Summer Reading List for Thoughtful Kids
My children are having a pretty lazy summer. We went minimalist on day camp and after a few trips visiting relatives, we’ve finally settled into a long-awaited calm and unscheduled couple of weeks. This has left plenty of time for summer reading (er, intermingled with arguments about “device” time). My 8 year old son has graduated to full-on devouring real books. I get a little pang in my heart when I think about how I no longer read to him in quite the way I used to. But the consolation is seeing him develop a genuine love for reading.
If you’re looking for some book suggestions for grade-school kids, below are a few all time favorite books that I have read to my older son and couldn’t recommend more. Not one will disappoint. To me, these are treasures, every one. The time we spent together in these wonderful, memorable worlds is something that will forever be close to me.
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell
This is possibly the most exquisite children’s book I have ever read. Set in Paris, it follows a little girl in search of her lost mother. The author has quietly drawn the most lovely, understated and moving characters that are still somehow compelling for children. The cozy ambiance, the hopefulness, wonder and magical feeling stayed with us long after we finished this story.
The Guardians of Childhood series by William Joyce
The idea behind this series, that there are guardians who watch over all the children of earth and keep them safe and free from nightmares, is fundamentally beautiful. That these guardians are fantastical versions of Santa Clause, the Sandman, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy is all the more fun. The style of the book, of the writing – it is really lovely. It does not talk down to children. It asks a little more of them than some books, but it does so alongside the most beautiful illustrations you will ever see.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
This was a favorite book from my childhood. I definitely wanted to run away to the Metropolitan Museum after I read it. I took a chance on this one with my son and was really happy that he enjoyed it as much as he did. And I loved having the chance to reread it as an adult. Like all great children’s stories, there is an adult layer, which is why it was even better than I remembered it the first time around.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
This book is pure fun from start to finish. A very kid-pleasing book, it is full of references that they will relate to, in a voice that is very accessible, while being full of cool puzzles that they will love solving. There is a final puzzle to be solved at the end of the book… once completed, you can email the solution to the author. My son was overjoyed when he got a reply. The second Lemoncello book is pretty good as well.
Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
This was a book that we learned about in Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, which among other things really celebrates books and reading – one of the reasons I loved it. Flora & Ulysses is a very original story about a super hero squirrel and his little girl heroine from a celebrated and unbelievably gifted author. (And a Newberry Medal winner.) We loved The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo as well. Another quiet, yet powerfully moving, story full of characters you can’t help but care deeply about.
The Boundless by Kenneth Opal
This is not a short book. It took us a while to finish, but it was worth it. The Boundless is a story about the longest train in the world, nearly 1,000 cars, traveling through the rough wilds of Canada, and with it, the very exciting adventures of a boy who dreams of one day being an artist. The setting is evocative and dreamy and there is a lot of action, excitement and mystery. Again I thought I might be asking too much of my son. But kids have so much more capacity than we give them credit for – a lesson I have learned over and over.
There’s a deep poignancy with children’s books that you don’t really ponder until the time comes that they begin to fade into your family’s history. You read them over and over each night, maybe with more than one child, and it’s hard to imagine the day when you will no longer have any need for them. I will not save them all. But books are pretty safe from my de-cluttering rampages. The special ones will always keep their place on our book shelf.
What are your kid’s all time favorites?
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