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Summer Reading Selections from The Classical Reader

~ Compiled by Leslie Rayner ~ 

For all who love the summertime advantage of freedom to read what delights their own interests, nourishes their soul, or simply provides fun and good rest for their minds, The Classical Reader is an excellent resource to peruse for both summer reads and great selections throughout the school year.

The following are a few suggestions to explore for the remaining summer months. Some titles are new to the recently released edition (version 1.4) of The Classical Reader, some are older series that can help keep voracious readers satiated for longer chunks of time, and some are worthy of re-reading while passing summer days by the pool, on the beach, in a hammock shaded by trees, or on a swing on the back porch. Enjoy getting lost in a good book!


For Young Readers (through 3rd grade):

Some fun, adventure-packed, and humorous reads (or perhaps re-reads) include the Henry Huggins series (Cleary), Homer Price and other titles (McCloskey), and Kermit the Hermit (Peet) and other titles by this author.

Or young readers could learn about The Boo-Boos that Changed the World: A True Story about an Accidental Invention (Really!) (Wittenstein), someone who has a Night Job (Hesse), what it is like to live in a lighthouse in Hello Lighthouse (Blackall), the process of Building Our House (Bean), or how a famous landmark was built in Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building (Hopkinson).

Biographies, written accounts of another person’s life, are also great summer reading options. Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille (Bryant) is about a boy who was so determined to read he invented his own alphabet! Trombone Shorty (Andrews) is a story about an amazing young musician living in New Orleans. Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis (Asim) follows the life of aspiring preacher John Lewis.


For Middle School Readers (approx. 4th–6th grade):

There are many great books and series for adventure lovers, including the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, and the Rwendigo Tales by J.A. Myhre, starting with A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest.

Looking for fantasy books? Check out the amazing, heartwarming Circus Mirandus (Beasley), soon to have a sequel this fall, or several titles by Jonathan Auxier, including Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard. Or journey into The Wilderking Trilogy (Rogers), beginning with The Bark of the Bog Owl.

There are also some great realistic fiction books about siblings, family tales, and adventures, such as The Penderwicks series (Birdsall), starting with A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy. Books such as Gone-Away Lake (Enright), The Hundred Dresses (Estes), Anne of Green Gables (Montgomery), or The Story of the Treasure Seekers (Nesbit) are sure to be great reads. Cool off with a bit of fantasy mixed into a chilling setting in a grand adventure story called Winterhouse (Guterson) and follow it with the newly released The Secrets of Winterhouse.

So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom by Gary Schmidt is an inspiring new biography and remarkable true story that will aid in gaining an understanding of a legendary figure. A Poem for Peter (Pinkney) is a visually stunning “lyrical narrative” that tells the story of author Ezra Jack Keats.


For Junior High Readers (approx. 7th–9th grade):

Fantasy lovers will want to read, or re-read, the Lord of the Rings trilogy (Tolkien); The Wingfeather Saga (Peterson) starting with On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness; the Dragon King trilogy by Stephen R. Lawhead, which begins with In the Hall of the Dragon King (Dragon King trilogy). Looking for a newly released fantasy read? Try Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster (Auxier).

Cozy up with the classics, such as Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, The Complete Father Brown Stories by G.K. Chesterton, or The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Adventure stories abound, such as the many tales by G.A. Henty, including The Cat of Bubastes: A Tale of Ancient Egypt. Dive into The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz, an exciting, illuminated, magical tale set in the 13th century.

Read the captivating account of the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the rise of Hitler in the incredibly illustrated graphic novel–style biography The Faithful Spy (Hendrix).


For High School Readers (approx. 10th–12th grade):

Perhaps this summer is the one to enjoy any Jane Austen novel not yet read, or re-read a favorite. Other realistic fiction titles to partake of include Peace Like a River (Enger), Rebecca (du Maurier) with its mysterious twist, or Cry, the Beloved Country (Paton), a beautifully moving story set in South Africa during Apartheid.

Biography seekers who appreciate the remarkable author Flannery O’Connor will benefit greatly from The Terrible Speed of Mercy (Rogers).

Fun, relaxing, delightful titles of fiction and mystery, such as the Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries (Sayers) or Very Good, Jeeves! (Wodehouse) are perfect for summertime indulgences.

Pick up one of these suggested titles and embark on a delightful journey into another world, entering into new adventures, fighting fantastical battles, or being inspired by beautiful stories. You’ll gain insight and experiences beyond your summertime nook!

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