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.
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.
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 Frazee. Every 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.