First Partner’s Summer Book Club

First Partners Logo with book open with bear and california state

Launched in partnership with the California State Library, the First Partner’s Summer Book Club is an initiative to reduce summer learning loss and encourage children to read all summer long.

This list features books hand-picked by the First Partner and librarians across the state for kids from preschool through high school. Each book exposes young readers to important social and emotional concepts and highlights values such as diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Ages 3 - 5

Loves Makes a Family

by Beer, Sophie

Love is baking a special cake. Love is lending a helping hand. Love is reading one more book. In this exuberant board book, many different families are shown in happy activity, from an early-morning wake-up to a kiss before bed. Whether a child has two moms, two dads, one parent, or one of each, this simple preschool read-aloud demonstrates that what's most important in each family's life is the love the family members share.

Rafa Counts on Papa

by Cepeda, Joe

Rafa and his papá love to count and measure together. They know how many branches they climb to their favorite spot, they know how high their dog Euclid can jump, and they know how far they can run. But there's one thing Rafa can't count or measure because it is infinite: the love that he and his papá share.

The Boy with Flowers in His Hair

by Jarvis

Jarvis offers a moving tale of friendship, kindness, and acceptance, softly touching on the subjects of illness or hardship in a way that young children can understand. Sensitively told and simply illustrated, Jarvis's story invites even the youngest children to talk about difficult subjects in an age-appropriate way and feel inspired to support others when they face trying times.

Ages 5 - 8

Alice Waters Cooks Up a Food Revolution

by Stanley, Diane

A celebration of food, cooking, and the woman whose curiosity and devotion to flavor kickstarted America’s interest in local, organic food.

Black: The Many Wonders of My World

by James, Nancy Johnson

Black is a wonderful color. Black is special. It is true. It's the sky when the morning is new. In this loving and lovely ode to the color black, a girl describes the many wonders of her world--from the black of starry nights to her own black eyes, clear and bright.


by Herrera, Juan Felipe

A buoyant poem that speaks to the hopes and dreams of readers searching for their place in life. With this illustrated poem of endless possibility, Juan Felipe Herrera and Lauren Castillo breathe magic into the hopes and dreams of readers searching for their place in life.

Fatima’s Great Outdoors

by Tariq, Ambreen

An immigrant family embarks on their first camping trip in the Midwest and discovers the magic of the outdoors. Ambreen Tariq's picture book debut, is a rollicking family adventure, a love letter to the outdoors, and a reminder that public land belongs to all of us. 

Ages 8 - 11

Swim Team

by Christmas, Johnnie

Bree can't wait for her first day at her new middle school, Enith Brigitha, home to the Mighty Manatees until she's stuck with the only elective that fits her schedule, the dreaded Swim 101. The thought of swimming makes Bree more than a little queasy, yet she's forced to dive headfirst into one of her greatest fears. Lucky for her, Etta, an elderly occupant of her apartment building and former swim team captain, is willing to help.

My Thoughts Are Clouds: Poems for Mindfulness

by Heard, Georgia

A poetry collection that illustrates the importance of mindfulness and encourages young, growing minds to be present. Georgia Heard uses poetry to demonstrate what mindfulness is and gives kids, their parents, and teachers accessible ways to learn mindfulness tools.

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone

by Todd, Traci N.

This luminous, defining picture book biography illustrated by Caldecott Honoree Christian Robinson, tells the remarkable and inspiring story of acclaimed singer Nina Simone and her bold, defiant, and exultant legacy.

Ages 11 - 14

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna

by Dobbs, Alda P.

Based on a true story, the tale of one girl’s perilous journey to cross the U.S. border and lead her family to safety during the Mexican Revolution. Dobbs' wrenching debut, about family, loss, and finding the strength to carry on, illuminates the harsh realities of war, the heartbreaking disparities between the poor and the rich, and the racism faced by Petra and her family. Readers will love Petra, who is as strong as the black-coal rock she carries with her and as beautiful as the diamond hidden within it.

In the Beautiful Country

by Kuo, Jane

An essential American story about a young girl from Taiwan coming of age in a new country. This lyrical and heartfelt story, inspired by the author's own experiences, is about resilience, courage, and the struggle to make a place for yourself in the world.

Iveliz Explains It All

by Arango, Andrea Beatriz

In this novel in verse, a preteen girl navigates seventh grade while facing mental health challenges. Powerful and compassionate, Andrea Beatriz Arango's debut navigates mental health, finding your voice, and discovering that those who really love you will stay by your side no matter what.


by Cho, John

12-year-old Jordan feels like he can't live up to the example his older sister set, or his parent's expectations. When he returns home from school one day hoping to hide his suspension, Los Angeles has reached a turning point. In the wake of the acquittal of the police officers filmed beating Rodney King, as well as the shooting of a young black teen, Latasha Harlins by a Korean store owner, the country is at the precipice of confronting its racist past and present.

Grades 9 - 12

Ain’t Burned All the Bright

by Reynolds, Jason

A smash-up of art and text for teens that viscerally captures what it is like to be Black in America today.

Living Beyond Borders: Growing Up Mexican in America

In this mixed-media collection, a celebrated group of authors share the borders they have crossed, the struggles they have pushed through, and the two cultures they continue to navigate as Mexican Americans.

Notable Native People

by Keene, Adrienne

An accessible and educational illustrated book profiling 50 notable American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian people. An indispensable read for people of all backgrounds seeking to learn about Native American heritage, histories, and cultures, Notable Native People will educate and inspire readers of all ages.

We Are Okay

by LaCour, Nina

A novel about grief and the enduring power of friendship. This gorgeously crafted and achingly honest portrayal of grief will leave you urgent to reach across any distance to reconnect with the people you love.

Caste (Adapted for Young Adults)

by Wilkerson, Isabel

Explores the unspoken hierarchies that divide us across lines of race and class. Isabel Wilkerson explores historical social hierarchies, including those in India and Nazi Germany, and explains how perpetuating these rankings dehumanizes vast sections of society. Once we learn the reasons behind caste and see the often heartbreaking effects, Wilkerson says, we can bridge the divides and make way for an inclusive future where we are all equal.

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