An Evening of Literature

Jun 17, 2015

We've been visiting my family for the last few days, and I didn't plan ahead by writing and scheduling posts, so . . . I just haven't posted. Hopefully all of you have been so busy swimming and playing and going on vacations of your own that you haven't noticed. But if you have noticed, first of all, thank you (it's so nice to be missed), and second, I have high hopes of working out a great summer routine that gives me plenty of time to write AND play with my kids. Is that unrealistic? We'll see . . .

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):

Board Books

Picture Books
Easy Readers
Great Read Alouds
Middle Grade

Young Adult

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!


  1. I wish that I could have been there!!

  2. I know that you said you preferred not fantasy, but I would very much recommend Patricia Wrede's Frontier Magic series for a good and perfectly clean young adult series. I really like fantasy myself, so it is hard to think of many books to recommend that aren't. I find that most of the non-fantasy young adult books I read aren't that compelling to me. Other fantasy ones that I highly recommend, however, is Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series and most any books by Patricia McKillip. Some of her books are young adult and some are adult.

    1. It's not that I'm opposed to fantasy--just that I don't have as much trouble thinking of clean YA in that genre as in, say, realistic fiction. (But you hit the nail on the head when you said that non-fantasy YA isn't compelling. That's the problem I'm finding also, so I'm wondering if there really isn't any clean, compelling, realistic YA fiction or if I just haven't found it yet?)

  3. That is so helpful! I wish I was there. You might have to be the traveling guest speaker... if you don't watch out you'll be booked all year. I'm serious! Who doesn't want good book suggestions for the kids in their life and for themselves. Love it.

    1. I wouldn't mind a bit. Seriously. This kind of thing doesn't stress me out at all (aside from worrying that I'm going to accrue astronomical library fines for all the books I checked out for the display! :-)). Like I said, I could talk about it forever. :-)


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