, twice-yearly trip his ship makes as he ferries young English girls across the ocean. But when Miss Gray boards his ship, all of Captain Scott's plans are upended. Miss Gray's fiery spirit can't be contained, and he is shocked and secretly delighted at her boldness—and her beauty. Caroline finds herself an outcast among her peers, and Captain Scott becomes an unlikely ally. They share the same passions and interests, creating an undeniable attraction. But they both know any relationship between them is impossible. Caroline has until the end of the voyage to decide if she is going to marry a man she has never met or be brave enough to love a sea captain who just might break her heart.

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How Do I Know if I Know? | By John Bytheway

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

It's spiritual gut-check time! The mission age has been lowered, and now more than ever, young people are asking themselves important questions: How do I know if I really have a testimony? Am I ready to serve a mission? What does the Spirit feel like? John Bytheway suggests that we “F.E.E.L.” the truthfulness of the gospel through our feelings, our experiences, the many pieces of evidence we encounter, and our logical conclusions about how a loving God interacts with His children on the earth. Like gradually turning up a dimmer switch, understanding all the ways we F.E.E.L. our testimony will help it grow brighter. As you read, you may discover that your testimony is stronger than you thought, and you'll also become more excited and motivated to let your light shine!

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For Adult Readers

Isabelle and Alexander | By Rebecca Anderson

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

Isabelle Rackham knows she will not marry for love. Though not a man prone to romantic gestures, Alexander is well-known as an eligible bachelor. His good looks have turned more than one head, so Isabelle is content to think of herself as Alexander's wife. However, her marriage is not what she expected. Sensing his wife's unhappiness, Alexander suggests a trip to his country estate. Isabelle hopes this will be an opportunity to get to know her new husband, but the change of scenery doesn't bring them any closer. While riding together on horses, Alexander is thrown and becomes paralyzed. Tragedy or destiny? The help and care that Alexander now needs is Isabelle's opportunity to forge a connection and create a deep and romantic love where nothing else could.

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The Immortals: The World War II Story of Five Fearless Heroes, the Sinking of the Dorchester, and an Awe-Inspiring Rescue | By Steven T. Collis

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

The celebrated story of the Immortal Chaplains is now joined for the first time in print by the largely untold story of another hero of the sinking of the Dorchester: Charles Walter David Jr. was a young Black petty officer who bravely dived into the glacial water over and over again to try to rescue the men the chaplains had first helped. Through his efforts, he joins the Chaplains as one of “The Immortals.” Thoroughly researched and told in an engrossing non-fiction narrative, the book alternates between accounts told from the perspective of the Nazi U-boat captain and his crew, and the hunted—the men of the American convoy. The author, Steven T. Collis, paints a thought-provoking portrait of religious life in America during wartime and how American views of faith affected the chaplains and the men they served. Page-turning and inspiring, The Immortals explores the power of faith and religious conviction and powerfully narrates the lives of five heroic men who believed in something greater than themselves, living lives of service and sacrifice for their country and their fellow man.

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Know Brother Joseph | By R. Eric Smith, Matthew C. Godfrey, and Matthew J. Grow

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

Over the past twenty years, more than 12,000 pages of scholarly research on Joseph Smith have been published as part of the Joseph Smith Papers, with thousands more being prepared right now. These pages are filled with insights into Joseph, but most have not yet been shared in a way that makes them accessible to a broader audience. This collection of short essays will help close this gap and bring insights into Joseph to Latter-day Saints, both those who are struggling with questions about Joseph and those who simply want to understand the founding Prophet of the Restoration better. These essays look at Joseph Smith's life, character, personality, and relationships with others. Know Brother Joseph is an accessible and faith-promoting look at Joseph Smith, his life, and its relevance to us in our daily walk.

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In Times of Rain and War | By Camron Wright

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

In September of 1940, during the Blitz in London, Audrey Stocking is blending in with other civilians who are trying to survive the nightly bombings, but she has a secret. She's not British; she's German and Jewish. Audrey longs to reunite with her family in Germany, but her double-life, the bombings, and the watchful British Military Intelligence has forced her to stay put. Lieutenant Wesley Bowers is an American soldier who meets Audrey when an air raid leaves an unexploded bomb in the floor of her flat. As they open up to each other, Wesley realizes Audrey is the one bright spot during the war's unending bleakness and constant threat of death. But will he still feel the same if he discovers the secret she is hiding? Secrets even Audrey is unaware of? In Times of Rain and War is a gripping and heartbreakingly beautiful story about the strength and resilience of the human heart and spirit, reminding us there is always hope in hard times.

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First: The Life and Faith of Emma Smith | By Jenny Reeder

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

From acting as a scribe for the translation of the Book of Mormon to founding the Relief Society, Emma Hale Smith was a key figure in the Restoration. She was also her husband's anchor and the love of his life. But how much do we really know about her role, teachings, and leadership? Drawing upon letters written by Emma to Joseph and to many others, along with minutes from Relief Society meetings and other artifacts, this book sketches a more complete portrait of this elect lady. It allows each of us to become personally acquainted with Emma as we learn more about her essential work as a leader, a wife, and a mother in the early days of the Church.

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Real vs. Rumor: How to Dispel Latter-Day Myths | By Keith A. Erekson

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

Did Joseph Smith really say that? Does the Church have that artifact? How accurate was that story told in Sunday School? Should I trust the information on this website? Can I draw closer to God by learning about history? Real vs. Rumor explores Church history myths, rumors, and false quotes to demonstrate how to think effectively about the information that swirls around us in our day. Each chapter brims with illuminating examples from scripture, history, and popular culture. By thoughtfully combining study and faith, you will be strengthened as you deepen your discipleship, avoid deception, understand tough topics, and see the hand of God in history and in your own life.

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The Second Coming of the Lord | By Gerald N. Lund

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

The Second Coming of the Lord is much more than a book that focuses only on the actual return of Jesus Christ. It is an examination of the prophecies about the Second Coming and the events leading up to it. This new edition includes hundreds of the most recent statements from prophets on the signs of the times and the Second Coming, extensive new commentary and scriptural insights, an in-depth examination of prophecies that have already been fulfilled, and a discussion on how to prepare ourselves and our families for what will be the greatest event still to come in this world.

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Holding On: Impulses to Leave and Strategies to Stay | By S. Michael Wilcox

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

When surrounded by faith-shaking fears—impulses to leave the restored gospel—how do we find the strength to HOLD ON? We may not have certainty in all things, but we can hold on to those truths we do believe. And when honest doubts come or impulses to leave tempt us, we can be prepared. In this book author S. Michael Wilcox shares six strategies to cope with these challenges and help us grow our faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Drawing on his own personal faith journey as well as lessons from scripture, history, and literature, Holding On is an insightful, honest, and empathetic conversation about faith and doubt. The messages in this book urge us to hold on to faith, center the essentials, resist the impulses to leave—and stay.

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Beyond the Shade of the Mango Tree: Reflections on What God Sees in Us | By Edward Dube

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

Beyond the Shade of the Mango Tree shows us how our Heavenly Father speaks to and magnifies His children who turn to Him. Elder Dube's story is in some ways the same as many of God's children's, but in other ways, his experiences are vastly different. From growing up in war-torn Zimbabwe, where he discovered the gospel at age 22, to his Church leadership experiences in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria, and the United States, Elder Dube's stories and insights offer fresh perspectives on core gospel teachings. Through Elder Dube's own personal experiences along with teachings of latter-day prophets and the scriptures, Beyond the Shade of the Mango Tree teaches us that we can come to see ourselves as the Lord sees us—His beloved children, with the potential to become like Him.

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The Paper Daughters of Chinatown | By Heather B. Moore

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

When 26-year-old Donaldina Cameron arrives at the Occidental Mission Home for Girls in 1895, she intends to stay for only one year to teach sewing skills to young Chinese women. Within days, she discovers that the job is much more complicated than perfect stitches and even hems. 

Mei Lien believes she is sailing to the "Gold Mountain" in America to become the wife of a rich Chinese man. Instead, she finds herself sold into prostitution—beaten, starved, and forced into opium addiction. It is only after a narrow escape that she hears of the mission home and dares to think there might be hope for a new life. 

The Paper Daughters of Chinatown throws new light on the age-old scourge of human trafficking. The heroes who fought this evil and the victims who triumphed over it more than 100 years ago offer a bright example of courage and determination for anyone wishing for a better world.

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River: Where Faith and Consecration Converge | By Dean Hughes

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

When the settlers from the Muddy River Mission, including the Davis Family, move to Long Valley in Utah, they establish the town of Orderville, the most successful and longest-lasting attempt at living the United Order. River is the story of these idealistic settlers who devoted themselves to living this order with "no rich or poor among them." As they strive to live this order, however, Morgan, Angeline, Ruth, and the other settlers struggle to balance individual freedom with community cooperation. On top of this challenge and the struggles of settling a new town, Morgan and his wives must face the increasing demands of living the principle of plural marriage as their family expands and anti-polygamy pressure from the U.S. Government becomes intense. How will the Davis family face these new pressures and challenges? They're about to find out.

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Reaching for the Savior | By Reyna I. Aburto

Summer Reading List for the Whole Family

Drawing upon her unique life experiences, Sister Reyna Aburto invites readers to join with her in strengthening Christ's Church. Through her relatable style and humble approach, Sister Aburto shares her insights about growing up in Nicaragua, losing her brother in a devastating earthquake, having a spouse struggle with addiction, dealing with divorce and single parenting, joining the Church, and developing a deep conviction of the Savior's love and the transcendent power of His atoning sacrifice. Each chapter addresses a specific way we can reach for the Savior, from studying the Book of Mormon to temple worship to strengthening our wards to ministering and more. Through trials and difficulties, personal darkness, and mental and emotional struggles, we can find small and simple ways of drawing closer to God in reaching for the Savior.

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