10 Books for Middle Schoolers to Read Over the Summer


This post is part of the PTA Family Reading Challenge Blog Party Challenge series. View the full post on “Common Sense Media”.


School’s out for summer! That means swimsuits, beach trips, summer camp, and loads of summer reading. We’ve rounded up 10 new books for book-hungry middle schoolers. Five picks are nonfiction and five are fiction, but they span genres and topics as varied as the Russian Revolution and futuristic empires, touching memoirs and clever urban fantasies. And if your kids are reluctant readers, find some tips from Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney.

Have more recommendations for books a middle schooler should read this summer? Share them in the comments.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, ages 10+
What It’s About
: Raised in both South Carolina and New York, author Jacqueline Woodson shares tales of her upbringing through Jim Crow and Civil Rights in the ’60s and ’70s. Told completely in verse, Woodson’s book details cherished memories about her grandparents, pop culture, new friends, and living in both the segregated country and diverse city streets.
Why Read It? Woodson’s award-winning memoir (National Book Award, Newbery Honor, Coretta Scott King Author Award) is funny and sad and everything in between. The intimate and engaging poems will teach middle schoolers about a complicated time in American history, but it’s also a universal story about coming of age, changing family dynamics, and learning what makes you uniquely talented.

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, ages 10+
What It’s About
: Before she was the youngest Noble Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai was a young Pashtun girl who loved to learn in her hometown of Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Although her mother was illiterate, Malala grew up in a girls’ school run by her father. A curious, precocious learner who firmly believed in a girl’s God-given right to learn, Malala was considered a blasphemous troublemaker by the Taliban, and in 2012 she was shot by a Taliban gunman. She survived and refused to be silenced.
Why Read It? Educating girls is a global human rights issue, and Malala’s story teaches young readers that even the youngest advocate can have a huge impact. As Malala explains, in countries where women aren’t allowed to go out in public without a man, we girls traveled far and wide inside the pages of our books. In a land where many women can’t read the prices in the markets, we did multiplication … we ran as free as the wind.”

Murder Is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens, ages 10+
What It’s About: In 1930s Hong Kong, a Chinese Anglophile sends his 13-year-old daughter Hazel Wong to boarding school in England. When she arrives at the perpetually dark and damp Deepdean School for Girls, Hazel is in awe of the young (and mean) English girls she meets. Still, she connects with plucky and beautiful Daisy Wells, who asks Hazel to be the Watson to her Holmes. There’s not much sleuthing for the girls to do until Hazel discovers the dead body of the science mistress — but by the time Hazel runs back with Daisy, the body has mysteriously disappeared.
Why Read It? This boarding-school mystery in a historical setting is written in the tradition of Nancy Drew with a dash of Veronica Mars humor and Hogwarts excitement. Although the main characters are girls, boys will enjoy the Holmes-and-Watson-style (or should we say Wells-and-Wong) adventures in figuring out what in the world is happening around them.

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip M. Hoose, ages 12+
What It’s About
: During WWII, Denmark didn’t resist Nazi occupation, and this deeply shamed 15-year-old Knud Pedersen, who along with his brother and some classmates started a small, secret club of political resisters in 1941. Full of brave but naïve teenage boys desperate to undermine the Nazi regime, the Churchill Club committed 25 acts of sabotage — disabling German vehicles, stealing Nazi arms, and destroying and defacing German property — before being arrested in 1942.
Why Read It? What middle schooler doesn’t want to read about teens who defied authority for the greater good? The Churchill Club’s actions sound like something out of a movie, but they really happened, and Hoose interweaves his own historical nonfiction with recollections from Pedersen himself. This is the kind of book students would gladly read for history class, because the characters are such courageous, clever young heroes.

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming, ages 12+
What It’s About
: Award-winning children’s author Candace Fleming captures the final years of the Romanov dynasty in Russia. Czar Nicholas II isn’t prepared to step up and lead his vast empire. An intensely personal man, Nicholas is better suited to family life with his German and English wife Alexandra (a granddaughter of Queen Victoria) and their five children: four girls and one sickly son. As revolutionaries gain ground and WWI approaches, it becomes clear that the Czar and his family are headed toward doom.
Why Read It? History buffs or not, kids interested in “real stories” will love Fleming’s straightforward style of explaining complex sociopolitical ideas and historical contexts concerning the Imperial family, World War I, the Russian Revolution, Russian Orthodox ideology, and even European royalty. There’s a lot to digest, but it’s always fascinating. Fans of nonfiction narratives will dive into Fleming’s chronicle of one of history’s most fascinating downfalls.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella, ages 12+
What It’s About
: Fourteen-year-old Audrey struggles with severe anxiety stemming from unspecified school bullying. She is under a doctor’s care and making slow but steady progress, but things significantly change when Audrey meets her brother’s online gaming friend, Linus. Despite her social anxiety, Audrey finds it easy to talk to Linus, and their friendship eventually turns into a sweet romance.
Why Read It? Best-selling author Kinsella, who’s best known for her popular Shopaholic series, delivers her first young adult novel, a realistic contemporary story about social anxiety and gaming addiction that’s nevertheless filled with her infectious brand of humor and romance. A book featuring a young teen protagonist, tough issues, humor, and a quirky, close-knit family? Sounds like an ideal mother-daughter read.

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Martin Ganada and Caitlin Alifrenka, ages 12+
What It’s About
: In 1997, 12-year-old American middle schooler Caitlin and 14-year-old Zimbabwean Martin are paired as pen pals through their schools. At first, Caitlin sends photos and trinkets and asks for the same, not realizing the depths of poverty in which Martin lives. Eventually Caitlin and her family start to send financial support to Martin, and their international friendship forever changes each of their lives.
Why Read It? Caitlin and Martin’s letters and perspectives will teach kids to better appreciate their relative good fortune and to understand how a little bit of help and a lot of compassion can make a huge impact on someone else’s life. Caitlin and Martin’s extraordinary friendship should inspire your kid to be a better global citizen.

Undertow by Michael Buckley. ages 13+
What It’s About
: Coney Island native Lyric Walker has a family secret: She’s part “Sirena.” So when 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race (Sirena being among them) of beautiful but violent humanoid sea warriors, land on her beach, she knows this means trouble. Lyric’s New York City beach town turns into a militarized zone with the Alpha on one side and humans on another. Then Lyric is asked to give Fathom, the gorgeous and militant Alpha prince, reading lessons, and sparks fly. Which side will she choose?

Why Read It? Described as a combination of The 5th Wave and Twilight with sea creatures, this romantic dystopian fantasy seems to have enough action, war, and adventure to balance out the fiery romance, making it an equally compelling choice for any kid who wants to start reading a popular new series.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, ages 14+
What It’s About
: This dual-narrative fantasy follows two characters in an alternate universe with a strict caste system: Laia is a Scholar (the oppressed class), and Elias is an elite military student for the Empire. After Laia’s brother is arrested, she joins a resistance movement that places her as a slave at the military academy where Elias is a rising star. Despite their differences, the slave and the soldier have more in common than they care to admit, and together they could start a revolution.
Why Read It? One of the biggest debuts of the year, Tahir’s fantasy novel is already a New York Times bestseller and has secured a sequel as well as a lucrative movie deal.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, ages 14+
What It’s About
: Thirteen-year-old Noah and his twin sister Jude are inseparable until their art-critic mom announces that their dearly departed grandmother’s ghost wants them to apply to a local arts high school. The competition for their mom’s approval coupled with an unexpected, catastrophic loss leads to three years of drifting apart, finding love, and discovering whom they want to be as artists, siblings, and people.
Why Read It? Nelson’s gorgeously written coming-of-age novel won multiple awards in 2014, and it deserved every accolade. Best for seventh- and eighth-graders mature enough to immerse themselves in the story’s magical realism, philosophical themes, and relationship issues, I’ll Give You the Sun will impress English teachers and make readers want to share the book with friends.

Travel Buddies for Family Reading


This post is part of the PTA Family Reading Challenge Blog Party Challenge series. View the full post on “The Busy Librarian”.

It’s summer break and the Winner family is gearing up for vacation and we’re bringing along some of our best pals to make sure our bedtimes away from home are as home-like as possible.

Booklight? Check.

Pengiun stuffed animal friend? At the ready.

Book pals? Sounding off!9781442435827

Warning: Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt and Matthew Forsythe
This book is the an exceptional read aloud, especially for bedtime. Monkeys are set loose in the book and, just as things are getting way out of hand, a plan is hatched. The energy and anticipation of what will come next is enough to wear any young one out, and the satisfying ending eases you into a place of restfulness. This one will probably be read every single night. And throughout the day.9780763675189

The World of Mamoko in the Time of Dragons by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski
This wordless story has more characters and interwoven plot lines than Game of Thrones, and that’s a very good thing when it comes to bedtime favorites. Choose a character and tell his or her story aloud as you follow the character through the day and throughout the day’s adventures. My son never seems to pick the same character to start out, but always ends up switching over to his favorites by the end. I’m talking about you, kind witch looking for those strange mushrooms!


George by Alex Gino
My wife and I are both reading this book, but we’re reading it separately. It started out that way because I couldn’t wait another moment to start reading this story of a boy who identifies as a girl and wants nothing more in the world than to be cast in the lead role of Charlotte in her’s school’s production of Charlotte’s Web. Read this story of a transgender youth feels immediately like you’re sharing in something very special. Something that not everyone will understand or agree with or find the same value there in, but one that’s important because of the way it challenges us to think about others through the lens of diversity. The subject matter is actually very personal to me and it’s one that I hope finds a home with just the right readers, both young and old, as I think it’s a very important story to tell. My wife and I read this book almost as a book club with one another, discussing the story daily throughout different points of our day when George was on our minds. I’ve found myself reading excerpts aloud to friends and I’m hoping to do the same over vacation with some of our extended family members.


Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
Now here’s a book we’ve actually been saving just so that we could read it aloud together. My wife and I read aloud The One and Only Ivan, Katherine’s Newbery-winning story of a gorilla who lived out most of his life in a shopping mall, and the moment the advanced copy arrived on our doorstep we knew it would be something worth setting time aside to enjoy aloud as a family. There’s an imaginary cat. There’s a family on the verge of losing everything. And there’s a boy in need of a friend. I think we’ll be quick to fall in love with this one.

No matter what books you invite along on your travel plans this summer, I hope you’ll consider sharing them with all of us.

Keeping Children’s Minds Engaged With Summer Reading Programs #FamiliesRead


This post is part of the PTA Family Reading Challenge Blog Party Challenge series. View the full post on “Balancing the Chaos”.

 Now that it is summer, we’ve gotten out of our typical routine of homework and after school activities. With my children’s current addiction to the iPad and more particularly Minecraft, I’ve decided it’s time to re-implement family reading time with summer reading, especially with the National PTA’s Reading Challenge coming up.


Just before school let out for the summer, I let the kids choose a couple of books from the their teachers scholastic book orders, many of the selections geared toward summer reading. Now when I think they have had too much screen time, we pick out a book and take turns reading.

We were given a series that I have been wanting to purchase for over a year, The Magic Treehouse Series. These amazing books take you on a historical adventure through time – perfect for my littles’ imaginations. I decided to introduce my oldest the the first book, “Dinosaurs Before Dark”, and we dove into the story, waiting to see what happened with the Magic Treehouse, surprised that the characters, Jack and Annie were transformed to the prehistoric world. In reading this book together, we seemed to bond a little more through imagination. At the end of each chapter, we stopped to talk about what we’d do if we’d discover a dinosaur. I love having these types of opened question with my kids and seeing the spark in their eyes as their story unfolds.


Even though we have a lot of fun things planned for the summer, as displayed on our Summer Bucket List, I’m certainly planning on continuing reading with the family during the summer. Did you know that nearly 40% of parents say their children do not spend enough time reading for fun? Approximately 73% of children get ideas from their parents for books to read for fun – and my kids are certainly the example. I don’t think they’d ever pick up the Magic Treehouse on their own, unless it involved Minecraft.I was thrilled to find out that the National PTA is kicking off a Family Reading Challenge this summer. During the month of July, the National PTA will empower families with tips and activities that encourage ongoing reading. They are challenging you to share photos, videos and memories that demonstrate how and why reading together is a fun and treasured family activity.

Want to join in on the National PTA’s Family Reading Challenge? Find out about the program, sign up and more via this website: National PTA Family Reading Challenge.


WIN a Kindle and More: Join the National PTA’s Family Reading Challenge #FamiliesRead #prizes

FRE_logoofficialThis post is part of the PTA Family Reading Challenge Blog Party Challenge series. View the full post on ChilL Mama.”

My family is full of avid readers and writers. I’ve read to my 2 kids daily from before birth to the tween and teen years. Of course they read on their own, too, but I believe you’re never too old to enjoy being read to. Even now, at ages 12 & 14, they love to snuggle up on the couch or in a hammock and hear a great chapter book, and I treasure this time too. It’s one of the few times we all turn off the cell phones & electronics and slow down long enough to really hang out together. In a few short years they’ll be off with their friends more, then off to college, but I know they’ll take a lifelong love of reading and stories with them. It’s one of the best gifts I can possibly give them.
As if reading together isn’t reward enough, the National PTA is giving away sweet prizes to encourage families to read together throughout July! Click here to sign up and get all the detail including fun activity ideas to pair with your summer reading.
Reading together as a family is a shared adventure and a chance to talk about characters and plots. My kids geek out on meeting authors and collect and treasure their signed books. Now that my kids are older we’re into middle grade and adult fantasy chapter books that the adults in our family are enjoying as much as the kids! It does my soul good to hear the kids beg for “just one more chapter”, over and over again as the plot thickens and the pages end in one cliff hanger after another.
Here are a few of our favorites to get you started. We highly recommend author Cornelia Funke for Igraine the Brave, the Inkheart series and the Reckless series. She has excellent books for young and middle grade readers through adults.
Photo Credit: Chiilmama.com

Photo Credit: Chiilmama.com

Great Cornelia Funke picks for elementary readers:
My kids loved the book Igraine the Brave so much they named our dog for the protagonist. Igraine the Brave (AKA: Iggy Pup) is 4 now and embodies all the grrrrrrrl power awesomeness of Cornelia Funke’s unconventional heroine.
Photo Credit: Chiilmama.com

Photo Credit: Chiilmama.com


Photo Credit: Chiilmama.com

Photo Credit: Chiilmama.com

Read the full blog post.

Seven Simple Tips to Develop a Love of Reading in Your Child


This post is part of the PTA Family Reading Challenge Blog Party Challenge series. View the full post on “My Best Laid Plans.”

Photo Credit: Mybestlaidplans.net

Photo Credit: Mybestlaidplans.net

I recently quizzed my kids on some impromptu thoughts on their dad. It was for a gift to him.

Some of their responses were, of course, hilarious. How are you and Dad different? “He has bigger bones!” my son quipped seriously.

Some answers were sweet. What would you change about Dad if you could? “Nothing,” my daughter said firmly. “He’s perfect the way he is.”

They both agreed that if he was a character, it would be one from Star Wars, though they could not agree on which one. My son adamantly stated it was Darth Daddy, while my daughter was sure it was Obiwan Dadobi.

But something very interesting caught my eye. Both of them agreed wholeheartedly that they loved reading with their Dad.

How are you and Dad alike? We both love reading!

How do you know Daddy loves you? He reads to us!

What is your favorite thing to do with Dad? Read!


I hear that we are ‘lucky’ in this respect. Both of our children are voracious readers.

My daughter started reading at the whopping age of two. My son took a little longer. He was more interested in defeating villains and crashing cars into walls. But at about five he, too, developed an insatiable appetite for written words.

Perhaps there is a bit of luck and genetics at work, but there is also some hard work invested in their appetite for books. In the process, I have learned a few things I would like to share with you.

In celebration of this summer’s PTA Family Reading Challenge, here are some very easy and tangible steps you can take to encourage your children to love reading.

Photo Credit: Mybestlaidplans.net

Photo Credit: Mybestlaidplans.net

  • DON’T FORCE IT. A love of reading cannot be forced upon a child. In fact, as any parent can tell you, trying to force a child will only draw a battle line in the sand. Instead, try some fun ways to entice your child to pick up a book on his or her own. It’s sort of like getting them to eat broccoli—it’s an acquired taste.
  • IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY. We read to our children from the time they were in the womb. From the day they were born we read to them several times a day. Reading to a child from an early age, even when they cannot understand the words, creates a sense of bonding and togetherness that they will continue to associate with books for the rest of their life.
  • READ OFTEN. Books and reading time have been an integral part of their childhood. We read sporadically throughout the day with them, but my husband and I both read a chapter to each child at night. Read together, and read often. Reading is a learned love.
  • READ IN FRONT OF THEM. Even when my son showed no interest . . . no, especially when my son showed no interest in reading, we made a point to read in front him often. We would all cuddle on the couch and ignore him with our noses buried in books. Then we would purposefully laugh aloud, show each other pictures, and exclaim loudly about the content. It didn’t take very long before his insatiable toddler curiosity had to come see what all the fuss was about.
  • CHOICES, CHOICES, CHOICES. Keep a variety of books, magazines, and other reading materials scattered around the areas where your children play. It’s important to make sure that you choose a variety of materials which might catch your child’s attention. You never know what might nab his or her interest. Go ahead! Max out those library cards and scatter those books around the surfaces of your house. Eventually, something will captivate them. Better yet, take them to the library and let them load up a bag with whatever their hearts desire. It is much easier to get them to read something they chose than something you are nagging them to read.
  • DON’T CRITICIZE. If your child loves comic books, go with it. Or perhaps it is a magazine with their shiny pages that gets their attention. Time to subscribe! Don’t worry so much about what your child is reading, but rather that he/she is reading.  Once they establish a habit, they will eventually broaden their spectrum.
  • LEAD BY EXAMPLE. One of the most important factors in passing on a love of reading to your children is leading by example. Turn off the television, put away the video games, and pull out the books. Read alongside them. Read to them. Laugh aloud. Discuss your newest finds in front of them. But for goodness sake, just read!
Photo Credit: Mybestlaidplans.net

Photo Credit: Mybestlaidplans.net

In our home, reading together is one of our greatest, most treasured activities. Reading is a special time of bonding and companionship, not a chore.

There is nothing more satisfying than walking into the room and seeing my family all snuggled down in comfy blankets with their noses buried in a great book, their imaginations exploring some far away land. They are the precious  memories we will all cherish for the rest of our lives!

I hope that these tips get your children on track for a lifetime of reading and that your family, too, can experience the pure  joy of reading together!

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Check out my new fantasy fiction release: The Crystal Keys: Champion of Destiny

National PTA Family Reading Challenge and Blog Party #FamiliesRead


This post is part of the PTA Family Reading Challenge Blog Party Challenge series. View the full post on “Cherry Blossoms the Blog”.


Photo Credit: Cherryblossomstheblog.com

I love to read. I have spent countless hours in my life with my nose buried in a book. I get lost in what I’m reading. My imagination takes flight and I am off living the story. Reading is like living in someone else’s imagination. Getting to experience something that we might never be able to do in reality. It’s the best.

I know that reading helps little kiddos. Not only does it open up their minds to new and exciting adventures, it actually makes them smarter. Reading to your kids and encouraging them to have the desire themselves has actually been proven to raise testing scores.

I have shared my love for reading with my own children and I feel I have started them on a love affair of their own. My ((almost)) five year old has already taken off reading and is doing awesome. It is so fun to watch her reading books to her little sisters. Even my three year old can look at a book and tell you the story through the pictures. We’ve read the books enough together that she can put it together by looking at the pictures and using her memory for the story line. She can “read” it using her imagination alone.


Photo Credit: Cherryblossomstheblog.com

One of my favorite books as a child was from the Sesame Street series called, “Don’t Forget the Oatmeal!”. My mom used to read it to me with different voices for each Burt and Ernie and all the rest. She always emphasized certain parts and when I read it to my kids I find myself doing the same thing. Every time one of them brings me that book to read, I think of my own Mother and my heart melts a little.

My family has joined the  Family Reading Challenge this summer. We’re excited to spend time cuddled up together to tackle some enormous piles of books. Take the challenge with your family! Keep those little minds going all summer long. #FamiliesRead


Photo Credit: Cherryblossomstheblog.com


Join the National PTA’s Family Reading Challenge Blog Party #FamiliesRead


This post is part of the PTA Family Reading Challenge Blog Party Challenge series. View the full post on “Mommies with Cents!”

Photo Credit: Mommieswithcents.com

Photo Credit: Mommieswithcents.com

Reading has always been a love of mine.  Finding the time these days is hard but I want my children to understand how fun reading can be.  They love going to the library and my 8 year old loves reading his subscription to Sports Illustrated Kids.  Last summer we started reading the Harry Potter series digitally as well as some of the Magic Treehouse series.  They loved it.  Sometimes we’d take pillows up into the play structure for a few chapters and sometimes we’d snuggle up in LoveSac after a long, busy day.  My kids look forward to this time together.  We haven’t selected any books yet this summer but some I’ve been considering a few that were favorites of my own growing up:

  • Charlotte’s Web
  • Stuart Little
  • Boxcar Children series
  • Little House on the Prairie series
  • James and the Giant Peach
  • Tales of the 4th Grade Nothing

Which chapter books do YOUR kids enjoy?

Here are some useful facts from the scholastic reading report:

  • 61% of low-income families in the U.S. have no age-appropriate books in their homes for children.
  • Good reading habits have a greater impact on a child’s reading skills than household income.
  • Nearly 40% of parents say their child does not spend enough time reading for fun.
  • 73% of children get ideas from their parents for books to read for fun.
  • Where parent engagement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average.

Join me in the PTA Family Reading Challenge!  You can win prizes!  Find out more at www.PTAFamilyReadingChallenge.org.

#FamiliesRead with Innovative Ideas for Today’s Digital Learners


This post is part of the PTA Family Reading Challenge Blog Party Challenge series. View the full post on “The Innovative Educator.”

Kids these days. They’re re-wired with a need for constant attention and engagement. They could never do what we did: Sit for hours locked in our room or under a tree with a single book.

And that’s okay.
Don’t knock em. Join em. Help em. Even learn from em.
Nearly 40% of parents say their child does not spend enough time reading for fun but when you take social media into account you realize that is simply not true. Today’s digital learners are not only reading like never before, they are writing too using social media. And that’s a great thing. More and more research shows this is an effective  way to increase literacy among our youth.
Here are some ways we can harness the power of social media to inspire reading (and writing!) and join families everywhere as part of the PTA Family Reading Challenge using social media.
Look with your child at Facebook timelines or pages of some of their favorite people. Read the posts. What kind of posts get the most likes, shares, comments? Read some of your child’s own posts? How could they be more engaging?
Are the images and captions showing the best selves of the person holding the account? What picture is being painted. What are some things you like about how this person is representing him or her self. What could be improved. What have you learned to consider for your own account?
Find some people your child looks up to. Read their Tweets. Which are favorited the most? Which have the most retweets or interactions. What makes a Tweet popular? Reply to, retweet, favorite some of those Tweets.
If you think the children in your world need to brush up on their digital literacy before taking the dive into some of these activities, Common Sense Education has online games students can dive right into to do just that.
DIGITAL PASSPORT (8, 9, 10 year olds)
Young people learn critical skills related to digital safety, respect, and community playing a fun, interactive game that addresses key issues facing kids in today’s digital world.
DIGITAL COMPASS (10, 11, 12 year olds)
Digital Compass gives kids the freedom to explore how decisions made in their digital lives can impact their relationships and future.
Teaches digital citizenship through student-directed, media-rich activities that tackle real-world dilemmas. Teens learn from peers’ experiences then create collaborative projects that voice their ideas for making smart choices.
In the 21st century children are reading and interacting with text in ways never previously possible. Parents and teachers can take advantage of this enthusiasm and ensure students are reading and writing effectively even outside of school hours.

Why We Love Reading #‎FamiliesRead‬

FRE_logoofficialThis post is part of the PTA Family Reading Challenge Blog Party Challenge series. View the full post on “Savings Mania.”

Photo Credit: Savings Mania

Photo Credit: Savings Mania

As a family, we love to read. Whether it is Cam reading a LEGO magazine (like above), or a book or a magazine, it’s a great way to relax and be transported to a different place.

My son first got hooked on reading when he started reading the Wimpy Kid books. After that, he read the Percy Jackson 5 series. And this summer, he has started reading The Martian, which will be a movie in theatres later this summer.

I love to read fiction books, historical fiction, and non-fiction. I read about one book a week, I am always downloading books. Some of my favorites include The Outlander Series and the Philippa Gregory books.

Did you know?

  • 61% of low-income families in the U.S. have no age-appropriate books in their homes for children.
  • Good reading habits have a greater impact on a child’s reading skills than household income.
  • Nearly 40% of parents say their child does not spend enough time reading for fun.
  • 73% of children get ideas from their parents for books to read for fun. Where parent engagement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average.

So be sure to check out the PTA Reading Challenge this July!

Summer Reading for All

FRE_logoofficialThis post is part of the PTA Family Reading Challenge Blog Party Challenge series. View the full post on “From Meredith to Mommy”.

We’ve been doing our summer schedule for almost a week now, and we’re just about getting used to it. The girls aren’t having a “crammed with camps” summer, but they’re also not having a “do nothing” summer, and that’s an adjustment for me. Madison has some sort of activity every day – a 30 minute sports clinics or a swimming lesson, and she’s in an intensive dance program that mimics her school year commitment. Reagan is taking lessons for the first time, and she’s keeping up with her gymnastics as well.

This is all great. Madison is thrilled to be back to dancing, and I love that they’re outside daily in the pool or on the tennis court, but it is definitely busy. We’re not keeping up with the school schedule we had over the year, and the girls are crashing at night, often before I even make it out of the room. When we do have down time, they’re reaching for the iPads. Most of those games are educational, but they’re not exactly what I’d like them to be doing with their time.

So yesterday Madison and I went through her room and made two piles of books. A pile that she can read to me, and a pile that I can read to her.

It’s fascinating what she put in the pile that I read to her. About a year ago I started reading the Little House books with Madison. We started with Little House in the Big Woods, and we read right through, stopping after The Long Winter (when Laura was a bit more grown up). After we stopped a few months ago, we moved into some other novels.

So it was surprising to me that in addition to the Rainbow Fairy and Never Girls and Magic Treehouse books that we’ve had sitting on the shelf, Madison added Little House in the Big Woods right back to the pile. I love that she’s already found the pleasure in re-reading an old friend, finding new things she missed the first time, getting excited as she anticipates her favorite parts.

Both girls are still at an age where they tear through their books at various times during the day, and we save the majority of the read aloud time for bed. But this summer, I think this might be our down time during the day – the moments when we need to sit in the shade and take a break from the running and swimming and dancing – instead of at night, when they can’t keep their eyes open to listen to an entire chapter.