Books to Live By: Summer Reading
READ 180 Community e-Newsletter – Summer 2010
By Patty Blome, READ 180 Educator, Sweetwater Union High School District, Chula Vista, California
It was then I found a book—Judy Blume's Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. It covered EVERYTHING I was feeling and mirrored many issues I was dealing with within my own family. I couldn't believe that this book existed; it felt like it was written just for me. It made me feel normal, helped erase most of my anxiety toward starting a new school, and helped me laugh at things in my life that I never laughed at before.
Think of how many students experience the anxiety of change and the fear of fitting in. The summer months are arguably the most anxiety-riddled time of the year for kids in elementary through high school. Whether children are changing addresses or changing grades, suggesting a good book to help them through this difficult life transition can influence how they approach reading for the rest of their lives.
Here are a few favorite picks of mine to help with a myriad of transitions a child may face during the summer months. Now if I can only find one that helps me deal with losing my sweet students each year...
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret
by Judy Blume
Ages 8-13 (590L)
Margaret Simon could be ANY 12 year old girl in America; she worries about her entrance into puberty, her relationship with God, identifying with a religion, and handling a major life-changing move to a new city and new school. Not only does this novel dive into the intricacies of adolescence in the honest and true fashion that Judy Blume fans expect, it speaks to pre-teens of all races, all religions, and all regions of the United States. Simply timeless.
by Donna Gephart
Ages 9-13 (630L)
A great new book choice for boys, this book's protagonist, David Greenberg, is a techno-savvy graduate of fifth grade, with eyes on becoming the next greatest thing on the TV talk show circuit. Then middle school starts and David is slammed with dealing with rejection, making new friends, and coming to grips with his own sadness over the separation from his mother. Although this book deals with some serious issues at times, its consistency in providing a humorous look at life as a bottom rung middle schooler will resonate with most 10-12 year-old boys.
The Summer I Turned Pretty
by Jenny Han
Ages 14-17 (600L)
Isabel (aka "Belly") LOVES the summer months. Each year, for as long as she can remember, Belly's family spends their entire summer at a beach house they share with her mother's best friend and her two sons. Belly has always treated these boys as brothers, until suddenly, during the summer of Belly's fifteenth year, things change. Belly is thrown for a loop when she realizes she has always had a crush on one of the brothers. Cleverly written so that readers have a chance to "peek in" to past summers in Belly's life, the plot evolves into an "aha!" experience that many teens can relate to.
Other Great Books to Keep Your Students Reading This Summer!
Pam Munoz Ryan (650 L)
From the time he is a young boy, Neftalí hears the call of a mysterious voice. Even when the neighborhood children taunt him, and when his harsh, authoritarian father ridicules him, and when he doubts himself, Neftalí knows he cannot ignore the call. Under the canopy of the lush rain forest, into the fearsome sea, and through the persistent Chilean rain, he listens and he follows.
The Summer Before
Ann M. Martin
Before there was the Baby-Sitters Club, there were four girls named Kristy Thomas, Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi, and Stacey McGill. As they start the summer before seventh grade (also before they start the BSC), each of them is on the cusp of a big change. Kristy is still hung up on hoping that her father will return to her family. Mary Anne has to prove to her father that she's no longer a little girl who needs hundreds of rules. Claudia is navigating her first major crush on a boy. And Stacey is leaving her entire New York City life behind.
The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins (810 L)
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival.
Tales From Outer Suburbia
Shaun Tan (1100 L)
An exchange student who's really an alien, a secret room that becomes the perfect place for a quick escape, a typical tale of grandfatherly exaggeration that is actually even more bizarre than he says...These are the odd details of everyday life that grow and take on an incredible life of their own.