Editor's note: Since we still have some (hot) weeks of summer left, I checked in with LitKid and AKid@Heart, a local daughter and mother team who write the Lost in a Book blog. The two recommend some of their favorite summer reading books for kids.
Summer is a great time to read, and there’s still a lot of summertime left! You can take your favorite book anywhere – the beach, the mountains, Europe, or even just your own backyard. It’s like an adventure in your pocket, if you use your imagination. Every time you open it, you get sucked into that adventure.
Since I’m off to camp, my mom – my co-blogger, “AKid@Heart” – is going to take it from here and tell you about some of our favorite summer-adventures-in-your-pocket.
Some of these books aren’t new, but don’t judge a book by its cover: Dip your toe in, and see how you like it!
~ ”LitKid,” 11-year-old book lover and reviewer at the “Lost in a Book” blog
Harry the Dirty Dog (picture book)
Written by Gene Zion; Illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham
A classic that I owned as a child, "Harry the Dirty Dog" is the story of a dog who gets into wonderful mischief when he goes on a beach excursion with his family. When LitKid was small, we found a "Harry" treasury with three stories in it – I had no idea there was more than one Harry book when I was her age!
Diary of a Spider
Diary of a Fly
Diary of a Worm (picture books)
Written by Doreen Cronin; illustrated by Harry Bliss
These three classics have two of the qualities I love in kids’ books: humor on multiple levels (i.e., grownups who read them are often laughing for different reasons than kids are) and ingenious illustrations with cool details that keep you lingering on each page. They are perfect summer reads. You’ll never look at spiders, flies or worms in the same way!
Bats at the Beach
Bats at the Ballgame (picture books)
Written and illustrated by Brian Lies
What do bats do for fun when the rest of us are sleeping? They pack their moontan lotion and head for the beach, of course! We display "Bats at the Beach" as part of our summer “books as art” gallery and recently spotted its companion, "Bats at the Ballgame," at Quail Ridge Books, our favorite bookstore. Brian Lies’ whimsy and clever illustrations put these on our favorites list.
Wonder (middle-grade fiction)
By R.J. Palacio
An excerpt from LitKid’s review on our blog:
“August “Auggie ” Pullman has been homeschooled forever. Until now. He is different from other kids, because he has a facial deformity. His doctor has called Auggie a miracle, because they weren’t sure he would survive. His first day at Beecher Prep is a good and bad day. ...
“One reason I liked this book is because it conveys a message not just for kids like Auggie, but for everybody: Stand up for what you believe in.”
Visit our blog for the full review, as well as more info on Wonder and taking the ‘Choose Kind’ pledge.
When You Reach Me (middle-grade fiction)
By Rebecca Stead
“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.” ~ the Albert Einstein quote that appears at the beginning of this Newbery Medal-winning novel
I love this Einstein quote, which I had never come across before, and it’s fitting: "When You Reach Me" is a beautiful and mysterious reading experience. Set in the 1970s (which is when I was a “middle-grader”), the story unfolds through the eyes of Miranda, an only child and intrepid city girl who lives with her mother in the Big Apple. "When You Reach Me" revolves around a series of mysterious notes and magical events, a lost friendship and Miranda’s struggles to navigate new friendships.
I loved the story and was surprised by the final plot twist. If you love mystery and magic in a real-world setting, you’ll enjoy "When You Reach Me."
P.S. I especially enjoyed the subplot involving Miranda’s mother’s appearance on "The $20,000 Pyramid," a show I knew well from my childhood! I also loved Rebecca Stead’s portrayal of the warm, loving but sometimes frustrating relationship between Miranda and her mother. It felt very real.
By Jeanne Birdsall
From LitKid’s review on our blog: “This is the story of four girls, a rabbit, and endless summer fun. When Jane, Skye, Rosalind and Batty get to stay at a fancy estate called Arundel, they can’t help but have some adventures. Along the way they meet Cagney, two bunnies and one very harsh woman. It all leads to endless fun that nobody wants to say bye-bye to. Any adult or child would be hooked from the first page. The Penderwicks is an exciting fun and action packed story for all ages. It deserves ***** (5 stars).”
I’ve just begun reading this one, and my early reaction is that it has an old-fashioned feel that reminds me of some of my favorite childhood books (especially "The Golden Name Day," which is sadly out of print). If you like the first Penderwicks book (and we think you will), you’re in luck – there are two more:
"The Penderwicks on Gardham Street"
"The Penderwicks at Point Mouette"
The One and Only Ivan (middle-grade fiction)
By Katherine Applegate
LitKid just received this book for her birthday, and we haven’t had time to read it yet, but much like Wonder, we’ve heard so much praise for it that we felt we had to include it on our list.
Here is a bit of the Kirkus review for Ivan:
“How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.
“Living in a ‘domain’ of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery.”
Need more suggestions? Check out LitKid’s full summer reading/wish list and her mom’s much shorter list on the “Lost in a Book” blog.