Also, if your house is anything like mine, you may appreciate a few new ideas. I thought I'd ask my kids - what were your favorite read-alone books? (True confessions: two of my three college kids make it a practice to re-read a book series from their childhood every summer. They pick a different series and just absolutely plow through it. They say it is like visiting an old friend. Just thought you should know how seriously we take our books around here, before you go taking any of our recommendations to heart!)
I asked, so they responded. You will notice that my kids do love history, and great biographies. At any rate - I hope this provides some ideas, a few new favorites for your family, and some hours of pleasurable reading for your summer!
First chapter reading favorites: I had to cut this list off somewhere. My kids kept saying, "Oh! And..." so here are the books they listed before I cut them off!
The Incredible Worlds of Wally McDoogle by Bill Myers. (Each of the 28 books begins “My Life as a...”) My kids laughed out loud – snorted even – with these funny, faith-filled books chronicling the mis-adventures of a 6th grade would-be writer. The main character – Wally – survives the most extraordinary adventures with his friends & family, writes super-hero stories, and teaches good character & Christian values along the way. My Life as Dinosaur Dental Floss and My Life as a Smashed Burrito with Extra Hot Sauce were probably my boys’ favorites. Good, clean, silly humor perfect for a summer reading binge!
The Motorcycle Mouse (series of 3) - Really. This mouse has a heart as big as his motorcycle! Guffaws sure to accompany reading - practically guaranteed!
The Phantom Tollbooth, by N. Juster. Milo, a boy who is bored with everything, comes home to find a tollbooth in his house. Via the tollbooth, he enters a land beyond, where he must rescue the Princesses Rhyme & Reason. Honestly, how much else do you need to know before you check this out of your local library? A classic that parents & children can enjoy together!
Childhood of Famous Americans series: We loved the whole series. I believe there are 70 in print today, but some of the out-of-print books are still available on amazon & ebay for a good value. These are accessible biographies of Famous Americans, but they focus on the title character’s childhood. I would say they are 3rd grade reading level, average 192 pages, with accessible vocabulary. My children read these the summer after 2nd grade.
Betsy-Tacy (series) by Maud Lovelace. I know I’ve mentioned these in a previous post, but I cannot help but include these charming books here as well. Betsy, Tacy, & Tib are charming friends for any young girl! The ten books in this series are some of my daughter’s favorites! Loyalty & devotion to friends is one of the values present throughout the series, and their high-spirited adventures make these books a fun read.
The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Sigh. Love. ALl. I'll probably include these on every book list I ever make!
Favorite Series/Books for 10 years old & up:
Brian Jacques’’ The Redwall Series is filled with a heroic deeds and unforgettable characters. The animals who inhabit the pages exhibit all the humanity they can muster! There are 22 books in the Redwall series, and I think they make a great first read in the fantasy genre. The world of the Redwall books is a medieval world filled with anthropomorphic animals who are good & caring – and who are battling to save the abbey from evil and to maintain peace & justice. If you have loved LOTR or Watership Down as an adult, you will understand the pull of these charming mice & their friends. Besides, any book with a mouse as a hero simply shouldn’t be missed!
Peter and the Starcatchers series (5 total books...Peter & The Starcatchers, Peter & The Secret of Rundoon, Peter & the Sword of Mercy, and The Bridge to Never Land) by Dave Barry - these "prequel" to Peter Pan books are swashbuckling adventures with fast-moving plots, plenty of fun, and just enough danger & intrigue to keep readers on the edge of their seat! And, yes, this is the Dave Barry who wrote all those amazingly funny newspaper colums for al those years!
Dragon Keepers Chronicles by Donita K. Paul (this is a Christian Science Fiction author and there are five books in the series. ) I am not a science fiction afficianado, and I didn't like the "dragon/vampire" trend sci-fi took a few years back. But...there are exceptions, and this is one of them. Ms. Paul does a terrific job of using the genre as a tool - a background - against which to set intriguing characters, rousing adventure, and deliver a bit of eternal truth along the way.
Mars Diaries or (new title) Robot Wars(another Christian science fiction series - we think there are 10?! ) This series centers on a science community on Mars in the year 2039, and a 14 year old boy who encounters the challenges of Mars life with a scientist's eye. Recommended for reluctant readers as it has less demanding reading level, but it has high entertainment value!
Incident at Hawk's Hill (a true story. Simply amazing frontier happening. I don''t want to spoil it by telling too much. There is a boy. He becomes lost. The way in which he survives and is protected is simply stunning! There is a sequel, which is “fine” but we just don’t like as well.)
EVERYTHING Rosemary Sutcliffe ever wrote! (although I would consider these educational, #3 child just mentioned them as his second favorite “fun reading” behind Brian Jacques) This is an historical fiction writer with an impish sense of humor and an engaging writing style. We were first exposed to her via Black Ships Before Troy and The Wanderings of Odysseus (retellings of Homer’s The Iliad & The Odyssey, gorgeously illustrated by Alan Lee) but soon expanded to The Eagle of the Ninth series tracing the Roman invasion of Britain. I honestly don’t know half the early history of the area that my children do, and this is in entirety due to their voracious reading of Rosemary Sutcliffe’s books!
Eragon series by Christopher Paolini (He was a homeschooled student who wrote his first book - now a movie – when he was 15.) Eragon, Eldest, Brisinger, and Inheritance are the titles.
Girls (at least) should definitely read the Louisa May Alcott books. My daughter and I collect them. We LOVE: Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys, An Old-Fashioned Girl, A Rose Among thorns, A Round Dozen, Eight Cousins.
They might also enjoy all the "Anne" books now. "Anne of Green Gables" and etc., by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It is a series of...6 or 8 books? We really like them, but the style takes a bit of getting used to. There are just a lot of words!
Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls - HYSTERICAL book for read aloud...I actually had soda come out my nose one night while trying to read a particularly funny part. Also - Where the Red Fern Grows, also by Wilson Rawls
My guys LOVEDLOVEDLOVED the Walt Morey books - Gentle Ben, Deep Trouble, Kavik the Wolf Dog and many - MANY others. My boys have both read through all of these - he is an older award winning author.
Of Course - C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia...but also his Space Triology (which too many people miss!)
And, of course, JRR Tolkien. Don't stop with The Hobbit and the LOTR Trilogy. If you have college-level readers who loved those titles, point them in the direction of The Histories of Middle Earth, Tales from the Perilous Realm, or The Fall of Arthur. My oldest also loved The Simiralian, but it is a tough read and not for the faint of heart.
Finally, the last books my older two listed as favorites were the Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawhead . They began reading them while they were in the 9th grade. It is pretty complex reading, but they both consider these among their favorite books. Taliesin, Merlin, Arthur, Pendragon, Grail...are the titles, I think. It is a very intricate re-telling of the Arthurian legend by a modern Christian writer (although these are NOT Christian books).
Not all Rigor is Mortis!