On and off the pages, turn summer reading for kids into adventures

Good ReadsBy John Hoover
©2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Lockers have been cleaned out, goodbyes have been said and the last bus has pulled out of the parking lot. School’s out and you have the entire summer stretching in front of you.

So, what are you going to do with all that free time?

PAXYou know from experience that at some point during your vacation you’re going to be bored and want something to do, so why not read a book? In this month’s Good Reads column the folks here at Misty Valley Books tried to pick out a selection of books that both entertain and, in some cases, suggest activities that just might be a lot of fun.

Lynne starts us off with a surprisingly realistic novel. “PAX ($16.99) by Sara Pennypacker is a great summer read for 8 to 12 year olds. Pax is the story of Peter and his pet fox, rescued when he was a kit. Pax and Peter are inseparable until Peter’s father enlists in the military and makes Peter returnWonder Pax to the wild. Alternating between Pax’s adventures and discoveries, and Peter’s: his grief over his mother’s death, the encroaching war, and a visit with an injured war vet named Vola, the book is a compelling tale of the devastation of war and the truths that define us.”

Bill’s choice is a novel that some of you may have read but, if you haven’t, it’s a really Good Read. “Wonder ($16.99), by Raquel J. Palacio, is the moving story of 10-year-old Auggie, a fifth grader whose face is horribly deformed.  At first home-schooled, he has the extraordinary courage to accept his parents’ decision for him to attend a regular school.  Things go badly — Auggie is bulliedDaring Girls1 and betrayed — but there is a heart-warming denouement. Wonder is thoughtful and hopeful, a book for both young people and adults.”

If you’re looking for things to do, Amanda’s suggestions just might give you some ideas. “Pick up copies of both The Dangerous Book for Boys ($16.99) by Conn and Hal Iggulden and The Daring Book for Girls ($16.99) by Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz.

Mammal Tracks and Scat“You and your youngsters will find all kind of ideas – and instructions – for making this a fun and interesting summer.  From tying knots, identifying insects and science projects to building things, you’ll find everything you need here.  And for your walks together in the woods, carry Lynn Levine’s Mammal Tracks and Scat:  Life-size Pocket Guide ($14.95).  Conveniently sized and waterproof.”

Treasure Chest1Knowing that one book won’t work for different age groups Kim suggests two. “For the younger kids, a series of time traveling adventure books called the Treasure Chest series ($6.99 each) by Ann Hood. Twins Felix and Maisie are transported throughout history via an enchanted room in their family’s home in Rhode Island. These are similar in vein to the Magic Treehouse books, but for a slightly more mature reader. In the first book, the siblings meet Clara Barton who, as a young girl, is only still dreaming of becoming a nurse.

Vitamin N“Then, for the pre-teen/junior high readers, I’d recommend Roller Girl ($12.99) by Victoria Jamieson. Set during the summer vacation before junior high, Astrid discovers the world of Roller Derby, and learns to navigate the increasingly complicated world of friendship and self-worth.”

Sylvan’s choice is similar to Amanda’s in that it provides suggestions for fun and educational activities. “I was the kid who was sneaking books to camp and reading in the outfield while kickball games were in session. So, I can appreciate kids and parents who may need to be pushed to enjoy the outdoor wonders of summer. My pick is Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature Burning NationRich Life ($15.95) by Richard Louv. This well-organized guide provides lots of simple and fun ways to spark a life-long appreciation of nature: flora, fauna, and human. It’s also a great example of how a compact paperback can still outperform the Internet when you are trying to answer questions such as ‘what should we do today?’ ”

A year ago I recommended Trent Reedy’s Divided We Fall. This year, Reedy is back with a second installment of this exciting trilogy, Burning Nation ($9.99). Book 2 follows Danny Wright, high school senior, football player and member of the Idaho National Guard, and his friends as they defend the Republic of Idaho from federal forces that are attempting to force Idaho back into the Union. Given the current political situation this story reads more like fact than fiction. The final book in the trilogy, The Last Full Measure, should be out in paperback in time for next year’s School’s Out column.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeGood Reads

About the Author: After a 35-year career as a high school social studies teacher, John Hoover and his wife, Sally, retired to Vermont. He lives in Windham where he serves as a Justice of the Peace and Library Trustee. He works part time as a book-seller at Misty Valley Books, is active at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and sings in several choral groups.

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