Summer is here! What’s better than long bike rides, frequent trips to the ice cream shop (make sure you head to Ramone’s if you’re in the Chippewa Valley!), and lazy afternoons spent on a blanket in the yard reading stacks of fantastic books? In my opinion, basically nothing.
It’s been a challenging year, so if you’re looking to inject some fun into summer reading with the kids that you care for, I think this collection of books is a welcome and refreshing bit of imaginative zaniness. I’m doing my best to take the lead from my kids and allow myself to do things simply because they are fun! Happy and FUN Reading, Friends!
My favorite thing about Frank Asch’s Bear Book Series is that you just never know what’s going to happen next - plus you can look at the wild and silly illustrations and find something new to smile at each time. Pancakes in Pajamas is one of my family’s favorites. In this book, the Bear Family decides to stay in their pajamas all day long. They read books in bed, take a nap, play board games, head to the park on their bikes, and, eventually end up at Pete’s Pancakes where they start a Pancakes in Pajamas Day Parade! Each page is a beautiful example of intentional time spent together as a family. Their love for each other spills over into their community, creating an opportunity for all people to get together to celebrate the simple pleasures of time well spent. As a parent, it can be so easy to schedule our days instead of listening to our kids when they express what they want to do. What a gift to give your child!
Franklin is a dragon who loves books. He reads them all day and all night. He shares stories with his mice friends and his firefly friends and his bat friends, but every time he goes to the town nearby, he can find no one to share stories with. Everyone is afraid of him; no matter how he introduces himself the people always run away in fear. Finally, Franklin meets Luna, a little girl who loves books just as much as him. They spend their days telling each other stories and talking about what they’ve learned from their favorite books. They love books so much that they come up with a plan to share them with everyone they meet: a Flying Bookshop between Franklin’s wings! Franklin’s Flying Bookshop is so magical and fun. Not only do books powerfully bring people together, but Luna also stands up for Franklin, rightfully advocating for him in a town full of people who have written him off as a monster.
Sunday Funday in Koreatown is the latest installment in Aram Kim’s wonderful book series following Yoomi, our favorite little kitty! Each week, Yoomi looks forward to Sundays. She watches her favorite cartoon in the morning, eats kimbap - her favorite breakfast, wears her favorite shirt and heads to Koreatown where she visits the library and goes to see Grandma. But on this Sunday, nothing is going right. Her show isn’t on, her family’s out of rice for her favorite meal, and her favorite shirt is soaking wet on the drying rack. The book she wants from the library has already been checked out, and Grandma is not at her house. She thinks her day is ruined, but then, she and her dad eat patbingsoo (delicious shaved ice with red beans and fruit) at the Korean grocery store. When Grandma finally arrives at her house, she lets Yoomi wear one of her favorite sweaters as a dress. They read the book Yoomi picked out at the library, which turns out to be a lot of fun, and they make kimbap together. Sometimes our days don’t turn out like we hope they will, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have lots of fun doing something a little less expected, especially when we can spend time with the people who mean the most to us.
Stand Up, Yumi Chung! is a great book to share with your middle grade readers this summer. Yumi is a shy, Korean American girl whose parents expect her to spend her summer in an intensive test-prep tutoring course so that she can get into an elite private school in the fall. She’d much rather spend her summer learning from her favorite comedian and practicing her stand-up comedy routine. Becoming a stand-up comic is Yumi’s dream, but between her shyness and the financial struggles of her parents’ Korean restaurant, that dream seems basically unattainable. But then, one big misunderstanding leads to a huge change in plans for Yumi’s summer. She meets lots of different friends who help her to come out of her shell, and encourage her to share her talent, and her true self, with everyone she meets. This is a fantastic story of a young girl finding out who she really is, following her dreams, and making her family proud.
In A Fort on the Moon, Fox and Dodge are space explorers. Their spaceship, The White Dolphin, has already made it to the moon three times, four if you count the first time. And this time, we get to go with them. They perfect their spaceship on the roof. Their mother has piled everything they need in a corner, calling it junk, but they know better. When conditions are right, the brothers wait until their parents are asleep, head to the roof, and take off for the moon! Each time they land, they work on their fort, making additions and improvements. It’s hard work, and at one point, Dodge is ready to give up. His frustration brings him to tears, but Fox encourages him, takes a break with him to help him calm down. Before they head back, the brothers take a minute to feel immense pride in the work they’ve done. Then, they hop in The White Dolphin and head home. Fox and Dodge are adventurers; they recognize the hidden value in everything around them and they encourage each other to keep striving, to keep aiming for the moon.
This was blog post was originally written for Northerly, a fantastic blog about all things Wisconsin.