Selecting Summer Reading

I received an e-mail last week from a student I taught this past year. She needed help selecting summer reading books from the required summer reading list. The students at my school receive really good summer reading lists, but the lists are big. It can be difficult to select a book when a child has too many choices. How do you narrow down and make good selections when you have many titles from which to choose?

  1. Look for authors on the list that you recognize and see if there are new or different book titles by that same author.
  2. Locate a title on the list that you have already read and really liked. Search that book title on a website like Amazon or Goodreads. These sites offer suggestions or “read-alike” book titles. Check the suggestions against your required list to see if there are any matches.
  3. Often the lists are organized by style or genre. Look for books within the same genre. If your child loves survival books or mysteries or humorous realistic fiction select other books in that same category from the summer reading list.
  4. Bring the reading list to your library or bookstore and ask people there for ideas. E-mail the teacher like my student did and ask if he/she has favorite book recommendations. Ask classmates what they are reading from the list.
  5. Look up titles and check the page count. Start with a shorter book that can be completed quickly. I don’t recommend choosing a book simply because it is the shortest, but if the summer reading list is a little daunting, start with a quick read to get in the groove.
  6. Look at the reading range of the book. Narrow down choices by choosing books at the lower end of a child’s reading range. If you are unsure of your child’s reading range, make a guess based on his or her upcoming grade level. If your child is about to be a 4th grader and was an average reader the previous year, look for books that are intended for 3rd graders or roughly 8 to 10 years old. There are websites that help with book reading ranges if it is not listed on the back cover of the book. Scholastic Book Wizard is easy to use.

Once your child has selected a book, stay involved. Read the first few chapters together. Ask questions about what is happening in the story. Many kids need some monitoring when reading independently to make sure they are grasping key events in the story.

Don’t have a list from your school? You can use some suggestions from the books TheRoomMom’s family is reading this summer.

Mr Star Wars’ Summer Reading Choices (age 12/13)

  • Maximum Ride series by James Patterson
  • Blood on the River by Elisa Carbone
  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
  • The Bad Books by Pseudonymous Bosch
  • Conspiracy 365 series by Gabrielle Lord
  • Among the Hidden series by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Miss Priss’ Summer Reading Choices (age 9/10)

  • The Lemonade War series by Davies
  • Kavik The Wolf Dog by Morey
  • Beetles, Lightly Toasted by Naylor
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Stewart
  • Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist by LaFevers
  • The Wizard of Oz by Baum
  • The Magic Keepers series by Kirov
  • The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin

counting by 7s

TheRoomMom’s Summer Reading Choices (age unavailable)

  • Navigating Early by Vanderpool
  • Counting by 7s by Sloan
  • Into the Wild by Durst
  • The Key and the Flame by Caterer
  • Out of My Mind by Draper
  • 11 Birthdays by Mass
  • Esperanza Rising by Ryan
  • Mayday by Karen Harrington
  • The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

What is on your summer reading list?

For even more book ideas, visit my TeachersPayTeachers Store to see my upper elementary summer reading product.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

I Will Survive

island of the blue dolphins

A “gateway book” is my name for any book you read completely on your own (maybe around 3rd or 4th grade) that really turns you on to reading. Island of the Blue Dolphins and My Side of the Mountain are two of my gateway books. My gateway books are the old school survival books where the main character is alone in the wild and must use creativity, ingenuity, and problem solving to survive. I wanted to be one of these characters. I wanted to build my own shelter, figure out how to hunt for food, and make clothing. Maybe I did not want to do the food hunting thing, but I definitely wanted to get a peek inside Sam’s tree and Karana’s whale bone home.

In my experience, kids love reading about young characters who are completely self-reliant and can take care of themselves with little adult help.

the sign of the beaver

Classic Survival Books

These are the books people name when discussing survival books. Most of these follow the classic story of a main character who has to survive alone in the wild with very few resources– my favorite plot line.

  • Far North by Will Hobbs (and others by this author)
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (and sequels)
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  • Kavik the Wolf Dog by Walt Morey
  • My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (and sequels)
  • The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
  • Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

Alternate Survival Books

These books stray a little from the kid on his own against the elements. There might be a group fighting together to survive, or the characters are in a populated area rather than stranded in an isolated location. They are good but not quite as magical for me.

  • The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
  • Conspiracy 365 series by Gabrielle Lord (6th grade+)
  • Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (6th grade+)
  • Getting Air by Dan Gutman (my students like this book; I think the writing is poor.)
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (6th grade+)
  • The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford
  • Journey into Terror by Bill Wallace
  • Life as We Knew It by Susan Pfeffer (7th grade+)
  • The Lion’s Paw by Robb White
  • The Maze Runner and sequels by James Dashner (6th grade+)
  • The Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse
  • Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong (non-fiction)
  • Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
  • The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (6th grade+)
  • A Week in the Woods by Andrew Clements
  • The White Mountains by John Christopher (and sequels)

my side of the mountainDo you have a gateway book, and if so, was it a survival story of some kind?