Summer -- it's finally here! And whether you are out of school for the year or still eyeing the finish line, we've got you covered for some great summer reading. Bring some of these books on your summer adventures, or enjoy them on a lazy afternoon on your front porch, lounged out on your couch, on the beach, or anyplace else the warm weather takes you!
Fiction - Stories That Take Place in Summer
- 12-year-old Lucy has always been close to her dad, so she's thrilled when she learns he's coming home early from the Vietnam War ... until she realizes that his missing arm isn't the only thing about him that has changed. To give her dad some space, her family sends her to spend the summer with her uncle, which only reminds her that she doesn't fit in with her dad's superstitious family. Then she befriends Milo, whose dad is still in Vietnam, and they work together to unravel the mystery of the purple heart and soldier's helment they found in Lucy's back yard. Read Everything Else in the Universe by Tracy Holczer to see whether Lucy finds the answer to her biggest question -- whether her dad will ever be the same again.
- For another take on the Vietnam War, check out She Loves You, Yeah Yeah Yeah by Ann Hood, which takes place in the summer of 1966. Trudy's once-popular Beatles fan club has dwindled to just three members, and she struggles to find common ground with her best friend who has become a cheerleader. She's sure that meeting Beatles member Paul McCartney, her true love, will turn things around, and she plans an unforgettable journey with the remaining members of her fan club.
- 14-year-old Florence and 11-year-old Russell think they're lucky -- they're both on the SS Athenia on their way back to the U.S. after spending their summer vacations in Europe. But then a German torpedo hits the ship, and the kids must take lifeboats to find other vessels if they have any hope of survival. Torpedoed! A World War II Story of a Sinking Passenger Ship and Two Children's Survival at Sea by Cheryl Mullenbach is based on the real-life survival of the children aboard the SS Athenia the day that Britian declared war on Germany.
- In The Jigsaw Jungle by Kristin Levine, 12-year-old Claudia just thinks her dad is having a late night at work ... until he doesn't come home at all. Just before she receives a mysterious envelope containing a jigsaw puzzle piece in the mail, her dad tells her he's gone away to "think things over." She spends her summer piecing together a scrapbook in an attempt to understand what's happening to her family in this story based on the author's real-life experiences.
- If you've ever spent the summer with the Penderwick sisters -- Skye, Jane, Rosalind, and Batty -- then get ready to return to Arundel for the summer, this time with the youngest sister, Lydia, in the lead. She has grown up hearing about the adventures at the Arundel mansion, and now she gets to spend the summer there for her sister Rosalind's wedding. Soon, she's exploring spooky hallways and sheep-filled fields, with adventure around every corner. The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall is the last book in the Penderwicks series. To start from the beginning, track down the first book, The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy.
- Are you going to summer camp this year? Whether you're heading outdoors or sticking close to home, you can enjoy summer camp adventures with Wendy L. Brandes' series following friends Claire, MJ, Nina, and Emily as they survive fights with friends, getting in trouble with camp counselors, mishaps while rafting, and more! Books in the series include Emily's Pranking Problem, Claire's Cursed Camping Trip, Nina's NOT Boy Crazy! (She Just Likes Boys), and MJ's Camp Crisis.
Non-Fiction - Things to DO and Learn This Summer
- Summer reading is great ... but sometimes you want to get out and DO something in the summer air! How about crouching in the grass or nuzzling up to a tree leaf to examine some of the creepy crawlies that come out at this time of year? But before you go bug-hunting, make sure to brush up on your bug facts with Wicked Bugs: The Meanest Deadliest, Grossest Bugs on Earth by Amy Stewart, where you can read about centipedes a whole foot long or beetles that can fire stinging liquid at 1,000 shots per second. Fascinating, gross, creepy, or all of the above? Read the book and decide for yourself!
- Will you be heading out to the wilderness for camping or hiking this summer? If so, make sure to tuck a copy of A Pocket Guide to Wilderness Safety Skills in your backpack. It's chock full of information that can help you out in a pinch, like how to build an emergency shelter, how to read a compass and map, and how to cook and store food outdoors. And it's all encased in zippered, waterproof plastic, so that it will stay safe in any condition!
- If rainy days have you cooped up inside, grab a copy of Rainy Day Unicorn Fun by Dana Simpson, a Phoebe and Her Unicorn Activity Book. The 140 puzzles inside, which include mazes, word games, dot-to-dots, and more, are sure to keep you busy till the sun is shining again!
- If you're looking for more to do with the extra time that you have off of school, check out The Big Book of 100 Little Activities by Laura Minter and Tia Williams, where you can learn to make a track for toy cars out of masking tape, cornflour "goop," homemade chalk (your summe sidewalk will look AWESOME!), and more, all with supplies that are easy to find. With this book at your side, you may not find yourself uttering, "I'm bored!" all summer long!
What about you? Do you have favorite reads that take place in summer, or books that help you fill the summer days? Have you read any of the books listed above? Share your thoughts in the comments below!