Friday, May 25, 2018

Summer Reading Challenge 2018 (with BOOK LISTS!)

(but first - a friendly disclosure that there a lot of Amazon affiliate links dropped here.
If you click through and buy any of my recommendations I get a few pennies.
Your generosity allows me to continue buying good books (umm... and nerf bullets...) for my family.  Thank you <3)


Also, gone are the days of lovely and edited photos here.  The pics here are straight from my ghetto phone.  It was either that or edit and beautify photos and publish this post in September.  I chose bad pics and post now!


It's that time of year again where we're transitioning into our "summer school" months of homeschooling.  Since the beginning we've been year-round homeschoolers.  It's because I'm often lax and my kids are not child prodigies and so we're always a bit behind in some subject or another.  And it's also because we all benefit from a having some daily expectations and tasks that have to be done each morning before enjoying the busyness or laziness of the summer day ahead.  

Even though we "school" in the summer, it looks very different than the way things are the rest of the year.  The Summer Reading Challenge is one of those differences.  Last year was the first year I proposed the Challenge and it was wildly successful.  The three big kids read more than I ever imagined they would! Dominic (who has dyslexia) gained an enormous amount of confidence and pride in himself as well as a growing enjoyment of reading, and Ruth improved by leaps and bounds and became a "real reader" - the kind that reads even when it's not required ;)  

In last summer's Challenge, the kids got to choose a box of cereal for each book they completed.  They read a lot and we had boxes of sugary cereal flying everywhere.  It was a bit crazy.  But it really was a key motivator and a real treat for the kids to have a special breakfast cereal that was entirely their own.  I kept the same reward for this summer but instead of a box of cereal for each book, I'm using a point system.  I've written in the front covers whether the books are worth 1,2,3, or 4 points.  They can choose a box of cereal for every 3 points they earn.   I'm happy with this change because it allowed me to choose books of varying lengths and difficulties for each child and assign the points accordingly.  Without the point system, I may have skipped some titles that are entirely worth reading but are not quite worth a whole box of cereal ;)  

Like last year, I chose the books again.  I chose more this year, giving each kiddo a wider variety to choose from.  They get a basket full of their options.  I sit down with each of them one on one and go through the titles, often reading the summary and teasers on the back, and chatting about which books they think they'll pick and what they might want to read first.  I sometimes encourage them to read the first few pages of a book they're unsure about and I always let them set a book aside if it's not grabbing them.  It is supposed to be fun after all :)

I'm always happy to share book lists and recommendations here, so of course I've got the Summer Reading Challenge lists for you!  I spend a lot of time previewing books and reading reviews for content.  I'm pretty particular.  Ok, I'm downright picky about what they read.  A lot doesn't get past my filters.  I have not personally read  every book that I've given to my kids to read, but if I haven't read it, I've done everything else possible to assess it's appropriateness (in terms of themes, language, behavior of characters, etc... as well as reading level).  I feel pretty confident recommending all the titles here, but as in everything, parents have to determine what meets their own standards and what's ok for their own kids, right?!    

In terms of reading level, I know how maddening it can be trying to figure out if your "3rd grader" is reading what another mom's "3rd grader" is reading and what the *bleep* is a 3rd grade reading level anyway!?!?!!?! Anyway, your 3rd grader might be (probably is) reading what my 6th grader is reading now (remember, we have no advanced geniuses here...) There truly is no common standard among publishers and reviewers and you never know what you're going to get when you see something is a "___ grade reading level."  (My blood pressure is rising steadily even as a  write this...)  Add into the mix my Dominic, who is obviously a bit behind in his reading abilities but who doesn't want to read content intended for "little kids."  It's sometimes a crazy (but such fun) challenge finding reading material that fits his age, interests, and ability.  So, we're all over the board here in terms of reading levels and books that I'll "allow."  But here's a quick point of reference so you can better understand who the lists have been tailored for and how they might be able to work for you:

Aaron is 12, going into 7th grade.  He most recently finished the Tolkien Lord of the Rings trilogy and On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, (Andrew Peterson.)

Dominic is 10 1/2, going into 6th grade (dyslexic, improving in reading with his great, great tutor, Miss Lynn!)  He's most recently read  Frindle  (Andrew Clements), and a couple Boxcar Children mysteries.  

Ruth is 8, going into 3rd grade.  She's been blowing through the Ramona series as  her read-upstairs-in-bed books, and she recently finished Little House in the Big Woods as her "downstairs" book.  

Clare is 6, going into 1st grade.  She's still learning some letter sounds and does bits of All About Reading's pre-reading program as well as Level 1.  Basically, she doesn't read.......

(in no particular order, points in parentheses)

For Aaron:

The Stolen Train, Robert Ashley (2)
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle (3)
The Borrowers, Mary Norton (3)
Gone-Away Lake, Elizabeth Enright (3)
Annie Moore, First in Line for America, Eithne Loughrey (2)
By the Great Horn Spoon, Sid Fleischman (3)
Escape from Warsaw, Ian Serraillier (3)
Lost on a Mountain in Maine, Donn Fendler (1)
Young Canaller, Gerry Stafford (1)
Call It Courage, Armstrong Sperry (1)
The Mitchells: Five for Victory, Hilda von Stockum (3)
The Trumpeter of Krakow, Eric Kelly (3)
The Winged Watchman, Hilda von Stockum (3) 
Nicholas Gilroy: Our Lady and the Guardian, Father Stephen and Deacon George (1)
The Borrowed House, Hilda von Stockum (3)
32 Days: A Story of Faith and Courage, Ellen Lucey Prozeller (1)

For Dominic:

Mary Jemison, Indian Captive, Jeanne LeMonnier Gardner (3)
Freedom Crossing, Margaret Goff Clark (3)
Ranger in Time, Danger in Ancient Rome, Kate Messner (2)
Here We All Are, Tomie DePaola (1)
The Secret Valley, Clyde Robert Bulla (2)
Shepherds to the Rescue (Gospel Time Trekkers), Maria Grace Dateno, FSP (1)
The Whisper in the Ruins, Lisa M Hendey (3)
The Chestertons and the Golden Key, Nancy Carpentier Brown (2)
Twenty and Ten, Claire Huchet Bishop, (2)
Cabin in the Snow, Deborah Hopkinson (1)
Farmer Boy, Laura Ingalls Wilder (4) 
Escape by Night: A Civil War Adventure, Laurie Myers (2)

For Ruth:

The Secret Soldier: the Story of Deborah Sampson,   Ann McGovern (1)
Daisy Dawson is on Her Way, Steve Voake (2)A Fine Start: Meg's Prairie Diary (My America), Kate McMullen (2)Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder (4) The White Stallion, Elizabeth Shub (1/2 pt) 
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain, Alice Dalgliesh (1)
Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie, Peter and Connie Roop (1/2 pt) 
Misty of Chincoteague, Marguerite Henry (3) 
Runaway Ralph, Beverly Cleary (3)
In Aunt Lucy's Kitchen, Cynthia Rylant (2) 
Besty-Tacy, Maude Hart Lovelace (3) 
In Grandma's Attic, Arleta Richardson (3) 
The Night Crossing, Karen Ackerman (2)
26 Fairmount Avenue, Tomie dePaola (2)
Prairie School, Avi (1)
My Father's Dragon, Ruth Stiles Gannet (2)

For Clare:

Various titles from the Flyleaf Publishing Books for Emergent Readers.
You can read my review of Flyleaf's Emergent Readers and Decodable Literature here.

Finally, I have high hopes for lots of read-alouds this summer.  I've been forgoing reading out loud lately in favor of knitting, so it will take some discipline on my part ;)  I haven't decided what I'll read, but we have lots lying around the house so I have a great stack of my own to choose from.  Some contenders are:
The Family Under the Bridge,   Natalie Savage Carlson
Tumtum and Nutmeg,  Emily Bearn 
Ballet Shoes, Noel Streatfeild 
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis (this would be the first time for the girls, so that would be super fun!) 

And, we have our Audible account locked and loaded full of stuff, so lots and lots of audio favorites are on the summer book menu too :)  

What are you and your kiddos reading this summer?  

* * * * * * * 


Exhausted Mom Syndrome, Narnia Read Alouds, 

and Why I Was a Big Fat Crying Blubbering Mess Today









  1. Professor Diggin's Dragons - delightful! I always love your book lists. Thank you!

  2. Thank you so much for the book lists and great idea, assigning a point system.

  3. I love, love, love this! I’m basically just going to get all those books for Rebecca and Kathryn and call it a day. As a history major, I’m super excited to see a Deborah Sampson book on there! And thank you for saying Clare isn’t reading yet. Kathryn, 6, going into first grade isn’t either. We’re just going to keep working away at it. I plan to read aloud a lot this summer. That, and Geography are the two main things we’re going to do (and math, because, well, we still aren’t done).

    1. It's math, math, math year round here too! I wish we lived closer so we could chat history and trade books and organize lots of play dates <3 <3 I'm curious what you'll be doing for Geography. We were doing really well with Geo songs, but it sort of fizzled out with all the happened over the winter. I can't decide if/how we should get back into it...

  4. I love this idea and I'm stealing it. I have so many books that I know they would enjoy, but the little loves are so stubborn (get it from their father;) they won't give them a chance. Cereal would do it for sure.

    I'm just curious, do you give them free range of the cereal aisle or are there guidelines?

    1. The cereal reward is clutch here!! They can pick anything that's our store brand's 1.50 boxes, so it's not free range, but it does include some pretty sugary "copycat" cereals ;)

  5. Thank you for sharing your book lists :-) As you know I come back frequently scouring for ideas. Enjoy your summer :-) Heading into winter here, brr, actually not complaining, never as cold as you get!!


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