Do you struggle with ideas on how to keep your kids busy over the summer? Or even keep them interested in reading?
Our local library system has an annual summer reading program that is great. The kids sign up, track their reading progress and get prizes as they hit milestones. My kids like the program and the prizes, but they are often done with the program after 3-4 weeks. They also choose easy books all in the same genre.
We wanted the kids to try different genres and stretch themselves a bit. But how could we do that?
A few years ago I introduced Mom’s Summer Reading Program (MSRP). It is similar to the library program in that there are prizes at certain milestones. BUT, the books have to be chosen from a list of titles selected by me. The kids, now both tweens, can do both my program and the library program, but for the books to count towards MSRP they have to be on my list.
This has worked out really well as the kids try out new books they wouldn’t have otherwise. They also like Mom’s prizes better. What are the prizes? Lately I’ve had to tailor them to each child, but the incentives go something like
- 5 books = frozen treat
- 7 books = choose a book for Mom to buy for you (under $15)
- 10 books = trip to nickel arcade and a bag of nickels
- 15 books = trip to movie theater
They are at the age now where I’ll ask for prize ideas and they’ll give me a few reasonable options that will motivate them to read. And they also supply a few unreasonable options (they are kids!). No, you don’t get a trip to France for reading 10 or even 20 books.
One child often makes it to 15, the other stalls at 7 and might make it to 10. But that is okay! Kids are different.
This year’s book list
The reading list this year has titles geared toward middle schoolers since they will both be in middle school this fall. This year’s list of options:
- Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
- Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh
- And I Darken by Kiersten White
- The Lie Tree by Francis Hardinge
- The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
- Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
- The Reader by Traci Chee
- Monstress: Vol 1 Awakening by Marjorie Liu
- Mooncop by Tom Gauld
- Plutona by Emi Lenox
- Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
- Fallout by Gwenda Bond
- Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix
- I am Princess X by Cherie Priest
- Kalahari by Jessica Khoury
- The Lightning Queen by Laura Resau
- Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff
- The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson
- Popular: A Memoir by Maya van Wagenen
- Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson
- The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
- Schooled by Gordon Korman
- The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall
- The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
- The Turn of the Tide by Rosanne Parry
- The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Bradley
- Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger
- Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
- Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
- Truce by Jim Murphy
- Avenged by Amy Tinterra
- Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
- Dragon’s Keep by Janet Lee Carey
- Scythe by Neal Shusterman
- Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card
- The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin
- Arena by Holly Jennings
- American Shaolin by Matthew Polly
- Railhead by Phillip Reeve
Favorites from past years
These are favorites from past years’ lists. Some, the kids even liked enough to get their own copies of the books to keep on their shelves. These titles include books for late elementary to early middle school.
- Pie by Sarah Weeks
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
- The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney
- The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng
- The Ruins of Gorlan by John A. Flanagan
- El Deafo by Cece Bell
- The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang
- Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle
And books they just love and read repeatedly (some are graphic novels) include:
- Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer
- Divergent series by Veronica Roth
- Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
- Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
- Calvin Coconut books by Graham Salisbury
- Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi
- Anything by Raina Telgemeier
- Anything by Kate DiCamillo
- Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
- Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
- Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney
- Brotherband Chronicles by John A. Flanagan
- Olympians graphic novel series by George O’Connor
I didn’t come up with these book ideas on my own. I made ample use of professionals and resources at my disposal and I urge you to do the same when finding books for your kids to read.
We make note of books while browsing the library or look for suggested reading lists the library publishes. We also check each spring for the state Battle of the Books book list (you can find similar lists here). NPR has a book concierge app that will list great books of the year. And lastly, we recently discovered the American Library Association has some great ideas for teens here.
Grab a few books and enjoy quiet, lazy days of summer.
What are some of your favorite book finds for the kids? What are your favorite books for tweens?