Book List for Summer Reading 2016

Early Elementary

I. C. Springman. More. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. Using minimal text and excellent illustrations of a bird building its nest teach the lesson that less is often more.

Barbara Emberley. Ed Emberley, illustrator. Drummer Hoff. Simon & Schuster, 1967. Very simple words and colorful, stylized illustrations.

Michael Bond. A Bear Called Paddington. 1958. Reprint. HarperCollins, 2014.

Michael Bond. More About Paddington. 1959. Reprint. HarperCollins, 2015.

Else Holmelund Minarik. Maurice Sendak, illustrator. Little Bear. 1957. Reprint. HarperTrophy, 1978. There are several books in the series. Simple text for early readers.

Aliki. How a Book Is Made. 1986. Reprint. HarperCollins, 1988. May satisfy a curiosity that may arise in children newly exposed to reading on their own. Refers to outdated technology at points.

Christine Butterworth. Kate Nelms, illustrator. See What a Seal Can Do. Candlewick, 2013. A simple illustrated introduction to seals.

Joyce Lankester Brisley. The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook. 1998. Reprint. Kingfisher, 2001. Written in the early to mid twentieth century, these charming stories may prove a delight in reading aloud to children. They tend not to teach lessons, but do provide modern readers a glimpse into the past.

Late Elementary

Wallace Edwards. Monkey Business. Kids Can, 2004. This book takes English idioms (such as monkey business) and renders them literally in humorous surrealistic paintings. Can be used to teach both the concept of idioms and the meanings of specific expressions.

Raymond Huber. Brian Lovelock, illustrator. Flight of the Honey Bee. Candlewick, 2013. A simple illustrated introduction to bees.

Jacqueline Briggs Martin. Mary Azarian, illustrator. Snowflake Bentley. Houghton Mifflin, 1998. The true story of a persistent boy with an interest in nature, later to photograph snowflakes for the first time and see their minute beauty.

Judy Donnelly. Moonwalk: The First Trip to the Moon. Random House, 1989. This book describing an important historical event is not long, and can be read by students on their own by the end of their second year.

Kathryn Lasky. Kevin Hawkes, illustrator.The Librarian Who Measured the Earth. Little, Brown, 1994. A book about the life of Eratosthenes and his remarkably accurate calculation of the circumference of the Earth.

Beverly Birch and Christian Birmingham. Pasteur’s Fight Against Microbes. Barron’s, 1996.

Alice and Martin Provensen. The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot. 1983. Reprint. Puffin, 1987. The true story of the persistent inventor who first flew across the English Channel.

Anna Harwell Celenza. JoAnn E. Kitchel, illustrator. The Farewell Symphony. Charlesbridge, 2000. The historical background to Franz Joseph Haydn’s famous symphony.

Gloria Skurzynski. The Minstrel in the Tower. Random House, 1988. A fictional story set in medieval England. This story is longer and for confident readers, although younger children may enjoy hearing the story read.

Early Middle School

Candace Fleming. Boris Kulikov, illustrator. Papa’s Mechanical Fish. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013. The persistence and creativity of the eccentric protagonist, based on a historical inventor, is finally rewarded.

Barbara Brenner. Olivier Dunrea, illustrator. The Boy Who Loved to Draw: Benjamin West. 1999. Reprint. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003. Born before the time of the American Revolution, Benjamin West was a pioneer of American painting. This book tells his story, from the time he was a child in a Pennsylvania Quaker home.

Patrick O’Brien. The Making of a Knight. Charlesbridge, 1998. A fictionalized story of a boy aspiring to be a knight, providing an introduction to medieval Europe.

Clyde Robert Bulla. Bruce Bowles, illustrator. The Sword in the Tree. 1956. Reprint. HarperCollins, 2000. Set in Arthurian England. Text intended for early readers, but the story is not overly simple.

Walter D. Edmonds. The Matchlock Gun. 1941. Reprint. Puffin, 1998. This story is set among Dutch immigrants in New York in the mid-1700s, during the French and Indian War. The many illustrations are soft and charming.

Barbara Cooney. Eleanor. Viking, 1996. A childhood biography of a girl who would later become First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. Though an “ugly duckling” story, this book does not discuss in detail Roosevelt’s later achievements.

Anna Harwell Celenza. JoAnn E. Kitchel, illustrator. The Heroic Symphony. Charlesbridge, 2004. The historical background to Ludwig van Beethoven’s famous symphony, which was originally intended to honor Napoleon.

Dorothy Sterling. Freedom Train:The Story of Harriet Tubman. 1954. Reprint. Scholastic, 1987. Written for children, this biography depicts the life and circumstances of Harriet Tubman.

Margaret Cousins. Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia. 1952. Reprint. Random House, 2004. Each volume in the Landmark Books series is full of information and written for children. Other books depict events such as the Landing of the Pilgrims and the American Revolution, and lives of historical figures such as William Penn and Sequoyah; though all but a few are out of print, they are worth seeking out.

Howard Pyle. Tania Zamorsky, reteller. Dan Andreasen, illustrator. The Story of King Arthur and His Knights. Sterling, 2006.

Philip Smith, editor. Irish Fairy Tales. Dover, 1993. These stories have been collected from nineteenth-century retellings.

Donald J. Sobol. Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective. 1963. Reprint. Perfection Learning, 2010. A young boy who likes learning trivia solves mysterious cases. There are many more books in the series.

Upper Middle School / Early HIgh School

Arthur Ransome. Swallows and Amazons.1930. Reprint. David R. Godine, 2010. Children from several families have realistic adventures in their boats during school holidays. There are other books in the series.

Conrad Buff. The Apple and the Arrow. 1951. Reprint. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001. Retells the story of William Tell and his son.

Tiger and Tom and Other Stories for Boys. 1910. Reprint. AB Publishing, 1993. This book contains a number of stories that teach moral lessons. Several of the stories are contained in Vice & Virtue.

Claire Huchet Bishop. Twenty and Ten. Puffin, 1978. In Nazi-occupied France, ten Jewish children are hidden by twenty boarding-school students.

Naomi Lewis. Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales. 1981. Reprint. Puffin, 2010. These literary fairy tales are retold for younger listeners. Black-and-white illustrations.

L.M. Montgomery. Anne of Avonlea. Anne is a sixteen-year-old young lady who means well but often gets into trouble.

John Knowles. A Separate Peace. Set against the backdrop of World War II, this coming-of-age story deals with a boy and events that happen at his prep school, Devon.

Isaac Asimov. Foundation and Empire. I read this book a few months ago and found it rather entertaining, but was not very impressed by the characters, theme, or dialog. I agree with readers who say that this science fiction novel was the inspiration behind the the Star Wars series.

High School

Elie Wiesel. Night. A short look at the cruelty of the concentration camp, but more enlightening, the effects of cruelty on the prisoners themselves, who become brutish in turn to one another. Although I recommend the book, this non-fiction account contains disturbing and mature material.

Joseph Conrad, The Secret Sharer. Really a long short story, this famous work by the Polish-born author deals with a stowaway on a ship.

Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee. Inherit the Wind. I remember reading this back in my early high school days. Although I liked it then, I am now more wary of some of the conclusions the author draws regarding religion and science. Its theme regarding McCarthyism and authoritarianism in education is good, taken with a grain of salt.

Arthur Miller. The Crucible. Another work written during the McCarthy era, this play deals with paranoia and mass hysteria.

G. K. Chesterton. The Man Who Was Thursday. I enjoyed this mystery/detective work, and although I have taught it in my classes in the past, it is not currently on my list of books to read for high school students during the school year.


Note that the following books are those currently not read during the school year. I will not cover them in class or test students on their content during the school year; they are completely optional. The books in each section are generally listed in order of difficulty.