It’s mid-June, and that summer feeling is already upon us. Whether your kids are out of school or just days away from vacation time, chances are you’re looking for books to keep them busy during these long summer months! These are my top recommendations for a fun, easy, and memorable summer read.
How I Spent My Summer Vacation, by Mark Teague.
I love a book about a kid with a wild imagination, and this book more than fits the bill. The story is about a schoolboy who tells his classmates all about his summer vacation—including the time he joined a group of cowboys and stopped a cattle stampede. No boring summer at grandma’s house for him! It’s a cute book with great illustrations, and will get your kids excited for a summer of adventures.
Swimming Lessons, by Betsy Jay.
This story follows a girl named Jane who is afraid to learn how to swim. Her mother tries to get her in the pool any way she can…but Jane doesn’t budge until she hears a taunt from a classmate. A cute story about a girl finding her bravery and facing her fears make this a summer must-read!
A Pocketful of Cricket, by Rebecca Caudill.
As summer comes to a close, a six-year-old boy finds a cricket, sticks him in his pocket, and becomes his friend. On the first day of school, he won’t set the cricket free—but is it really the summer he’s holding on to? This children’s book is beautifully written, and sure to become a classic in your family.
Heat Wave, by Eileen Spinelli.
This books throws it back to the days before air conditioning, making it a fun, reminiscent read for those of us from an older generation! It follows a cast of quirky characters trying to find solace in a heat wave, until everybody comes together by the river and dreams of cooler times. Charming and delightful, this is a perfect comfort to turn to when the temperatures go up!
What are you looking forward to this summer? Let me know in the comments below!
Hi all! Welcome to Part III of my Q&A series, where I use this blog to answer the questions you have for me! Just a reminder, you can send your questions my way via commenting on my blog, or through my Facebook and Twitter pages.
This week I’ve decided to answer a question I’ve gotten many times since Night Buddies was first released: “What made you decide to write books for children?”
The truth is, writing for children didn’t feel like a choice to me. The idea for Night Buddies (which you can read about in this blog post) came to me so strongly, and I knew it had to be written for children—for people like my son, who needed Crosley the red crocodile in his life and his bedtime stories. When I was younger, I thought one day I might be a writer, and I dabbled in writing short stories intended for an adult audience. But the first time I ever felt that I had written something worthy of being published for an audience was when I wrote Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare, and I realized that writing for children was what I was meant to do after all.
Writing for children gives authors so much space for imagination, creativity, and fun. Kids are a fairly freeing audience to write for—all they are looking for in a book is to be entertained, and to be understood. They interact with characters like they would best friends, and once they are loyal to your story, they will love it for the rest of their lives. I love that I can create an entire world, be as goofy as I want, and work hard to make kids laugh instead of write something that seems “true” to real life. Writing for kids is a way to make me feel like a kid again.
But as fun and freeing as writing for children can be, it is also a tremendous responsibility. Writing a good book for children has the potential to turn them on or off to reading for the rest of their lives. But this is another way in which being an author of children’s books can be so rewarding; when you hear from a child whose life was changed by reading your book, you know all the work you put into writing it was more than worth it.
Who was your favorite author as a child? Did his or her work turn you into a lifelong reader? Let me know in the comments!
The 4th of July is almost upon us! And while most all of us know the reason we are celebrating (happy birthday America!), sometimes our children don’t take a moment to think of it as anything other than a day to play out in the sun and have a yummy BBQ. That’s where these books come in!
The Fourth of July Story, by Alice Dalgliesh. This is a straightforward, but fascinatingly written, account of America’s independence story. It gives a history of why American wanted to break free from Britain, tells Thomas Jefferson’s story of writing the Declaration of Independence—everything you need to know! The story is accompanied by beautiful illustrations that kids won’t get enough of.
Judy Moody Declares Independence, by Megan McDonald. This is another charming installment of the Judy Moody series, and takes Judy on an adventure to Boston where she meets a British friend, and has a wild adventure learning about Independence Day, and what it means to be independent herself. With a line like this, who wouldn’t want to pick up this read? “She, Judy Moody, would hereby, this day, make the Judy Moody Declaration of Independence. With alien rights and her own Purse of Happiness and everything.”
Fourth of July Cheer, by Dee Smith. For the really little kiddos, this rhyming picture book is the perfect Independence Day read. It follows the story of Buster the Dog and his family heading out for some July 4th fun at the beach—complete with the beaches, BBQs, parades, and even a fireworks display! It’s very sweet, fun and easy to read, and will put you in the mood for the holiday.
The Case of the July 4th Jinx, by Lewis B. Montgomery. Another installment of the Milo and Jazz Mystery series, this story follows the kids as they try to figure out why everything seems to be going wrong at the 4th of July fair. This is a great choice for kids being introduced to chapter books, and the mystery keeps them turning the pages!
What are some of your favorite 4th of July traditions? Let me know in the comments below!
Last week on Twitter and Facebook, I posted a different children’s through middle grade book each day using the hashtag, #BoysWhoRead, to encourage anyone who wants their kid to become more of a reader to buy or rent (from the library) some of these books! In case any of you missed out on a day, here’s a list of all the ones I recommended.
I Funny: A Middle School Story, by James Patterson. Do you like an endearing, but absolutely hilarious character? Then you’re going to love this read! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll finish the book wishing you never had to put it down.
Ungifted, by Gordan Korman. Were you ever put in the gifted program in your school? Better yet, is your child in the gifted program, or wishing he/she was? Then you should try this book. It’s funny, sweet, and filled with many good lessons to be learned for any kid who feels like they are struggling to fit in.
The Loser List, by H.N. Kowitt. Kids can be cruel, and Kowitt takes that to heart in this story. It’s a book about everything that happens between nerd and cool in middle school—and you won’t want to miss it.
The Rules: Trust No One. A mysterious town, a sarcastic twelve-year-old, and a bond between two brothers that nobody could break—this novel will have your heart racing as fast as you’re flipping through the pages. Plus, this is an indie book, so it has a special place on this list and in my heart.
Remember, if you want to share your book recommendations with me, and with other parents, just post it on social media with the hashtag, #BoysWhoRead! I can’t wait to see what you have to say!
This past week, I has the opportunity to read two wonderful children’s books I think you would all love. Check out my review below.
Maggie Larche’s two little books, Charlie Bingham Gets Clocked and Charlie Bingham Gets Serious are two utterly cute stories! About a boy’s serial misadventures in primary school (I’m guessing in about fourth grade).
In Clocked, a friend’s pet lizard crawls inside the teacher’s favorite clock, an old-fashioned one with the big bells on top. Charlie and his friends borrow it to catch the lizard, and this sets off a zany and wonderful series of events. The trick is to get the clock back to Miss Walker (whom Charlie has a crush on) without getting into trouble. This turns out to be anything but simple. The clock gets passed from kid to kid like a hot potato and everybody gets totally stressed. I got stressed!
The story really is a primary-grade tour de force.
In Serious, the first line jumps right out at you:
“Sorry, Charlie. You’re just not hall monitor material.”
But this is precisely the thing Charlie has been yearning to be, for two good reasons. One, hall monitors get to leave class ten minutes before lunch and before the final bell. And, two, they get to wear really cool sashes. Owen, the head hall monitor, tells our hero he’s too much of a goofball for the august position. Charlie decides to prove him wrong by appearing as a line leader and sporting a line leader’s distinctive ribbon. First he has to get a girl to let him have her line leader spot for that day. And just like in Clocked, this sets off a wacko series of outcomes that had me really turning pages.
The stories’ point-of-view is first-person (Charlie’s), and this is exactly what you want in kids’ books. The narrative is clear and real and immediate, and would be no problem for young readers.
Miss Maggie calls these her “silly, funny” stories. She’s spot-on about that, but she may be a little too modest. I can’t imagine kids not enjoying these books.
Five stars at least.
Chances are, your kids’ Christmas/holiday gift lists consist of toys and technology (iPads seem to be one of the biggest hits), but what about putting a relatively cheap, simple, and thoughtful gift under the tree that your children can cherish their entire lives? Giving books as presents will help your kids to see books as fun rather than as associated with boring schoolwork, and the stories they fall in love with at young ages can turn them into lifelong readers. The trick to all of this is just picking the right book! Here are my top 5 favorite children’s books that will make wonderful stocking stuffers this season!
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, by Dan Santat. This children’s book is for younger readers (it features illustrations, but is broken up into chapters), and it made the American Library Association’s list of Notable Books for 2015! The short description is as follows: “In four delightful chapters, Beekle, an imaginary friend, undergoes an emotional journey looking for his human. Vibrant illustrations add to the fun.” Definitely a fun story that will stick with your children throughout their lives…and it’s a fun one to read together with your kids as well.
Beautiful Moon…A Child’s Prayer, by Tanya Bolden. This is a great one for the holiday season when you’re trying to teach your kids about gratitude and helping others. It follows the prayers of a boy thinking about the homeless, the hungry, those at war, and his family in a beautiful, touching way that is still accessible to children. It is another on the American Library Association’s List of Notable Books for 2015, and I’d say it’s placement is well earned!
The Boys Book of Survival (How to Survive Anything, Anywhere), by Guy Campbell. This one is a sillier book for a bit older children, ages 8-12. The Amazon summary says, “Lost in the desert? Stuck in quicksand? Confronted by a man-eating tiger? Trapped at a school dance? Fear not, brave reader! With this essential survival guide, you’ll find a way to get yourself out of every imaginable predicament, whether it’s an avalanche or a zombie invasion!” It’s a fun, easy read that kids don’t have to devour all at once—the perfect gift for guys and girls looking for a fun, mostly practical, and interesting read.
The Chocolate Touch, by Margot Apple. This book is a spin-off of the classic King Midas and the Golden Touch story, but features a greedy chocolate lover who might end up finally tiring of his favorite food. It’s silly, it’s cute, and it’s a fun read. Plus, I’m always a fan of spin-off books—let’s keep those old classic tales alive!
And of course, I can’t help but recommend the Night Buddies series! These books are easy enough reads that any child can find themselves getting sucked into the stories, but feature a broad enough vocabulary and interesting slang that will help them become better readers. I always incorporate a theme of friendship and teamwork into each book, which make them great reads for the holiday season!
Were you ever given a book as a gift? Let me know in the comments!