UPDATE: It's hard to believe, but my kids go back to school in less than two weeks! I am ready/not ready, of course. My type-A side is ready for more structure. I am craving my schedule and the ability to blog to my heart's content. I wanted to update this post based on what my fourth grader, almost fifth grader loved the most from the summer reading list I chose for him. He liked most of the books. He LOVED one of the books. First place winner this summer goes to The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart. We were on a long car trip home from vacation when he decided to pick this one up, and for the next two days, he couldn't put it down! It's got elements of mystery, suspense, and excitement. Trenton Lee Stewart is really skilled at world building, and my son was completely absorbed in the world of The Secret Keepers. Second place winner this summer goes to the Nathan Hale Hazardous Tales series. He carried these around for a month, reading and then re-reading them. I think the comic book format made the historical information easy to digest.
Can you believe it is time to start thinking about your summer plans?! By the end of this month, our kids will be released out into the wild with no homework to do, no lunch boxes to pack, and no piano practice to attend. My kids will be with me 24/7. (Gasp!)
What's your summer style? Do you plan lots of structured activities and camps, or do you just go with the flow and let things happen more spontaneously? I probably fall into the spontaneous camp which works for a couple of weeks until the house is a wreck, we have no clean clothes, and my kids are trying to eat Oreos for breakfast. Then I start to regret my lack of planning and long for my iron clad schedule that dictates our school year. This summer I am doing my best to land firmly in the middle of each extreme. I don't want to plan every second. Kids need to have enough free time to get bored. At the same time, I want to pepper some structure here and there. One thing I am definitely planning out is a good reading list for each of my kids. I picked lots of books to keep my fourth grader's mind busy over the school break. I wanted them to be fun reads, nothing too academic or serious. It is his vacation, after all. However, I did want him to learn new things from what he reads and not have the books I chose be total fluff. I think I found a solid list. Here is what I chose.
The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart
"When Reuben discovers an extraordinary antique watch, he soon learns it has a secret power and his life takes an intriguing turn." This book looks like a fun mystery-thriller, and it is written by the award-winning author of The Mysterious Benedict Society.
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales by Nathan Hale
"In the Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series, author Nathan Hale channels his namesake to present history's roughest, toughest, and craziest stories in the graphic novel format." My one rule for choosing books for his list was if they were non-fiction or historical, they needed to be presented in an entertaining to read way. I wanted his summer reading to be for pleasure. This graphic novel series fits that bill. Each one focuses on an event in American history and presents it in a fun but very detailed way.
The Door by the Staircase by Katherine Marsh
"Twelve-year-old Mary Hayes can't stand her orphanage for another night. But when an attempted escape through the stove pipe doesn't go quite as well as she'd hoped, Mary fears she'll be stuck in the Buffalo Asylum for Young Ladies forever." This book gives me a real Roald Dahl/Lemony Snicket vibe. It looks like a juicy summer read with a bit of an edge.
The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz
"On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: they are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon." This is illustrated throughout and has won the 2017 Newberry Award.
The Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Eric Berlin
"Winston Breen says the only thing better than discovering a puzzle is stumping someone else with it. But when his sister uncovers mysterious strips of wood with words and letters on them, even Winston himself is stumped. Soon the whole family is caught up in the mysterious scavenger hunt that just may lead to a ring worth thousands of dollars!" The product description of this one says that fans of the classic kid's mystery novel, The Westing Game, will enjoy this. This is one that I might borrow from him after he reads it because I still love The Westing Game!