Thursday, July 4, 2013

Summertime Stories

Summer is a great season for reading. There are many, many books that make great summer reads, from classics to trendy paranormal romances to intense dystopias. Still, certain books have a stronger connection to the season. Certain books just seem to say summer. Here's a list of ten books - most tested classics - that capture that elusive summertime flavor.

Half Magic by Edward Eager, 1954. Middle Grade. Four children on summer vacation find a magic coin that makes thier wishes come true - but only halfway. This is a fun read, not to mention an enduring classic.

I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak, 2005. Young Adult. After capturing a bank robber, 19-year-old Ed Kennedy begins receiving mysterious messages that direct him to people in need of his help. Not my favorite book on the list, truth be told, but I was determined to include a guy-friendly YA pick.

Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry, 1947. Middle Grade. Paul and Maureen have their hearts set on owning the Phantom, a pony nobody can catch. Their efforts to break this record lead to a surprising discovery.

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall, 2007. Middle Grade. Four sisters spend their summer at the beautiful Arundel estate, where they make friends with a boy named Jerrefy - but not with his snobby mother. This National Book Award winner reads like an old favorite.

Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran and Barbara Cooney, 1991. Picture Book. A group of children create their own town out of rocks and boxes in this beautifully illustrated book that perfectly captures the magic of childhood play. A personal favorite.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, 2003. Adult Fiction for teens. In the 1960s, Lily and her black stand-in mother Rosaleen escape from dangerous racists (and Lily's cruel father) in their southern town. They hide with a trio of beekeeping sisters, who may hold the secret to Lily's mother's death. A wonderful coming of age story, great for teens and adults alike.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Branchares, 2001. Young Adult. Four best friends spend their first summer apart, connected by a magical pair of jeans. Lena, Carmen, Tibby and Bridget grow in ways they never imagined in this absorbing coming of age novel. Really, truly excellent.

Summer at Forsaken Lake by Michael D. Biel, 2013. Middle Grade. Twelve-year-old NYC native Nicholas spends the summer in small town Michigan, where a new friend and a tantalizing mystery lead him on an adventure he never expected. A perfect summertime mystery.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, 2010. Young Adult. When "Belly" returns to the beach town where she spends every summer, she finds that the dynamics between her and the owner's two sons have shifted. A perfect beach read.

Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright, 1938. Middle Grade. Garnet, age nine, experiences the joys and challenges of summer on a Wisconsin farm during the Great Depression. An endearing glimpse into the past.

I've read all of the above books. What similar books are still on my reading list? Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright, Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen, and Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.

I apologize for the lack of diversity on this list. Please let me know if you have any suggestions to bring a wider ranger of characters into play!


  1. I am curious about the book "Half Magic." I have never heard of it and it sounds interesting. I teach 6 th grade, do you think it is geared towards younger kids or good for 12 year olds? I look forward to reading more of your reviews.

    1. Hi Justin, thanks for your question! I'm not a teacher, and I don't know much about leveling books. That said, I think Half Magic might be a little young for your class - but just a little. I would have enjoyed it as a sixth grader. I'd say it's worth looking into. It's definitely a lot of fun and would be a GREAT book to read if the class is learning fractions.
      I also posted a review today for Three Times Lucy by Shelia Turnage. That would be perfect for 6th graders, and I loved it!
      Hope that helps!

  2. Thank you. I am still planning to take a look at it for myself. Sounds like a fun read.