Summer Reading Should Be Fun

Josie Leavitt - June 9, 2009

I am really glad I’m not a kid this summer. I have just amassed all the summer reading lists for the schools in our area. Why do so many schools feel compelled to force classics and only classics on kids during the summer? Why not mix it up, with some classics and some more current books? I understand wanting to expose to the classics because of the wrting and big themes, but these things exist in lots of Young Adult literature.  I’d get creative if I were planning an entire summer reading list — such as, if you want to read Twilight you must also read Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

I am very curious what you Shelftalker readers would put on a summer reading list for kids in the 7th to 12th grades. Next week I’ll tally the results and we’ll have our own Shelftalker list.

I’ll get the ball rolling with four of my choices:

The Human Comedy by William Saroyan
Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

So, let’s make a great list!

31 thoughts on “Summer Reading Should Be Fun

  1. Debby Garfinkle

    Inexcusable by Chris Lynch Catcher in the Rye by Salinger Speak by L.H. Anderson Feed by M.T. Anderson Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Alexie Don Quixote by Cervantes The Women’s Room by Marilyn French Life of Pi by Martel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Hurston

  2. Kate Messner

    I couldn’t agree with you more. My 7th grade students make their own summer reading lists to take to the bookstore & library, based on recommendations from me and their classmates. Here are some more titles that would be on my suggested reading list for grades 7-12. PAPER TOWNS by John Green WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson CHAINS by Laurie Halse Anderson THE CHOSEN ONE by Carol Lynch Williams LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL by Jo Knowles BUG BOY by Eric Luper (out in July) MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD by Francisco X. Stork IMPOSSIBLE by Nancy Werlin EVERY SOUL A STAR by Wendy Mass WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED by Judy Blundell LUNA by Julie Anne Peters SWEETHEARTS by Sara Zarr A CURSE DARK AS GOLD by Elizabeth Bunce IF I STAY by Gayle Forman NEED by Carrie Jones LIFE AS WE KNEW IT by Susan Beth Pfeffer THE DEAD AND THE GONE by Susan Beth Pfeffer THE PATRON SAINT OF BUTTERFLIES by Cecilia Galante LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES by John Green ALL THE BROKEN PIECES by Ann Burg And because every summer ought to include a few great beach books… THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY by Jenny Han 20 BOY SUMMER by Sarah Ockler

  3. HarperAcademic

    Every May, I do an online search. Classics rule but more contemporary titles are making the cut. I did an entry about this at with links to lists from around the country.

  4. Mary Ann Rodman

    As the mother of a rising sophomore in a metropolitan school system, I was dismayed that with few exceptions (IN THE TIME OF BUTTERFLIES by Julia Alvarez was the exception)her summer reading list could have been the same one I was issued in 1969! I would second the selection of IN THE TIME OF BUTTERFLIES and Anderson’s SPEAK, and Forman’s IF I STAY and the collected Welty stories and Alexie’s MEMOIRS OF A PART-TIME INDIAN, Williams, THE CHOSEN ONE plus A STEP FROM HEAVEN by An Na Anything from Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books ON MY HONOR by Marion Dane Bauer LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY by Garry Schmidt OUT OF THE DUST by Karen Hesse WHEN SHE WAS GOOD by Norma Fox Mazer MAKE LEMONADE by Virginia Euwer Wolff WARRIORS DON’T CRY by Melba Beals Patillo And so many more…

  5. Nicole Lantz

    Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins & Lord of the Flies (pair together) Nation by Terry Pratchett The Book Thief by Markus Zusak Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson My Name is Jason. Mine too. by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin.

  6. Lauren Baratz-Logsted

    EVERMORE, Alyson Noel WAKE and FADE, Lisa McMann FREEZE FRAME, Heidi Ayarbe GRACELING, Kristin Cashore WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED, Judy Blundell IMPOSSIBLE, Nancy Werlin And yes: A SEPARATE PEACE, John Knowles

  7. Hannah

    How I Live Now (especially paired with The Red Badge of Courage or another classic about war) Jellicoe Road!!!! And because not everyone loves fiction, some good David Sedaris should always be an option.

  8. Bruce Hale

    For grades 7-12: GONE by Michael Grant ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie LITTLE BROTHER by Cory Doctorow PEAK by Roland Smith FEED by MT Anderson and my current favorite, the PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS series by Rick Riordan

  9. El

    Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins Guardian by Julius Lester Somebody by Nancy Springer Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman


    The Red Kayak The Center of Everything Final Salute Lone Survivor Mr Pip (to lead into the inevitable reading of Great Expectations) Friday Night Lights (we’re from Texas!) We finally got both Red Kayak and the Book Thief on the list! What I wouldn’t put on there but is on the summer reading table right now: Confederacy of Dunces-Please wait untill they have had some more mind altering experiences. Animal Dreams-I loved it but I’m a middle aged woman. What does a 17 year old male know about leaving home and coming back?

  11. Peni Griffin

    For one thing, the summer reading list should have a mix of genres. You’d think from the way these lists are put together that science fiction is a video-only medium (and it is a complate of the older fen that the younger generation knows the movies and TV shows, but not the books). A list divided into Classic/Contemporary Works of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Suspense, and Realism would provide a truly comprehensive literary overview; expecially if the compilers knew enough to show off the variety within a genre; to include poetry and graphic novels; to imply, in short, that if you don’t like to read, it’s because you haven’t found what you like to read yet. Foundation The True Meaning of Smek Day LOTR Skin Hunger At the Mountains of Madness Frankenstein American-Born Chinese Castle Waiting Everlost The Haunting of Hill House The Perfect Shot The Hound of the Baskervilles And on and on and on…

  12. Carol Ann

    How about: The Boy Who Dared-Bartoletti Sold-McCormick Double Helix-Werlin Shabanu Daughter of the Wind-Suzanne Fischer Staples Inventing Elliott-Gardner Mango Shaped Space-Mass

  13. Cinda Chima

    I love this, and concur with many of the suggestions. As a contemporary writer of YA fiction, summer reading lists filled with turgid fiction works against creating lifelong pleasure readers. Summer reading should introduce the classics but allow some freedom of choice. How many adults would choose to read the titles on many current lists?

  14. Judith Freeman

    I just posted my 2 annotated summer reading lists,grades PreK-4 and 5-8, each with 100+ titles, on the James Patterson website, www, Scroll down the home page and click on New Arrivals, where you’ll see the box, “Summer Reading Doesn’t Have to Be Punishment. Click on that, and you’ll see you can download both PDF files. You have permission to make as many copies as you like–you could give it out to all the kids at school, to parents, etc. I hope you find a few goodies there. Judy Freeman ReadKiddoRead Reviewer

  15. Connie Rockman

    I like related reading and paired titles as a way of helping students define themes and develop in-depth understanding as an earlier poster mentioned in pairing Bram Stoker’s Dracula with Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight How about – Zusak’s The Book Thief with Giblin’s Hitler or Bartoletti’s Hitler Youth Collins’s The Hunger Games with Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath Zevin’s Elsewhere or Shusterman’s Everlost with Morrison’s Beloved

  16. Deck Deckert

    1) “Midnight Never Come” Marie Brennan 2) “The Thirteenth Child” Patricia Wrede 3) “Fool on the Hill” Matt Ruff 4) Worldweavers series (“Gift of the Unmage”, “Spellspam”, “Cybermage”) Alma Alexander

  17. David Ziegler

    Great topic and great suggested reading lists! In addition to having a variety of themes, linking fiction and non-fiction, and having contemporary titles, I would add a couple thoughts as a public librarian. Please have more that a few titles on the reading list: otherwise you have unhappy patrons all waiting for the same few books. Don’t make a list all of bestsellers, or you have the same problem of most people having to wait for the book. Consider allowing every title in a series to be acceptible, or even recommending several books by a popular author. This will make summer reading lists less feared and less problematic for librarians, parents and readers. I would chime in with The Book Thief, Ranger’s Apprentice series and LOTR.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *