IMG_0042Summer is a great time to start the habit of family read aloud time. Tired, sun-worn kids make great audiences after time at the pool. The late nights make it possible to read before bed without feeling like you are going to fall asleep yourself. These 9 classics make great summer read alouds.

1. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

A stray dog, a lonely little girl, and hot days in the South. Sounds like a perfect summer read to me. Kids of all ages love this book. And after you read it, you can have family movie night as the movie is wonderful as well.

2. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Pippi was one of my favorite series when I was in elementary school. Her eccentric, whimsical ways are sure to get plenty of giggles. This is the perfect book to spark the summer imagination in your kids. Why not have a cleaning day and do it Pippi style:). It makes house cleaning WAY more enjoyable.

3. Freckle Juice by Judy Blume

This book is short and funny. It all starts with a boy named Andrew who is envious of another boy’s freckles. If you aren’t used to reading aloud or don’t have much time, this is the perfect book to use. Be forewarned that your kids may start making crazy concoctions in the kitchen for their siblings to drink.

4. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

This is the 1991 Newberry Medal winner. This book is best for upper elementary students as it does have mature themes like homelessness, racism and fractured families. These themes are brought out in an unexpected way and Spinelli makes this a light-hearted tale of adventure and tall tale hyperboles. Want to entertain your kids for hours? Try having them unwind a giant rope knot like in the story. Winner gets pizza:) (read the book and you will understand).

5. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl is one of my all time favorite children’s authors. This one is super fun to read in the summer because the main character ends up in a giant peach. Hello? I love South Carolina peaches. You must celebrate this book by eating peach ice cream, it is seriously one of my favorite things about summer. James is an orphan who goes to live with his two, not-very-nice aunts. I think even in third grade I was a sucker for stories in which orphans go on to overcome great obstacles. This light-hearted tale is full of Roald Dahl’s imaginary possibilities and witty humor.

6. The Penderwicks- A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

Well if the sub-title doesn’t make this a perfect summer book, I don’t know what will. This is especially fun for us as we have four girls in our family (no rabbits tough), and each girl has her own unique personality (just like the Penderwicks). “When the girls and their doting father head off for their summer holiday, they’re in for a surprise.  Instead of the tumbledown cottage they expected, they find themselves on a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon the girls are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the most wonderful discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.” -  This book is sure to cultivate your child’s imagination and give them all sorts of ideas for their own summer adventures!

7. Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary

Beverly Cleary is a master children’s author. She has the ability to see the world through a child’s eyes, or in this case, a mouse’s. Ralph, from the Mouse and the Motorcycle fame, decides he has had enough of his parents telling him what to do and takes off on his motorcyle to the summer camp downhill. There he runs into all kinds of crazy trouble. He finally makes the acquaintance of a boy named Garf and they navigate the world of summer camp together. A great read if your children are going off to camp this summer.

8. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

One of the best children’s books EVER. This heart-warming classic involves 4 siblings who are trying to hide from their grandfather after their parents’ death. They have never met him and they think he is cruel. They end up turning an old box car into their home. Through the circumstances involved in living on their own, the family becomes reunited. Great story for all ages and if you want to get really creative, your kids can turn an old box into a “boxcar” and spend countless hours living in the backyard.

9. Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright

This Newberry Medal winner from 1930 brings us back to a time when life was simple and summers were full of lazy days. A few hours after nine-year-old Garnet Linden finds a silver thimble in the dried-up riverbed, the rains come and end the long drought on the farm. The rains bring safety for the crops and the livestock, and money for Garnet’s father. Garnet can’t help feeling that the thimble is a magic talisman, for the summer proves to be interesting and exciting in so many different ways.
There is the arrival of Eric, an orphan who becomes a member of the Linden family; the building of a new barn; and the county fair at which Garnet’s carefully tended pig, Timmy, wins a blue ribbon. Every day brings adventure of some kind to Garnet and her best friend, Citronella. As far as Garnet is concerned, the thimble is responsible for each good thing that happens during this magic summer– her thimble summer. *This book was written a long time ago and contains a scene involving hitchhiking, which was very different in the thirties. It is worth explaining to your children how the world has changed and hitchhiking should never be something they do. I’m thinking you would do that anyway, but feel the need to point it out :).

What chapter books do you like to read in the summer?