Summer Time When the Reading is “Natural”

chi_sol_banner_575When Children’s and Teen Librarians visit schools before summer vacation begins, we are often armed with a plethora of “good reads” and entice the kids to come to their local branch to check them out.

The Summer of Learning program this year proclaims “Astounding Tales of Nature!”  The “oohs and ahs” that came from the kids I visited in some schools were most audible when I showed them true stories of amazing animals.  This included Courageous Canine! And More True Stories of Amazing Animal Heroes by Kelly Milner Halls. The story she wrote of Lilly, the companion Pit Bull, who lost its leg trying to save her human friend, brought some to tears. The eye-popping photos in the book, Pink is for Blobfish by Jess Keating showcases unimaginably pink creatures of the natural world like the naked mole rat and pygmy seahorses. Another book that garnered rapt attention was Out of the Woods:  A True Story of Unforgettable Events by Rebecca Bond. The unbelievable phenomenon of humans and animals standing together in a lake as a wildfire raged before them was enough to quiet even the most raucous crowd. Other books of keen interest include Orangutan Orphanage by Suzi Esterhas, Weird Birds by Chris Earley and The Great Monkey Rescue by Sandra Markle.

The natural world as observed in a novel interested older elementary-aged children. Iain Lawrence’s book The Skeleton Tree recounts a story of amazing adventure in Alaska as two young boys, survivors from a sinking sailboat, try to make it back to civilization even as they are horrified by finding coffins in a tree. The Nine Lives of Jacob Tibbs by Cylin Busby is a story on the high seas, told by a ship’s cat, whose razor-sharp instincts save the captain and crew. Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty gives the reader spine-tingling chills as a mystery unfolds on the Biltmore Estate’s thick forests, where a man in a swirling black cloak seems to be kidnapping children and fading into the trees.

Older kids love graphic novels and gore. Especially notable is Nathan Hale’s series, recounting hazardous events in history—the most gruesome one has to be The Donner Dinner PartySunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm tells, in amusing graphic form, the story of Sunny, who among other adventures has a run-in with a Florida alligator during a summer spent with Gramps at his retirement home.

Other popular titles that drew reactions from the older kids were:  Paws of Courage by Nancy Furstinger, Saving the Baghdad Zoo by Kelly Milner Halls, and This Side of Wild by Gary Paulsen.

Looking for more lists? Booklists for the entire and extensive summer program for children and teens can be found in the library catalog. As I tell the kids, libraries provide summer programs for them so that “they’ll be even smarter than they are now,” when they return to school in the fall.

~posted by Diane C. 

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