Apparently lots of schools assign summer reading to their students, which I think is just a fantastic idea. Sadly, this has only happened to us two or three times, so I have gotten into the habit of picking up a few age-appropriate titles to “casually” leave lying around in the summer. (My kids aren’t allowed to say, “I’m bored” – unless they want more chores – so I find it’s a good idea to plant a few things to do around the place to keep them from cutting each others’ hair.) These are a few of our favorites:
The Ralph S. Mouse books by Beverly Cleary. These classic books are full of gentle adventures and also offer a view of the world-in-miniature that captivates children at this age. They’re easy to read but they’re still “chapter books,” so your child can feel proud when he finishes one of them.
The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base. You will have as much fun with this book as your child, though you may be chagrined when he solves the mystery before you do. This book combines a “Where’s Waldo”-like intricacy of illustration with a dandy mystery; there are clues on every page and (the best touch) a sealed packet in the back of the book that contains the solution.
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. You probably remember reading this book when you were a child. The story of brave Karana, stranded on the Island after accidentally being left behind when here tribe left, learning to take care of herself while she waits for a rescue that may or may not be forthcoming makes this many people’s favorite childhood book.
George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl. Roald Dahl books are really weird, there’s no getting around it – which is what makes him so perfect for this age group. A lot of his books have been made into movies that don’t do them justice (i.e., Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda), but this book probably isn’t something your child will run across by himself. It combines two things that make it perfect for summer reading: it’s funny, and it’s gross.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Hands-down, these were the most adored books by my kids at this age – and the most requested bedtime stories; we read all 7 books straight through four times. As much as I like BBC, I hate what they did to this series. The books are written simply but will sustain repeated re-reading – and they can be read on many levels, from a simple adventure story to a philosophical parable. I suspect that Red still looks around for Aslan when he rides a train – even though he’s 20 years old now.