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Suumertime – and the reading is easy…

The long summer vacation is a great time for kids to catch up on some reading. Some like to keep it light and breezy, while others enjoy having enough leisure time to read something really challenging. But what about books about summer vacations? There are lots of these, because it’s a great way for an author to have characters get out of their everyday routine, meet new people and have adventures that would be tricky if they had to go to school.

Here’s some of my favorites:

deadend finalDead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
In this black comedy set in 1962, our hero, Jack Gantos, is grounded for the summer and his only escape is assisting his elderly neighbor write the obituaries of a surprisingly high number of old ladies. Woven through this gothic romp are historical snippets, both local and otherwise. (Grades 6-8)

The Exiles by Hilary McKayexiles
It’s a common theme for children to be sent to spend the summer with relatives that they either don’t know or don’t like. In The Exiles, which is like a slightly grumpy British version of The Penderwicks, Ruth, Naomi, Rachel and Phoebe are sent to stay with their grandmother for the summer. The girls would like to spend their time with their noses in books (this was published in 1991, no doubt a modern version would have them glued to their iPhones), but Big Grandma wants them out in the fresh air. (Grades 5-8)

hiddenHidden by Helen Frost
Wren and Darra meet at summer camp but it’s not the first time they’ve come across each other. Six years ago, Wren was hiding in a car that was stolen by Darra’s Dad. Hidden is written in verse, which makes it a quick and absorbing read, and there’s also a neat twist hidden in the poetry that the reader can go back at find at the end. (Grades 6-9)

Missing on Superstition Mountain by Elise Broachsuperstition mountain
It’s summer and the Barker family has just moved to Arizona. Simon, Henry and Jack are warned by their parents not to explore Superstition Mountain – but do they take this to heart? Of course not – how few children’s adventures there would be if children actually did what their parents told them to do! This is an exciting read and the first book in a series. (Grades 3-5)

one_crazy_summer2One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
In the summer of 1968, Delphine and her two sisters are sent from Brooklyn to Oakland to spend a month with the mother they barely know. She is not particularly keen for them to be there and sends them to spend their days at a Black Panther summer camp. As well as being a great story, there’s lots of local color and historical detail. (Grades 4-7)

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypackersummer of the gypsy moths
Stella and Angel’s summer is even further off the grid than most kids’ once they decide not to tell anyone that Stella’s great aunt, who is also Angel’s foster parent, has died. This dark comedy follows their efforts to keep this a secret. (Grades 4-6)


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