Time to kick back, relax, enjoy the sunshine, pool time and inhale the aromas of sunscreen, sweat and chlorine. It is officially summer! Today is the last day of the school year for my kids. Ahead of us stretch the promise of endless days filled with outdoor adventures in sun and sand, on foot and on bike. Late nights promise stargazing by a campfire and drive-in movies. Of course the best part to them is no school – no required learning based on curriculum and tests. They can spend the next eight weeks focused on whatever they want.
However, an organized Pigeon like myself, who wants to fit as much into a busy summer as possible, needs to know what my kids want. So each summer we make a giant posterboard that hangs in our kitchen and says,
“This Summer I Want To…..”
They fill in the rest. Ideas range from “go strawberry picking” to “have a no sock day” (which was debated as valid since hardly anyone around here wears socks in summer anyway). We try to limit the ridiculous (skydiving, pie-in-the-face day) but encourage big and small ideas (ice cream for breakfast, trip to California). Often what they write says more than they realize. “Enjoy camp” showed up this year. I thought the wording of that was interesting – not “go to camp” but “enjoy camp”. It is going to require a bit more investigating to figure out what that means. This board, while a depository for the kids summer dreams, is open to the entire family. I put down my suggestions for fun summer activities, too. Some of which are embraced (Renaissance Festival) and others derided or ignored (clean your room day). When we do an activity on the board we check it off. By September we are amazed at everything we’ve done with our summer, which is full and busy (biking, hiking, camping, swimming) and surprisingly laid back (“do nothing day” had 3 checks last summer).
A must-do on our list every year is the summer reading program at our local library. It encourages kids to read over the summer, but without specific requirements. They are rewarded for reading what they want to read. And there is no discussion, comprehension assessment or test after. Just a prize. They go in a”secret room” and pick their prize each week – cute nick-nacks that clutter my house, but to them are a source of pride and accomplishment. Teen readers earn entries into a drawing – last year’s prize was an iPad. Yup, pretty cool incentive to read.
These first few days of summer hold all the magic. The possibilities are endless, the wonder of days stretched out before us without schedule or requirement. Sit down on the porch with an ice cream cone at twilight and watch fireflies or swing in a hammock and bring along one of these amazing summer reads. Mom’s Bookshelf: Summer has a grown-up collection of seasonal reads perfect for the beach, backyard, patio or pool.
The Night Before Summer Vacation by Natasha Wing – In the rush to pack for vacation something is sure to be missed in this adorable story told in the familiar cadence of Clement Moore’s classic poem.PB
Summer Treasure (Robin Hill School) by Robin McNamara – Hannah sees her teacher on a trip to the beach and gets a special surprise. ER/1
Summer Party by Cynthia Rylant – The Cousins, Rosie, Tess and Lily are heading home. But they will miss Aunt Lucy’s house and each other. So they decide to throw a special party to welcome their parents home and celebrate their good times spent at the cottage. ER/2
Summer of the Sea Serpent :Magic Tree House #31 by Mary Pope Osborne – The 3rd book in the “Merlin Missions” begins on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, when Jack and Annie must solve another riddle and travel to a land of myth and mystery. ER/2-3
Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer (Book #10) by Megan McDonald – It’s bad enough that Judy’s best friends are leaving for the summer, but now her parents are going on a trip and she’d stuck home with Stink and Aunt Opal! Not to be defeated Judy is determined to make this summer the most exciting, eventful and thrilling ever – with hilarious, unexpected results. MR/3
Summer According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney – Humphrey, everyone’s favorite class hamster, is shocked to find out that school is ending! What will he do for the summer? Go to camp, of course! Along with many familiar friends from Room 26 Humphrey braves the wild and has lots of summer fun. MR/3-4
Seaglass Summer by Anjali Banerjee – Poppy loves animals and hopes to become a veterinarian. She gets her chance when her parents let her visit her Uncle Sanjay, a vet, while they go to India for the summer. Poppy’s summer of discovery teachers her that there is more to being a vet than just taking care of the animals. With a little help she’ll learn to balance the hard work, joy and sadness of caring for furry creatures. MR/4
Frozen Summer by Mary Jane Auch – The summer of 1816 was shockingly cold and for Rememberance Nye and her family, who recently settled on this new frontier, the unusual weather causes enormous challenges that threaten their very survival. Take a trip to Genesee Country Village & Museum in Mumford, NY to see a cabin just like the one the Nye family lived in. MR/4
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall – When the Penderwick sisters spend their summer at Arundel they charm the housekeeper, befriend the young boy who lives there and get into a variety of exciting adventures. Delightfully charming and sweet, sincere and heartwarming! National Book Award Winner and A Paperback Pigeon All Time Favorite. MR/4-5
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia – It’s the summer of 1968 and Delphine and her sisters fly from Brooklyn to Oakland to meet the mother who abandoned them years earlier. They eat take-out Chinese food, attend a summer program run by the Black Panthers, and try to make peace with the reality that their mother really doesn’t want to know them. In a summer filled with self discovery, the girls realize that there are some bonds you can’t deny, and family is worth fighting for. MR/5-6 A Newberry Honor Book, Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, Coretta Scott King Award, National Book Award Finalist
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene – When 12 year old Patty Bergen’s hometown becomes the site of a German POW camp during WWII she finds herself befriending an prisoner. How can this Jewish girl reconcile her relationship with the enemy? To what lengths will Patty go to keep her friendship secret, and is the risk worth it? MR/5-6
The Hidden Summer by Gin Phillips – Torn apart by a feud between their mothers, best friends Nell and Lydia are forbidden to see each other all summer. They secretly maintain their friendship by meeting at an abandoned golf course where a series of clues reveal a mystery waiting to be solved, and the opportunity to become who they’re meant to be. YA/ 6 & up