It’s Summertime and the Reading Is Easy

Five weeks of summer have been dawdled away on quiet afternoons with books in hand, feet up, and minds lost in stories too good to interrupt. During the hectic rush of the school year, these are the days we long for: lazy summer days when there are more chapters than hours to read them.

But that hasn’t always been the case. Last summer was quite a different story. I had to beg my kids to do any summer reading. My husband and I read to our kids every night at bedtime. They love books, but they can be picky. Bookstores can be overwhelming. With a lot of patience, persistence, and the determination of a youthful heroine, I made sure this summer the kids found some hits. I’m glad because I just love happy endings.

Here are the books we haven’t been able to put down this summer, including a few simple ways I got my picky readers to try something new (in italics).

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. My son didn’t want to try anything new when he finally finished Harry Potter. He wanted to read that lengthy series again! I picked up The Lightning Thief and read the first few pages to him one night before bed. He was hooked. Riordan does a great job of getting straight to the action. We’ve had to rush to the library for the next book each time my son finishes one. Thanks, Mr. Riordan.

summer reading

A little summer reading. What series should follow Percy Jackson?

Darth Paper Strikes Back: An Origami Yoda Book by Tom Angleberger. While Origami Yoda knew how to solve problems, Darth Paper causes a bit of trouble at the middle school. When my son found out this author plans a book signing in our town, he couldn’t wait to finish this book and has his sights set on the next one due in August.

Just Grace series by Charise Mericle Harper. My daughter was skeptical until I enticed her with the idea that these books were a tiny bit like Diary of a Wimpy Kid for girls, only because it’s broken up into really short bits like a diary and has cute child-like drawings so the narrator can show the reader what she’s talking about. But that’s where the similarities end. The books are cute, age appropriate, and well written. I love Harper’s style. Grace is a cool kid I don’t mind my daughter reading about.

Just Grace

Just Grace is a good series about a girl in a class with other Graces. She gets the nickname “Just Grace,” though she’s anything but ordinary.

The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. When my daughter read the American Girl series about Julie, the girl from 1974, she became interested in the Little House books because Julie was. I took advantage of the connection to another book and read them to her. We’re on the fourth book and love Laura’s antics and Pa’s wisdom. These are a great change of pace from modern life.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I’ve had this book for a while and put off reading it. I wish I hadn’t. I loved it and can’t wait to read the sequels. It’s a great summer read and more girly than I expected. My son wants to read it and I questioned the violence. When I finished, I told him what it was about. He said, “You lost me when you said it was about a girl.” Problem solved.

The Messy Quest for Meaning by Stephen Martin. Martin is a good friend of mine and this book tells about his struggle to find purpose in his life, what he learned from Trappist monks, and how readers can discover their own calling in the world. What, I have purpose other than wiping rears and messes?

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson. Funny. Books that make everyone else laugh don’t usually make me laugh. Parts of this made me cry. My husband read this too and every time he laughed, I’d say, “What part are you on?”

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz. I’m not very familiar with Grimm’s fairy tales. Evidently they’re pretty violent and gory. This book follows the formula. I don’t like that kind of stuff but I loved this well-written book. Clever plot twists move the story along and the characters really do deserve what they get. My son previously started this book and lost interest. When he saw me reading it, he immediately wanted to read it. But he was already into Percy Jackson, which is fine with me.

Even though we’re out of this stage, here are some summer picture books we have loved.

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla FrazeeEvery now and then my son still likes to read this book about two boys who spend a week with one of boys’ grandparents doing what they want to do instead of the fun nature things the grandpa has planned. The boys in it are funny and real and in the end, they really do get the point.

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne. This story tells the life of Jacques Cousteau, including his early years and his contributions to scuba diving and early marine conservation. To a kid, it’s a cool book about a boy, an ocean, and a passion.

Rattletrap Car by Phyllis Root. In this heat, a day at the lake is in order. Can Poppa get the family’s rattletrap car to work long enough to make it to the lake? Maybe if the whole family pitches in. Some days I feel like this in our rattletrap van. “Son, hand me your razzleberry, dazzleberry, snazzleberry gum. I need it to fix the door.”

So tell me, what have you been reading this summer? Five weeks left. There’s plenty time for more in our house. 

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26 Comments

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26 responses to “It’s Summertime and the Reading Is Easy

  1. I’ve read a lot of single (non-series) books, probably more this past year than I have in 5 years. Its been great fun. Are you by chance on Goodreads? I’d love to get some fellow bookreaders on there.

    • I have not looked into that but maybe I should. I don’t know much about it. I am always looking for book suggestions and I am always way behind the times in book world. I’m never up on the latest reads.

  2. My kiddo doesn’t really have a summer per say but sometimes I worry if he’ll ever stop liking books. Before when he was younger, we easily spent 3-4 hours a day reading. I suppose now that he’s a toddler and is so mobile he really wants to explore his surroundings and everything else that comes with it.

    That said, we still make it a point to read 4 books every time he goes to sleep, and usually I’ll crack one of his books open and read it, which will entice him to check out what I’m reading.

  3. I will have to check out your suggestions…especially the Grace books. My son is a huge fan of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. One of his favorite authors to read aloud right now is Gary Paulsen.

    I can’t wait for my kids to get into the Little House books. I have the entire collection from my childhood in storage, I’ll have to dig them out. But I will settle for Judy Blume. My son is reading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to me at night this summer.

    • We went through Diary of a Wimpy Kid last year. It had me and my son rolling. Can’t wait for the movie in August. I have not been able to get my son to read Gary Paulsen. So many great books out there he hasn’t read. I’ll have to try one of my tricks I guess.

      I never read the Little House books as a kid so I’m loving reading them with my daughter. Great stories for snuggling up with at night. And Judy Blume was a childhood favorite!

  4. I loved Little House when I was a kid. I got to see the musical a few years ago with Melissa Gilbert playing Ma. I think I appreciated it more than Dimples, though.

  5. Watch out–most folks I’ve talked to agree that while the whole trilogy is pretty good, the first book of the Hunger Games series was the best.

    Thanks for all the reading suggestions! I’m taking notes for the future; we love our books around here!

    • Yeah, I did hear the second one wasn’t very good but you have to get through it to see how it all wraps up. The first one does a good job of leaving you wanting more.

      We’re always on the lookout for book suggestions here too.

      • Personally, I could not put any of the books down. Read the whole series in a weekend and loved all three books. Definitely a page turner series for my daughter and me!

  6. I am not sure the ages, but my son and countless nieces and nephews thoroughly enjoyed the Artemis Fowl books by Eoin Colfer. We even went to a book signing when my son was about 11. Wonderful.

    These books were the source of my very favorite Google search ever. It was time to get the books for one of my nieces, but I couldn’t remember the name of the book, the author, the main character or anything else, but I remembered that they were wonderful.. Then I remembered one of the characters and promptly Googled “Books with Farting Dwarfs.” BINGO! Artemis Fowl by Eoin Coifer.

    • And yet another tip on how to get my son to read a book: If I tell him this book has farting dwarfs, he is sure to read it! Awesome.

      • There are eight of them. They are hilarious. Loads of farts. He will love them. My son, who will be 21 years old in 2 hours, still keeps them on his bookshelf. (I had to Google because I was at work)

  7. Both my kids love Harry Potter, or simply HP, as we like to call him. Both kids also enjoyed the Percy Jackson series. Riordon also has other series, The Kane Chronicles (first book is The Red Pyramid) and another series, first book is called The Lost Hero, I think. So, after Percy, there is more Riordon books!! My daughter is a Hunger Games fanatic…we even attended the midnight premier of the film in March. I read the series and I love it as well. My son has read the Artemis Fowl books and loved those also. James Patterson has a series for kids/teens called Maximum Ride which both my kids have read and enjoyed.

    My son is currently reading the John Carter books, which were written around the turn of the century…early science fiction. He is digging it. The John Carter film that came our recently is based on that series.

    I am reading The Hobbit and C S Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. I generally never read more than one book at a time, but I am reading Screwtape for a book club I am in.

    Happy reading!!!

  8. Aw, the Little House books! I can’t wait to share those with my kids when they get a little older. Right now my daughter loves when I read her the Junie B. Jones books.

    • Do you have to talk like Junie B.? My son actually liked those books at school, but my daughter never got into them. I’ve only read one. She’s a character. I thought we’d never get out of Magic Tree House. The kids were actually lining up all of those books yesterday telling me which ones they were ready to get rid of.

  9. Great post. I can ‘t wait to check out the Just Grace series with my daughter. My oldest loved the Percy Jackson series and is now loving the Olympians series. Will check out a bunch of the others too. Thank you!

  10. All good books. My two kids no longer require a bedtime story, which is good and bad but life moves on. Last night after dinner the three of us were sitting in the den, each of us with a nose in our book. My son was reading a book based on popular comic, come game, now book. He was complaining the chapters were too long. As a writer myself I made a note to check the chapters on my WIP. I am reading Shadow of Night, Deborah Harkness.. cannot recall the name of the book my daughter is reading. It’s a memoir. Anyway, great list of recommends. I quite enjoyed the Percy Jackson books.

    • My kids don’t complain about chapter length too much. They’ll just stop in the middle if they have to. When I read to them, I’ll stop in the middle so I don’t think they feel like they have to always stop there. Just FYI. But I guess some kids do like them short.

      I’ll have to check out Shadow of Night. I was curious about that series. Thanks for the tip!

  11. We love ALL the Ramona books.My grandkids and I read everytime we are together,really they are always conning somebody to read.Thank you for some of those ideas.Next time we go to the library I will be scouting.

  12. i’m reading, the stephen king book 11/4/63 or something like that, and just finished girl gone or gone girl, or something like that.
    do i count? 😉

    • I’ve never read any Stephen King but my dad always did growing up. That one you mentioned actually got me curious. Maybe I’ll try it. I may be too much of a wimp for him.

  13. Since I enjoy reading your blog, I’ve nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. You can read the post here: http://butmostlymommy.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/one-lovely-blog-award/

    Thanks for blogging!

  14. Not much leisure reading this summer! Thank you for posting this. I’m always looking for good books for the grand kids, and I hate to buy cold and be disappointed! I love and collect good children’s books, can’t wait to try these :). Angie

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