10 Summer Reads to Spur Your Kids to Courage and Compassion

by Christina Hubbard. One of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon is combing the library shelves for great summer reads. Not for me. For my kids. I love matching their interests with books which will challenge and expand their understanding of the world. If you’ve spent any time on my blog, then you know courage and compassion are core values in my family. I want my kids to be confident, empathetic, and brave.

Sadly, one of my kids has decided reading is not his/her thing anymore. I’m out to prove that wonderful kid wrong! Here are a few things that help us with our summer reading, including a list of what we’re reading.

It’s not quite bribery…

It can be hard to motivate our kids to read when they’d rather be playing XBox or living at the pool. In our house, we dangle carrots. When a kid completes a set amount of books on the list (they get to choose the ones they find most interesting, they earn a reward. For my 13-year old daughter, this year will probably be a gel manicure. For my 9-year old son, the incentive will be a sleepover or a cool outing. Consider what would motivate your child to stick with it.

Real books, audio books, and snuggle time all help

Did you know? Most kids prefer physical books. I don’t know where I read that recently, but I think it’s pretty true. There’s something about touching those pages which helps the brain to connect the tangible with memory retention.

No matter what anyone has told you, audiobooks count as real books. My kids listen to them for hours on end. It builds auditory skills and allows the brain to really engage with the text in a way that reading from the page cannot.

Snuggle time and reading aloud promotes authentic connection. Not only can you practice your silly voices and accents, you can even encourage your child to read to you. You also get to love on that rambunctious kid and tighten that parent/kid bond while you’re at it.

What I do

I don’t read every book on the lists I create. It’s impossible for me to keep up with my kids’ voracious reading (at least one of them), BUT I do research each book. I look for compelling characters, descriptive writing with fabulous vocabulary, and solid recommendations. Great sources for amazing reads have been Sarah McKenzie at the Read Aloud Revival, Tsh Oxenreider’s lists on the Art of Simple (search for summer reading guide: there’s several), and Amy Sullivan’s Gutsy Girls Facebook group.

Here are ten reads I’ve pulled from my kids’ lists to encourage kindness and boldness.

Most of these books will get a thumbs up from either gender. Keep in mind, these recommendations are for a tween and a high-level reading upper elementary kid. I hope one of them finds their way into one of your kids’ hands or your own! (Also, if you have an adblocker turned on, you will not see the images.)

    1. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga) Description: Janner Igiby, his brother Tink, their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.
    2.  The Apothecary (The Apothecary Series) Description: It’s 1952 and the Scott family has just moved from Los Angeles to London. Here, fourteen-year-old Janie meets a mysterious apothecary and his son, Benjamin Burrows – a fascinating boy who’s not afraid to stand up to authority and dreams of becoming a spy. When Benjamin’s father is kidnapped, Janie and Benjamin must uncover the secrets of the apothecary’s sacred book, the Pharmacopoeia, in order to find him, all while keeping it out of the hands of their enemies – Russian spies in possession of nuclear weapons. Discovering and testing potions they never believed could exist, Janie and Benjamin embark on a dangerous race to save the apothecary and prevent impending disaster.
    3. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope (P.S.) Description: William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger. But William had read about windmills, and he dreamed of building one that would bring to his small village a set of luxuries that only 2 percent of Malawians could enjoy: electricity and running water. His neighbors called him misala—crazy—but William refused to let go of his dreams.
    4. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young GirlDescription: Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit.
    5. The Green Ember (The Green Ember Series: Book 1)Description: Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world.
    6. Watership Down: A Novel Description: A phenomenal worldwide bestseller for more than forty years, Richard Adams’s Watership Down is a timeless classic and one of the most beloved novels of all time. Set in England’s Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of brothers, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society.
    7. The Bronze Bow Description: The Bronze Bow, written by Elizabeth George Speare (author of The Witch of Blackbird Pond) won the Newbery Medal in 1962. This gripping, action-packed novel tells the story of eighteen-year-old Daniel bar Jamin—a fierce, hotheaded young man bent on revenging his father’s death by forcing the Romans from his land of Israel. A fast-paced, suspenseful, vividly wrought tale of friendship, loyalty, the idea of home, community…A powerful, relevant read in turbulent times.
    8. The Trumpet of the Swan Description: The delightful classic by E. B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, about overcoming obstacles and the joy of music.
    9. Emily of New Moon Description: This early work by Lucy Maud Montgomery was originally published in 1923 and we are now republishing it with a brand new introductory biography. ‘Emily of New Moon’ is the first tale in the ‘Emily Starr’ series, and tells the story of an orphaned girl using her wit and courage to face the harsh world.
    10. Edge of Extinction 1: The Ark Plan The Edge of Extinction Description: Five years ago, Sky Mundy’s father vanished from North Compound without a trace. Now she has just stumbled on a clue that not only suggests his disappearance is just the tip of an even larger mystery, but also points directly to the surface. To find her dad—and possibly even save the world—Sky and her best friend, Shawn, must break out of their underground home and venture topside to a land reclaimed by nature and ruled by dinosaurs.

(Book descriptions are copied from Amazon. Also good to know: links above contain Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase a book through one of them, I get a small percentage, which goes to keeping the lights on the blog.)

Happy reading!

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May 29, 2018