Kids Book Corner: Summer Afternoon Reading

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“Summer afternoon – Summer afternoon… the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James

Studies have established that children will maintain their reading skills, even strengthen them, if they read five books or more over the summer. But how to get over-scheduled, over-home-worked, burned out kids to crack open a book? The good news is that kids can whatever read interests them and still benefit. Here are some books that are just right for a long, hot summer afternoon:

Flip Flop! by Dana M. Rau; illustrated by Jana Christy Mitchell is an easy, breezy celebration of summer for emerging readers 4-6 years old. The cheerful, rhyming story of two young’s girls sampling the joys of summer––the pool, the beach, the zoo, a carnival, fireflies and fireworks––has large type, a sheet of stickers and irresistible illustrations.

Most boys (and some girls) 10 and up will enjoy the Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmerman’s Bizarre World of Food: Brains, Bugs, and Blood Sausage. Part travelogue, part cultural survey, and field guide to wildlife, with great food writing added in, Zimmerman’s book is much more than a list of disgusting edibles, but lots of fun. Recipes and photographs (not for the squeamish) are included.

Nerd Camp by Elissa Brent Weissman is a winner. Ten-year-old Gabe is thrilled to be going to sleep away camp (“Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment”) until he meets his new stepbrother, a cool, definitely un-nerdy kid whose acceptance Gabe is desperate to win. There are things, Gabe realizes, he can tell his stepbrother in his postcards home, and things he can’t: “My bunkmates are really cool, and we became friends right away!” – “They like learning the digits of Pi.” “We put sports and music pictures on our walls.” – “They are of Beethoven and the rules of badminton.” From a bunkmate who solves math problems in his sleep, to a girl Gabe can’t seem to shake, nerd camp Nerd Camp will give readers 9-12 adventure, laughs and narrator whose voice is fresh and true.

Gavin Pretor-Pinney’s dreamy and beautiful The Cloud Collector’s Handbook will turn your family into cloud chasers and cloud connoisseurs. An “official publication of The Cloud Appreciation Society,” this cloud catalogue studded with gorgeous photographs invites readers to “collect” clouds of every kind –including weird Lenticularis cloud discs and foreboding mammatus. On each page the “collector” will find space to take note of his sightings and examples and information about each cloud “species”. The handbook offers guidance on “cloud optial effects” including iridescence, rainbows, sun dogs, sun pillars and cloud-and fogbows. There is a handy list of technical terms at the end along with a cloud image index. For adults and teenagers to share with children.

Jo Perry has a Ph.D. in English, taught literature and writing, and worked as a college administrator and as a television writer and producer. She is a reviewer for and is an ongoing contributor to kidsLA Magazine for which she writes about the city, children’s books, and conducts interviews. For two years she wrote the Kids’ Book Club column for the L.A. Times’ Kids’ Reading Room page.  She is also the co-creator of the Silent Bodyguard iPhone app.

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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