"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge
the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." ~Proverbs 24:3-4

Not Just For Kids

Summer Reading Fun

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Reading is a cool way to spend a lazy, hot summer afternoon. Reading aloud is also a great family activity for those long summer evenings. You can even take reading on the road by getting some audio books for listening to in the car. The following list of books features delightful stories set at the seashore, woods, mountains, campground, countryside and backyard, as well as some fantastic adventures that will take you away in true “Reading Rainbow” fashion. Enjoy!

Preschool-Kindergarten (Age 5 and under)

Deegan, Bruce. Sailaway Home. (A small pig’s toy sailboat sets him on a course of imaginary adventures that involve sailing the high seas, meeting pirates, and journeying to the clouds in this cheerful rhyming book with colorful summertime illustrations.)

Ets, Marie Hall. In the Forest. (This is a simple but charming story of a little boy’s make-believe adventure in the woods.)

Ets, Marie Hall. Play With Me. (A sweet story about a young girl and the wild animals with which she longs to play.)

Henkes, Kevin. Bailey Goes Camping. (Toddlers who are too young to go away to camp will appreciate this stay-at-home camping adventure.)

Potter, Beatrix. The Tale of Peter Rabbit. (This adorable animal story with its wonderful watercolor illustrations, and others by the same author, are loved by children everywhere.)

Rosen, Michael. We're Going On A Bear Hunt. (A picture book based on the old camp chant follows a family as they travel through grass, a river, mud, forest, and snowstorm before reaching a bear cave.)

Sendak, Maurice. Where the Wild Things Are. (A lyrical tale of a boy with a wild imagination.)

Grades 1-3 (Age 6-8)

Hesse, Karen. Come On, Rain. (Lovely watercolor illustrations and poetic prose bring to life the joy of anticipating a summer rainstorm in the city.)

Lasky, Kathryn. My Island Gramma. (A little girl, her parents and grandmother spend every summer on an island off the coast of Maine.)

McCloskey, Robert. Blueberries for Sal. (A charming story focusing on the simple pleasures of picking wild berries in the great outdoors.)

McCloskey, Robert. Time of Wonder. (Experience an unforgettable Maine summer in this Caldecott classic.)

Milne, A.A. Winnie-the-Pooh. (Visit the Hundred Acre Wood in these amusing stories.)

Stevenson, Robert Louis. A Child’s Garden of Verses. (These poems perfectly capture the child's world of sunshine, stars, dreams, toy boats, gardens, swings, apple tarts, fairies, flowers, and far-away places.)

Grades 4-6 (Age 9-11)

Byars, Betsy. Summer of the Swans. (Sara is dissatisfied with her family, her looks, and life in general. But when her little brother disappears, she learns what is truly important.)

Enright, Elizabeth. Gone-Away Lake and Return to Gone-Away Lake. (Julian and his cousin explore the area around their summer home and make some surprising discoveries.)

Enright, Elizabeth. Thimble Summer. (Play, work, adventure, and dream during a long hot summer on a farm in the 1930’s.)

Grahame, Kenneth. The Wind in the Willows. (A perfect read-aloud, the adventures of these small animals on the river and in the woods are told with beauty and humor.)

Pearce, Philippa. Tom’s Midnight Garden. (An enjoyable fantasy about a boy who makes a magical discovery that turns his boring summer into an amazing adventure.)

Peck, Richard. A Long Way From Chicago. (Two city kids spend their annual summer vacation at grandma’s house in this Newbery Honor book that spans the years 1929–1942.)

Scieszka, Jon. Summer Reading Is Killing Me! (A summer reading list accidentally gets stuck in the pages of a magical time-warping book. Bad characters start fighting good characters, and three boys must save the heroes of children's literature. Kids will enjoy the funny situations that occur when familiar characters from different books interact with each other in this riotous Time Warp Trio book.)

Streatfeild, Noel. The Magic Summer. (Four children are anticipating an exciting summer holiday but plans change when their father becomes critically ill.)

Grades 7-9 (Age 12-14)

Babbitt, Natalie. Tuck Everlasting. (The first week of August is the exact middle of summer – the dog days. And in 1881, three unrelated events set in motion the strangest first week of August that Winnie Foster had ever seen.)

Burnford, Sheila. The Incredible Journey. (Follow two dogs and a cat on a 250-mile trek through the Canadian wilderness.)

Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. (A story of survival after being shipwrecked and cast ashore on a desert island.)

George, Jean Craighead. My Side of the Mountain and On the Far Side of the Mountain. (Reading this first-person account of a modern boy’s experiences living by himself on a mountain is like taking a vacation from civilization.)

O’Dell, Scott. Island of the Blue Dolphins. (The Newbery Award-winning story of an Indian girl - sort of like a female Robinson Crusoe - who is left alone for 18 years on an island off the coast of California.)

Rawls, Wilson. Summer of the Monkeys. (When a 14-year-old boy spends the summer trying to catch 29 monkeys that escaped from a traveling circus, the results are often humorous.)

Stevenson, Robert Louis. Treasure Island. (This exciting tale of the sea, pirates, and buried treasure is a classic adventure story for young people.)

Twain, Mark. Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. (The hilarious and hair-raising adventures of Tom and Huck have been favorites for generations.)

Wyss, Johann David. Swiss Family Robinson. (The story of how a family that is shipwrecked on an island survives.)

Grades 10-12 (Age 15 and up)

Dana, Richard Henry. Two Years Before the Mast. (A detailed autobiographical account of a two-year trip out of Boston and around Cape Horn to California circa 1834. For an extra touch of authenticity, bring it along on a cruise or read it in a hammock.)

Thoreau, Henry David. Walden; or, Life in the Woods. (This journal covers a two-year period when the author lived a simple life in a cabin on Walden’s Pond surrounded by nature, where he had plenty of time to think and reflect.)

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. (Tolkien’s lengthy fantasy with its underlying theme of good vs. evil features action, suspense, adventure, unique characters, and humor.)

Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (In Northern European countries, the evening of June 23, “Midsummer Eve,” is traditionally a time for lighting bonfires to frighten away evil spirits. This comedy by the famous English playwright tells about the antics of mischievous fairies on that magical evening.)

Verne, Jules. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. (Go on an underwater voyage with Captain Nemo.)

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Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen
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