- Rebecca Purdy
Your children worked hard this school year, so don’t let them lose ground! Reading throughout the summer helps students prevent summer learning loss, and the public library offers incentive-based programs, making summer reading easy and fun. This year’s themes, “On Your Mark, Get Set...Read!” and “Get in the Game—Read,” promote being active, whether through playing a sport, going for a swim, taking a walk in the park or having an adventure. There’s no required list, so any book counts; after all, any reading is good reading! Here are a few suggestions to kick off your summer.
In Look! Jeff Mack uses two simple words to write a thoroughly entertaining story. With repeated shouts of “Look!” an attention-seeking gorilla goes to heroic lengths to get his young friend to stop paying attention to the television and notice him, instead. His unsuccessful antics include putting books on his head and balancing them on the end of his nose. The gorilla goes too far when he stands on a tricycle while juggling books, resulting in a crash landing on the boy and, worse still, the television.
The furious child turns a vibrant red, and a second word is repeated most emphatically, “Out! Out! Out!” The sad gorilla leaves, and the boy with nothing better to do, now that TV isn’t an option, picks up one of the fallen books. When the gorilla sneaks back in, it’s the boy’s turn to call “Look!” and, together, they share the story of another boy and gorilla. Books like this are terrific because young children can learn to distinguish between the two words and read the book independently. The resulting confidence helps create a lifelong reader.
Sanae Ishida tells the story of Little Kunoichi: The Ninja Girl (pronounced koo-no-ee-chee) who lives “on a super secret island” in a “super, super secret village” that is home to many ninja families. The author’s illustrations are integral to the story. The line, “The lessons are challenging...” provides some information, but a close examination of the pictures clearly illuminates Kunoichi’s struggles. Her pink ninja clothing doesn’t let her blend in like the black of her classmates, and her report card reads “0/15” and “Please stay after school.” One day, while reflecting on her challenges, Kunoichi sees Chibi Samurai, the smallest and “perhaps not the best samurai-in-training,” practicing, practicing, practicing. Soon, she’s following his example and making a new friend!
The Newbery Honor graphic novel, Roller Girl, by Victoria Jamieson, is a heartfelt, realistic portrayal of the middle-school experience. Astrid and her best friend Nicole have always done everything together, so when Astrid becomes interested in roller derby camp she signs Nicole up, too! Suddenly, no matter how many times Astrid bikes past Nicole’s house, she can’t get her attention. When Nicole finally appears, she delivers bad news; she wants to go to dance camp, instead. Astrid likens this revelation to getting a kickball “right in the guts,” but she forges ahead alone. It turns out that she’s terrible, but the same determination that led her to do this independently more than makes up for an initial lack of talent, and, with practice, Astrid is flying around the track.
In the high fantasy, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson, Elisa is the inadequate younger sister of the queen of one country who is married off to the king of another. Supposedly, she’s named in a prophecy, but so far there’s no evidence that she’s going to fulfill it or even the most minimal of expectations. When she’s kidnapped by revolutionaries, everything starts to change. Finally, others begin seeing her as more than the Queen’s baby sister and the chosen one, but, most importantly, so does she.
Learn more about summer reading and join us at librarypoint.org/summer/.