Summer Reading Lists are important.
Every year I get some kind of workbook for Abbie to bridge the long months between school’s end and beginning.
You might think I’m mean for forcing my kid to do worksheets and reading projects and quizzes and vocabulary when we’re supposed to be forcing our children into the great outdoors.
You can think what you want.
But there is a reason my child has achieved an advanced reading level, and it ain’t because she is out cavorting in the sunshine.
We can haz skillz.
This might come off a wee-tad Tiger-mama-ish, so let me back the truck up and explain before you get all defensive and accusation-y on my ass.
1. We are poor.
My kids are only getting into college if they can pay for it themselves, and if they can qualify for grants, and if they can nab a few academic-based scholarships along the way. Kids who possess excellent reading skills are usually more inclined to actually ENJOY reading.
So, for us, summer reading lists aren’t really as torturous as they sound.
2. She needs help.
More than pushing Abbie to succeed, however, I’m giving her some early guidance in sustained study habits.
The kid takes after me when it comes to retention – as in, it’s fairly non-existent. When she doesn’t use a skill regularly, it tends to fall out of memory, and then she has to re-learn the skill all over again. This is especially true with math, so we have some work in that area lined up, too.
This really falls under the “Use it or lose it” mentality.
Conversely, “Practice makes perfect” – or, if not perfect, at least something substantial.
3. I need help.
Finally, summer reading lists provide scheduled, quiet work time during which she sits at her desk studying while I sit at my desk writing. That’s the general idea, at any rate. What I actually accomplish during this two-hour period is the subject of a different post.
Which books make the cut?
Typically I am lazy and lackadaisical when it comes to assigning material, choosing books based on the lists at the back of one of the workbooks. This year, however, I didn’t actually purchase a workbook since there is just so much available for free online.
I decided to put together my own list.
I started with my local library. They provide grade-level suggestions on handy bookmarks, and even if Abbie read nothing else but these short lists, she’d be doing well.
But I like to make things harder than they have to be, so I also consulted a site some out-of-state school posted last year. The school has shared a lot of other good material, but I was particularly interested in their summer reading lists.
Finally, NPR released an awesome list last year entitled 100 Must-Reads for Kids 9-14 which has way too much to cover in one summer! But… my daughter is 9, so not all of the books on this particular list would be age appropriate for her anyway:
- WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams is far too advanced for Abbie. Or for me, if I’m being honest. Any book that comes with its own glossary of made-up words is too hard for summer.
- THE GIVER by Lois Lowery is on par with her reading level, but too advanced emotionally. I know this one for a fact. Love this book hard, but I’m not trying to make Abbie cry this summer.
- CHARLOTTE’S WEB by W.B. White is one she read two years ago. And then again when she realized it was an animated film. And then a third time last year as a school project.
- MRS. FRISBY AND THE RATS OF NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien is another she has already covered. Because she has a fabulous mother who has great taste in middle grade fiction.
The making of a summer reading list:
I combined all these separate lists into one, deleting duplicated, as well as those we’ve already devoured along with those we aren’t interested in this summer. And I came up with MY OWN 100 books. Still way too many to handle, yes.
So I highlighted a few of my personal faves:
- PETER AND THE STAR CATCHERS by Dave Barry
- THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ by L. Frank Baum
- THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- MATILDA by Roald Dahl
- HALF MAGIC by Edward Eager
- A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeline L’Engle
- A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: THE BAD BEGINNING by Lemony Snicket
Then I highlighted a handful I’m interested in reading myself:
- POPPY by Avi
- TUCK EVERLASTING by Natalie Babbitt
- THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS by John Bellairs
- THE LAST OF THE REALLY GREAT WHANGDOODLES by Julie Ewards
- THE DOLL PEOPLE by Ann M. Martin
- American Chillers #2: OGRES OF OHIO by Jonathon Rand
- MANIAC MAGEE by Jerry Spinelli
And I highlighted any that contained “Fourth Grade” in the title, as I thought Abbie would enjoy grade-specific material:
- TALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING by Judy Blume
- THE FABLED FOURTH GRADERS OF AESOP ELEMENTARY SCHOOL by Candace Fleming
- FOURTH GRADE FUSS by Johanna Hurwitz
I highlighted several titles of cultural, historical, or scientific interest:
- LOU GEHRIG: THE LUCKIEST MAN ALIVE by David Adler
- CHASING VERMEER by Blue Balliett
- MISSION CONTROL, THIS IS APOLLO by Andrew Chaikin
- D’AULAIRES’ BOOK OF GREEK MYTHS
- TALES FROM THE ODYSSEY by Mary Pope Osborne
- FAIR WEATHER by Richard Peck
- AMERICAN BORN CHINESE by Gene Luen Yang
- 2030: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF TOMORROW’S KIDS by Amy Zuckerman
And I rounded out the list by highlighting a couple easy-peasy books to give her brain a break:
- The Secrets of Droon #1: THE HIDDEN STAIRS AND THE MAGIC CARPET by Tony Abbott
- BUNNICULA by John Howe
- MARY POPPINS by P.L. Travers
That’s 28 books.
Still too many to cover in one summer, most likely. And yet not even close to what I would love for us to cover. But that’s what TBR lists are all about, amirite?
For the record, Abbie wanted me to come up with my own summer reading list, too. So I did.
Still, now we can have a little competition.
Shit just got real, y’all.
- Do you put together summer reading lists?
- What would you add / skip on the lists I’ve provided?