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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Vacation time, with books!

July 19, 2012

What does summer reading bring to mind? For me, it means light reading, fun reading, just-for-the-heck-of-it reading. I always pack books: paperbacks for the beach, e-books for long trips, and some just because they're too good to leave behind.

Children should be able to read lighter fare during the summer, too. And there are lots of books that are ideal for summer reading.

Young readers can join Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey. Traction Man's latest adventure by Mimi Grey is fast and funny. You can almost feel the sand's grit along with the action figure and his toy friends, sure to please beachgoers and stay-cationers alike.

America's favorite pastime comes to life in short, colorfully illustrated poems by Douglas Florian in Poem Runs: Baseball Poems and Paintings (Harcourt). Kids who play the game — even those who just watch it — will appreciate the buoyant offerings.

Maybe children will visit a farm. Let's hope it's a "rootin', tootin' Texas" farm. That's where they'll find the Cock-a-Doodle Dance! (Feiwel & Friends) and animals that jitterbug, bop, belly dance and dance the dipsy-do.

Even the backyard can be endlessly fascinating — especially if there are beetles there. Even if there aren't, this offering by Steve Jenkins, The Beetle Book, just may inspire children to go on a beetle safari.

Who knows where summer reading can take us?


I have a suggestion to get us closer to magic 13: Nerd Camp by Elissa Brent Weissman. A great summer read about summer camp but not just any summer camp. 10-year-old Gabe is going to the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment, also known as S.C.G.E = Smart Camp for Geeks and Eggheads. How can Gabe have any cool cred. with his new step-brother Zack if he's going to Nerd Camp? It turns out that it's okay to be smart and a kid too. Weissman gets the details, the relationships, and the ending just right. I fun, thoughtful summer read that any kid with an ounce of geek (no matter how much he/she tries to hide it) will enjoy.

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"Writing is thinking on paper. " — William Zinsser