Summer's Here: Time to Read!

Make sure your kids get the most from their summer reading -- one of summertime's greatest joys.

By FamilyTime


Whether your children are assigned summer reading books by their schools or decide to explore some titles on their own, the long, lazy days of summer offer great opportunities to indulge in this lifelong pleasure.

There are so many books for children, it's difficult to know where to begin. If the school sent home a list of suggested books, start there. The local library also has lists of books appropriate for all ages.

You will find lists on line, at bookstores, and in books written on the subject of children's literature.

We offer the following list as a jumping-off point. Our suggestions are designed to spark interest and enthusiasm. They do not represent a definitive or complete list.

Why Read?
Some parents think summer is time for fun - not books. But books are fun! Think of the Harry Potter phenomenon; think back to your favorite childhood books - from Nancy Drew to Judy Blume.

Educators agree that reading helps with all aspects of learning. Those children who keep it up during the summer months are better prepared for fall classes. Those who do not may actually fall behind.

The List
While toddlers and preschoolers love books - and benefit enormously from regular exposure to them - we focus on books for school-age kids who already know how to read. Here are some ideas:

Grades 3 and 4

Avi. The Good Dog. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001. The story of a malamute dog torn between the domestic life and wild world of wolves.

Blume, Judy. Double Fudge. Dutton Children's Books, 2002. As part of Blume's Fudge series, twelve-year-old Peter deals with cousins and his younger brother.

Byars, Betsy. Me, Tarzan. HarperCollins 2001. This book tells the hilarious story of a girl who gets the part of Tarzan in a school play and discovers her loud yell.

Cleary, Beverly. Ramona Forever. HarperCollins Publishers 1995. In this book, part of the beloved Ramona series, Ramona enters third grade.

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Girl with 500 Middle Names. Simon and Schuster Children's 2001. This is the story of the new girl in school who has to deal with a new town, new friends, and new realizations about what matters and what doesn't.

Jones, Jennifer. Dear Mrs. Ryan, You're Ruining My Life. Walker, 2000. In this book, a boy hilariously copes with his mother's propensity for making him a character in her books.

Pinkwater, Daniel. Fat Camp Commandos Go West. Scholastic, 2002. This is a rollicking story of two kids who find themselves at a dude ranch.

Polacco, Patricia. When Lightening Comes in a Jar. Philomel, 2002. In this book, a young girl visits her grandmother and the rest of her family during the summer.

Scieszka, Jon. Hey Kid, Want to Buy a Bridge? Viking, 2002. Time travel takes three boys back to 1877 New York City.

Wallace, Barbara Brooks. Secret in St. Something. Atheneum, 2000. In this book, an 11-year-old boy finds shelter on the streets of New York.

Grades 5 and 6

Choldenko, Gennifer. Notes From a Liar and Her Dog. Putnam, 2001. In this book, an 11-year old girl revels in her fantasy world as an escape from her real family.

Crossley-Holland, Kevin. The Seeing Stone. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2001. This is the story an another12th Century English boy named Arthur who meets a wizard named Merlin

Fleischman, Sid. The 13th Floor: A Ghost Story. Greenwillow, 1995. Set on a 17th Century pirate ship, this book tells the story of a modern-day 12-year-old boy who travels back in time.

George, Jean Craighead. Julie of the Wolves. This classic, loved by several generations, is the story of a 13-year old Eskimo girl accepted by a wolf pack. It won the 1973 Newbery Medal.

Hamilton, Virginia. Second Cousins. Blue Sky, 1998. The story of friendships among cousins illustrates how they do not always run smoothly.

Konigsberg, E.L. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. This delightful tale of two children who hide in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art was the 1968 Newbery Medal recipient.

Ibbotson, Eva. Island of the Aunts. Dutton, 2000. In this book, children are lured to an island to care for magical animals.

Paulsen, Gary. Hatchet. Bradbury, 1987. This book tells the story of 13-year-old Brian's survival after a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness.

Peck, Robert Newton. Day No Pigs Would Die. Random House, Inc. 1994. This moving novel tells the story of a young Vermont boy's passage into adulthood during a year he raises a pet pig.

Taylor, Theodore. The Cay. Random House Children's Books 1987. An adventure story set during World War II, this book is the story of survival and courage told through the experiences of a young white boy and an old black man.