Reading a book that isn’t followed by an Accelerated Reader test or book report makes reading more appealing to kids of all ages. Summer reading can be whatever kids want it to be, and it’s every parent’s dream to find their child absorbed in a book of his or her own choosing. On their own or as a group activity, reading is a great way for kids to occupy their summer days.
Reading together fosters parent-child relationships, says Dr. Katie Penry, a psychoanalytic psychologist in Daphne who specializes in the relationship between mothers and infants. Penry is also the creator of A Friendly Affair, an online community that offers parenting courses focused on child development, newborn behavior and healthy expectations for parents and children. The site’s Instagram feed offers a treasure trove of children’s literature reviews and recommendations.
“What I want to see more than anything is hospitality and conversation between parent and child, ” Penry says. “Reading helps accomplish that.”
According to Penry, the routine of reading with a parent every day has widespread and numerous benefits for a child’s emotional, cognitive, social and academic development.
“Reading builds the language centers of a child’s brain, and adding reading to the daily routine increases your child’s experience of safety and security, ” Penry says. “Feeling safe increases a child’s ability to learn.”
Penry’s favorite 2018 summer reading picks feature big themes — empowerment, diversity and overcoming adversity.
“Nonfiction anthologies that feature diverse, world-changing folks are definitely what is hot this summer, ” Penry says. “There are many inspiring nonfiction books flooding the market.” Recommend these inspiring fictions and nonfictions to your children for a summer of reading pleasure.
Preschool / Elementary
“Little People, Big Dreams” Series by Isabel Sanchez Vegara
Explore the stories of fascinating women like Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie and Audrey Hepburn. “These books are great for even the youngest reader, ” Penry says.
“The Book of Mistakes” by Corinna Luyken
This beautifully illustrated picture book guides children through the creative process and teaches them that mistakes can turn into something beautiful.
“Hello, Universe” by Erin Entrada Kelly
Relatable and adventurous, this book tells the story of the unexpected friendships that develop among four misfits living in the same neighborhood. “Hello, Universe” addresses important topics like self-acceptance, bullying and friendship. “I’m a sucker for the unlikely friendships found in good middle-grade literature, ” Penry says.
“Ebb & Flow” by Heather Smith
Written in verse, this novel exposes budding readers to poetry as well as real-life issues.
“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
This novel follows 16-year-old Starr Carter as she navigates two starkly different worlds: her low-income neighborhood and her suburban high school. “‘The Hate U Give’ has more awards than Michael Phelps and truly is stunning, ” Penry says. “It totally deserves the hype.”
“The Fates Divide” by Veronica Roth
Written by the author of the “Divergent” series, this epic fantasy love story is the second installment in the “Carve the Mark” novel series. “Tweens and teens will eat this up, ” Penry says.