Summer Reading for Your Tween
Yep. It’s that time of year. If you are not already actively Pinteresting fun stuff to do with your kids this summer, you are gonna be one tired Momma by the end of that first week of vacation. We’re completely serious: kids show no mercy to the weak and underprepared.
So shore up the craft supplies, summer camp brochures, and snacks, then check out these great books for your tween (or teen). Our book club friends all shared these selections at our last meeting, so they all come stamped with our special Sisterhood Seal of Approval. These books should win you back at least an hour a day. You know, the one where you watch crappy TV, surf the webz, read a book of your own, or play Candy Crush. Happy Summer to all and to all a good read!
1. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
To say that our friend Mary likes historical fiction is a bit underselling it. This was one of her picks and she couldn’t stop gushing. She’s not the only one. This book is a true classic and even won the Newbery Award. Set in the South during the Great Depression, this book is hard but hopeful and the characters are bright and entertaining in the face of tragedy and racism. You will appreciate the warm ties and truths and your kids will identify and cheer for the family.
2. Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings
Set on our beloved Eastern Shore of Maryland, we would probably have a little love for this book even if it wasn’t so deftly knitted together. Luckily for your young reader, this story of a tragic kayak accident is powerful in and of itself. The moral questions the protagonist Brady must answer as he uncovers the truth behind the accident propel this story past the regret and sadness to another place. As the author steers Brady through some tough moral dilemmas without losing any of the suspense, you are reminded over and over again why the book won the honor of being named a Black Eyed Susan book.
3. Wonder by RJ Pelacio
This Texas Bluebonnet Award winner is a wonder in and of itself. The central character August Pullman has a facial deformity which has prevented him from attending a regular school. When he does finally become a student at Beecher Prep, this buoyant tale takes off. Augie just wants to be treated like everyone else, but, well, everyone else might not be ready for that. Told from the perspective of Augie, his classmates, and his family, this anti-bullying story never comes off as preachy, but does allow room to talk about fears and prejudices and, ultimately, the power of kindness. Wonder of all wonders. A must read for all middle schoolers!
4. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Wow. Just wow. This book sticks with you. Melody is the smartest kid in school, but she can’t talk or walk, so nobody knows. When she finally finds a way to communicate, she seems on her way to fulfilling her dream of just being a “regular” kid. But, sigh, middle school is hard, yo. Frank and open, this book takes us inside one girl’s journey with cerebral palsy and, even with detours into some heavy stuff, we are all made better from the trip.
5. The Raft by S. A. Bodeen
This book reads like Charlotte Rogan’s Lifeboat for the teen set. Poor Robie leaves Hawaii for a trip home to Midway when her plane goes down. Unfortunately, nobody really knows she’s missing or where to look for her. Oh, yeah, and she’s pretty much on her own adrift on a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It’s disaster lit at its best. Your older tween and teen will enjoy this fast-paced easy read.
6. Divergent by Victoria Roth
Erin teaches middle school and when she polled her students for their favorite book they were reading right now, this series topped their list. In this dystopian future world, society is divided into five factions named for dedication to five different virtues— (Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). This is the next series for any kid who devoured The Hunger Games and has been hankering for more of the same. This series adds some different elements that make it interesting for sure, but your child should probably have the same level of maturity to really enjoy it.
7. The Falconer’s Knot: A Story of Friars, Flirtation, and Foul Play by Mary Hoffman
Set during the Middle Ages, Silvano is a guy having kind of a bad streak of luck. Wrongfully accused of murder, he is sent to a Franciscan House for his own protection. Posing as a young friar there, Silvano can’t help falling for the lovely girl in the nearby abbey. But he just can’t catch a break. More murders threaten to take Silvano’s freedom for good and keep him from his love. Unlike Hoffman’s popular Stravanganza series set in an alternate world that looked like Renaissance Italy, this suspenseful tale is actually set in fourteenth century Umbria. The historical element just adds another layer to this already rich story. Your young readers will swoon. Perfect for 7th to 10th graders.
8. Among the Hidden by Margaret Haddix
Ideal for all fluent readers, this series is a runaway hit. Luke is a 12 year old kid who has spent his life in hiding. The Population Police have dictated that each family can only have two kids. As his family’s third child, Luke’s life is in danger so he has never experienced many of the simple joys of childhood. As his world changes, he glimpses others like himself and launches a daring plan to come out of the shadows that gives energy and momentum to the series. Your kids will be so busy trying to keep up with all the plot twists and turns that they won’t even know they just spent their summer reading.
9. Fever by Laurie Halse Anderson
We had at least three recommendations for this book as well as some honorable mentions for some of Anderson’s other titles Speak and Chains, both National Book Award finalists. Anderson is the master of historical fiction for the Axe and Aero set. This novel takes us to Philadelphia during the yellow fever epidemic is one of her best. Told from the point of view of Mattie Cook, this tale weaves a narrative around the real-life events and characters of the time. Anderson never treats her young readers like unintelligent ones so the language in the book is just as rich and interesting as the story itself. And there’s an appendix at the end with facts about the epidemic. Sqwee! To a certain reader, it’s kind of like getting a birthday cake on Christmas. Score!
10. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
This is an oldie but greatie. Several of us remember this book as one of our favorites from childhood and at least one of us taught this book to our students. Another Newbery winner, this book has been charming readers for over twenty-five years and it still reads as fresh and inventive as it did back then. Sixteen people show up to the reading of Samuel Westing’s will. Any of them could walk away with his millions. The fun is in the unravelling. An absolute delight to read!
We hope your kids enjoy reading these books as much as we enjoyed talking about books for them to read!
We have found the Newbery Award winners, the Black Eyed Susan books, the Texas Bluebonnet Award winners, and the National Book Award winners to be great resources for finding even more wonderful reads for our kids.
But if all else fails, ask a librarian. They will usually rain down suggestions with just a little prodding. We have some of the best here in our county, but we bet there is a great one near you too!
Have a great summer!
About Erin and Ellen:
Ellen Williams and Erin Dymowski are the dynamic writing duo who share the blog, The Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms. But they don’t share everything; Erin has five kids with her husband, Steve, and Ellen has two kids with her husband, Frank. They’ve got parenting covered—from kindergarten to high school. Their blog is like a well-needed Girls’ Night Out conversation: a good time full of shared stories, advice, book recommendations, and recipes, dosed heavily with humor, peppered with snark, sprinkled with truth and honesty and softened with sweetness. They are 2013 BlogHer Voices of the Year and co-authors of the anthologies “You Have Lipstick On Your Teeth.” and “I Just Want To Be Alone.”
Find Ellen and Erin here:
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