A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Good reads for the summer

Perhaps the most eagerly awaited of all my columns each year is the annual summer reading list for children. For years, it was compiled by Helen Dittmer, the beloved librarian at Redwood Day School in Oakland. Since her retirement, the tradition has been continued by her successor, Jen Ammenti. And here are Ms. Ammenti's suggestions for this summer.
For Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders, she recommends both prose and picture books.
For prose books, anything by Mo Willems, Leo Lionni, Lauren Child, Doreen Cronin, Patricia Polacco, Allen Say, Mac Barnett, Amy Krouse Rosenthal or James Howe would be great.
For picture books, she likes "The Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night" by Joyce Sidman, "Interrupting Chicken" by David Ezra Stein, "Dave the Potter Artist, Poet, Slave" by Laban Carrick Hill, "A Sick Day for Amos McGee" by Philip C. Stead, "Chalk" by Bill Thomson, "Hip-Pocket Papa" by Sandra Markle, "LMNOpeas" by Keith Baker, "Guess Again" by Mac Barnett and "Horace and Morris but Mostly Dolores" by James Howe.
For 3rd and 4th Graders, she recommends "The Bat Scientists" by Mary Kay Carson, "Mirror Mirror" by Marilyn Singer, "Spaceheadz" by Jon Scieszka, "The Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes, Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan, The Birchbark House" by Louise Erdrich, "The Mysterious Benedict Society" by Trenton Lee Stewart, "The Memory Bank" by Carolyn Coman, "Growing Patterns Fibonacci Numbers in Nature" by Sarah C. Campbell, "The Night Fairy" by Laura Amy Schlitz, "Tales Dark and Grimm" by Adam Gidwitz, "The Brixton Brothers 2: The Ghostwriter's Secret" by Mac Barnett, "The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo" by Judy Blume, "Zorgamazoo" by Robert Paul Weston and "Bunnicula" by Deborah and James Howe.
For 5th and 6th Graders, she suggests "One Crazy Summer" by Rita Williams-Garcia, "90 Miles to Havana" by Enrique Flores-Galbis, "Scat" by Carl Hiassen, "The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda" by Tom Angleberger, "Moon Over Manifest" by Clare Vanderpool, "Summerland" by Michael Chabon, "Shooting Kabul" by N.H. Senzai, "Blubber" by Judy Blume, "Out of my Mind" by Sharon Draper, "Heart of a Samurai" by Margi Preus, "The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman" by Ben H. Winters, "Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam" by Cynthia Kadohata, "The Birchbark House" by Louise Erdrich and "Eat Your Poison, Dear" by James Howe.
For 7th and 8th graders, please note that these books contain mature subject matter, and parents should determine their appropriateness for their child: "Buddha Boy" by Kathe Koja, "The Things a Brother Knows" by Dana Reinhardt, "The Maze Runner by James Dashner, "Graceling" by Kristin Cashore, "Boy Meets Boy" by David Levithan, "Going Bovine" by Libba Bray, "The Firefly Letters" by Margarita Engle, "Ship Breaker" by Paolo Bacigalupi, "King of the Screwups" by K.L. Going, "Yummy: The Last Day of a Southside Shorty" by G.Neri, "Ribbons" by Lawrence Yep, "The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson and "Mouse Traps" by Pat Schmatz.
"Some are new award winners, some are old goodies, and some are just my favorites," she says. "Remember, what's right for one doesn't necessarily mean right for all. The important part is that you keep reading this summer. Ask your friends, browse a library, choose from this list - do whatever it takes to find your favorites. Happy summer reading!"