There are some books out there that are what I would call "modern classics." They're popular children or young books and cult classics that a lot of people have heard of but maybe haven't read. That's what my experience with some of these books was, and I only recently got around to reading a few of them. They all are some of my favorite books of all time, and I encourage you to go ahead and read them too, because there can be a special appreciation to be felt when reading books written for younger audiences.
1. 'Howl's Moving Castle' by Diana Wynne Jones
I first saw the Studio Ghibli movie 'Howl's Moving Castle' my freshman year of high school. I quickly and easily fell in love with the characters and plot and was beyond excited when I found out there was a book. It took me almost five years to finally read it, though, and I wish I had read it sooner! I didn't expect to love it even more than I loved the book. If you're familiar with the characters, Book Howl and Book Sophie are even more spectacular in the novel. It has its moments that are stressful, but overall its a relaxing, enjoyable book to read while relaxing during the summer, particularly if you've seen the movie and are familiar with the plot.
2. 'Stardust' by Neil Gaiman
This is another book that I wanted to read for a long time but took forever to get around to reading, and I regret waiting to read this one even more than I do the previous one. It's also another book that has a movie adaptation of it. It's been a while since I've seen it, but I think it was pretty accurate. I'm not a Neil Gaiman fan, but I am definitely a 'Stardust' fan (and a 'Coraline' fan, another book you should read if you haven't already), so it's no surprise that I think the book is much better than the book, mostly because the book contains such wonderful descriptions and details about the world of Faerie. The book is also pretty funny, which I found to be delightfully surprising. The ending of the book is also very rewarding and enjoyable and it's not very long, so I would say it's a pretty ideal light read.
3. 'A Wrinkle in Time' by Madeleine L' Engle
Another book that has a movie! I haven't seen this one, however, because I'm afraid of either a.) the existential crisis I had when I was in the fourth grade when I first read it, or b.) being extremely disappointed. 'A Wrinkle in Time' and it's succeeding books have what I think are heavier themes and topics and is therefore a denser read despite its short length, but the epic plot makes it a great book to read and think about in the summer. Its a staple on any book lover's list of read books for these reasons as well.
4. 'The Secret Garden' by Francis Hogsten Burnett
I read this book for the first time around the same time I read 'A Wrinkle in Time,' and I loved it just as much even though it's very different. It is just as beautifully magical, though. I think this is a quieter novel, taking readers back to when India was a part of the British Empire. The majority of the novel, however, takes place on a quiet manner on a British moor. 'The Secret Garden' is an enjoyable, pleasant read and will take you back to a time when you were more similar to the main character, Mary, or "Mary, Mary, quite contrary," as the other children called her, than you currently are.
5. 'The Phantom Tollbooth' by Norton Juster
When I was in the 4th grade I was lucky enough to have a teacher for literature who was spectacular. She was (and is!) a writer of children's literature, and that is how I started down my journey of wanting to be a writer. We read several books in class and, and 'The Phantom Tollbooth,' was one of them. It's very different from almost everything else I've ever read. It's enchanting and clever with thought provoking wordplay. 'The Phantom Tollbooth' is another book that makes you think of it long after you're done reading it, and for that reason I think it's an important book to read and experience.