Got summer reading goals? Whether you’re competing for a big prize in the library reading program, or getting a head start on next year’s reading list, books will probably stack up between beach towels and tubes of sunscreen over the next three months. If you’re stumped for what to add to your next library pickup list, check out this month’s edition for some fresh ideas.
A Garden Story for High Schoolers and Adults
Old Herbaceous by Reginald Arkell is a short fictional memoir of a gardener at a posh estate in England. The meandering reflections on life are sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant. Though it lacks a distinct plot, the book contains wise gems like surprise blooms on a garden peony bush. A slow and restful read, I highly recommend it for summer afternoons.
Picture Books for Littler Ones
Dahlia by Barbara McClintock tells a sweet childhood tale of playtime and expectations. The adorable story is paired with stunning illustrations (McClintock is one of my favorite illustrators). It’s already being reread at our house and will be a delight to any child who has deeply loved a toy.
Read The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes with the fruits of the spirit in mind. Can we make the gardens of our hearts thrive on our own? Or do they seem to helplessly deteriorate? Isn’t it true that we also need the help of Someone else to make the gardens of our lives bloom and bear fruit? I love this story for its illustrations and happy ending, and also for the spiritual undercurrent.
Thumbelina is one of my favorite fairy tales and I long searched for a picture book version that I liked. Many have been published, but the one retold by Amy Ehrlich and illustrated by Susan Jeffers seems to be the best. A beautiful story for any age and any season.
Long-Form Picture Books for the Whole Family
Make time for a summer geography unit with Paddle-to-the Sea by Holling C. Holling. Taking place at the turn of the century, the tale follows a fictional wooden toy canoe on its journey through all five Great Lakes and out to the Atlantic. Each page is packed with things to learn. Though this is a picture book, the content is suitable for students into upper middle school. (I realized this was in a prior issue of Endpapers! Oops!)
Dangerous Journey, a retelling of Pilgrim’s Progress by Oliver Hunkin and Alan Parry, would make an excellent addition to your summer family reading time. With epic drawings and text that maintains the archaic feel of the original, this book makes the classic Christian allegory accessible for the very young while still being rich enough for the adult reader.