July 6, 2009

Summer Reading for Kids

I'm all for getting kids reading. It was one of my favorite activities when I was young, and I used to look forward to those summer trips to the library. I didn't let it faze me when my father would lean his head into my bedroom, telling me to go outside because "it's such a beautiful day out." What did I care? One day seemed pretty much like the next in summer, weather-wise. What really interested me was whether Jo would get her story published or if Wilbur would be spared.

Since "back-to-school" time will roll around before you know it, now's the time to get your kids hooked on books. A leisurely visit to the library is a great way to let them explore and find things that interest them on their own. And if this NY Times article is true, you'll want to avoid the IQ drop that kids experience when they're out of school for the summer. Since kids aren't exercising their brains, studies have found their IQ goes down, and it's especially true of children who aren't reading or enrolled in summer programs.

So get your kids away from the keyboard and the computer and get them reading! Here are some of my all-time favorite children's books:

1. Almost anything by Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel). His humor and originality turned me on to books. Period.

2. Charlotte's Web. I still find it nearly impossible to kill a spider, and Garth William's illustrations turn barnyard animals into a community of concerned citizens.

3. Stuart Little. Also written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams, the inventiveness of the tiny mouse is inspiring.

4. Black Beauty. A must-read for budding horse lovers everywhere.

5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. Roald Dahl's imagination is on overdrive in both of these classics, which are a revelation.

6. The Little House series. The adventures and trials of the Ingalls family teach a resilience and resourcefulness that never goes out of fashion.

7. Where the Wild Things Are. For very young children, the fantastical drawings are delightful.

8. Misty of Chincoteague. Along with Stormy, Misty's Foal, the Marguerite Henry books foster a love of animals and nature, and are manna for horse-crazy young girls.

9. The Nancy Drew mysteries. According to the NY Times article, these fun reads create Supreme Court justices. They're cited as favorites of Sandra Day O'Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia Sotomayer.

10. Little Women. I read this book over and over, perhaps hoping that sweet Beth wouldn't die. It instills so many important values while telling a marvelous story: the importance of family, charity, and a love of learning.

11. A Story for Bear. A picture book about a curious bear who discovers the delights of reading. You'll fall in love with the enchanting illustrations by Jim LaMarche.

12. Pippi Longstocking. Whether she's visiting the South Seas or somewhere closer to home, Pippi inspires a love of travel and adventure with her nonconformist antics.

13. The Borrowers. You'll be dying to find out whether these inventive little people will be discovered.

14. Harriet the Spy. I actually started writing in a notebook and sent away for "see-behind" glasses after reading this book.

15. The Pigman. For pre-teen readers, a lovely parable about putting yourself in another's shoes.

16. The Outsiders and That Was Then, This is Now. For kids 12-14, S.E. Hinton's novels hold up and are still beloved for being an honest account of what it feels like to be on the outside looking in.

I've left so many out, but I've got to stop somewhere. Come to think of it, I'd like to reread some of these...

What are your favorite children's books? Please respond in the Comments section.


Jinger said...

great topic

as a mom, grandmom, and teacher...i have read so many books to children...but a favorite for the very littles is goodnight moon, a classic.

our library even has a summer reading club for adults. i love to read.

Roxanne said...

The Great Brain - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Brain

The Secret World of Og - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Secret_World_of_Og

Mrs. Pollifax - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Pollifax

The Secret Seven - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Secret_Seven

The Ogre Downstairs - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ogre_Downstairs

I could spend a month on this comment. I loved to read as a child and still do.

Kristen@TheFrugalGirl said...

My older two have been plowing through books this summer. My younger two don't know how to read yet, so they have to wait for me or their sibilings to read to them.

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Non Consumer Girl said...

Some of the books you mentioned bring back memories!
I still remember being read " Where the Wild Things Are" when I was in kindergarten and it totally spooked me!
I'm currently reading my daughter " The Magic Faraway Tree", one chapter at a time at bedtime.
(We also have the book being read CD read by Kate Winslet).
This was a childhood favourite, and it is special being able to share the joy with my daughter.

Angela said...

I deleted a duplicate post, not an x-rated children's book list or anything like that.

Michele said...

That was then, This is now. WOW! I remember reading that one. It struck a note in me that changed many of my young thoughts. I'm 41 now, and still sometimes reflect back on that book. I read many, many books... most I have forgotten, some I remember, but this is one of the few that have inspired me.

Kate Sommers said...

I recommend reading the best new book of the summer...my new book that will be out in a couple of weeks...Danny and the Dolphin!
I actually loved "Harriet The Spy"
by Louise Fitzhugh and "Ramona Quimby" by Beverly Cleary.

Angela said...

More great suggestions! It was hard to include all my favorites.

Michele- I actually had the chance to see S.E.Hinton speak and be interviewed by Jane Smiley at the Festival of Books at UCLA this year. Her books are still very popular, and it was so moving to see that teenagers still read them and find them relevant. She's about 60 now, she told the story of how she wrote "The Outsiders" during high school. Great books!

Kate- Harriet the Spy was such a favorite that I named my beloved cat Harriet, after Harriet the Spy and Harriet Tubman. It's so much fun! I think I'll reread some of these favorites over the summer... Good luck with your book. I can't wait to see the finished product.

Angela said...

Somehow a comment I thought I had made earlier never came through...

Thanks for all your comments and favorites.

Jinger- I also love Goodnight Moon for very young children. I love to read so much that I almost feel sorry for people who don't know the pleasure.

Roxanne- Thanks for the list, I haven't heard of any of those books. I'll check them out.

Kristen- That will be fun for them to have their older siblings read to them. It will also probably make them want to learn earlier.

Non consumer Girl- I know- Where the wild things are IS kind of scary...