The words “summer” and “reading” are beautiful on their own, but joined together they create sunny images of decks, beaches, poolsides, and back yards – preferably with a cold drink nearby! It doesn’t really matter what you’re reading. Maybe you’re planning to read a book from your childhood or tackling a classic you missed in high school.
Kids enjoy summer reading too. There are usually no major writing assignments attached to their books. At Inly, our 4th through 8th grade students are required to read during the summer and they contribute to an on-line book discussion which most of them enjoy. They are given a list, but we hope it points the way to the riches in their local libraries and bookstores. They can choose, from among other categories: fiction, biography, history, nature, poetry, and graphic novels. I have read pro and con arguments about summer reading lists – and completely agree that the selections made by some schools don’t make sense for summer reading. A friend’s son entering the tenth grade was assigned to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Even though he lived in another state, I was tempted to call the school and ask what they were thinking. For most students, Twain’s novel requires discussion and support. Trying to read it on your own at the end of August is guaranteed to destroy any joy in the story.
That being said, if selected carefully, the books on summer reading lists can enrich a child’s summer. Many wonderful books are not featured at chain book stores and may not be on display in the public library. Each September, during the first few days of school, I hear variations of this comment: “That was such a good book, and I would never have known about it!” It is our goal to choose books that can be read and enjoyed and make a kid laugh, explore a new interest, or consider another point of view.
Time to get to this year’s list! Because we want kids to have lots of choices, the list is too long to include here. Over the next few weeks, I will highlight some of my favorite titles for different age groups. Today: six books that will be enjoyed by most six-year-olds, either to read on their own or to enjoy with a friend or parent. The next post will have eight books for eight-year-olds and after that ten books for…..you get it!
Six Books for Six-Year-Olds:
Ling and Ting by Grace Lin (I’m cheating a bit with this title because there are three books in the series so far – with a new one coming this fall. Each short chapter book includes six related stories about Ling and Ting, twins who stick together, but are not – as the title says – “exactly the same!”)
Tales for Very Picky Eaters by Josh Schneider (Winner of the 2012 Geisel Award honoring books for beginning readers. Schneider knows what makes kids laugh – gross foods, references to funny smells and over-the-top silliness. James is a picky eater, but when he tells his father that broccoli is disgusting, his dad suggests James eat “a very sweaty sock.” The stories continue as James names more foods he won’t eat and his father’s ideas get more outrageous.)
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt (Most six-year-olds may already be familiar with this hilarious book about crayons protesting their predictable uses, but every time I pull it off the shelf, kids want to hear it again.)
Benny and Penny in Just Pretend by Geoffrey Hayes (I love the Toon Books series of mini graphic novels for new readers. In this adventure, Penny wants to play pirate with her brother, Benny, but he’s not too excited about that idea. He even tries to lose her by pretending to play hide and seek, but not “seeking” after Penny hides. Of course, they ultimately play pirate together and it’s lots more fun!)
Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure by Doreen Cronin (Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie from Cronin’s The Trouble With Chickens get their own series! In their first “misadventure,” the small detectives try to figure out what “ENORMOUS and FRIGHTENING” thing frightened a squirrel named Tail.)
Princess in Black by Shannon Hale (The system tells me we have two copies of this brightly colored book in our library. The books have not actually spent any time on the shelf though so it’s hard to know! Hale’s book looks like something Mary Blair would have illustrated for Disney, but Princess Magnolia stands firmly in the 21st century. She’s not singing with birds flying around her head – she’s an action hero!)
One more thing – unrelated to six-year-olds……I read in today’s New York Times that Chelsea Clinton has written her first book, a children’s book titled It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going! The book will be released in September. If you want to know more, here’s the link: