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

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fun Reads For Kids

School's out for the summer, and parents are scrambling to find fun things for their kids to do.
How about a good book? Every year I publish a summer reading list for kids. And here's this year's, courtesy of Liz Price Patel, the librarian at Redwood Day School in Oakland:
                                    Grades K-1
Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems. These two endearingly silly friends give adults and children a chance to read and laugh together. Each of their amusing conversations is more fun than the last.
                                     Grades 1-3
Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds. With just the right mix of humor and suspense, this is the story of a young rabbit who loves to eat carrots - until they start following him. It’s definitely just his imagination. Or is it?
Akimbo and the Elephants by Alexander McCall Smith. Akimbo lives on an African game reserve with his father. His brave spirit and big heart for the animals compels him to infiltrate a gang of poachers to save the reserve’s elephants (one in a series).
                                    Grades 3-4
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Konigsburg, who died this year at 83, left us with many wonderful books, including this classic about Claudia and Jamie Kincaid running away, living in hiding at the Met, solving a mystery, and finding themselves along the way. A childhood must-read.  
Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin. Rendi has stowed away in a merchant’s cart. The moon is missing, and he hears crying in the sky. When Rendi’s hiding place is revealed, he is left to work as the innkeeper’s chore boy in the Village of Clear Sky.  The once-resentful chore boy slowly finds peace as he learns from the unusual townsfolk and inn guests, his past is revealed, and he sets out to rescue the moon.
                                  Grades 4-6
The Giant Slayer by Iain Lawrence. In 1955, against her father’s wishes, Laurie Valentine visits the hospital polio ward to see her friend, Dickie, who is in an iron lung. The best gift Laurie can bring to the kids in the ward is her storytelling. She weaves an adventurous and symbolic tale that becomes a life force for her friends and family, and for Laurie herself.    
                                Grades 5-8
Cardboard by Doug TenNapel (graphic novel). Out of work and down on his luck, Mike buys a cardboard box as a birthday present for his son, Cam. They quickly find that magic brings the cardboard to life. When the magic falls into the wrong hands and cardboard monsters make a play to take over, Cam and Mike face their enemies, fears and feelings to save the world. 
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz. Gidwitz paints the awesome - and often gruesome -Grimm Brothers tales for a contemporary audience.  
                                Grades 6-8
Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin. Nonfiction and fiction lovers alike will find the history of the atomic bomb and the human stories behind it riveting.
33 Minutes by Todd Hasak-Lowy. Sam Lewis reveals why his former best friend is going to kick his butt in 33 minutes. Growing up is hard and funny and poignant. Sam tells us about surviving middle school, food fights, fistfights, and most importantly, friendship.

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