With so many summer reading programs and summer reading goals in full swing right now, I thought I’d add my voice to the conversation. The following are five books I would recommend adding to your summer reading lists. (Confession: I started out trying to think of books that really should be read in the summer and then gave up on that idea. So, some of these are related to summer and some aren’t. But they’re all worth a read!)
In his two books, The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck, Brian Selznick has redefined what the integration of stories and art can look like. Both books seem quite thick for children’s literature, but that’s only because a few short pages of text will be followed by a dozen pages of beautiful pencil drawings of the characters and events. These aren’t your typical picture books, where the illustrations only highlight an event the text describes—Selznick’s drawings actually tell parts of the story.
Wonderstruck is his second, lesser known book, which intertwines the stories of Ben, a young deaf boy searching for his father in June of 1977, and Rose, a young deaf girl looking for her mother in October of 1927. Wonderstruck is a touching and unique read, very appropriate for a warm afternoon by the pool or evening on the front porch.
I read With last summer during a time when I was trying to process a year of ministry work and figure out what I should be doing moving forward. With was a beautiful, short book that brought me such a sense of release and peace. In it Skye Jethani outlines several of the myths we often believe about following God—that we should live life under God’s rules, or obey in order to receive things from God, or try to repay Him for salvation by doing things for Him—and then he makes a case that the best way to follow God is to do life in relationship with Him. If you have never heard of Skye Jethani or read anything by him, this is a great place to start. (And as a side note, you should also check out the Phil Vischer podcast, on which Jethani is a co-host.)
Kate DiCamillo amazes me—the woman has won two Newbery Medals and an additional Newbery Honor Award in the last fifteen years. Her best known book is Because of Winn Dixie, another great read for the summer, but I chose Flora & Ulysses for this list A) because it’s her newest book and I just finished reading it, and B) it won a Newbery Medal also. Plus, it’s this really wonderful mix of hilarious and sweet. (A squirrel gets eaten by a vacuum cleaner and becomes a superhero…do you really need to know more?)
This novel hasn’t even been released, but I’m adding it to my list anyway (two weeks till the release date!). Fifty-five years ago, Harper Lee wrote and published To Kill a Mockingbird, and now we finally get to read the sequel, Go Set a Watchman. The novel is about an adult Scout returning to her hometown to visit her father, Atticus Finch, 20 years after the events of To Kill a Mockingbird.
There has already been a lot of controversy about this book, but I’m still looking forward to reading it. Mockingbird is one of my favorite classics, and though I don’t necessarily expect Watchman to live up to the same standard, I still think it will be fun to revisit the same characters and settings.
I just finished reading this book for the first time, and I have to say it is the perfect book for a summer read. Dandelion Wine tells the story of the adventures of twelve-year-old Doug, his ten-year-old brother, Tom, and many of their friends and neighbors during the summer of 1928 in the fictional small town of Green Town, Illinois.
Many of the chapters could stand alone as really lovely short stories, but they are interwoven with Doug’s realizations about friends and family, life and death and growing up (which makes this sound like a depressing book, but it’s really not). Normally, I don’t enjoy descriptive, slower-paced books, but Bradbury’s descriptions were so vivid, so heartwarming, that I didn’t mind at all. I lived the summer of 1928 as I read Dandelion Wine, and I greatly enjoyed the journey.
What book(s) would you recommend for summer reading?