The joy of summer reading

Posted by ksimpson - 26 April, 2013

IMG_4506Hoping your children will spend some time reading this summer? Help is at hand! Lower School librarian Kim Simpson has been helping Randolph students find the right the book since 1975; before taking over the library in 1994, she was a classroom teacher. Mrs. Simpson gave a Parents Connect presentation, “Strategies for Summer Reading,” in April 2013, to which parent Henri Helstowski has added a few of her own notes. At the end of this post are Mrs. Simpson’s lists of recommended books by grade level, followed by USA Today's list of the best 100 books for kids, to which she has added the AR level. The list is long, but so is summer!

Here is a comprehensive list of strategies and books to keep young readers engaged, and to nurture a love of reading in less enthusiastic readers, along with some books about reading for parents.

In addition to helping your child find books to read themselves, be sure to make time to read aloud to your child. Research shows that being read to is the single best predictor of academic achievement. Reading aloud books that are above grade level exposes your child to vocabulary and syntax they wouldn’t be able to master independently.

What parents can do:

  • Show enthusiasm for reading.
  • Model reading yourself.
  • Read this: The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease is a very helpful book for parents.
  • Read to your child.
  • Start a book club with your child
  • Make sure books are accessible. IKEA book ledges are a great way to display books throughout your home. Display books in different areas of your home in book baskets or stacks in prominent places.
  • Pick books in your child's comfort zone. Visit the website to learn about maturation levels of books as well as grade levels.
  • Find suggestions at your local bookstore, in book publications or at the bottom of the page on when you look at a book you’ve enjoyed.
  • Peer suggestions
  • Book Exchanges with Friends.
    How to run a book exchange: Limit the size of the group instead of sending an open invitation. Set a timeline, an agenda, and let attendees know what these are. Make tables and signs for genres. Let folks know what is not acceptable for the book swap (videos, older computer games, licensed software, etc.). If in doubt, keep it simple and age-appropriate. Give a Book Buck (chips, play money) for each book brought, good for one book. Determine how and when the book swap ends and what will be done with the leftover books. Decide if kids may trade books after the book swap. You may need an adult to oversee a brief 15-minute open trade at the end of the event. Any books left over on the tables must be reclaimed by the people who originally brought them to the event.

Hook your reader

  • Connect reading to the locale of a family trip. The Wright 3 , for example, is set in Chicago and there is a field trip at the house that is tied to the book. Something Upstairs is set in Boston.
  • Start a book series: if the first book hooks you, you can read all the way through the series Or pick a favorite author and read all that that person has written.
  • Find a series your child is interested in, a good one is Matt Christopher books. (Visit, Go to STORE to check by title or author, SERIES on left.)
  • Try this websites: and
  • Connect to an interest. Look for a book you enjoyed on, then look at the book suggestions that are linked to it.
  • Listen to a book. Eragon by Christopher Paolini is a great book on tape. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen is a great book on tape for boys. Visit the Huntsville Public Library.
  • See a book. Wiki it. Not sure if it will be appropriate? Check
  • Study an author. Try Robert Munsch, Patricia Polacco, Gail Gibbons and Avi.

IMG_4514Tap your resources

Lower School Head Cindy Shaw’s reading suggestions for parents

  • World Class Learners by Yong Zhao
  • How Children Succeed by Paul Tough
  • The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel
  • The Price of Privilege by Madeline Levine
  • How to Behave So Your Children Will, Too! by Sal Severe
  • Queen Bees and Wannabees by Rosalind Wiseman
  • The Pressured Child by Michael Thompson, Ph.D.
  • Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World by Jill Rigby
  • Parent Power by John Rosemond
  • The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and The Blessing of a B Minus- by Wendy Mogel.
  • Raising Happiness by Christine Carter.

IMG_4520Suggested reading

Many of these books will be available for purchase at the Barnes & Noble book fair, in both the Lower and Middle School libraries, Wednesday-Thursday, May 1-2, 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and on Friday, May 3, 7:30-11 a.m.

Suggested reading for rising 1st graders

Aylesworth, Old Black Fly
Bang, When Sophie Gets Angry
Bridwell, Clifford books
Brown, Arthur books
Burningham, Mr. Gumpy's Outing
Capucilli, Biscuit books
Carle, The Very Busy Spider
Cazet, Never Spit on Your Shoes
Chorao, Kate stories
Cole, Missing Tooth, Magic Schoolbus series
Couglan, easy non-fiction
Dunrea, Ollie stories
DK Eyewitness Level 1
Eastman, Big Dog, Little Dog, Are You My Mother?
Hamm, Winners Never Quit
Hillert, beginning readers--vocabulary controlled
Henkes, Circle Dogs, Bailey Goes Camping
Holub, Pajama Party; Look! I Can Read
Howe, The Day the Teacher Went Bananas
Hutchins, The Doorbell Rang
Johnson, Go Track a Yak
Kirkpatrick, easy biographies
Kraus, Leo the Late Bloomer
London, Froggy stories
Maccarone, First Grade Friends series
Mayer, easy readers
McPhail, Hello Readers Level 1
Moncure, Sound Box books
Parish, Amelia Bedelia books
Provensen, Murphy stories
Roberts, Mice stories (Valentine Mice, Thanksgiving Mice, etc.)
Rustad, easy non-fiction
Salzmann, easy non-fiction
Schaefer, easy non-fiction
Schuh easy non-fiction
Seuss, Hop On Pop, Foot Book, Great Day for Up, Marvin K. Mooney
Shannon, David stories
Sis, Madlenka stories
Slate, Miss Bindergarten stories
Stoeke Minerva Louise stories
Taback, Joseph had a Little Overcoat
Ward, easy non-fiction
Wilhelm, easy readers
Winne, easy non-fiction
Wood, King Bidgood's in the Bathtub
Yolen/Teague, How Do Dinosaurs?series
Ziefert, easy readers

Suggested reading for rising 2nd graders

Abbott, Danger Guys
Adler, Young Cam Jansen series, Houdini Club Series, Bones series
Allard, Miss Nelson series
Asch, Moondance, Milk and Cookies, The Last Puppy
Axelrod, Pigs math series
Bonsall, easy readers
Bourgeois, Franklin books
Brown, Arthur stories
Bruchac, Turtle's Race with Beaver, How Chipmunk Got His Stripes
Bulla, easy readers
Bunting, One Candle, Train to Somewhere, Going Home, Fly Away Home, Smokey Night, A Day's Work, Whale's Passing
Butterfield, What Am I? series
Cameron, Julian stories
Carle, Dream Snow, Very Lonely Firefly, Very Hungry Caterpillar, Very Clumsy Clickbeetle, The Tiny Seed, Slowly, Slowly Said the Snail
Carrick, Patrick's Dinosaurs series
Cole, Hungry, Hungry Sharks
Christelow, The Great Pig Search
Corey, First Graders from Mars series
Cosby, Little Bill series
Curtis, Where Do Balloons Go?
Denim, Dumb Bunnies series
DePaola, Strega Nona series
Falconer, Olivia stories
Finchler, Miss Malarkey series
Frost, easy non-fiction
Gantos, Rotten Ralph series
Giff, Kids from the Polk Street School series
Greene Field trip series
Hautzig easy readers
Henkes, Kitten's First Full Moon, Wemberley Worried, Weekend with Wendell, Owen
Hoban, "I Can Read" Level 2
Hoff, easy readers
Keats, Whistle for Willie, Snowy Day
Kline, Horrible Harry series
Kyuchor, My Name Was Hussein, Lasky Lunch Bunnies
Lewis, Cul-de-Sac Kids series
Lobel, easy readers
McMullan, Fluffy stories
Minarik, easy readers
Numeroff, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, If You Give a Pig a Pancake, If You Take a Mouse to School, If you take a Mouse to the Movies
Osborne, Magic Treehouse series
Park, Junie B. Jones series
Polacco, G is for Goat; Oh, Look, Emma Kate; Boat Ride with Lillian Two Bloom, Babushka's Doll
Preller, Jigsaw Jones mysteries
Rey, Curious George stories
Rylant, Poppleton series, Henry and Mudge series, Mr. Putter and Tabby series
Sachar, Marvin Redpost series
Sharmat, Nate the Great mysteries
Shannon, Duck on a Bike, Lizard's Home, Lizard's Guest
Silverstein, A Giraffe and a Half
Small, Imogene's Antlers
Standiford, The True Story About Balto, easy readers, Stanley, Goldie and the 3 Bears, Moe the Dog in Tropical Paradise
Thaler, Black Lagoon series
Tobias, Serendipity
Viorst, Earrings, The 10th Good Thing About Barney
Wells, Bunny Cakes, Yoko's Paper Cranes
Wiesner, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
Woodson, The Other Side

Suggested reading for rising 3rd/4th graders

Aardema, Oh, Koko, How Could You?; Anansi Does the Impossible; Borreguita and the Coyote
Abbot, Secrets of Droon series
Adler, Cam Jansen series, The Babe and I, Andy Russell series
Aliki, Painted Words
Anholt, Picasso and the Girl with the Ponytail, Camille and the Sunflowers, Applegate Animorphs series
Auch, The Latchkey Dog, I Was a 3rd Grade Science Project, I Was a 3rd Grade Spy, Kidnapping Kevin Kowalski
Avi, S.O.R. Losers, Who Stole the Wizard of Oz, Prairie School, Things Sometimes Happen
Baglio, Animal Ark series
Bailey, Stevie Diamond mysterieis
Bang, Paper Crane
Bemelmans, Madeline series
Betencourt, Pony Pals series
Blake, TOGO
Blume, Superfudge, Fudge-a-mania, Double Fudge, Blubber
Brett, Berlioz the Bear, Daisy Comes Home, The Trouble with Trolls, Fritz and the Beautiful Horses
Brown, Flat Stanley stories
Buehner, Superdog: the Heart of a Hero
Bruchac, The Story of the Milky Way
Bunting, Picnic in October, Coffin on a Case, Summer of Riley, Nasty Stinky Sneakers, Summer Wheels
Byars, Tornado, Dark Stairs
Cannon, Trupp, Stellaluna, Verdi
Christopher, sports stories and sports biographies
Clements, Counting on Frank, Frindle, School Story
Cowley, Agapanthus Hum and Bark
Cox, 3rd Grade pets, Weird Stories from the Lonesome Caf
Creech, A Fine, Fine School
Dadey, Bailey School Kids series, Bailey City Monsters series
Dahl, The Magic Finger
Danziger, Amber Brown stories
deBeer, Polar Bear stories
deGroat, Happy Birthday to You, You Belong in a Zoo; Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink
Delton, Peewee Scouts books
DePaola, The Art Lesson, Helga's Dowry, Adelita
DiCamillo, Because of Winn Dixie, Tale of Despereaux
Donnelly, Humble Pie
Doyle, The Giggler Treatment
Duffey, The Math Whiz; Gadget War; Hey, New Kid, Boy in the Doghouse
Edwards, Pa Lia's First Day, Stinky Stern Forever, Zero Grandparents
Ellerbee, Get Real series
Erickson, Hank the Cowdog Series
Fox, Koala Lou, Possum Magic, Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
Freeman, Corduroy stories
Funke, Pirate Girl
Gantos, Rotten Ralph stories
Greenburg, Zack Files books
Haddix, The Girl with 500 Middle Names
Henkes, Chrysanthemum; Julius, Baby of the World; Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse; Chester's Way
Hesse, The Music of Dolphins, Just Juice, Come on Rain
Hest, Katie Roberts series, Jamaica Louise James, When Jessie Came Across the Sea
Hoban, Russell, stories
Holabird, Angelina Ballerina stories
Hopkins, Fannie in the Kitchen, Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt
Hopkins, L., poetry books
Howe, Pinky and Rex stories, I Wish that I Were a Butterfly, Jordan Salt in his Shoes
Kellogg, Prehistoric Pinkerton, Mysterious Tadpole
King-Smith, anything!!
Levy, My Life as a Fifth Grade Comedian
London, Hip Cat, Baby Whale's Journey, Honeypaw and Lightfoot, The Owl Who Became the Moon
Lowell, The Three Javalinas
MacLachlan, Sarah, Plain and Tall, Journey, Skylark
Martin, Three Brave Women
Hayhew, Katie and the Mona Lisa, Katie and the Sunflowers, Katie and the Impressionists
Hazer, Salamander Room, The Wild Kid
McDonald, Judy Moody Series, Stinky Stern Forever
McKissack, Mirandy and Brother Wind, Flossie and the Fox, Nettie Jo's Friends
McMullan, Dragon Slayer's Academy series; Say Cheese, Medusa
Mead, Junebug
Meddaugh, Martha stories
Millman, Moses stories
Napoli, Albert Shark Shock, Crazy Jack, Three Days
Pallotta, anything!!
Pfister, Rainbow fish stories
Pilkey, Dog Breath, Kat Kong, Dogzilla
Polacco, anything!!
Preller, Jigsaw Jones mysteries
Rathman, Officer Buckle and Gloria
Rodda, Rowan stories
Roy, A to Z mysteries
Sachar, Wayside School stories
Schwartz, How Much is a Million; Oh, Beyond a Mllion
Scieska, Time Warp Trio series; Squids Will Be Squids; Math Curse; Frog Prince, Continued
Schertle, Down the Road
Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are
Seuss, I Had Trouble in Getting to Sola Sollew, Horton Hatches the Egg, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Hooray for Diffendoofer Day, Thidwick the Bighearted Moose, And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street, McElligot's Pool
Shannon, The Rain Came Down, A Bad Case of the Stripes
Slote, Finding Buck McHenry
Smith, The War with Grandpa
Soto, The Skirt, Chato's Kitchen
Steig, Amazing Bone, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Brave Irene, Dr. DeSoto stories
Stilton, Geronimo Stilton stories
Tang, Grapes of Math
Teague, Secret Shortcut, Mrs. LaRue stories
Thayer, The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy
VanAllsburg, anything!!
VanDraanen, The Shredderman series
Viorst, Alexander stories, Rosie and Michael
Waber, Lyle the Crocodile stories
Wallace, The Backward Bird Dog; Upchuck and the Rotten Willie; The Flying Furball, Puppy and Me; That Furball; Danger on Panther Peak
Warner, Boxcar Children series
Walter, Mary Geddy's Day; Samuel Eaton's Day
Wood, Heggedy Peg, Jubal's Wish; Alphabet Mystery
Yolen, Commander Toad series, Owl Moon, Piggins series
Young, Lon Po Po
Zolotow, poetry books, Danger on Panther Peak
Various authors: My America series, Smithsonian's Backyard, Childhood of Famous Americans

The USA Today List of the 100 Best Children's Books

  1. Charlotte's Web, EB White, 4.4
  2. Goodnight Moon, Brown, 3.4
  3. A Wrinkle in Time, L'Engle, 4.7
  4. The Snowy Day, Keats, 2.5
  5. Where the Wild Things Are Sendak, 3.4
  6. Harry Potter…Sorcerer's Stone, Rowling, 5.5
  7. Green Eggs and Ham, Seuss, 1.5
  8. The Diary of a Young Girl, Frank, 6.5
  9. The Giving Tree, Silverstein, 2.6
  10. Frog and Toad Are Friends, Lobel, 2.9
  11. Anne of Green Gables, Montgomery, 7.3
  12. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Carle, 2.9
  13. Madeline, Bemelmans, 3.1
  14. The Wind in the Willows, Grahame, 5.3
  15. The Dot, Reynolds, 1.9
  16. Tuck Everlasting, Babbitt, 5.0
  17. Pat the Bunny, Kunhardt, no
  18. When Marian Sang, Ryan, 5.2
  19. Knuffle Bunny: A Caut. Tale, Willems 2.7
  20. Where the Sidewalk Ends, Silverstein, 3.9
  21. Bud, Not Buddy, Curtis, 5.0
  22. Corduroy, Freeman, 3.5
  23. The Phantom Tollbooth, Juster, 6.7
  24. The Little Engine that Could, Piper, 3.5
  25. The Giver, Lowry, 5.7
  26. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Lin, 5.5
  27. Black on White, Hoban, no
  28. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Willems, 0.9
  29. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Blume, 3.6
  30. My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother, Polacco, 3.3
  31. The Mitten, Brett, 3.9
  32. The Runaway Bunny, Brown, 2.7
  33. The Hunger Games, Collins, 5.3
  34. Swimmy, Lionni, 2.9
  35. Freight Train, Crews, no
  36. The Secret Garden, Burnett, 6.3
  37. The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, Wood, no
  38. Diary of a Wimpy Kid Kinney 5.2
  39. Zen Shorts Muth 2.9
  40. Moo, Baa, La La La! Boynton no
  41. Matilda Dahl 5.0
  42. What Do People Do All Day? Scarry no
  43. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe Lewis 5.7
  44. Good Night, Gorilla Rathmann no
  45. The Composition Skarmeta 3.8
  46. Not a Box, Portis, no
  47. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Martin/Carle, 1.4
  48. Hatchet, Paulsen, 5.7
  49. Martin's Big Words, Rappaport, 3.4
  50. Sarah, Plain and Tall, MacLachlan, 3.4
  51. Sylvia Long's Mother Goose, Long, no
  52. The Lightning Thief, Riordan, 4.7
  53. The House at Pooh Corner, Milne, 4.8
  54. Through My Eyes, Bridges, 5.9
  55. Smile!, Intrater, no
  56. Living Sunlight, Bang/Chisolm, no
  57. The Bad Beginning, Snicket, 6.4
  58. Harvesting Hope: The St. of C. Chavez, Krull, 5.6
  59. Dear Juno, Pak, 3.4
  60. Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Kubler, no
  61. The Lion and the Mouse, Pinkney no
  62. Diary of a Worm, Cronin, 2.8
  63. The Inv. Of Hugo Cabret, Selznick, 5.1
  64. My Truck is Stuck!, Lewis, 1.4
  65. Birds, Henkes, 2.1
  66. The Maze of Bones, Riordan 4.3
  67. Esperanza Rising, Ryan, 5.3
  68. Counting Kisses, Katz, no
  69.  Magic School Bus: Waterworks, Cole, 3.7
  70. Blackout, Rocco, no
  71. Bridge to Terabithia, Paterson, 4.6
  72. Are You My Mother?, Eastman, 1.6
  73. Tea With Milk, Say, 3.7
  74. Owl Moon, Yolen, 3.2
  75. Holes, Sachar, 4.6
  76. Peek-a-Who?, Laden, no
  77. Hi! Fly Guy, Arnold, 1.5
  78. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, O'Brien, 5.1
  79. Llama Llama Red Pajama, Dewdney, 2.0
  80. What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?, Jenkins/Page, 3.0
  81. Lincoln: A Photobiography, Freedman, 7.7
  82. Ivy + Bean, Barrows, 3.2
  83. Yoko, Wells, 2.9
  84. No No Yes Yes, Patricelli, no
  85. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Blume, 3.3
  86. Interrupting Chicken, Stein, 2.2
  87. Rules, Lord, 3.9
  88. Grumpy Bird, Tankard, no
  89. An Egg is Quiet, Aston, 2.9
  90. Puss in Boots, Perrault, 4.6
  91. Team Moon: How 400,000 People… , Thimmesh, 7.5
  92. What Shall We Do with the Boo Hoo, B. Cowell, no
  93. We the Kids: The Preamble to the Const., Catrow, no
  94. I Took the Moon for a Walk, Curtis, 2.1
  95. A Single Shard, Park, 6.6
  96. Gossie, Dunrea, 1.2
  97. Adv. Of Captain Underpants, Pilkey, 4.3
  98. First Words, Priddy, no
  99. Joyful Noise: Poems for 2 Voices, Fleischman, no
  100. Animalia, Base, no

See what they’re reading in Middle School this summer and in Upper School.

We’d love to hear what books your child has enjoyed. Please leave your recommendations in the comments along with suggested grade or reading level.

Topics: 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, Academics, community, English, Kindergarten, library, Lower School, parents, summer reading, summer reading list independent school, teachers

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