Summer is one of the best times of the year to relax with a good book, and it’s also one of the most important times to encourage children to read.
Studies show that kids who read just four or five books over summer break do much better in school the next year. Many students are required to read from book lists over the summer, but allow your child to read books of his or her choice, too — even comic books or teen romances. This will enhance vocabulary and reading-comprehension skills.
The following books are titles that your favorite reader might enjoy. Don’t forget: It’s not too late to participate in your local library’s summer reading challenge.
For ages: 4-7
“Bedtime for Mommy” (Bloomsbury, 2010) is Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s take on the classic role-reversal story. Told all in dialogue, readers first see Mommy working on her computer at 7:30 p.m. Readers know that the daughter is in charge of bedtime when she peeks inside the doorway to announce that it is time for bed. Mommy begs for a few more minutes, all the while the daughter plays with toys and keeps an eye on her watch. The two go through the evening routine together — taking a bath, picking out tomorrow’s outfit and even brushing teeth for a “nice long time.” The endearing illustrations are reminiscent of vintage children’s books, with white backgrounds and colorful drawings of mommy and daughter in a pastel palette. Kids will love the idea of being in charge of Mommy and laugh when Mommy gets to pick out her bedtime story from the bookshelf. Parents will relate to the typical bedtime routine of just one more glass of water, please.
For ages: 6-8
“The Curious Garden” (Little, Brown and Co., 2009) is a beautiful picture book based on one of author Peter Brown’s favorite garden spaces on an old railroad line in New York City. In the story, Liam, a curious little redheaded boy, discovers an old railway that has a few patches of wildflowers growing in it. Liam notices that the flower beds need someone to take care of them, so he begins to water the flowers and study their needs. Like Liam, his garden is also very curious, so it begins to grow and grow throughout the city. Soon everyone in the community participates in the gardening, and the city becomes more beautiful than ever. The cartoonlike illustrations are dreamy and lush. Kids will love seeing the city brought to life with the color of the curious garden and might even be inspired to grow a garden of their own.
For ages: 9-12
David Greenberg is going to be the next Jon Stewart. David makes hilarious YouTube videos in his studio (bedroom) with his sidekick (pet hamster). His ex-best friend Elliot used to help out too, but they had a fight, which means David has to make it through the first day of middle school on his own. To make things worse, Elliot is now friends with the school bully, and the two are now making David the target of their mean pranks. There is one glimmer of hope for David when he meets Sophie. She thinks David’s videos are great and helps promote them by sending all the links to her friends. Soon everyone online is watching David’s videos, and he becomes an Internet sensation. How will David deal with his celebrity status online and his real life at home? Donna Gephart’s “How to Survive Middle School” (Delacorte Press, 2010) is a funny and sweet story about fame, friendships and family.
For ages: 10-13
Jason Blake is a 12-year-old boy with autism. Jason goes to public school, and though he struggles with the fact that this year he does not have his own classroom aide, he is an amazing writer. He posts stories on an online site and even has fans. One of his fans is a girl his age named Rebecca. She loves his stories and sends him encouraging notes every day, but she does not know that he is autistic. When Jason has a chance to meet his new friend in person, will he be able to conquer his fears? Or will he do his best to retain his anonymity online? In “Anything But Typical” (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009), Nora Raleigh Baskin takes readers into Jason’s intriguing mind with humor and compassion, and does a great job of explaining the thought process of a person with autism. Young readers might find it interesting that even though Jason processes things differently, all kids want the same things: to love and be loved.
For ages: 13-17
In “For Keeps” (Viking, 2010), Sixteen-year-old Josie and her single mom are doing fine as a fun-loving mother-daughter duo. Josie has a great job at the ice cream store and is on the school’s soccer team. Her mom is the manager of the local bookstore, and even though her dad split town years ago when her mom found out she was pregnant, the two have a great relationship. That is until everything changes. Josie, who has never had a boyfriend, starts hanging out with her crush Matt. Josie’s mom starts dating for the first time in years, and Josie’s dad moves back to town. The tension makes Josie’s relationship with her mom awkward. Will Josie be able to handle having her first boyfriend without the support of her mom’s advice? What will happen when they both find out that maybe Josie’s dad isn’t such a bad guy after all? Fans of Sarah Dessen will love this fast-paced novel by Natasha Friend about family, romance and life as a teen.