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Summer Learning: Beat the Heat With Summer Stories

A man in glasses reads a book.

Summer Learning keeps moving forward, and the librarians at San Jose Public are moving forward too! We've got another list to help inspire your reading and learning this Summer. If you haven't already, you should sign up for Summer Learning to log your reading and win prizes. We will also be releasing a weekly blog with a new booklist that we hope will pique your interest. This week we'll explore tales from different Summer vacations.

Since our 100 degree days started in May this year a lot of us are looking for a reprieve. Those lucky enough to have AC will seek refuge inside, but for those among us that don't I encourage you to find a place to chill out - perhaps in the shade of your favorite tree, or under an umbrella on a blanket in the grass - however you can, stake out a piece of cool and pick up one of these books.

Our picks for pre-readers take us often to the beach. For many of us, especially those of us living far closer to the coast, a visit to the beach is a hallmark of Summer. Wave is an interesting pick as it a textless book - the story is told entirely in pictures. How to best enjoy a wordless book? A wordless book still has a lot of possibility to engage the imagination and to learn. Take a peak inside the book and go through once just looking at the pictures and asking questions. Or alternatively, make up the story and tell it aloud on the spot. For this particular book, you'll enjoy peaceful artwork and likely some longing for the sandy shores.

I really love the book Saffron Ice Cream as a beach day pick, as it illustrates cultural differences between beach days internationally as well as encouraging empathy to the experience of an immigrant through the point of view of a child. The book also shows the beginnings of new friendships, and expresses the idea that difference and change has a lot of possibility for positive outcomes.

As Readers age up and expand their reading interests, so do the types of stories in their literature. While the Beach Day is still present in these picks, there are more options for Readers to experience a different kind of summer through books. While there are so many more titles that could have been selected, these five books offer adventure, humor, reflection, and history.

One Crazy Summer is a good book to visit this Summer. This book's author won the Coretta Scott King Award, the book won the Scott O'Dell Award for the Historical Fiction, and it is also a Newbery Medal Honor Book and a National Book Award Finalist. This book can serve as a launching point to learn more about Black History, to have conversations about Civil Rights, as well as highlighting other important themes such as family and forgiveness.

On an alternative, lighter note, Mr. Sunny is Funny returns to the beach. This summer tale is part of a series, My Weird School School Daze, which is usually focused on school over summer vacation. There are many other books in this series, all of them light and humorous, so if a reader likes one there are plenty more to keep on reading. They're fun reads, perfect for emerging and/or reluctant readers.

For pre-teens we see the focus of these summer stories shift again. While not exactly coming-of-age yet, these stories do center a lot about identity and self discovery.

The book Rebound is unique as it serves as a prequel to Newbery Medal Winner Crossover, also by Kwame Alexander. While Crossover focuses on twins Josh and Jordan, Rebound is all about their father, Chuck, and how he came to be who he is- "how he became the jazz music worshipping, basketball star his sons look up to." (--Goodreads.com). I love that this sheds light on 'Da Man' and his own story of his grief over the passing of his own father and learning more about this. The other special thing about Rebound is that it is a novel told in verse - the story is imparted via free form, rhythmic poetry.

I also want to highlight Roller Girl in this list. I do love a good graphic novel, but I love that this is about a girl grappling with real middle-grade issues (friends drifting apart) while getting into a sport that is...not very typical! For anyone that likes stories about friendship and girls kicking butt then I suggest giving Roller Girl a try.

If there are any teens reading this now, please remember to enjoy your summer vacations while you still get them! I spent the majority of my childhood wishing that I was grown, but as soon as I was grown I missed my childhood so dearly. I think perhaps many of us miss those summers of our formative years, as being a teenager with no schoolwork felt, at that time, to be the height of liberation. These were also the years where typically 'coming-of-age' stories begin, and Summers in stories seem to highlight moments that may become landmarks on the road to our individual identities. These stories are a mix of all sorts of Summers, but they all feature moments that mark the teen years as a transformative time as new experiences, new feelings, and new ideas begin to flourish.

From this small taste of teenage Summers, I really appreciate The Summer of '69 by Todd Strasser (there are two books by the same title on this list). As someone who enjoys historical fiction, I always love a book that can show me that life is totally different yet just the same as it has always been. For this novel, we have a teen that expects to spend a leisurely summer, but instead faces the potential of being drafted into the Viet Nam War. The Summer of 69 draws from the author's own experience as a teen, but this book is more about small stories during a time that many will remember for it's unrest. No doubt some readers may draw parallel's between the Summer of 1969 and some of the feelings echoed in our communities as we move onward with our Summer of 2020.

And last but not least, a handful of Summer reads for adults. While most of us will be working through our Summers, it's always nice to think about sand between your toes, so most of these books are beach reads. You can't talk about beach reads for adults without at least mentioning Elin Hilderbrand, the queen of the beach reads. Hilderbrand has a number of books available for checkout through the library, but I am highlighting Summer of '69 (hey, we've heard that title before!) for this list.

Again, it's possible that some may draw parallel's between the feelings of this summer, and the overall feelings of unrest in the summer of 1969. Hilderbrand's novel features the story of a family grappling with "the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century" (--Provided by publisher). One character is caught up in fighting for civil rights, another deployed to Viet Nam - while each family member experiences a different Summer, they all are touched by the world events that drive these experiences.

That's it for our selections this week, and we're almost to the end of our Summer Learning Booklist Blog series. If you're looking for more ways to participate in Summer Learning, leave a book review on Beanstack (the site that powers our Summer Learning program). There is a chance we may feature your review in an upcoming blog! You can also check out other great recommendations on our Staff Picks Page.

See you next week for the last Summer Learning booklist blog!

 

 

Blog Category
Adult Fiction
Kids
Teens

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