By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department
Below is the annotated—and sanitized– version of a conversation that took place in my kitchen, once upon a time. (Verbatim content has been carefully edited for appropriateness on a family-oriented website.)
Child: “But Mooooooooooom, it’s summer. I don’t want to read books in the summer.”
Me (interspersed epithets redacted for decorum’s sake): “Are you kidding me with this? You are aware of what I do for a living, right?”
Child: “Reading is so boring.” (strategic eye roll by child inserted here.)
Me: “Okay, I don’t even know who you are. And don’t roll your eyes at me.”
Child: “OMG. I hate reading.”
Me: “Well, now you’re just being hurtful.”
Hence, my attempt to prevent another parent from hearing those vile sentiments is manifested below in a short-but-sweet list of summer reads for kids. In no particular order:
Pete The Cat’s Groovy Guide To Life by Kimberly and James Dean. Personally, I aspire to be as cool and laid-back as Pete, and to have just a fraction of his unparalleled fashion sense. In this charming new book, Pete makes a personal interpretation of his favorite famous inspirational and feel-good quotes. For instance, Wayne Gretzky said “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” and Pete distills that to “Go for it!” Books starring this brilliant blue feline generally range within a 1st-2nd grade reading level but are appropriate and enjoyable for readers of all ages.
10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle. Duck overboard! Well, ten of them, to be precise, accidentally tossed from a freighter out into the sea by a raging storm. Each one of them floats off on a journey to a different part of the big wide world, making friends with animals along the way. The tenth little duck gets the best ending of all. Carle’s signature cut-paper collage style, combined with a sweet story, makes for a lovely counting adventure. AR level 2.4.
13 Words by Lemony Snicket. Feeling a little triskaidekaphobic? (Yes, it’s a thing. Go look it up. Do I sound like somebody’s mother?) Let this whimsical and striking little adventure help you get over it, just as 13 words such as “haberdashery” and “panache” help the main character, a quirky blue bird, get over his despondency. AR level 3.5.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamilo. A precious tale by the Newbery award-winning author of The Tale of Despereaux and Flora and Ulysses. Edward, a remarkable yet arrogant rabbit, teaches us that even the coldest heart can learn to love, to endure loss, and to love again. The story alone soars from DiCamilo’s talent, but the stunning illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline take this book to another level of kid-lit. AR level 4.4
Spy School by Stuart Gibbs. Precocious 12-year-old Ben Ripley takes a “leave of absence” from his public middle school to attend the Central Intelligence Agency’s super-secret Espionage Academy, which is billed to the general population as an elite science school. This fast-paced, charming book is the first in a series, which continues with Spy Camp and Evil Spy School. AR level 5.3.
Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand by Jen Swann Downey. When siblings Dorrie and Marcus chase Moe, an ill-tempered mongoose (is that redundant?), into the custodian’s closet in their local public library, they discover something that many of you may already know; to wit, librarians are not a group to be trifled with. This secret cabal of blade-slinging, sword-swinging, karate-chopping, crime-stopping warrior librarians has a mission: protect those whose words get them into trouble, anywhere in the world and at any time in history. Dorrie and Marcus go on a fantastic adventure and make lots of new friends along the way, and the book ends with the door wide open to a sequel. AR level 5.8.
(Opinions, implied profanity, and suggested readings are solely those of the author and should not be considered a reflection on other WCPL employees. The author also does not advocate young patrons running into the janitor’s closet at the library. If your mongoose gets away from you, please ask an adult for assistance.)
The WCPL Children’s Department and the Terrific, Fantastic, Very Good, Not Bad Suggested Summer Reading List
By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department
Yeah, my humble apologies to Judith Viorst for so shamelessly ripping off her title like that.
Why should kids read during the summer? Because I said so. Because the experts said so. Because it’s fun. Because you can score some cool prizes from us, just for reading a few books, listening to a book on CD, and attending any (or all!) of the fabulous special programs we have at Main and all branches. (More about that in a minute.)
What should kids read during the summer? I’m so glad you asked. Start off in May with Faulkner, ease on into some Chaucer for June, and then progress to Tolstoy by July. (Yes, I’m kidding.) If you have an avid reader child at home, you really don’t even have to ask that question, because more than likely they already know what they want to read. It’s tempting to recoil in horror if your kid wants to plow through the popular ones such as Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series or Jeff Kinney’s wildly successful Diary Of A Wimpy Kid books. My personal un-favorites when my kids were younger were the Junie B. Jones books by the late Barbara Park. Junie B.’s atrocious grammar and obnoxious behavior pushed me to the outer limits of my patience every time I read them with my younger daughter, which was nightly for what seemed like a millennium but was really only a few months. (Disclaimer: my fellow University of Alabama alumna Barbara Park was a tremendously talented and wonderful human being and is greatly missed by the kiddie-lit world.) Whether you have a ravenous reader or a reluctant reader at home, the song remains the same: whatever it is, if it gets them engaged, go with it. However, if you still need some suggestions (and you’re still reading this blog, bless your heart), here are a few selections by staff members of the WCPL Children’s Department to get your summer started:
The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli. AR level 1.0.
After swallowing a watermelon seed, a crocodile imagines disastrous results. Bold colors and whimsical writing make this a fun choice for the picture-book set.
The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers. AR level 2.8.
Henry loves to eat books and is on his way to becoming the smartest person in the world, until he starts feeling quite ill and decides maybe he could do something else with all those books he’s been (literally) devouring.
Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse. AR level 3.6.
A young girl anxiously awaits a rainstorm to bring relief from an oppressive summer drought.
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, And A Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall. AR level 4.7.
The first book in a series chronicles the unforgettable summer that four spirited girls have with their widowed father in the Berkshires. A National Book Award winner.
Half Magic by Edward Eager. AR level 5.0.
Facing the prospect of another dull summer in the city, four children suddenly find themselves caught up in some extraordinary adventures after discovering a coin that grants wishes. This series continues in Magic By The Lake.
How Tia Lola Saved The Summer by Julia Alvarez. AR level 5.5.
Miguel is not thrilled that a family with three daughters will be living with them for the summer. Luckily, Miguel’s aunt has some tricks up her sleeve guaranteed to take this summer from worst to first.
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. AR level 5.5.
The first book in the phenomenal series, in which Harry Potter finds himself rescued from a grim and joyless life with his insufferable aunt, uncle, and cousin and transported to the fantastic wizarding world of Hogwarts.
The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan. AR level 7.0.
Fifteen-year-old Will reluctantly becomes an apprentice to the mysterious Ranger Halt and winds up protecting the entire kingdom from danger. This is the first book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series.
All these fabulous titles, and thousands more, are available to be checked out from Williamson County Public Library. Oh, and while you’re there (remember earlier when I mentioned cool prizes?) sign your child up to participate in the 2015 Summer Reading Program. It’s fun, it’s fabulous, it’s free. Happy reading!
** As always, the opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the philosophies or principles of Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, their parents, children, friends, or housepets.
What a great summer we’ve had at the Library! Our Teen Department had over 450 book reviews submitted and 13 awesome teens won various prizes, including an iPad Mini, Kindle Fire tablets, and Barnes & Noble gift cards! Everyone beat the heat at the library, stopping by our 2nd floor Teen Fiction room to cool off with a good book, play on the computers, and meet up with friends. We’re looking forward to fall and have some exciting new programs including Lego Mindstorm, Minecraft, and Wii gaming! Keep reading and we’ll see you at the Library!
By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian
My Mother was a Senior English teacher, so I learned the value of Shakespeare early on. I love the sonnets and enjoy seeing his plays, so I thought I knew a good deal about Shakespeare. I was wrong. Mr. Marche teaches Shakespeare; he must live and breathe it too. I learned so much more about the most famous of English authors. According to the author, most scholars believe he invented over 1700 words, which works out to be around ten percent of his entire vocabulary! He also invented the name Jessica. Who knew? And we have starlings in North America because of Shakespeare. Want to know why? Read the book.
I thoroughly enjoyed How Shakespeare Changed Everything. I even bought my own copy. I recommend this book to anyone who likes reading, literature, plays, language or trivia— actually, just about everyone.
If you missed Terry Hedge’s performance on Thursday, June 5, you’re in luck!
Check out some of the photos from the event and remember, it’s still not too late to stop by and sign up for SUMMER READING!!!
By Susan Fisher, Bethesda Branch Manager
Summer’s here and school’s out! Time to relax and have fun, but did you know that kids can lose as a month or more of academic progress during the summer if they don’t read? It’s called “summer slide” and it’s what happens if kids don’t use their hard-earned skills during summer vacation. According to a report from the National Summer Learning Association, teachers often have to spend the first month of school reteaching old material to their students, causing time to be lost that could be spent on new learning.
How can summer slide be prevented? The key is to keep kids reading all summer long. If you have a reluctant reader, here are some ideas:
- Let your child’s interests guide their reading. It’s summer, so give them the freedom to read whatever they want.
- Your summer schedule may be busy, but be sure to set aside time for reading among all of your activities.
- Leave reading material around your house about subjects that interest your child.
- Let your child see you reading for pleasure. By setting a good example, you show your child that you value and enjoy reading.
Another remedy for summer slide is our Fizz Boom Read 2014 Summer Reading Program! Lots of fun programs keep kids coming to library and checking out great books all summer long. Registration is going on now at your Williamson County Public Library branch. Stop in today to sign up and start reading! We also have summer reading for teens and adults, with some great programs and prizes. Check it out on our website, WCPLtn.org