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Our Favorite Books for Summer (or anytime!) Reading

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Summer vacation — a time for families to enjoy road trips, splashing in the pool, camping under the stars, and backyard barbeques. It’s also a great time to get lost between the covers of a book. Many public libraries host fun and inspiring summer reading programs. The only question is which books, out of the thousands available, to choose?

My kids and I are avid readers, and we’d like to share some of our favorite books with other Baby Gizmo families. I have organized them into three categories: Books for Early Readers (approximately grades 1-3), Books for Intermediate Readers (approximately grades 3-6) and Teen Reads (approximately grades 7 +). Categorizing books by age or grade level can be misleading, though, as kids have varying comprehension abilities and maturity levels.

I find there is much overlap between categories, and many books are ageless. If you have concerns about the difficulty or content of a book, do a little research to find out if it’s right for your child. Also, keep in mind that a book that is too advanced for your child might be the perfect one to read aloud to her. Conversely, an advanced reader might really enjoy the comfort and simplicity of a well-written children’s story.

This link will take you to an excellent article by author and educator Jim Trelease about “the hidden benefits of reading aloud–even for older kids.”

Do not adhere too tightly to prescribed reading levels. Read together. Read independently. Read above and below your actual level. All of the books we’ve listed will take you to exciting new worlds this summer. Just choose one and embark on your adventure!

Great Books for Early Readers:

The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne

A to Z Mysteries series by Ron Roy

The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Cam Jansen series by David A. Adler

The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling

The Arthur Chapter Books series by Marc Brown

The Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park

Great Books for Intermediate Readers:

The American Girl series by various authors

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maude Montgomery

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann D. Wyss

The Molly Moon series by Georgia Byng

Smells Like Dog, Smells Like Treasure, and Smells Like Pirates by Suzanne Selfors

The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney

The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The You Wouldn’t Want to Be . . . series by various authors

A Tale of Two Castles and The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

The 39 Clues series by various authors

Ida B. . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World by Katherine Hannigan

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit

Hoot and Scat by Carl Hiaasen

Tuesdays at the Castle and Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George

The Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Ivy and Bean series by Annie Barrows

Great Books for Teens:

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

The Ranger’s Apprentice series and The Brotherband Chronicles by John A. Flanagan

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

Holes by Louis Sachar

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Copernicus Legacy series by Tony Abbott and Bill Perkins

Johnny Tremain by Esther Hoskins Forbes

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicker

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