Ten Reason Your Kids Should Participate in a Summer Reading Program

by Rebecca J. Gomez When my kids were young, summer reading programs were a sure thing. For the most part, my children were avid readers, especially my girls. A summer reading program wasn't necessary to encourage them to read, but we participated because it was a fun addition to summer. And the free pizza, books, and water park tickets definitely didn't hurt! There are lots of reasons to participate in a summer reading program or challenge, and here are ten of them: 1. Many summer reading programs offer prizes. And while we all know that reading is its own reward, some kids haven't figured that out yet. For those kids, a prize is just the incentive they need to stick their noses in a book now and then over the summer. 2. It's a fun way to reward those kids who will be reading no matter what! 3. For some families, trips to the library may help break up summer monotony.  4. Summer reading programs promote reading together as a family, especially for those with very young

Ten Chapter Books for Fun Family Read Alouds

by Rebecca J. Gomez and Marci Whitehurst  

When looking for a longer book to read aloud as a family, it's important to consider a few things: 

1. Is it a good story?

2. Is it appropriate for a range of ages?

3. Does it have the special something that makes it fun to actually read aloud? 

With these questions in mind, we've put together a list of chapter books and middle grade novels that would be great for family read alouds, no matter the ages of those listening (even infants benefit from hearing all kinds of stories read aloud). 

Granny Torelli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech 

To be honest, I (Rebecca) can't think of a Sharon Creech book that I wouldn't recommend for a family read. But this book, with its snappy voice and engaging, heart-tugging story is especially delightful. It's about a young girl named Rosie, who has had a fight with her best friend. Her wise, observant grandmother suggests that she (that is, Granny) and Rosie make soup together. While they cook, they share stories. Turns out, that is just the recipe Rosie needed to encourage her to work out the problem with her friend.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

This is an engaging, mysterious story that takes place in un underground city in which the only light comes from an aging and unpredictable electrical grid. The story follows Lina and Doon, who accidentally stumble upon what seems to be plans for their community to leave Ember and find hope in a new world. But the plans are damaged, and Lina and Doon have to piece everything together before it's too late. A story of friendship, survival, corruption, and mystery that is hard to put down. This is the first book in a series. 

Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

Also the first book in a series, Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians is a hilarious and action-packed fantasy adventure story. In this story, Alcatraz and his grandfather must go on a mission to recover a stolen bag of sand from the cult of evil Librarians (recognizable by their horn-rimmed glasses).

Maddie McDowell and the Rodeo Robbery by Luann Rod

Maddie McDowell runs away from boarding school and ends up traveling with the rodeo and impersonating the rodeo's newest star. Maddie must prove she has talent and strength, all while tracking down stolen goods. Set in 1919, the historical accuracy in this story is spot on, and the language is super fun to read aloud: thunderation and toad's toes! 

A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus 

This is a story about the importance of family, both the one you're given and the one you choose.  The story is rich, full of sensory details, and includes several references to classic children's stories such as A Little Princess, Mary Poppins, and The Story of Ferdinand. It's a cozy, heartwarming story that follows three sibling orphans as they travel to the countryside outside of London in 1940, where they find comfort in the shelves of the library as well as a person to be their guardian. A rich tale that will keep children asking to read the next chapter.

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall (book one in a series)

Four sisters vacation with their father in the cottage of an estate and find adventures with the boy who lives in the mansion next door. His mother, the heiress of the estate, is a bit cold hearted and warns the kids to stay out of trouble, which they really try to do, but...

This story is full of fun antics that made me (Marci) feel like a kid when I was reading The Boxcar Children. There is room for discussion about adults who aren't nice (not abusive, though), especially with children.

Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo (series)

This chapter book series follows a pig, Mercy, who lives inside with Mr. and Mrs. Watson. Mercy loves buttered toast. The Watsons call her a porcine wonder. Mercy finds herself in predicaments, especially when food is involved. These stories are great for younger readers and listeners, but the silliness makes them a fun read aloud for all. 

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster 

Milo is bored. Milo is always bored. So when a mysterious tollbooth arrives in his room, he drives through it because he's got nothing better to do. What follows is a delightful, surprising adventure full of wordplay and wit in which Milo learns that life is anything but dull. 

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny--Detectives Extraordinare! by Polly Horvath

Polly Horvath's books are always fun, and this one is especially so. I (Rebecca) laughed out loud at least a dozen times while reading it! The story follows Madeleine, a little girl whose parents have been kidnapped by foxes, and Mrs. and Mrs. Bunny, who set out to solve the case. This book is an absolute delight that is sure to bring out the laughs. 

Also look for Horvath's book Very Rich, which is a quirky and funny story about family!

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald 

This book is sure to delight those who enjoy fairy tales and classic stories. It's a magical adventure in which Princess Irene and her new friend Curdie must foil the plot of some scheming goblins. This is a classic story, with a beautiful new edition published by Canon Press.

We hope you choose a book from this list to read with your family over the Holidays or in the New Year. Do you have any favorite chapter books or middle grade read alouds? We'd love to hear about them! 


Mindy Baker said…
So many great titles to add to my TBR list! Awesome post!