Bookman Weaver's Top Summer Titles
By Principal Michael Weaver, John A. Forrest Elementary School, Fair Lawn, N.J.
How do parents and educators combine children's need for summer fun with the need to keep them reading? Easy – by providing them with access to a wide selection of books and the opportunity to choose what they read.
At Forrest School, we’re using Scholastic Dollars™ earned during our Book Fairs to buy four books for each of our 250 students from kindergarten to fourth grade. The books will be sent to the students in self-addressed envelopes every two weeks to keep them excited about reading.
Throughout the school year, I share great kids titles with my parents through my newsletter and my Facebook fan page
. Here’s a compilation of my favorite titles from throughout the year that you can share with your parents as surefire bets for keeping kids motivated to read all summer long.
Read/Sing Alouds for Ages 3 to 6
Editor’s note: The above titles may not be available at all Book Fairs.
- Press Here by Herve Tullet – One of the best interactive books of all time! Press the yellow dot on the front cover, follow the instructions within, and embark on a magical journey.
- Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by Jane Cabrera – When I think about summer, I think about walks under a star-filled sky and books children will want to go back to night after night. Cabrera’s version features animals from all over the world. Little ones will be seeking out their parents to cuddle up and read/sing this one over and over and over again!
- Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes by Eric Litwin – Back when my dad, Bookmark, was in elementary school, he spent $3 for new Chuck Taylor All Star basketball sneakers. Today, LeBron’s kicks will cost you $315! Instead, for just $5, grab a copy of this book and join Pete as he rocks his new shoes. Be movin’, groovin’, and singin’ with Pete as he discovers all of the cool rooms at school!
- Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Rinker – Don’t you love it when your child finds that burst of energy before bed and refuses to go down? This book is perfect for those nights! Curl up on the couch with your foremen and have them help you tuck each truck in for a good night’s sleep.
- Tony Baloney by Pam Munoz Ryan and Edwin Fotheringham – This book provides parents with a gentle reminder that life in today’s world can, at times, be a bit overwhelming for all of us. Like Tony, when our little ones are tired and exasperated, having someone to speak with about all of their woes could save their day.
- HOGWASH! by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jim McMullan – Does your child refuse to bathe? After a long day at work, what is your best strategy for getting your dirty, smelly children clean? Farmer has a few ideas, and kindergartners to second-graders will enjoy the rhyming verse as he battles the hogs and their dirt.
Independent Nonfiction Reads for Ages 6 to 8
- The Who Would Win? series by Jerry Pallotta – Especially popular with boys, these books use facts to compare and contrast two animals. Readers are asked to predict which animal they think would win if the two were squared off in a fight. Which two beasts would be in your dream matchup?
- Itty-Bitty Animals by Joan Emerson – I have visited three Book Fairs so far this year, and this pick has sold out at each one. If you are without a pet at home, learning about these cuties will have kids begging their parents for two!
- Fly Guy Presents SHARKS! by Tedd Arnold – Can a fly be a pet? A boy named Buzz thinks so and is determined to prove everyone wrong. In his 11th book of the series, Arnold enlists the help of Fly Guy to bring nonfiction to life. Fun facts and photos may leave kids thinking twice about taking a dip in the ocean this summer!
- What If You Had Animal Teeth? by Sandra Markle – All most kids want for Christmas is their two front teeth. In this story, they opt instead for the pearly whites of a dozen different animals. Fun illustrations are accompanied by text detailing how different teeth are especially adapted for an animal's survival.
Independent Series Reads for Ages 8 to 10
- Beware of the Ninja Weenies by David Lubar – Welcome to the Weenie Zone! This is Lubar’s sixth collection of warped and creepy tales. The book is a compilation of 33 hilarious and harrowing stories that will make you either laugh or cry. What would your students do if a ninja weenie invaded your school?
- The Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski – A new series that takes the fractured fairy tale to a new level. In the first book, Abby and her younger brother, Jonah, stop Snow White from eating the poison apple. In Book 2, how will they deal with Cinderella’s bruised and swollen foot?
- Magic Tree House #47: Abe at Last! by Mary Pope Osborne – This has been Abe Lincoln’s year, and he has finally made his way into the tree house. Annie and Jack find themselves back in 1861 searching for a feather to save Penny the penguin. Jack can’t wait to meet Abe, but he’s busy trying to unite the states and ensure equity for all.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid #7: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney – Will Greg and Rowley find dates for the Valentine’s Day dance or be left out in the cold on the big night? In the end, who is going to be lucky in love?
- Capture the Flag by Kate Messner – The first in a series of three books, three middle school-aged children – strangers to each other at the start – are snowed in at an airport in Washington, D.C. The “Star-Spangled Banner” has been stolen, and this trio discovers they are connected via a secret society responsible for protecting work created by history’s most creative minds. Students in grades 5 to 7 will enjoy working to solve this mystery and bring the thieves to justice.
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio – If you found a magic lamp and had one wish, what would your heart desire? Most would probably seek fame and/or fortune. Auggie Pullman, a fifth-grader born with a facial deformity, is attending a mainstream school for the first time and just wants to go unnoticed. Go to http://rjpalacio.com/, watch the trailer and, after you meet the boy who was born to stand out, you’ll be running out to get the book!
- One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt – In this story about family, relationships, and love, 12-year-old Carley Connors was tough. But she never expected a betrayal by her mother that landed her in foster care. Placed with the Murphys, a happy family with three boys, it takes Carley some time before she feels as if she belongs. Then news from her mother shakes her world.
- See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles – Everyone contributes at the family restaurant, Harry’s – Mom; Dad; 18-year old-Sara, who is taking a year off from college; 14-year-old Holden, who pretends everyone doesn’t know he is gay; 12-year-old Fern, who feels invisible; and 3-year-old Charlie, who was the surprise baby and the center of everyone’s world. When tragedy strikes, life at Harry’s will never be the same.
- Divergent by Veronica Roth Roth – Set in a dystopian Chicago, this first book in the series follows 16-year-old Beatrice "Tris" Prior and her choice. Like all children her age, Beatrice must choose which one of the city’s five factions she will become a member of for the rest of her life. Will she choose to stay with her family? Does she see herself as a fit in any of the groups and, if not, what does that mean?
Activity Book for All Ages
- The LEGO Ideas Book – Did your students ever wonder what they could do with all of those LEGO bricks after they have created the project they came with? With this guide, students can take what they already have and make something new! The book is divided into six theme chapters: transportation, buildings, space, kingdoms, adventure, and useful makes. Each offers basic templates of key models and spreads to inspire kids to create your own!