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Books to Get Us Ready for Summer Vacation

Franki Sibberson

When spring finally arrives, I am always excited to find books that make the transition to summer seem so much quicker for my students and me. This year, I have found some great books to help me lose myself in the world of summer. These books are in a variety of genres that are great to read all year, but they are a special treat when summer is just around the corner. 

Nonfiction as a Summer Road Trip

Go Go America by Dan Yaccarino
This book takes the reader on a trip across the United States. The table of contents is actually the map of the U.S. and the route that readers will travel. Each page is devoted to one state, with interesting information and trivia, including amusing interesting laws and rules.

Picture Books that Celebrate Some of the Fun Activities of Summer

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Melanie Watt
As usual, Scaredy Squirrel is afraid . . . this time he is afraid to go to the beach. He decides to create a fake beach to enjoy at home, but he soon realizes that he is missing some important things for his beach and has a plan to quickly get those things. As always, Scaredy Squirrel is a great character with lots of surprises.

A Couple of Boys Have The Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee
James and Eaton are excited to spend a week at nature camp and the beach. This book is about a great week of summer with your best friend. As always, Marla Frazee's illustrations add to the fun of this book.

To Be Like the Sun by Susan Marie Swanson
Sunflowers always get me in the mood for summer. This book was originally published as a poem, and the language is beautiful and makes for a good read aloud. The illustrations are done by Margaret Chodos-Irvine, who illustrated Ella Sarah Gets Dressed. The illustrations are bright and cheery.

Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett
A little girl and her stuffed monkey take an imaginary trip to the zoo. This book is predictable, with great picture support for the early reader.

Middle Grade Novels That Take Place in the Summer

The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower by Lisa Graff
The book is terrific for lots of reasons. It is a fun read  -- the plot is unusual compared to most books written for intermediate readers. Bernetta has been set up by her best friend Ashley, and the consequence is that Bernetta won't be able to attend the private school she has attended since Kindergarten anymore. She no longer has the $9000 needed for tuition. But she comes up with a scheme to make the money over the summer and the adventures begin.

The Aurora County All Stars by Deborah Wiles
Since baseball and summer seem to go together, this is a great book to get into that summer mood. This is a story of baseball, a strong community, and friends. Deborah Wiles ties the story together with quotes from Walt Whitman, and she also uses quotes from famous baseball players to set the stage for each chapter.

Violet Bing and the Big House by Jennifer Paros
Violet Bing is VERY lovable, but she does not like to do much. She "does not have time," or so she says. Violet does not like surprises or things that are new or unplanned. The plot is simple, yet fun. When Violet decides that she is not going on vacation with her family, she spends the time with her aunt in the Grand House instead. Because Violet says no to so many things, she is on her own a lot (with her aunt watching close-by). A little girl in a big, old, colorful house makes for a great story.

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford
I picked this book up because I loved the premise -- a 4th grader who had procrastinated her assigned summer reading until the very last day of summer. The back cover reads: "Now, Moxy loved to read books. She loved books so much that sometimes she would stay up all night and read. It's just that Moxy liked to read what she wanted to read and not what someone told her to read." It is a terrific story with a wonderful lead character and lots of humor.

Greetings From Nowhere by Barbara O'Connor
Barbara O'Connor takes us to the Sleepy Time Motel in the Great Smokey Mountains, introducing us to characters that will live with us for a long time.

Books to Celebrate the Joys of Teaching Over the Summer Months

Why We Teach: Learning Laughter, Love and the Power to Transform Livesby Linda Alston
This book is a timely book for anyone who is teaching in these troubling times. It reminds us why we teach--through hard times, after hard days, and during these days of mandated curriculum and testing. Linda Alston shares stories of her own teaching career--short pieces that can remind us all the joys of teaching and of being in the company of children every day. 

Tastes Like Chocolate by Randi Allison
This is a collection of poems written by the children the author has worked with over the years. It is a collection that is a fantastic read. As a teacher, it is a great reminder of how lucky we are to work alongside children every day. It helps us remember how brilliant and insightful they are, and it can also serve as a wonderful resource for teachers of writing looking for student models.

Franki Sibberson

Franki Sibberson is the Lead Contributor for Choice Literacy. She has worked for over 30 years as a teacher at different grade levels and school librarian. Franki is the co-author with Karen Szymusiak of many books and videos on teaching reading in the intermediate grades. You can keep up with Franki on the popular blog she writes with Mary Lee Hahn, A Year of Reading.