The night before we left on our trip, I had the opportunity to do a little presentation of summer reading suggestions for the women at my church. I wanted to give them ideas for all ages and interests, so I divided 42 books into seven different categories. The seven categories were: board books, picture books, easy readers, readalouds, middle grade, young adult, and adult.
Within each category, I tried to showcase a variety of genres. That's why in the middle grade category, for example, you'll see fantasy, realistic fiction, a verse novel, nonfiction, and a graphic novel.
In case you're interested in the books I shared, here is the list (and if I've written a review of it, I've linked the title to it):
- At the Zoo (A Lift-the-Flap Shadow Book)
- Chomp! by Heather Brown
- Farm Animals (A Giant Fold-Out Book) by Simms Taback
- Spots and Stripes by Britta Teckentrup
- The Splendid Spotted Snake by Betty Ann Schwartz
- A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins (illus. Sophie Blackall)
- Brothers at Bat by Audrey Vernick (illus. Steven Salerno)
- A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen
- Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee
- Let's Sing a Lullaby With the Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas
- The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli
- The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins
- Journey by Aaron Beck
- Lentil by Robert McCloskey
- Chalk by Bill Thomson
- Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems
- Ling and Ting by Grace Lin
- Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo (illus. Chris Van Dusen)
- Mr. Putter and Tabby by Cynthia Rylant
- Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
Great Read Alouds
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
- Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins
- Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
- The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
- Poppy by Avi
- Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
- The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall
- Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
- The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
- Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry
- Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
- Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale (illus. Nathan Hale)
- Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
- The Alliance by Gerald Lund
- Emily of New Moon by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
- Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
- The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
- Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
- The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan
- A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel
A few things you might be interested in:
- I tried to keep the suggestions to five in each category, but you can see that with picture books and middle grade, I just couldn't help myself and stretched that number just a little bit.
- It should be noted that while I love all of these books, just because they made it onto this list doesn't mean they're my favorite favorite favorite books of all time. Like I said, I was going for variety, and also, I was trying to choose books that would be enjoyable summer reads. That said, I will stand behind every single one of these books. They are among my favorites for sure.
- For most of the categories, I had no trouble coming up with suggestions (rather, as mentioned above, my problem was paring the list down to five). But Young Adult was not so easy. I realized I actually don't read very many books that fall into that age range, and the books I do read often leave me feeling very dissatisfied. Either the content is so inappropriate, I would never feel comfortable recommending such a book in a church setting (the label of Young Adult does not guarantee that it's clean by any means), or it's so silly and poorly written that it would be painful to suggest it as something worthwhile. If anyone has any great, well-written, clean YA suggestions (preferably that are not fantasy), I'm all ears. I'm now on a mission to find more books that I'd feel comfortable recommending to an actual teenager.
- Of all the books I recommended that night, A Girl Named Zippy was the surprising favorite. A couple of the women there had read it and gave it such glowing praises that I'm pretty sure everyone else rushed to check it out after the activity was over. I'm not complaining. It is a really good book.
- In retrospect, the one book I'd swap out is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane from the Readaloud category. Don't get me wrong. I love that book. In fact, it's probably in my top ten favorites of all time, but it has not been our most successful readaloud. I think my kids were probably a little too young for it when we read it, so it might be a great readaloud now, but I still wish I'd traded it for another one of the books my kids have truly loved listening to: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or Charlotte's Web. I think because it's one of my favorites, I was desperate to get it on the list somehow, but I should have just saved it for another time.
- I realized that I could have kept talking all night. Give me a captive audience and a table full of my favorite books, and I'm pretty much in heaven!