Summer Reading List

July 12, 2009 at 12:00 am 5 comments

According to Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, many children drop two reading levels over the summer, due to the fact that they are not in school and not constantly reinforcing everything they learn. To that end, Kristof has given readers a list of what he calls the ‘Best Children’s Books — Ever!‘ that ostensibly should keep your kids reading all summer long.

Many of the books on his list are excellent — in fact, most of them are, and I highly encourage everyone to read them, children or not. Charlotte’s WebAnne of Green Gables, The Harry Potter Series, and The Prince and the Pauper are all perfect for independent reading by child or adult, or reading aloud if the child in question doesn’t have the reading stamina yet to make it through the book on his or her own.

But, as these things tend to do, this article made me think about what I would encourage kids to read, had I the opportunity. Kristof’s list is hardly complete and a little subjective — he admits that many of the books were his personal favorites, though the inclusion of Anne of Green Gables makes me think he did include some books he knew his daughter would like in an attempt to counteract his tendency to choose ‘boy’ books (Hardy Boys but not Nancy Drew? Really?).

So, if you would, please consider the following short list a complement to Kristof’s list; there’s no reason you can’t work your way through both this summer!

1. The Hobbit. When a girl in my class said that this was her favorite book as a child, I didn’t believe her. Few children I know would be willing or able to tackle The Hobbit, honestly. But once I read it again, I realized it was the perfect book to read aloud at bedtime, with plenty of dragons and action and dwarves and an almost George MacDonald-esque feel to the narrative. And of course, once children have heard something read, I feel they’re more likely to go back to it on their own.

2. The Wind in the Willows. A new edition of this classic has just come out, which is as good an opportunity as any to revisit them. The annotations should keep things interesting for adults, while the crazy antics of Toad, Rat, and Mole will undoubtedly entertain younger readers.

3. Wabi Sabi. I have to admit that I haven’t read this picture book yet, but I am dying to. The story of a Japanese cat who goes in search of the meaning of her name, Wabi Sabi, the entire thing is written in a minimalist style, partly in haiku, and accompanied by beautifully textured collages. I’m barely resisting the urge to buy this book for all of my cousins’ kids. Other works illustrated by Ed Young (Lon Po Po comes to mind) are sure to be equally as beautiful.

4. The Little Prince. I love this book, and I think most kids would too — the little prince travelling around, meeting all of these silly adult figures, and tenderly caring for a rose, even though he realizes that, like everything, she is not perfect either. The pictures are whimsical and there are enough of them, I think, to hold a slightly older child’s attention (say four or five years old?).

5. King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Roger Lancelyn Green’s version of the Arthurian cycle is a good introduction to the legend, definitely, and the stories tend to be just long enough for a pre-bedtime tale. While the subject matter of Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur can be undoubtably adult at times, Green skillfully sidesteps the more scandalous parts while still retaining the essence of the story. And, unlike Malory, he includes the story of Gawain and the Green Knight, which should not be missed.

I could go on for ages, but I think I’ll save some of my other favorites for a later post. At any rate, my and Kristof’s lists should give you a great start on summer reading!


Entry filed under: Children and Young Adult, Musings and Essays. Tags: , , , , .

A Medieval Love Story The Definitive Copy: Part One

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Corey  |  July 13, 2009 at 6:12 am

    From the only tiny child I know: Callie is currently loving The Hobbit and refuses to even go past the first page of The Little Prince!

    Anyway, I agree that Kristof’s list was a little man-skewed and that he left off “girly” classics of children’s literature, Anne aside.

    Aaaand, we have the same copy of the Grimm’s! :D

  • 2. KT  |  July 13, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Aw, I’m glad she’s loving The Hobbit! Is she reading it or having it read to her? I feel like the look of it is way intimidating for a…four-year-old? But I don’t doubt Callie might be brilliant (and also older than I think she is)!

    Do we? It’s an amazing copy :)

  • 3. Corey  |  July 13, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Ha! Pete is reading it aloud to her at night. No, wee Callie is so not reading yet. She is 5 1/2, though, not four. She was born senior year of high school, so that makes it easier to do the math!

    Yay twinsie copies!

  • 4. KT  |  July 13, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Well, The Hobbit is pretty exciting from the first page, and The Little Prince is not so much, from what I remember. And anyway Tolkien wrote it with the intent that people would read it aloud, so it’s perfect for a bedtime story :D

  • 5. Corey  |  July 14, 2009 at 6:11 am

    Good point! I was just so surprised because I asked her what she was reading these days and she said really quietly “There and Back Again.” To which I said, “The Hobbit?” and she nodded very solemnly. She can be kind of great sometimes.

    Anyway, I read it quiet silently to myself sometime in high school, I think, so I’m sad I missed out on the reading aloud qualities of it!


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