Flashlight Books: Series and Stories for Summer Nights

Keep your child or grandchild turning pages under the covers — or under the stars — with these book recommendations from local librarians.
by The Staff at Quail Ridge Books

Aahhhh summertime: longer days and starlit nights, hours to fill on the porch or at the beach. This is a great time to get the kids or grandkids addicted to reading, and book series with memorable characters, inviting plots, and — most importantly — a next book to pick up right away are one way to get them going. Consider these 7 books series for various ages that will keep them engaged. Plus: three books of scary stories to read, all together, around the campfire.

The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey

Mr. Wolf, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Snake, and Mr. Shark are always on a do-good mission — but things rarely go as planned! Your kids will be asking for the next book as soon as they turn the last page of the previous one. (Ages 7-10)

Narwhal and Jelly by Ben Clanton

These books feature Narwhal and Jelly, a great duo whose adventures will have your early reader laughing out loud. They are also a wonderful introduction to graphic novels. (Ages 6-9)

Jada Jones Series by Kelly Starling Lyons

Written by award-winning North Carolina author Kelly Starling Lyons, Jada Jones is a spunky science-loving heroine who finds herself in tricky situations with friends and at school. It’s a great pick for new chapter book readers. (Ages 6-8)

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

These classic books are about the adventures and misadventures of Baudelaire children Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. This series is full of thrills and, well, lots of misfortune. (Ages 8-12)

The Serafina Series by Robert Beatty

Children and adults alike love NC writer Robert Beatty’s Serafina. These eerily suspenseful stories take place at the Biltmore estate in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Asheville and feature the 12-year-old rat catcher Serafina. (Ages 8-12)

Tristan Strong Novels by Kwame Mbalia

This fantastical (and fantastic) series by Raleigh’s Mbalia features seventh grader Tristan fighting alongside African American folk heroes and West African gods. (Ages 8-12)

The Carl Series by Alexandra Day

For kids who can’t read yet, Day’s beautiful images feed the imagination of young ones as they accompany Carl and the baby on fun adventures. (Ages 4-7)

…and some scary stories to read around the campfire!

Beneath the Bed and Other Scary Stories by Max Brallier

Keep that flashlight handy after your child hears the tales in this scary (but not too scary!) book suitable for early readers. (Ages 5-7)

Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker

Gorgeously illustrated by Junyi Wu, this book was selected as a 2020 Newbery Honor Book, which recognizes distinguished literature for young readers. (Ages 9-12)

Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories

For older kids, this great anthology, which includes well-known writers like Edith Wharton and A. M. Burrage, is sure to bring on tingling scalps and shivery spines. (Ages 12-18)

This story originally appeared in our July 2021 issue.