In the summer, we aim for a subtle blend of structure and free-range, allowing plenty of time for the kids to wander and wonder and be, framed within a widely-fenced yard. Those pickets are what keep us from feeling a sense of chaos in the midst of the in-between time of school years.
And of course, my favorite pickets are books. Specifically, set daily reading time, accompanied by a book list catered to our family’s schedule, reading levels, and interests. This list is for my middle guy, Reed—at age 7, reads just a wee bit beyond his age but still enjoys typical stuff for boys his age, like animals, magic, robots, and adventure.
7-year-old, slightly advanced reading level
“Just as Henry Huggins is complaining that nothing exciting ever happens, a friendly dog sits down beside him and looks pleadingly at his ice-cream cone. From that moment on, the two are inseparable.”
The Mouse and the Motorcyle (any in the series)
“When the ever-curious Ralph spots Keith’s red toy motorcycle, he vows to ride it. So when Keith leaves the bike unattended in his room one day, Ralph makes his move. But with all this freedom (and speed!) come a lot of obstacles.”
“Nick really just likes to liven things up at school — and he’s always had plenty of great ideas. When Nick learns some interesting information about how words are created, suddenly he’s got the inspiration for his best plan ever…the frindle. Who says a pen has to be called a pen?”
How to Train Your Dragon
“Chronicles of the adventures and misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III as he tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan, the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, by catching and training a dragon.”
Fantastic Mr. Fox
“Someone’s been stealing from the three meanest farmers around, and they know the identity of the thief. Working alone they could never catch him; but now fat Boggis, squat Bunce, and skinny Bean have joined forces, and they have Mr. Fox and his family surrounded.”
The Tale of Despereaux
“Despereaux Tilling is a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro and Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl. These three characters embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon,up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other’s lives.”
Half Magic (any in the series)
“Jane finds a coin, and because she and her siblings are having the worst, most dreadfully boring summer ever, she idly wishes something exciting would happen. And something does: Her wish is granted. Or not quite. Only half of her wish comes true.”
The Zoo at the Edge of the World
“Marlin is not slow, or mute; what he is is a stutterer, and that makes it impossible for him to convince people otherwise. What he is also is a Rackham: the younger son of the world-famous explorer Ronan Rackham, the owner and proprietor of the Zoo at the Edge of the World.”
Bliss (any in the series)
“Rosemary Bliss’s family has a secret. It’s the Bliss Cookery Booke—an ancient, leather-bound volume of enchanted recipes like Singing Gingersnaps. Rose and her siblings are supposed to keep the Cookery Booke locked away while their parents are out of town, but then a mysterious stranger shows up.”
Dragon Slayers Academy (any in the series)
“When a traveling minstrel foretells that he is to become a hero, Wiglaf sets out to fulfill his destiny: he signs up at the Dragon Slayers’ Academy. But how can he ever hope to be a dragon slayer when he can’t even stand the sight of blood?”
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Reed’s begged to read this all year, so we’re finally letting him (and at the time of this post, he’s only got four chapters left). But I’m in no hurry for him to move forward in this series—I may let him reading the second one this year, but he’ll pause on the rest for a while. “Harry, an orphan, lives with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. One day just before his eleventh birthday, an owl tries to deliver a mysterious letter, the first of a sequence of events.”
Sideways Stories from Wayside School
“There was a terrible mistake—Wayside School was built with one classroom on top of another, thirty stories high! (The builder said he was sorry.) Maybe that’s why all kinds of funny things happened at Wayside-especially on the thirteenth floor.”
Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective (any in the series)
“With a knack for trivia, Encyclopedia solves mysteries for the neighborhood kids through his detective agency. But his dad is also the chief of police, and every night, Encyclopedia helps him solve his most baffling crimes.”
The Boxcar Children (any in the series)
“The Aldens begin their adventure by making a home in a boxcar. Their goal is to stay together, and in the process they find a grandfather.”
“Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.”
Reed’s goal is to read six books on his list—if he does it, we’ll reward him with something fun—most likely a family or one-on-one event.
What’s on your kids’ summer reading list this year?
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