by Amye Archer
Summer Reading Ideas
Summer in the city means many things: pools open, air conditioners hum from window sills, carnivals and picnics dot the landscape, but more importantly perhaps than all of that is: summer vacation. And while sitting poolside all season may sound tempting, most teachers and educational experts agree with the importance of keeping your children learning all summer long. In that spirit, here are some of my summer picks for children:
1. The Gruffalo (2006, Ages 5 and up): Julia Donaldson is one of our favorite children’s authors. Her prose is fun and witty, and the lessons in each of her stories are often buried in wonderful storytelling. The Gruffalo is about a very brave mouse who uses his wit and charm to trick a forest full of creatures into fearing him. This book was so popular there was a film made from it, and a well-received sequel: The Gruffalo’s Child. Some other favorites by this author are: The Snail and The Whale and Room on the Broom.
2. Fancy Nancy (2005, Ages 4 and up): Fancy Nancy is a fantastic series by author Jane O’Connor. Nancy is a fussy young lady who loves ruffles and lace and anything, well, fancy. Her family is anything but. The young girl makes it her mission to rescue friends and family from a boring life. This is an ongoing series with many books. As a mom I love these books because they teach the value of friendship. As an English teacher, I love the series because it teaches vocabulary via “fancy words.” Look for the newest in the series, Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy: Super Sleuth.
3. The Artist who Painted a Blue Horse (2011, Ages 3 and up): This unique picture book has a lesson for adults as well as children. With the simple premise of a boy who sees the world around him differently, and draws and paints his subjects accordingly, author Eric Carle helps our children understand the interpretation of art. The book is full of non-traditional representations of animals: a blue horse, a red crocodile, a polka-dotted donkey, each beautiful in its own right. With the lessening of arts in today’s public school system, the need for books like this is urgent.
4. The Patron Saint of Butterflies (2009, Ages 11 and up): The debut of local author Cecilia Galante (that’s right! She lives in Kingston and teaches in the Wilkes University’s MFA Program), this is the story of two best friends who grow up in a religious commune. When the girls have to leave the commune suddenly, they discover a world beyond what they had ever imagined. The Patron Saint of Butterflies is a story of friendship and faith. I like it because it is beautifully written. You’ll like it because it strengthens values and teaches about the power to overcome obstacles. Oprah liked it too, adding it to her recommended reading list for young adults.
5. Wonder (2012, Ages 10 and up): With bullying on the rise, Wonder is the perfect book for any school-aged child. Author R.J. Palacio introduces us to Auggie, a soon to be fifth grader at Beecher Prep, who was born with a facial deformity. This is his first year in a mainstream school, and the author cleverly navigates through the points of view of Auggie, his classmates, and even his family, as they deal with his immersion into a new culture. It is a book of friendship and kindness, a story of strength and understanding. I like Wonder because it has an important social message, and that’s why you’ll like it as well.
To get started reading this summer with your little ones you can visit the Osterhout Children’s Library on S. Franklin St. in Wilkes Barre, or the Children’s Library on N. Washington Ave. in Scranton. Both libraries have trained staff who will help you find the best pick for your child’s age and reading level.
Whether you read comics, newspapers, or picture books with your kids this summer, remember: any reading is good reading.
Amye Barrese Archer is a writer and teacher in Scranton. You can read more about her at www.amyearcher.com.