Take a summer walk around my neighborhood, and chances are good you’ll hear small, hopeful voices calling, “Lemonade! Ice cold lemonade!” Lots of things about childhood have changed, but not having a lemonade stand. I did it, my kids did it (they also peddled rocks, which kindly neighbors straight out of story books actually bought). At the end of the day, young entrepeneurs are sticky, tired, and a bit wiser about the ups and downs of earning money.
Maybe they’d enjoy kicking back with one of these delightful novels, some new, some classic, about other kids and their summer businesses.
A Handful of Stars, by Cynthia Lord
Lord’s new book is set in Maine, where Salma and her migrant worker parents are employed raking blueberries. Work is a way of life for her. Meanwhile, Lily is trying to earn money for an operation for her beloved dog by painting and selling bee boxes. As their friendship grows, Lily has a lot to learn about the wider world, her community, and especially herself.
The Penderwicks in Spring, by Jeanne Birdsall
The newest book in this beloved series centers on Batty, who’s trying to raise money to pay for voice lessons. She sets up a business offering to dust, dog walk, and (at her brother’s insistence) dig up rocks. The dusting never happens, but much else does, as Batty comes to grips with her place in her rollicking, loving family.
Seaglass Summer, by Anjali Banerjee
The hero of this book, Poppy, is more of an intern. She spends the summer helping her Uncle Sanjay, a veterinarian, and learns the job is not all warm, fuzzy moments. The sadness (and occasional grossness) of the work becomes real for her, and she’s a different girl by the end of her summer.
Doug Swieteck has just moved to stupid Marysville. It’s the middle of a blazing hot summer, he knows no one, and his family has big time problems. Who’d guess that his job delivering groceries would be part of what saves him? Featuring one of the most unique and compelling voices in all of MG fiction, this book makes a wonderful case for creativity, resilience, love, and yes, work.
The Lemonade War, by Jacqueline Davies
Yes! A lemonade stand, only as most kids never dreamed. The war is between siblings, one with great people skills, the other with a head for math. Bonus: Ten Tips for Turning Lemons Into Loot. This book became a popular series.
I know I’ve left out a lot of terrific books (including non-fiction). Please share your own favorites below, then go out and buy a glass of lemonade!
Tricia’s most recent books for middle graders are Moonpenny Island and Cody and the Fountain of Happiness. She favors raspberry lemonade.
Thanks for the recommendations, Leah and Rosi! Been seeing both those books from the corner of my eye for a while, and will now definitely check out.
Lawn Boy By Gary Paulsen is my favorite book featuring kids making money. Fun read!
Nice list. I am presently reading The Girl in the Torch by Robert Sharenow and the MC 12-year-old orphan Sarah is trying to find work as a buttonhole maker in NY in the early 1900s. It’s a terrific book.