Adventures in Summer Reading

Reading recommendations from Dr. Alice Mar

Happy June and the beginning of summer! As we talked about last month, summer is a great time to encourage kids to read. And what’s better to read than books about kids having summer adventures. Try some of these out as family read-alouds for younger kids or as independent reading for older kids. 

Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsell
Four sisters and their father go on vacation to a cottage on a beautiful estate called Arundel. Their time there has all the ingredients for a classic summer story: gardens to explore, a lonely boy named Jeffrey to befriend and even an evil stepfather-to-be. It’s a rare modern non-fantasy, sarcasm-free, character-driven, good old-fashioned story. And the good news is that if you and your kids love it, there are four more in the series including another summery installment: The Penderwicks at Point Mouette

Half Magic by Edward Eager
A long boring summer lies ahead for four siblings in the 1920s. They don’t have quite enough money to go anywhere or do anything interesting. But then one of them finds a coin on the sidewalk that turns out to be a magic coin that grants wishes and their summer changes. 

How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Two boys make a bet that one of them can’t eat fifteen worms in fifteen days. This book is a somewhat of a classic, primarily becuase it’s really funny. Rockwell creates characters that are believable and feel like kids you know. 

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo 

Opal is a a preacher’s daughter. Her mother left when she was three and her father won’t talk about it. One day at the beginning of the summer she goes to the grocery store and a dog follows her home. The dog becomes the catalyst for her meeting all sorts of new friends in town. Like most of DiCamillo’s books, this one is mutli-layered and nuanced. There are several sad topics woven through the storylines. This one was also made into a very good movie version. 

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
Published in 1930, this classic is most notable for the fact that four children are allowed to spend the summer on an island ALONE. It’s every kids fantasy come to life. 

Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright 

Two cousins discover an abandoned town on the edge of a swamp that used to be a lake. They meet an elderly brother and sister who have come back to the town to live and enchant the children with stories about what the town used to be like. Fantastic characters and gentle adventures (again, kids off on their own without parents) make this a charming story. 

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

I confess to not having actually read this graphic novel. But my daughter has read it and Telgemeier’s other autobiographical graphic novels umpteen times. I know this is the story of two sisters on a summer road trip with their parents. And I know my daughter says it is “really really good”. 

I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora 

Three friends come up with a genius plan to try and get the rest of their class excited about the fact that the book To Kill a Mockingbird is on their summer reading list: they convince people that there is a plot to stop them from reading it. As you would expect, suddenly everyone wants to read what they aren’t supposed to.  As you would also expect, their plan snowballs out of control. The characters are genuine and likable and the idea of middle school book nerds hatching a plan to make others like reading is just too delightful to miss.