Summer is the best time for reading aloud, whether you’re reading in a hammock or snuggled up on the couch. And when it comes to bedtime reading, no school wakeup means you can indulge requests for “just one more chapter.”
A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat
This book inspired by Les Mis won a Newbery Honor last year and I read it aloud to my children over the summer. It is phenomenal! (Don’t miss her newest middle grade novel, The Last Mapmaker, which is equally terrific). Pong is the hero of this fantasy novel, a young boy born in prison who escapes, only to realize that life outside the prison is just as challenging, especially for a fugitive being chased down by the prison warden’s daughter, Nok. But Nok has her own secrets and as she hunts down Pong, she’ll have to decide how to choose between the laws of the land and real justice.
History Smashers: The Titanic by Kate Messner, illustrated by Matt Aytch Taylor
For the non-fiction lovers, this History Smashers series is an absolute home run. This volume is all about the Titanic – what really happened, what questions are unanswered, and what are complete myths (and how did they gain popularity?). Don’t miss the other books in this series, including ones about the Mayflower, Pearl Harbor, the Revolutionary War, and one coming out this month about the Underground Railroad.
Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston
I’ve read about a million books with comparisons to Harry Potter or Percy Jackson and this was one of the first that really lived up to the hype – I read this aloud to my children and we were all completely sucked in! Amari’s mourning the disappearance of her beloved older brother (the police say he’s almost certainly dead), but when she gets a pre-recorded message from him, she discovers that there is a supernatural world she’s known nothing about and that her brother was heavily involved before his disappearance. Joining this world isn’t going to be easy, but she’s willing to do whatever it takes to find out what happened to her brother. And she better mean it, because “whatever it takes” turns out to be a LOT. We are all eagerly awaiting the sequel releasing later this summer!
A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus
This historical fiction title absolutely charmed me and it’s been one of my favorite read-alouds in the past couple of years. Three young children lose their grandmother, leaving them orphans and no place to go. Her lawyer suggests that, since so many children are being shipped out to the English countryside during the bombings, they might join the exodus and conveniently not mention that they don’t actually have a family. And just maybe the family that temporarily takes them in will want to keep them forever. This book has all the feelings of a classic and I definitely shed some tears at the end.
the invention of hugo cabret by Brian Selznick
This Caldecott winner is a wildly unique book that’s more than 500 pages long, but about 70% illustrations (stunning illustrations, I might add). It follows Hugo Cabret, a young orphan who lives in a little apartment inside the walls of a Paris train station and he keeps all the clocks in the station running smoothly and on time. In his spare time, he is also working on a secret project, for which he must steal parts from the mechanical toy shop in the train station. But when he’s caught by the grumpy toy shop owner and loses his notebook full of instructions for his secret project, he joins forces with the owner’s goddaughter, Isabelle, to get it back and complete his project.
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