Bust-a-Gut-Books for Middle-Grade Readers

The Adventures of Captain UnderpantsSummertime should be filled with water-balloon fights, sleepovers, piles of books, and squeals of laughter. So we’ve rounded up some books sure to make your kids giggle all summer long. Just make sure they’re not drinking any soda when they read these. That stuff burns coming out the wrong way:

Fantastic Mr. Fox, by Roald Dahl
Pretty much anything by Roald Dahl is sure to enthrall kids and make them lifelong fans. His books are filled with wonder, humor, and enough big ideas to leave kids thinking about them for years. Fantastic Mr. Fox hits all the right notes, with charming characters, oh-so-silly situations, and yes, lots and lots of burping.

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire!, by Polly Horvath
This book has the pacing and artwork of a classic children’s book. But look closer and it’s totally trippy. There are the titular bunny detectives, marmots who love garlic bread, hippie parents, and an ever-so-likeable girl at the center of it all. Silly, smart, and sweet!

Captain Underpants series, by Dav Pilkey
You might not know these books, but your kids do. They’re funny, action-packed chapter books that “reluctant readers” will gobble down all summer long.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School, by Louis Sachar
Authors around the world still glare at Sachar with the evil eye, wishing they had written this book from 1985. It’s smart, strange, and totally funny. Those who first encountered it 30 years ago are still enthralled by it.

Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein
Adults forget that children’s poetry used to be where the good stuff was: wacky characters, impossible situations, and outrageous drawings all found their way in. Today, Shel Silverstein’s wry, wise poems stand tall as bastions of pre-tech humor amid kids’ ever-present digital distractions.

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, by Betty Macdonald
These classic books are filled with the perfect mix of wisdom, magic, and whimsy. Just like with Mary Poppins, kids finish the books, drifting off to sleep with a smile on their faces, wondering what it would be like if they could go to bed whenever they wanted, eat whatever they wanted, and pretty much do whatever they wanted,  all the while wishing Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle lived on their street to save them from themselves.

The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
The movie The Princess Bride is about a grandfather reading a book called The Princess Bride to his grandson. The bad news is Fred Savage is no longer 8 years old, and neither are you. The good news is the book is real, and it’s as delightfully weird and heartwarming as the movie.

Lunch Lady, by Jarrett Krosoczka
Jarrett Krosoczka’s Lunch Lady graphic novels feature cafeteria mayhem at its finest. Bring on the hairnets and fish-stick nunchucks! The Lunch Lady is here!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, by Jeff Kinney
Don’t dismiss this wimpy kid based on his scrawny stick drawings. These deadpan diaries are one of the strongest success stories in children’s books today! The author of the series has proven he knows exactly what makes kids laugh for 8 blockbuster cartoon-filled books and counting (#9 hits shelves this November!).

What books have your kids laughing this summer?