Q: Who Reads for Summer Fun?

The summer break from school provides a wonderful opportunity for kids to discover the joy that comes from reading for pleasure.

Local bookstores and libraries offer many programs that make reading both inviting and exciting. Not only do these types of programs open up a world of enrichment to children, but studies also show that participants in summer-reading programs may have an academic leg up on those students who lay off the books until they’re forced to open up again in the fall.

Beyond formalized programs, the summer months also provide the gift of additional time — time when older kids can lose themselves in a good read and little ones can cozy up to listen to Mom or Dad read their favorite bedtime stories.

Here are some family-friendly picks, and some faith-based titles, to get kids started on the road to pleasure reading. May it be a road with many happy returns.


Celebrating God’s World as a Family

written by Pamela Kennedy

illustrated by Amy Wummer

Ideals, 2004

48 pages, $15.95

Available in bookstores

These bite-size devotions are just the right length and scope to keep small fries thinking about the wonders of God during the summer months. Each segment features a single-page object lesson that invites kids to draw spiritual lessons from their observations of the natural world. Attractive illustrations, an accompanying Bible verse and developmentally appropriate “think questions” help young readers dig deeply into the material. The spiral-bound format provides for durability and easy use. Ages 4 to 8.


written by Douglas Wood

illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin

Dutton, 2006

32 pages, $16.99

Available in bookstores

Sometimes the very best days are the ones when there is absolutely nothing to do. Told from a kid’s-eye view, this book ponders all the wonders of a completely unscheduled day — a day with no school, no homework, no camp, no ball practice. Days like these provide a chance to look at clouds, find a special spot or read a favorite book. The fabulous detailed illustrations give a glimpse at all the wonderful ways that people relax (both alone and with one another) and find meaning in their days around the world. A great pick for the dog days of summer. Ages 4 to 10.


written and illustrated by Jennie Maizels

Candlewick, 2007

20 pages, $15.99

Available in bookstores

For folks who still don’t know what to do during the down days of summer, this clever concept book should do the trick. Readers can open to one of eight tabbed sections to find “what-to-do-when-there’s-nothing-to-do” things in all sorts of situations. Each double-page spread bursts with images of children and their families who have great ideas for things to do in the country, the kitchen, the car — and lots of other places. Don’t miss the hidden “lift the flap” messages that are tucked into each page. Ages 6 to 10.


written by Natasha Wing

illustrated by Mindy Pierce

Grosset & Dunlap, 2007

32 pages, $3.99

Available in bookstores

“’Twas the night before day camp when at the town park, the counselors were working till well after dark.” The latest in Natasha Wing’s Night Before … series depicts a reluctant camper who fears he won’t fit in with the rest of the camp crew. Fun activities, lively peers and a caring counselor all contribute to soothing his fears and making camp the best week of the summer. Full of rhythm, rhyme and reassurance, this book dishes up support for readers who might need a little courage to try something new. Ages 4 to 8.


written by Katherine Ayres

illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott

Candlewick, 2007

32 pages, $16.99

Available in bookstores

Summertime means gardening time. This cheerful book celebrates the plants that grow up, down and all around — and the people who nurture them along the way. With bright imagery and lyrical text, this book introduces children to spatial concepts as well as to the joy of the outdoors. Ages 3 to 8.


Once Upon a Time

written and illustrated by Walter Wick

Scholastic, 2006

32 pages, $13.99

Available in bookstores

Summer vacation is a time for play — and this book is full of opportunities to do just that. Each double-page spread features a jam-packed scene based on a fairytale. A short text invites readers to play “I Spy” by finding familiar objects hidden within the illustration. Although the text is limited, don’t count on this being a quick read. Kids won’t be ready for the happily-ever-after ending until they pore over each page and find every hidden object. Ages 4 to 10.


written by Gale Sypher Jacob

illustrated by Mark Graham

Dutton, 2004

32 pages, $16.99

Available in bookstores

A little girl and her dad take a bedtime stroll along the coast. Clad in pajamas, the young child holds on to both her dad and her teddy bear as they make their nightly trek to say good night to the local lighthouse. Told in couplets (“Lighthouse time, sun sinks low. / Pajamas, sneakers, set to go. / Hand for Daddy, hand for bear, / step out, sniff the sea-salt air”), and accented with dreamy, pastel illustrations, the story is just right for a vacation or bedtime story. Ages 3 to 8.


written by Mary Manz Simon

illustrated by Duendes del Sur

Scholastic, 2007

38 pages, $9.99

Available in bookstores

Summer shouldn’t mean a vacation from our prayer lives. This beginner book introduces children to a range of original prayers for a variety of situations. There are sections of prayers for morning, evening, special occasions and any time at all. Though this sturdy boardbook is tough enough to withstand the wear and tear of very young children, its scope is broad enough that its prayers will also appeal to a slightly older audience. Ages 3 to 8.

The Crawford sisters write

from Pittsburgh.