Top Ten Titles That Promote Summer Fun by Jennifer Sniadecki
When you think of summer, what motivates you? For some, it’s getting outside and enjoying the warmer weather and sunshine. For others, it’s going on vacation – traveling to exotic places. For you nerdy readers, it’s reading good books. It’s so hard to choose the top ten (my class and I created this list several times, debating and voting for favorites), but we hope this list will help readers choose something to bring on the summer fun!
IF YOU LIKE NONFICTION:
ONE – The Fireflies Book: Fun Facts About the Fireflies You Loved as a Kid by Brett Ortler
Who can resist catching fireflies on a warm summer evening? This fact book includes wondrous ways to get to know our childhood favorite, lighted creatures of the night. It also includes activities, so the book becomes a vehicle for kids of all ages to get outside in the dark.
TWO – Heroes of the Environment: True Stories of People Who Are Helping to Protect Our Planet
by Harriet Rohmer
Do you love stories about people making a difference in their communities? These inspiring tales come just in time to motivate readers to take action themselves and help save the earth.
IF YOU LIKE FICTION:
THREE – Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick
Summer and baseball? Yes. Usually. In the case of this injured baseball player, though, summer isn’t going to go exactly as planned. The main character, Peter, injures his elbow and cannot pitch anymore, and finds out his grandfather has Alzheimer’s disease. Is there a bright spot in his future? Maybe a new girlfriend will help.
FOUR – Strike Three, You’re Dead by Josh Berk
Another baseball book? Yes, but this one is a mystery. Summer mysteries are the best. In this entertaining “who-dun-it” Lenny loves baseball, although he doesn’t play well himself. Instead, he enters a Phillies’ “Armchair Announcer” contest and wins! When it’s game-time for Lenny, something more zany than baseball occurs: the pitcher falls dead on the mound! It’s up to Lenny and his friends to find out what happens. Baseball lovers will enjoy following the game, and the investigation.
What about those readers who don’t like baseball? Here are two other classic fiction novels to read before you head out on your own summer adventures:
IF YOU LIKE THE CLASSICS:
FIVE – Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen
Are you looking for true adventure this summer? Brian finds himself at a crossroads. His parents are getting a divorce and there’s nothing he can do about it. When he travels to spend time with his father in Canada, the small plane he is on crashes and the pilot dies. Now he must use his brains, adrenaline, and the hatchet his mother gave him to survive in the Canadian wilderness. Readers cannot help but be drawn into this classic story of true grit. This is a lasting favorite in classrooms, although you may not want that much adventure in your summer.
SIX – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
Would you like to travel this summer? Read about Huckleberry Finn (one more time!) before you venture out. This “timeless classic” takes place along the Mississippi River and includes danger mixed with boyhood antics.
IF YOU LIKE GRAPHIC NOVELS:
Graphic novels are beautiful and appealing to all age groups. In the last several years, graphic novels have become a genre of choice in classrooms and in homes. Readers love the attention to detail, the unusual (and yet familiar, somehow) page format, and colorful illustrations. Students will get a kick out of the characters and their stories with this group of classroom favorites:
SEVEN – Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney
Wait, you DON’T love the outdoors? Then you are like our favorite Heffley family member, Greg. All he wants to do is relax and play videos games this summer. But his mom insists that he spend time outside, and wants “family togetherness.” Can this family survive the summer with each other? Another classroom favorite, this is book 4 of the DOWK series.
EIGHT – Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
Did you ever visit your grandparents in the summer? Readers will relate to Sunny, who is spending the summer with her grandfather at his retirement community in Florida. She dreams of getting outside in the pool and going to Disney World. Her grandfather thinks early-bird dinner is “getting out,” and his idea of adventure is quite different than his granddaughter’s. The minor characters in this book are hilarious and you will not want to leave them behind when the book ends.
(Shameless plug: You can hear the authors, Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm, discuss how much of this book is true on “The Yarn Podcast” (Season 1, Episode 8) with Travis Jonker and Colby Sharp.)
(A bonus summer treat!)
IF YOU LIKE POETRY:
Don’t put poetry back on the shelf just yet. Reading poetry is delightful – take some titles with you as you wrap up the school year:
NINE – Rah, Rah, Radishes! A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre
You like rap? You miss poetry month? Sing this chant in the car on the way to school, and on to the pool! April Pulley Sayre creates an entertaining, unforgettable play on words with the season’s finest Farmers Market vegetables. Readers won’t be able to resist.
TEN – Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry With a Beat edited by Nikki Giovanni
You want books with extras? Dance along to the CD that comes with this up-BEAT celebration. Play the CD during your transition times at school, then take it along with you to your summer parties.
We hope you enjoy our list of TOP TEN titles that promote summer fun. Enjoy your summer!
Jennifer Sniadecki is currently a sixth grade teacher and former literacy coach in South Bend, Indiana. She is an avid reader, and will read anything the Nerdy Book Club, her students, or her friends recommend. Jennifer can be found on Twitter, and contributes to #g2great chats for fun. Check out her posts at @jdsniadecki or on her blog, http://www.readingteacherwrites.com. Jennifer is currently working on a professional development using picture books in the middle school classroom, her most passionate work to date.