HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
July 9, 2007, Herald Journal

Summertime reading


Although summertime can be a more relaxing family time, it is also full of busy family activities. Ball games, camps, swimming lessons, and hopefully some family getaways – summer is a different kind of busy.

Even with all of these different activities, reading can still be a part of the summer time fun. The trick is to make it a relaxing adventure instead of a chore.

Some of the folowing ideas are from the Mpls. St. Paul magazine article “Raising Readers.”

Listen to books on tape while driving to the cabin; play word games based on what you see as you drive; purchase some blank books or journals and let your child’s creative juices flow; subscribe to a kid-friendly magazine focused on your child’s interests; have a picnic and read some books after; cover the kitchen table with paper and create a comic book written and illustrated by your family; reminisce about a book you loved as a child and maybe even read it together (if you can find it).

Below is the continued list of must-have children’s reads compiled by Jenny Sherman in an article “Books Every Kid Should Read, Raising Readers,” Mpls. St. Paul Magazine. The staff turned to book experts Leonard Marcus, Nancy Pearl, Lee Galda and Vicki Palmquist for their recommendations on children’s book must-haves.

Late elementary/preteen (ages 8 to 12):

• “Ellen Tebbits,” (my daughters and I are currently reading this one together), “Ramona the Pest” and “A Girl From Yamhill” all by Beverly Clearly (one of my favorite authors).

• “The Great Brain” series by John D. Fitzgerald, an adventure series set more than a century ago.

• “Wolves of Willoughby Chase” by Joan Aiken, set in England.

• “Charlotte’s Web” by E. B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams, celebrated by many book experts as one of the best written children’s books.

• “Laugh-eteria” by Douglas Florian (poetry and drawings).

• “Castle and Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction” by David Macauley.

• “The Tale of Despereaux” by Kate DiCamillo, illustrations by Timothy Basil Ering. In it a mouse goes on a quest through a dungeon, a fun story. My 9-year old niece is reading this right now and recommends it.

• “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” by Kate DiCamillo, illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline.

• “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” by Mildred D. Taylor, which focuses on issues of pride, discrimination, self-worth, family and country’s racial history. It is also a 1977 Newberry award winning novel, which Lee Galda says should be read by everyone.

• “Esperanza Rising” by Pam Munoz Ryan.

• “Truckers from the Bromeliad Trilogy” by Terry Pratchett in which confused space aliens move into the basement of a department store.

• “Tuck Everlasting” by Natalie Babbit.

Carver County Libraries recommends these books for great family read-alouds for children ages 9 through 12:

• “Because of Winn Dixie” by Kate DiCamillo.

• “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl.

• “Charlotte’s Web.”

• “Holes” by Louis Sachar.

• “Shiloh” by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

I believe that all of these recommended family read-alouds have been made into movies and are available in video/DVD form.

As a fun and relaxing family summer activity, you read one of the books together, watch the movie and compare the two.

This spring my family and I did just that with “Because of Winn Dixie.” It was a very valuable and entertaining, and not to mention inexpensive, activity.

“Holes” is another family favorite that we have read and watched the movie after, comparing the differences.

Did you know the Newberry Medal, named for eighteenth-century bookseller John Newberry, is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American Literature for Children?

“The Higher Power of Lucky” by Susan Patron was the recipient of the Newberry Medal for 2007.

The 2007 Honor Books are “Penny from Heaven” by Jennifer Holm, “Hattie Big Sky” by Kirby Larson and “Rules” by Cynthia Lord.

Some other books receiving this most distinguished award were:

2006: “Criss Cross” by Lynne Rae Perkins.

2005: “Kira-Kira” by Cynthia Kadota.

2004: “The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread” by Kate DiCamillo.

2003: “Crispin: The Cross of Lead” by Avi.

2002: “A Single Shard” by Lind Sue Park.

2001: “A Year Down Yonder” by Richard Peck.

2000: “Bud, Not Buddy” by Christopher Paul Curtis.

Of course, these books would all be great summer story picks as well.

Have fun with reading.