Reading has always been a big part of our summers. I am a reader, and all through my life nothing has made me happier than a stack of books, a comfortable spot on a porch or under a tree, and hours of the day, unfilled, stretched before me. Of course, now as a mother of young children, unfilled hours are pretty rare, but both of my children are becoming readers themselves, so much of our time spent together during the summer is in the company of books.
Each year I try to pick a few seasonal staples for us all to enjoy. Some I have read before, usually as a child, others I’ve heard about or they simply look interesting. This year I’ve picked books that either explicitly take place in nature or have characters that exhibit a pioneering spirit that I want to encourage my children to nurture in their outdoor play.
These are the books we’ll be reading together this summer:
For E. (who is 8 and going into third grade):
- The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Stewart (We’ve already started this one and are loving it – four uniquely brilliant children go on a mission to save the world.)
- Hitty by Rachel Field (A childhood favorite of mine about a much-loved handmade doll and her many adventures, which start and end in Maine.)
- Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (An oft mentioned book by my half-Swedish mother that we never got around to reading when I was little. It details the exploits of a funky and fun little girl.)
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter is a favorite of mine and while my daughter and I read this last summer, I received the newly illustrated edition for Christmas and we are planning to read it again.)
- Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire! by Polly Horvath (Having read bits and pieces of this book, I’m intrigued. The concept – a middle-aged bunny and her husband decide to become detectives and end up entangled with a human girl, her kidnapped parents, and some very devious foxes – is a cute one. E. and I are very much looking forward to reading this one.)
For M. (who is 3):
- The Story of the Root Children by Sibylle von Offers (A sweet story that describes the seasonally directed lives of the little root children. It’s a tale that has come highly recommended to me from several directions and M. and I are looking forward to jumping in.)
- A Treasury of Bunny Stories by Beatrix Potter (One of my earliest memories of reading to myself is from The Tale of Peter Rabbit, featured in this book. M. truly enjoys these stories, his favorite being The Story of a Fierce, Bad Rabbit.)
- Children of the Forest by Elsa Beskow (It’s very likely I like this story the most in our family. I enjoy any book that describes the daily goings on of characters, especially if it includes the description of food! This beautifully illustrated book captures moments and events from the lives of four little children who live in the forest with their mother and father. It’s similar to The Story of the Root Children in that it is seasonally oriented.)
- Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow (When I showed this book to my mum this weekend, her face lit up. She said she remembered this book, though she couldn’t remember from where, though it was likely her mother or grandmother (both Swedish) read it to her as a child. It’s a very sweet story of how a little boy takes the wool from his beloved sheep and goes through the process to have it turned into fabric and then finally a new suit for him to wear.)
I love having specific books set aside for different seasons or events throughout the year. If you have a favorite summer or outdoorsy book you’d love to suggest, leave the title in the comments – we’d love to check it out!