22 Middle Grade Books and Graphic Novels About Summer Camp

From haunted camps to music camps to STEM camps, these 22 stories have a diverse range of characters and experiences, so all tween readers can find something to enjoy. 

From haunted camps to music camps to STEM camps, these 22 stories have a diverse range of characters and experiences, so all tween readers can find something to enjoy. These titles are available as a downloadable spreadsheet.


Camp Famous by Jennifer Blecher. Greenwillow. ISBN 9780063140684. 
Gr 4-7–Abby is an ordinary 11-year-old white girl, trying to navigate who she is and what she wants. After an embarrassing incident at school alerts Abby’s teacher to possible bullying, her parents give in and enroll her in a summer sleepaway camp she has always wanted to attend. VERDICT A sweet summer read for realistic fiction fans. Recommended for tween readers who enjoy light coming-of-age tales.

Sink or Swim by Lee Durfey-Lavoie. illus. by Veronica Agarwal. Random House Graphic. ISBN 9780593125519. 
Gr 4-8–Ty is a middle school athlete who has been sidelined from the swim team by a broken arm. He begins to doubt himself, and his anxiety begins to affect his friendship with his fellow swimmer and best friend Max. Attending summer camp together tests their friendship as Ty struggles with his mental health and deals with the consequences of pushing Max away. VERDICT This graphic novel about anxiety, body image, and queerness is a recommended purchase for middle school library shelves.

Maya Plays the Part by Calyssa Erb. Annick. ISBN 9781773218502. 
Gr 3-6–Ever since her autism diagnosis, Maya has performed the role of “Maya in Public,” everywhere she goes. The one place Maya really feels at home is at the theater, so when she has the opportunity to participate in a summer camp at the local community theater, it seems like it’s finally her time to shine. VERDICT A relatable middle grade read with authentic autism representation and important lessons for readers everywhere.

Upstaged by Robin Easter. illus. by author. Little, Brown Ink. ISBN 9780316429429. 
Gr 6-9–Nonbinary teen Ashton Price is excited to bunk with their best friend and crush Ivy for their last year together at Highland Arts theater camp before they part ways for high school. VERDICT This is a great selection for middle schoolers transitioning to high school or struggling to navigate social groups, and for elementary and middle school libraries looking to add age-relevant LGBTQIA+ stories to their collections.

 Summer Vamp by Violet Chan Karim. illus. by author. Random House Graphic. ISBN 9780593425237. 
Gr 5-8–As if it wasn’t bad enough that Maya’s dad’s girlfriend is going to move in with them, Maya realizes too late that the summer camp she's attending is not the culinary camp that was promised, but one filled with vampires. VERDICT A romp of a summer camp story that isn’t to be missed.


Twelfth by Janet Key. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316669313. 
Gr 4-8–It’s June 2015 and 12-year-old Maren is not all that excited to be attending the Charlotte Goodman Theater Camp for the summer. Key wisely uses Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night as the backdrop for her narrative, serving as the camp’s main theater production, among other things. VERDICT A engrossing mystery with a diverse cast of characters; an insightful exploration of the topics of gender, depression, and sexuality; and a satisfying and comprehensive conclusion. Highly recommended.

The Last Rhee Witch by Jenna Lee-Yun. Disney-Hyperion. ISBN 9781368099073. 
Gr 4-7–Ronnie Miller's father sends her away to summer camp with her best friend Jack. She ignores the ghostly figure she sees floating above the trees at Camp Foster, and even after hearing the rumor that camp is haunted by a vengeful gwishin, Ronnie is 99 percent certain that ghosts don’t exist. But that certainty begins to falter as it becomes obvious that something is hunting her. VERDICT Readers will enjoy this spooky middle grade mystery featuring an endearing cast of characters.

 Camp Quiltbag by Nicole Melleby & A.J. Sass. Algonquin. ISBN 9781643752662. 
Gr 4-8–Summer camp is a classic setting in children’s literature, but few are as warm and affirming as the camp in Melleby and Sass’s novel. Told in alternating perspectives, the book follows two children during their first year at an LGBTQIA+ camp. VERDICT A timely and necessary addition to any elementary or middle school library, especially as LGBTQIA+ children are seeking examples of loving communities who fully embrace every part of them.

[Read: 6 Middle Grade Books About Summer in the City]

 Holler of the Fireflies by David Barclay Moore. Knopf. ISBN 9781524701284. 
Gr 5 Up–In a life-changing summer, Javari, a shy Black talented math-whiz tween, travels from Brooklyn to attend Futureneers STEM Camp located at Appalachian Ridge Christian College in the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia. Guided by Cricket, a local Appalachian age-peer, Javari achieves personal growth and an expanding understanding of the community. VERDICT A highly recommended important purchase for tween book collections everywhere; both timely and timeless.

Camp Sylvania by Julie Murphy. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. (Camp Sylvania: Bk. 1). ISBN 9780063114029. 
Gr 4-7–Fifth grade is over, and Maggie’s parents spring insist she go to Camp Sylvania, a fat camp founded by the famous Sylvia Sylvania. Things quickly become weird with a diet of strictly red foods, daily required blood donations, and creepy, mean counselors. When campers begin disappearing, and ghostly and vampiric appearances start happening, Maggie and her friends must stop the sinister plan. VERDICT Readers looking for a slightly spooky, fast-paced adventure with fully developed characters will delve into this one.

Moon Madness by Julie Murphy & Crystal Maldonado. HarperCollins. (Camp Sylvania: Bk. 2). ISBN 9780063347267. 
Gr 4-7–Murphy is back with a second spooky camp adventure, this time cowritten with Maldonado. Middle grade readers will easily find characters and situations to identify with and will revel in this campy romp. VERDICT A speedy but satisfying read that should appeal to a wide range of readers who want the perfect combination of scary, clever, funny, and quick.


Growing Pangs by Kathryn Ormsbee. illus. by Molly Brooks. Random. ISBN 9780593301289; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780593301319. 
Gr 3-6–Katie, who struggles with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive tendencies, heads to summer camp with her best friend Kacey. VERDICT Although it has too many subplots, this colorful graphic novel has a lot to grab the attention of many young readers. Fans of Raina Telgemeier and Kayla Miller are sure to enjoy it. Recommended for most collections.

Camp Prodigy by Caroline Palmer. illus. by author. Atheneum. ISBN 9781665930383. 
Gr 3-8–Middle school protagonists Tate and Eli meet at Camp Prodigy over summer and form a mutually supportive bond that includes refining musical technique, and more. For Eli, it's regaining self-confidence, and for Tate, it's becoming brave enough to come out to their family as nonbinary. VERDICT A tween graphic novel that checks both aesthetic and message boxes with grace—this one belongs in all public and middle and elementary school libraries.

Summer at Squee by Andrea Wang. Penguin/Kokila. ISBN 9780593111314. 
Gr 4-8–After a lonely seventh grade year due to her friend group breaking up, Phoenny Fang is looking forward to her summer at the Summertime Chinese Culture, Wellness, and Enrichment Experience (Squee). Phoenny and her summer camp friends are excited to experience the camp traditions as senior campers this year—until their group, the Squad, is split up to include a new group of campers. VERDICT A fun summer camp coming-of-age story for all students, but especially those traversing issues of cross-cultural identity.

[Read: 13 Joy-Filled Middle Grade Titles for Tweens’ Summer Reading | We Are Kid Lit Collective]

Camp Creepy by Kiersten White. Delacorte. ISBN 9780593379127. 
Gr 3-6–The “Sinister Summer” is back with its third installment. Wil, Theo, and Alexander have been dropped off at Camp Creek. So much fun is being had by everyone that it appears unnatural—everything at Camp Creek is perfect, perfectly joyful, perfectly timed, and perfectly smiley. That’s too much perfect for Theo, who is the only one able to keep her wits about her and investigate the root cause of everyone’s endless joy. VERDICT A strong, swirling mystery filled with humor and wit. Recommended for all readers who enjoyed the first two entries.

The Braid Girls by Sherri Winston. ­Little Brown. ISBN 9780316461610; pap. $8.99. ISBN 9780316461597. 
Gr 4-8–Twelve-year-olds Daija and Maggie are looking forward to a summer as junior counselors at a day camp in their northeastern Florida hometown. They also have plans to set up a business braiding the hair of campers. As soon as they begin to develop a clientele, a group of rival counselors decide to start up a competing business. Throughout the summer, the girls deal with competition, friendship, money, and family. VERDICT This enjoyable slice-of-life novel centers three Black girls navigating family, friendship, and belonging.

Design a Game! ­by Bree Wolf & Jesse Fuchs. illus. by Bree Wolf. First Second. ISBN 9781250750518. 
Gr 4-8–Gaming summer camp is held in the distant future in a galaxy far, far away. Young campers arrive at Space Station Ludum Omega to take a crash course in game design. A diverse cast of humans, aliens, and robots learn about the basics of game development with no more than paper, pencils, playing cards, dice, and scissors. VERDICT This is seriously high-quality instruction. A perfect pick to help kids “get their game on.”


For older middle school kids


The Summer We Forgot by Caroline George. Thomas Nelson. ISBN 9780785236214. 
Gr 7 Up–Two summers ago, Darby, Morgan, and their friends left for training as camp counselors but returned with fractured friendships and no memory. Now, when the body of their former teacher and camp trainer is discovered in a marsh, they’re determined to work together to unlock their hidden memories and discover the truth of the missing summer. VERDICT Fans of true crime and mysteries akin to Karen M. McManus or E. Lockhart will enjoy this title. A solid addition to any collection.

Sunshine by Jarrett J Krosoczka. illus. by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Scholastic/Graphix. ISBN 9781338356311. 
Gr 7 Up–Krosoczka’s follow-up to Hey, Kiddo tenderly depicts his formative experiences in 1994 as a 16-year-old counselor at a summer camp for children with severe illnesses, who attend with their families. Krosoczka brings empathy and personal attention to every camper and family member he can, in hopes that they enjoy their limited time away from hospitals and treatments. VERDICT An admirable look back at a life turned toward service, optimism, and love.

The Matchbreaker Summer by Annie Rains. Random/Underlined. ISBN 9780593481554. 
Gr 7 Up–Sixteen-year-old Paisley Manning (white) has been attending her parents’ Camp Starling since she was little, but since her father passed away four years ago, her mom has mainly run it alone. Days before Darby's first day as a camp counselor, her mom breaks the news that this will be their last year at camp because she has decided to sell it. VERDICT This teen rom-com by contemporary romance author Rains is perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Stephanie Perkins and younger YA readers.

Give Me a Sign by Anna Sortino. Putnam. ISBN 9780593533796. 
Gr 7 Up–Although Lilah is excited about her job as a junior counselor at Gray Wolf, a summer camp for the Deaf and blind, she is a little nervous. She attended the camp when she was younger and loved it, but she’s worried about how rusty her ASL is because she doesn’t use it with her hearing parents or her hearing school friends. VERDICT This debut will please readers looking for a sweet love story while also providing a nuanced and thoughtful exploration of some of the issues those in the Deaf community face.

 Paper Planes by Jennie Wood. illus. by Dozerdraws. Mad Cave Studios. ISBN 9781952303548. 
Gr 7-10–Dylan and Leighton are two former best friends who have been sent to a summer camp for troubled youth due to an incident that is revealed late in the story. This nonlinear tale effectively uses flashbacks to show how these two friends had a falling out and why they are forced to be at the camp together. VERDICT Strong character growth, welcome diversity, and the bittersweet lesson that some friendships don’t last forever make this a must-buy for all libraries.

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