- Gorgeous mornings - do you even realize what the world is like at 6:00am? I do, and it's heavenly.
- Bare feet - my neighbor has repeatedly told me I need to put shoes on my kids, but does he not notice that I am also shoeless? If I had his yard full of ouchy weeds, then I might consider shoes, but I don't, so I won't.
- Quick go time - take away the abundance of winter accessories (coat, socks, boots, hats, mittens, etc.), and we can be out the door pretty darn fast. It's so nice to be able to say, "Let's go!", and the only thing we have to grab are pairs of flip-flops (yes, I do require some form of footwear out in public).
- Light nights (not be confused with nightlights) - I'll admit it is more difficult to get my kids in bed by a decent hour, but man, it's nice to be able to stay outside until 9:00 and enjoy playing and working and making friends.
- Barbeques, swimming, bike rides, parks, outdoor concerts, camping - do I need to go on? It's so easy (and cheap) to have fun in the summer.
1. Butterfly, Butterfly, Petr Hor
There was a time in my life when I didn't love watermelon. In fact, as recently as two years ago, I would pass it up at most picnics in favor of other fruit. But no longer. I am fully converted. When people say, "But it's, like, all water," I say, "I know! Isn't it fabulous? It's like drinking a fruit!" Seriously, what other kind of food can quench your thirst?
It's actually kind of addictive: once I start reading the words, I just want to keep going and going and going. Try it. You'll see what I mean.
The other thing I loved about this particular story is that it follows the same structure as Down to the Sea... It begins the same way (by stating the time and the plans for the day); everything is all sunshine and happy anticipation; then suddenly, in the middle of the story, Mr. Magee and Dee are confronted with a most unexpected problem which involves them being precariously stranded many feet up in the air; and finally, at the end of their story, they make the best of their day and find that sometimes it's just as fun to stay home. There is another Mr. Magee book (Learning to Ski With Mr. Magee), and it also follows the same outline. The familiarity is delightful and also ingenious.
4. Sam and the Firefly, P.D. Eastman
Most of the time, I love where we live, but every summer, a part of me yearns for the states farther east for one reason only: fireflies. My grandma lives in Nebraska, and every summer, we'd visit her and spend hours in the evening catching those magical bugs. They were slow enough you could just reach out and cup your hands around them. Their little tiny light was fixating, and when you put several in a jar, you created your own little lantern.
My grandma also owned this book, which was definitely a favorite. Sam is an owl--a conscientious, intelligent, and kind owl (with high morals). His friend, Gus the firefly, is much more fun-loving, mischievous, and downright naughty. One evening, Gus gets into a heap of trouble by writing words in the sky with his light. It started out as just a fun game, but soon Gus is causing traffic accidents and angry customers. The man running the hot dog stand is quite put out and traps Gus in a jar and drives him into the country. Unfortunately, his truck gets stuck right on the railroad tracks just as a train is making it's way around the bend. Gus is the only one who can save him in time.
This book was an instant hit with the boys. I pretty much love it when I don't even have to try to make them love books from my childhood. I just started reading, and they were hooked. They liked the first half because it was funny (unfortunately, they found Gus's antics quite hilarious). They liked the second half of the book because it was exciting: the train was coming, getting closer and closer, and Gus was trapped inside a jar.
Besides the comedy and excitement, however, I think one of the main reasons my boys love this book so much is because fireflies are such a novel idea to them. It's like snow for Arizonians. They've never seen fireflies before, but just reading this story makes them desperate to hold one in real life. (And when they finally do get to see them, it will be even better than they imagined.)
This is meant to be an easy reader, but I promise you, it will not be one of those books you cringe to read because the words and sentence structure are so painfully simple. And, if you happen to have an early reader like I do, then it's even more perfect because after you read it once, then he will happily read it a second time...and a third...and a...
Those of you who grew up with fireflies, tell me, am I idolizing them too much?
If, after reading these four books, you're still desperate for more, here are a few more ideas:
- Erica @ What Do We Do All Day? recently posted a great list of summer books (our favorite new find was The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson).
- All of Robert McCloskey's books have a particular summer feel to them, especially Blueberries For Sal. I actually was going to feature one of our favorites, One Morning in Maine, on this list, but then I couldn't decide if it actually took place in the summer or not (can you dig for clams in the summer, or is it restricted to the winter months? This Utahn has no idea.). Regardless, all his books are reminiscent of simpler times and carefree days
- What could be more summery than bugs? Check out our two lists of bug books here and here.