For most teachers, summer means less paperwork, which means more time to finally lose yourself in a great book. Now we've made it easier to share your enthusiasm with your students. In this special collection, find books for every grade level, from coming-of-age stories to must-read sequels to books that celebrate America's favorite summer pastime. Plus, discover fascinating reads just for teachers and strategies for incorporating reading into your students' summer break.
4 Summer Camp Stories
Send campers off with bug spray and one of these books perfect for reading around the campfire.
1. The Jellybeans and the Big Camp Kickoff by Laura Numeroff and Nate Evans, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. Grades PreK-3
This Jellybeans adventure takes the four girls to summer camp, where Nicole decides to start a soccer team and take on a neighboring camp.
2. Postcards From Camp by Simms Tabak. Grades 1-4
Fans of Tabak's quirky sense of humor (see his take on There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly) will enjoy this epistolary tale about a boy stuck at camp and the plaintive pleas he sends home to his father.
3. Nerd Camp by Elissa Brent Weissman. Grades 3-6
A story packed with humor, heart, and nerdy self-acceptance, this novel about 10-year-old Gabe's summer at a gifted and talented program is the perfect choice for reading material until lights out.
4. Amelia's Summer Survival Guide by Marissa Moss. Grades 3-7
In this edition featuring two stories from the popular series, readers join Amelia as she braves her family reunion and time at Camp Mosquito. Moss's diary style is popular with kids and great for reluctant readers.
3 Reasons to Try Audio Books
In addition to reading over the summer, kids should listen to books, too. Here's why, according to the experts at Recorded Books.
1. They develop comprehension.
A child's reading level isn't the same as her comprehension level. In other words, a third grader who is struggling to read Harry Potter may have no trouble understanding the audiobook.
2. They build confidence.
Kids get a real boost when they listen to and understand stories they know are difficult, which can encourage them to take on more challenges when they do pick up a book.
3. They strengthen vocabulary.
By listening to books at a higher reading level, students are exposed to new words and get to hear them pronounced correctly and fluently.
4 Must-Read Sequels
These companion novels are every bit as good as the originals.
1. Candy Smash by Jacqueline Davies. Grades 3-5
Davies wowed us with her blend of emotion, humor, and economics in The Lemonade War and its sequels, The Lemonade Crime and The Bell Bandit. The fourth book in the series is just as thought-provoking, with Evan and Jessie investigating mysterious and poetic candy hearts that appear on Valentine's Day.
2. Fly Trap by Frances Hardinge. Grades 4-7
If you fell in love with fearless Mosca and her goose, Saracen, in Fly by Night, you'll adore this adventure, in which the duo becomes trapped in a town that undergoes some radical changes at sunset.
3. Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt. Grades 5-8
We first met Doug Swieteck as the troublemaker in The Wednesday Wars. Now we're fortunate enough to get to know him better in this deeply moving, funny novel about Doug's seventh-grade year in 1960s upstate New York. A winner!
4. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson. Grades 7 and up
Hooray! Ginny, the heroine of 13 Little Blue Envelopes, finally gets to discover the contents of the last envelope left by her Aunt Peg — and we get to spend more time with Ginny. It's a win-win for everyone.
4 Facts to Know About Summer Reading
Sign up your students for this year's Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge to track their reading minutes and help set a new world record for summer reading!
1. All It Takes Is Four
Did you know? By reading four or more books over the summer, kids can avoid the "summer slide," or gap in academic skills, when they return to school in the fall.
2. Let Them Choose
Forget asking kids to read the latest Newbery tearjerker. According to a Scholastic survey, 91 percent of kids are more likely to finish books they choose themselves.
3. Top of the Tests
Kids who read a million words a year score in the top 2 percent on standardized tests. A million words may sound like a lot, but it's only about 25 average-length novels.
4. Big Vocabularies
Kids learn 4,000-12,000 new words every year reading. That means three months without books can make a huge difference in their vocabularies and test scores.
3 Online Picks
Online clues, videos, and games are all part of the story in these fast-paced adventure series.
1. The 39 Clues by various authors. Grades 3-7
The story began with the death of Amy and Dan Cahill's grandmother in The 39 Clues, and has continued with three more series: Cahills vs. Vespers, Unstoppable, and Doublecross. Students will become agents and tackle missions to earn medals at the Cahill Command Center.
2. Trackers by Patrick Carman. Grades 5-8
The Trackers series follows four tech-savvy teens as they investigate and pursue the world's most dangerous hackers. Join the mission with the online Trackers Interface.
3. Spirit Animals by various authors. Grades 3-7
Four young heroes and their spirit animals must band together on a quest to find legendary talismans before they fall into enemy hands. Students can discover their own spirit animals and join the quest online.
4 Patriotic Reads
These stories will make for happy reading on Flag Day, the 4th of July, and beyond.
1. Madeline at the White House by John Bemelmans Marciano. Grades PreK-2
The grandson of the original author brings to life an idea his grandfather was working on at the time of his death — everyone's favorite French schoolgirl pays a visit to the White House!
2. First Garden by Robbin Gourley. Grades PreK-3
This lush picture book introduces kids to First Lady Michelle Obama's garden and explores the rich history of horticulture at the White House, including Thomas Jefferson's fruit trees.
3. We Are America: A Tribute From the Heart by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Christopher Myers. Grades K-5
From two of our favorite collaborators comes a tribute to what makes our country unique. Invite kids to research the people and places in the text.
4. The Many Faces of George Washington by Carla Killough McClafferty. Grades 3-6
What did George Washington look like? With dozens of varying portraits, no one knew for sure until a team of historians decided to find out. Here's a look at what they discovered.
5 Ways to Make Time for Reading
Between sports, video games, and playing outside, there's lots of competition for kids' time in the summer. Here are some ideas for ways they can still sneak in their reading.
1. Read Over Breakfast
Encourage kids to take five or ten minutes at the beginning of each day to read, before doing anything else. They can even set a timer — chances are they'll want to keep going after it buzzes!
2. Match Books to Activities
Know a child going to soccer camp? Connect him or her with sports stories by authors like Matt Christopher. Have a student who'll be in summer school? The Summer of May by Cecilia Galante is a moving novel about a girl coming to terms with her own summer school experience.
3. Always Carry a Book
Encourage children to always carry a book with them. It sounds simple, but kids may be surprised to discover all the time during the day they have for reading — on the bus to camp, in a waiting room, or during commercial breaks.
4. Have Family Reading Time
Just as you set aside time for independent reading during the school year, ask families to devote 20 minutes a day to books. Every family member should read during this time, including Mom and Dad.
5. Set Individual Goals
Some kids will have no problem reaching the four-book minimum. Others may need specific strategies, such as one book a month. Meet with kids to determine their plans.
4 Odes to Summer
These books capture the essence of those long, drawn-out days and starry nights.
1. Junonia by Kevin Henkes. Grades 3-7
What happens when the traditions you've always treasured begin to change? That's the question Henkes tackles in the story of 10-year-old Alice, who's always celebrated her birthday at the beach. Give it to your introspective readers.
2. A Million Miles From Boston by Karen Day. Grades 3-7
When Lucy's annual summer trip to Pierson Point, Maine, is upended by the arrival of obnoxious neighbor Ian and her dad's new girlfriend, she too must learn to cope with change and find joy in the unexpected.
3. Aliens on Vacation by Clete Barrett Smith, illustrated by Christian Slade. Grades 3-7
Kids will never look at cheesy motels the same way again after reading about Scrub's visit to his grandmother's Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast.
4. The Summer Before Boys by Nora Raleigh Baskin. Grades 4-7
With the story of best friends Julia and Eliza, Baskin beautifully renders that final season between childhood and adolescence, when sandcastles and ice cream hold as much magic as first crushes.
7 Teacher Books
Do us a favor — first read a book (or several!) not related to your job or education. Then, sometime in July, when time starts to tip toward your return to the classroom, pick up one of these fascinating reads.
1. Feel-Bad Education by Alfie Kohn.
Kohn's collection of essays takes on standardized tests, homework, grades, and incentivized reading and writing programs. Even if you don't agree with everything he says, his thoughtful critiques of our current system are worth the read.
2. Be Different by John Elder Robinson.
Subtitled "Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian with Practical Advice for Aspergians, Misfits, Families & Teachers," this collection of stories is a must-read for those of us who work with students who are on the autism spectrum.
3. The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins.
The author of Pledged and The Overachievers explores what it means to be popular — or alternatively, an outcast — by interweaving the stories of seven high school students with thought-provoking essays on popularity.
4. Everyday Teacher Leadership by Michelle Collay.
Interested in taking more of a leadership role in your school? Collay gives you practical wisdom and steps to take no matter your school environment or current level of involvement. An empowering read.
5. Science Fair Season by Judy Dutton.
Dutton digs deep into the world of elite science fairs and the kids who enter them, profiling some of history's most fascinating winners and their inventions while following the results of the 2009 International Science and Engineering Fair.
6. Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed by Howard Gardner.
From a Harvard researcher and one of the education world's most prominent thinkers comes an exploration of age-old virtues and what they mean for our 21st-century lives and classrooms.
7. Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do) by Gever Tulley with Julie Spiegler.
Tired of helicopter parents? This guide encourages children to take more risks, including climbing trees and playing with fire. The change of pace will inspire you.
3 Activities That "Count" as Reading
Reading isn't just about books. These activities can also help build kids' skills.
1. Reading Directions
Step-by-step directions not only call for close reading, they also develop kids' logic and sequencing skills. So encourage kids to be the navigator on family trips, to build models, to play board games, and to try out new recipes in the kitchen.
2. Playing Video Games
Kids obviously shouldn't sub all of their reading for screen time, but many video games require players to follow a complicated storyline and read chunks of text, which can help build children's skills. Check out Common Sense Media for game reviews.
3. Browsing the Internet
Sure, Facebook isn't War and Peace, but kids are doing a lot of reading while they play games and socialize online. Incorporate more "meat" by encouraging kids to visit a reading site like The Stacks or the teen writing site Figment.
3 for Little Leaguers
Celebrate America's favorite pastime with these terrific reads.
1. Three Strikes for Rotten Ralph by Jack Gantos, illustrated by Nicole Rubel. Grades 1-3
The hero of this early reader series is all set for baseball stardom. He can sign autographs, give interviews, and has his own baseball card. There's just one problem. He can't actually play ball, and winds up as the team's "cat boy."
2. The Unforgettable Season by Phil Bildner, illustrated by S.D. Schindler. Grades 1-4
A look at the summer of 1941, when Joe DiMaggio of the York Yankees had a 56-game hitting streak and Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox achieved a batting average over .400.
3. Best of the Best by Tim Green. Grades 4-7
In the latest of the Baseball Greats series, Josh must balance playing in the Little League World Series with the divorce of his parents.
5 Doggy Tales
Books about dogs make up some of the best of children's literature. Clear space for these stories about man's best friend on your shelf.
1. LaRue Across America by Mark Teague. Grades K-3
Readers have laughed their way through Ike's previous adventures and will no doubt do the same in this story about an unplanned road trip with Mrs. LaRue and two despicable felines.
2. A Dazzling Display of Dogs by Betsy Franco, illustrated by Michael Wertz. Grades 1-4
In this follow-up to A Curious Collection of Cats, Franco and Wertz once again combine humorous illustrations and verse to showcase everything's that loveable about our furry friends.
3. Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog by Garth Stein. Grades 3-7
This adaptation of the heartwarming novel for adults is told from the point of view of Enzo, a golden retriever who dreams of becoming a race car driver just like his owner, Denny.
4. Me & Jack by Danette Haworth. Grades 3-7
Josh expects his troubles to end when his army recruiter father allows him to adopt a dog after they move to a new town. But tensions are running high in this Vietnam-era story, and Josh's biggest challenges may lie ahead.
5. Wild Life by Cynthia DeFelice. Grades 4-7
Few wildlife survival stories are set in the contemporary United States, but this story imagines what might happen if a boy ran away from his home in North Dakota, bringing only a shotgun and his beloved dog along.