Summer is nearly half-over! Can you feel it? As you walk that middle ground between summer restfulness and the gear-up for the school year, consider this list as your bridge. A few selections are summery and perfect for soaking in the alarm-clock-free days. Others are meant to stack up with the crisp new curriculum arriving at your doorstep these days.
For young readers
Brave Enough for Two by Jonathan Voss. I admit to preferring old books, and it’s not often I find a new children’s picture book that wows me. This book from 2018, though, became an instant favorite. My kids wanted to know if there were more (and yes, there is one more in the series). It’s a charming and tender story of friendship. And the illustrations (which I’m painfully picky about) are gorgeous. An easy one to re-read again and again.
Billy and Blaze series by C. W. Anderson. Emerging readers rejoice! The options on the shelves for new readers can be bland, questionable, or downright appalling. This series is one of the tried and true classics. Boys and girls alike will love joining Billy as he adventures with his horse Blaze. From the emerging reader in our home, the heartiest recommendation goes to Blaze and Thunderbolt.
For slightly older readers
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. An absolute delight. I don’t remember ever reading a book in my adult life that so made me wish to be a child again. The most perfect book to read during summer break: filled with adventure and integrity and simplicity and the rich joy of youthful imagination. I cannot wait to read more in the series.
Mio, My Son by Astrid Lindgren. A classic modern-day fairy tale. Be transported to Farawayland with Mio who learns that his life has been more than what it seemed. Adventure, suspense, beauty, and the comforting rhythms of repetition so common to fairy tales. Astrid Lindgren has been a top favorite new discovery for our family.
Show Them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower. My church loaned copies of this book to all Sunday School teachers and while it was a good resource for classroom teaching, I also found it wonderfully insightful for the day to day work of Christian parenting as well. I skimmed this one quickly, but I hope to make time for a slower trip through it again.
A Timbered Choir by Wendell Berry. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who like poetry, and those who don’t like poetry yet. Wendell Berry is among the cream of America’s modern-day writers with a long list of novels, essays, and poetry collections to his name. I picked up this poetry collection recently and was reminded of the refreshment a good poem can bring. It’s not for speed-reading. It’s for sampling and savoring by those willing to engage in reflection: maybe just two poems a day. May I encourage you to consider giving it a try, even if you’re one of “those who don’t like poetry yet?” And if you’re too nervous to try it, consider one of Berry’s novels instead.
For your homeschooling library
The Constitution of the United States. This year’s history content will focus on early American history. For a homeschooling family, primary sources such as the Constitution will be handy to have around! We picked up this copy at Barnes and Noble and were happy with the variety of other primary source documents included. Consider finding a hard copy of some of America’s earliest writings to keep in the school room this year. You’ll be glad not to have to google them!