Whether you’re sitting next to the pool, staying cool inside or packed together in a car, summer is a great time to read aloud to your kids.
Escape: The Story of the Great Houdini by Sid Fleischman
Good biographies for kids are surprisingly hard to come by, but this one about Harry Houdini is a home run. Houdini is a complex character, made more tricky by his habit of doctoring his own history, which Fleischman is careful to point out at various intervals. Be warned that, like any good magician, Fleischman doesn’t give away Houdini’s secrets – you’ll hear plenty about Houdini’s magic tricks, but not how he does them.
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
I was really dubious about a historical fiction book about a potter’s apprentice set in 12th century Korea, but I loved this book so much I gave copies away for Christmas the year I read it. It’s a quick read (and the audio version is terrific too), but you’ll be totally sucked into to orphan Tree-ear’s journey to the king to convince him to give Tree-ear’s master a royal commission.
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
I always love a good retelling of a classic story and this version of Peter Pan, set before Peter has become Peter Pan, is a really good retelling. Peter and a few other orphan boys are packed onto a ship headed from England to an unknown destination. While scrounging for food one night, Peter discovers that the ship is carrying pixie dust and, as you can imagine, he’s not the only one who wants to get his hands on it.
Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt
When Dicey’s mother goes into a Connecticut shopping mall one afternoon and then doesn’t return, Dicey realizes it is up to her to keep her three siblings safe and together the four of them set off to reach their aunt who they hope will take them in. Over the course of several weeks, mostly on foot, they make their way across the state, managing to find food and shelter as they go. And if you’re reading this on a road trip, you can remind your bored or restless kids that they could be counting out dimes for food and sleeping in bushes on the side of the road. Suddenly an air-conditioned car doesn’t seem so bad.
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
This is a story within a story, as Sal and her grandparents road trip to find Sal’s mother, and Sal passes the time by telling them a story about her friend Phoebe Winterbottom who’s mother disappeared one summer. It won the Newbery Medal in 1995 and I think it definitely deserved it. Part road-trip book, part mystery, this is a really fun book to read together.